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London, British Library MS. Harley 753

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Codicological Data

Begins on fol. 1, 'Here begynneth the prologue of Brut', (cf. Lambeth Palace MS. 331).
Matheson Version
CV-1430 JP: B
Matheson Number
Pages in Mathson, The Prose Brut
Date of production
Poss. 2nd quarter or mid-C15
References in LALME
Items in the MS
Brut Chronicle.
Related Manuscripts
The Brut in this manuscript is probably very closely related to Lambeth Palace MS. 331. Not only are both manuscripts in the same textual grouping, but both have almost identically worded scribal side-notes, and both contain an anomalous passage, which has not, thus far, been found in any other mss. within the corpus (see the wiki).

It is possible that the mss. were copied from a shared exemplar or that one may have been copied from the other.

Marginalia in both manuscripts suggests a London readership in the C15.
Number of Scribes
Number of Leaves
ii(?) + 191 fols + i(?)
1 column, 32-33 lines; frames and lines occasionally visible.
270mm x 195mm approx.
Materials and writing support
Writing Space
200mm x 135mm approx.
Fol. 1: opens with a 6-line sigma shaped 'S', poss. in red, with no further ornament; other than the sinuous 8-line 'I' form penned in margin, and a 3-line initial 'A' on fol. 3r, capitals are generally 2-line, poss. blue, with poss. red penwork sprays and infilling.
Chapter titles and numbers prob. in red; some marginal phrases, are poss. also red, and prob. scribal; there are no paraphs, but the scribe effects light punctus marks- '/', to punctuate the text.
    Comparison with annotation in Lambeth Palace MS. 331, fols 6r-7r (in both mss.):
  • Thamys & new troye (Harley 753)

    Thamys of new troye (LP 331)

  • [text not visible] called Brytayne (Harley 753)

    Ynglond was fyrst cleped Brytayne (LP 331)

  • Brute [th]e first kyng/ xx yere (Harley 753)

    Brute [th]e fyrst kyng (LP 331)

  • Lotryn scd^s/ & rex .v. anno (Harley 753)
  • Brute (Harley 753)
  • The water of humbar (Harley 753)

    [Th]e water of humbar (LP 331)

  • Quene Gwentolen (Harley 753)

    Quene Gwentolen (LP 331)

  • The water of seurne called abram (Harley 753)

    [Th]e water of seurne called Abram (LP 331)

  • Samples of Annotation from latter parts of the manuscript:

    Examples of C15 annotation, prob. scribal:
  • Fol. 140v: 'A marvayle', a cross appears in the air above Boulogne (cf. Brie, 313:33-314:3).
  • '[A] gret pestilence', (Brie, 314:12-17).
  • Fol. 141r: '[th]e grete wind', (Brie, 315:3 ff.).
  • '[th]e grete frost', (Brie, 315:26 ff.)
  • Fol. 141v: 'Secunde pestilence', (Brie, 316:19 ff.).
  • Fol. 160v: 'the batell of Schrewysbery', dated below in same hand, 'Ao dm m cccc iij', (Brie, 363:24).
  • Fol. 165v: '[ii]j lords were putte to deth' (cropped), beside the naming of the conspirators against Henry V, (Brie, 375:26-8).
  • Fol. 167r: '[th]e batayle of Agyncourt', (Brie, 378).
  • Non-scribal annotation (C15, unless otherwise stated):

