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Van der Weyden, Descent from the Cross
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London, British Library, MS Harley 4011

Described by: Ryan Perry from microfilm analysis.
Revision Date: June 1st, 2010


Miscellany containing the 'Prayer to the Sacrament' from Love's Mirror, various works by Lydgate, Craft of Dying, Bokenham's Mappula Anglie and other texts; mid C15 (after 1447)

Condition of the MS

Strained and well thumbed book that seems to have lost opening leaves (quires?); the leaves all appear to be held in place by modern guards, and the bifolia are now disconnected from their partners.

Number of Items

18 items, including sub-items.

Title(s) of Pseudo-Bonaventuran Text(s)

A short extract from Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ.


    "A devovte orysone to þe holy sacrament

    heyle holiest body of oure lorde [...]", fol. 2vb.


  • "Quod Willmus Woodeward", fol. 2vb, following item 5.
  • In a scroll cartouche with the words 'Etto[?]' and 'Gobeth', "Explicit Johe Lydgate monke off Bury - Quod W. Grauell", fol. 119r, following item 7.
  • "Willelmus brewyn", fol. 145r, penned by the rubricator (scribe?) in a formal hand beside the Latin verse at the end of chapter 4 of Mappula Anglie; Horstmann attributes the poem to 'Alfridus' (Englische Studien 10, p. 9, n. 1).
  • In a scroll cartouche with the words 'Gobeth' and 'Etto[?]', "Explicit Mappula Anglie ~ Q . W. G.", fol. 163r, following item 11, cf. colophon to item 7.
  • See Names for further discussion.

Secundo Folio

"With dissolute".


    "Ihesu lord þu blessid liff . helpe & comford
    oure wrecchyd life Amen", fol. 2vb.

Languages of the MS


Detailed Description of Contents

  • 1a. 11-line fragment from Lydgate, 'So as the Crabbe Goth Forward', IMEV 3655, beginning "Plente is foundyn no nigard", (MacCracken, Minor Poems, vol. II, 466-7, ll. 30-40), fol. 1ra (this item is tagged 1a, as all the texts in the MS have been numbered excluding this text, and I thought it reasonable for my item numbers to accord with those in the MS; this principle is also applied to texts 6 (a) and (b), which were not numbered separately).

  • 1. Lydgate, "All ri3twisnes doþe now proced", IMEV 199, fol. 1ra-b

  • 2. Lydgate, "Translacyon by lydgate of Stans puer ad mensum[...]My der child [...]", IMEV, 2233, fol. 1rb-va.

  • 3. Lydgate, "Lenvoye to humfray late Duke of Glowcester whome god assoyle[...]This tragedy genyth[...]", see IMEV p. 583, an extract from Book III of The Fall of Princes (Bergen ed., vol. II, ll. 1569-1638), fols 1va-2ra.

  • 4. Lydgate, "The desolacyon of Rome made by lydgate in Balade wise[...]Rome remember of thy fundacion[...]", see IMEV p. 446, an extract from Book II of The Fall of Princes, fols 1va-2ra.

  • 5. Extract from Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ, the Prayer to the Sacrament at the conclusion of the 'Treatise on the Sacrament', (Sargent 238:10-239:6), fol. 2vb; the 'Prayer' has been added as a filler to complete a blank section at the end of the quire, and is written by a new scribe (scribe B).

  • 6. Craft of Dying, above the text, and prob. not in the scribe's hand, "Hic Incipio ars morien[di]", begins, For as myche as the passage of deth owte of the wrechidnes of the exile of this world[...]", IPMEP 234 (Yorkshire Writers, ed. C. Horstmann, vol. 2 (1896). 406-20), fols 3r-16r.

  • 6 (a). 'The Twelve Degrees of Meekness/Humility', begins, "Seynt Gregor the doctor seith that wt out mekenes it is vnlawfull to triste of for3evenes", ends, "Expliciunt duodecum gradus humilitatus"; Manual 7. XX. 77(?); fols 16r-18v.

  • 6 (b). Counsels of Isidore, begins, "O man know thi self . know what þu ert", ends imperfectly, "Sey not an evill word", IPMEP 491; fols 18v-20v.

  • There is a marked difference in the brightness of the paper between fols 20 and 21.

  • 7. Lydgate, The Life of Our Lady, IMEV 2574, fols 21r-119r.

  • 8. The Libel of English Policy, IMEV 3491 (collated in Wright, ed., Political Poems, II, 157-205) ends imperfectly, "Off ffortitude Iustice Agilite" (Wright, p. 200, l. 10), fols 120r-137v.

  • 9. Lydgate (attrib.), 'A Kalendare', IMEV 1721, begins imperfectly "With his blode Dauid he did me wedde" (MacCracken, vol. I, p. 365, l. 60 ff), fols 138r-142v.

  • 10. Lydgate, 'The Dietary', "For helthe of body Kepe well thyn hede", IMEV 824, ends imperfectly, "Hede foote and stomak preserve ay fro colde" (MacCracken, vol. II, p. 706, l. 146), fol. 143r-v.

  • 11. Osbern Bokenham, Mappula Anglie (so titled in MS), "FOr as moche as in the englisch boke the which y haue compiled of legenda aurea and of oþer famous legendes at the instaunce of my speciall frends[...]", IPMEP 224 (ed. C. Horstmann in Englische Studien 10 (1887) pp. 1-34), fols 144r-fol. 163r (scribal changeover 147r l. 24)

  • 11a. Lyric of eight quatrains,
      "My owne dere hert I grete you well
      yevyn as hit ys my mynde
      in your loue trustyng for to dwell
      and lovyng you to fynde

      Wherefore old loue to renewe
      now to you wrytt y
      therin trustyng to contynewe
      Wntyll [sic] þt i shall dye[...]", fol. 163v, C16 filler text on blank leaf.

  • 12. An Almanac, beginning, "The 3ere fro the begynnynge of þe world þat was þt tyme þe . xviij . day of marche[...]" IPMEP 707 (ed. C. Horstmann, "Ueber zeitrechnung", Englische Studien 10 (1887) pp. 35-41), fols 164r-169r.

  • 13. John Skelton (attrib.), "Misermini mei ye that ben my ffryndys", IMEV 2192, poem written from the perspective of the dead Edward IV, fols 169v-170v.

  • 14. John Russell, (attrib. in Harley 4011 only), The Book of Carving and Nurture, IMEV 1514 (ed. in, Early English Meals and Manners, ed. F. J. Furnivall, EETS 32 (1868; reprint 1973) pp. 1-83), fols 171r-189r.

Estimated Date of Production

Mid-3rd quarter C15, ca. 1447 (see the incipit to item 3 in Contents and the comments in Notes); some items added subsequently.

Writing Support



? + 189 fols + ?; foliated in normal fashion.

Dimensions of Page and Writing Space

  • Leaf Size: (taking into account that the leaf size has been increased by the repair to the MS) 270 mm x 190 mm approx.
  • Writing Space: items 1-5, 220 x 165 mm approx.; item 6, 200-205 mm x 130-40 mm approx.; items 7-10, 195-200 mm x 125-130 mm approx.




Items 1-5 2 columns; 1 column thereafter.

Rubrication/ Ordinatio




Number of Scribal Hands

  • A: items 1-4 and 6, 6 (a) and 6 (b).
  • B: items 5, 11 (to fol. 147 l. 24), 14. Scribe B also supplies corrections and additional annotations during C's stints; on fol. 78v scribe C notes in the margin '_e [trimmed] laketh .ii . verse'- 2 lines of verse have been supplied beside the note by scribe B.
  • C: items 7, 10, 11 (from fol. 147 l. 24 ff.), 12.
  • D: item 11a.
  • E: item 13.
    One gets the impression that scribe B is the organiser of the book, and was possibly even the owner/commissioner of the book, working with the professional scribe C (who does the bulk of the copying) to produce the volume. It may be that we have the names of scribes A-C from colophons in the MS. A: 'Willmus Woodeward'; B: 'Willelmus brewyn'; C: 'W. Grauell'. Although there is the suggestion that scribes B and C cooperated, it is possible that the gatherings produced by scribe A were merely incorporated into the book, and there is less reason to believe active collaboration in this case. See Colophons.

Style of Hands

  • A: Cursive anglicana.
  • B: a compact script mainly using Secretary forms.
  • C: An attractive calligraphic (though cursive) script, largely based on Secretary forms; the most professional book hand in the volume. Begins items with extravagant amd idiosyncratic pen work initials, somewhat reminiscent of those in BL Add. MS 36798.
  • D: A scrappy and uneven hand.
  • E: An elegant, well-penned cursive script (with Latin lines penned in a non-cursive formata script; prob. a professional book hand.

Estimated Date of Hands

  • A: Mid-3rd quarter C15.
  • B: Mid-3rd quarter C15.
  • C: Mid-3rd quarter C15.
  • D: C16.
  • E: Late C15-C16.

Scribal Annotation

Many of the items have a marginal apparatus. Scribe B provides a further layering of notae to the texts copied by scribe C.

Notable Dialect Features

The 2 hands responsible for the Mappula Anglie are surveyed in LALME, I:113, LP 8371. Grid 623 255. Suffolk, around Clopton, approx. 8 miles NNE of Ipswich.

Localisable on Google Earth
(click markers to view sample dialect forms)

Annotation and Marginalia

There is plenty of interesting annotation in the book, particularly in reference to the Mappula Anglie where prophecies concerning England, among other things, have been highlighted by C15-16 annotators.


  • Trial letter to a 'Wylyam', the uncle of the letter writer (with sons called 'Pyter' and 'humprey'), assuring that a debt will be paid, "as sone as I haue hyt by the grace of god you shall haue hyt", fol. 119v (a blank page), C16.

  • Fol. 160r: "when other men goe at large then most I be bound but euer I turst [trust?] to haue a heuy a mony for[?] god haue geue me a thyng wych wyll fynd me a ly[v]eng", C15-C16.

    Names recorded, signatures, ex libris marks

    • Fol. 20v: 'Jhon onere of [__]' (trimmed), C15-C16.
    • Fol. 125r: 'This ys William pothar boke of', C15-C16.
    • Fol. 158r: 'This Is artur lavleys Boke yff I hym los and you him fynd', C15-C16. The same hand writes 'Well be loued brother rychard' on fol. 159r.
    • Fol. 161v: 'this is hari Laule boke he that ffinde[...]', C15-C16.
    • Fol. 170v: 'ffraunces lawley oveth(?) this bok[...]', C16?
    • Fol. 181v: 'Jhon lawle(?)', C16? This name may be that of John Lawley of the Wenlock area in Shropshire (click link).
    • Fol. 186r: Beneath the rubric, 'The office of ussher & marshall', a C15 hand has penned, 'my lord my master of lilleshall abbot'. This would appear to refer to the Abbot of Lilleshall Abbey in Shropshire. Interestingly at least one of the names in the MS may be found in this locality, that of the Lawley family who had possession of the MS from the late C15 to C16. See above and browse map for Lilleshall Abbey and Wenlock Priory in Shropshire.
    • Among the names that appear to identify the scribes who wrote the book, A>I. Doyle makes some interesting suggestions (Doyle, N. 50 (d)). Most convincing, given the dialectal provenance of the book, is the occurrence of "William Bruyn, chaplain, of St. Stephen's, Norwich, who died in 1477 leaving a number of books to churches there,... [Norfolk Arch. IV, p. 335]".


    The manner of the heading to item 4 with its reference to the 'late' Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, suggests that it may have been penned within a few years of 1447, when the Duke died. It is interesting in this respect that it is only in the Harley 4011 copy of The Book of Carving and Nurture (item 14), where the text is ascribed to John Russell, the servant of the same Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester: "Pray for the sowle of John Russell þat god do hym mede / Som tyme seruaunde wt duke Vmphrey duc of Glowcestur in dede", fol. 189r.

    References and Other Resources

    Hyperbibliography, entry for Harley MS 4011.

    A.I. Doyle, N. 50 (a), appendix p. 105-7.

    Sargent Groupings


    Sargent Pages

    Intro. 141 (the MS is mistakenly tagged Harley 401)

    Sargent Number