  • Fol. 139: '[th]e Garter', beside Edward III holding jousts and a feast in honour of knighthood and St. George, (Brie, 308:32 ff.), C15.
  • 'Jhon Stodeye mjor at a Iusts', beside text recounting jousts at London involving the mayor and alderman, (Brie: 309:11-16), cf. annotation in Lambeth Palace 331; evidently this reader had access to London civic records or chronicles, naming here the Mayor of London for 1357 from a source other than the Brut. Click this link for a list of London mayors.
  • 'Edmund [th]e foworth brother of kyng Edward the therde', (Brie, 309:15); this hand appears on fol. 138v (in association with marginal crosses, see below) and is similarly interested in marking the immediacy of relationship to king Edward III: 'Edward [th]e prince'; '[Sir] Lionell second brother'; 'John the 3. brother', (Brie, 305:23-306:4). This marginalia may plausibly be understood as demonstrating interest in the legality of the Lancastrian succession.
  • Fol. 142v: 'hawkwood', beside mention of Sir John Hawkwood, (Brie, 322:8 ff.)
  • Fol. 147r: Nota bene hand indicates underlined text, which describes sea raids by the French on English ports, (Brie, 335:23-27), poss. C15-C16
  • Fol. 150v: A reader picks up on the 24 knights of the Garter who challenge all-comers in the tournament at Smithfield, (Brie, 343:14 ff.), C16.
  • Fol. 157r-v: 'nota' and nota bene hand overleaf, beside underlined text, relating to the false charters made by Richard II's counsellors, and his appointment of persons to govern the realm in his absence, (Brie, 356:10ff).
  • Fol. 171v: C16 reader writes comments (difficult to decipher) concerning the murder of the duke of Burgandy- this text has no parallel in Brie, click the wiki link for a transcription of the anomalous passage.
  • Fol. 174v: 'gode Isaye(?)', beside instructions by Henry V to his men, (Brie, 399:23-5).
    'X' placed in margin (difficult to date):
  • Fol. 139v: John of Gaunt marries dame Blanche, (Brie, 309:8-11).
  • Fol. 140v: The Black Prince weds Joan of Kent, (Brie, 314:19-22).
  • Mention of the destruction caused by the White Company in Lombardy.
  • Fol. 141r: relates either to the death of king John of France, or Edward, the son of the Black Prince, (Brie, 316:2-11).
  • Fol. 141v: Richard (II) born, (Brie, 316:24-31).
  • Fol. 142v: Corn priced at xld a bushel, (Brie, 321:16).
  • Fol. 146: Edward II dies, (Brie, 332:18-19)
  • Fol. 148v: The arrival of Anne of Bohemia, (Brie, 338:27 ff.).
  • Fol. 149v: Richard II advances several nobles, (Brie, 340:30 ff.).
  • The earl of March named heir apparent to the throne, (Brie, 341:12-15)
  • Fol. 150: Mention of Bolingbroke among the Lords Appellant, (Brie, 342:8).
  • Fol. 151r: John of Gaunt's expedition to Spain, (Brie, 344:8 ff.).
  • The supplications of Queen Anne in favour of the Londoners, (Brie, 347:6-8).
  • Fol. 153v: The body of Queen Anne entred, (Brie, 348:30-33).
  • Fol. 155r: The murder of the duke of Gloucester, (Brie, 352:1-8).
  • Fol. 156r: The earl of Arundel's judgement and execution, (Brie, 353-4).
  • Fol. 156v: The king advances various nobles, (Brie, 355:1-12); written beneath in a C16 hand, prob. not the hand responsible for the crosses, is written, 'v dukes a duchesse & v erles}'.
  • Fol. 157r: 2 x crosses mark the death of John of Gaunt, (Brie, 355:15-20).
  • Fol. 159: Henry IV crowned, (Brie, 359:30-32).
  • King Richard dies, (Brie, 360:8 ff.).
  • The burial of Richard in Langley, (Brie, 360:22-6).
  • 2 crosses mark the death of John Beaufort, and the marriage of the countess of Somerset to Henry IV's brother Thomas, (Brie, 370:30-371:4).
  • Fol. 163v: Henry IV advances his sons, (Brie, 371:25-6)
  • Fol. 164r: Henry IV buried at the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury, (Brie, 372:29-30).
  • Fol. 164v: The reburial of Richard II, (Brie, 373:5 ff.).
  • Plot against Henry V, beside the mention that they were tempted by the French offer of money, (Brie, 375:29-31).
  • Fol. 167v: The English dead included the duke of York and earl of Suffolk, (Brie, 379:25-6).
  • Fol. 171v: Beginning of the account of the siege of Rouen, (Brie, 381 or 394).
  • Fol. 172v: Faint word penned beside the mark, poss. 'Carew', (Brie, 396:2).
  • Fol. 182v: The arrest of king Henry IV's wife by the duke of Bedford, (Brie, 422:32-5).
  • Fol. 183r: The names of the English negotiators in discussions with the French, (Brie, 423:35 ff.).
  • Fol. 184r: Henry Chichele and other bishops perform the wedding service (Henry V and Catherine), (Brie, 425:14 ff.).
  • Fol. 185: The duke of Clarence and others slain, (Brie, 427:16).
  • Fol. 185v: The Archbishop of Canterbury is godfather to Henry (the sixth), (Brie, 427:35).
  • Fol. 186v: Henry V's body embalmed, (Brie, 430:8).
  • Fol. 187v: The Duke of Gloucester and the Duchess of Holland depart to take possession of the Duchess's lands in Hainault, (Brie, 431:33-36).
  • Fol. 188r: The duke of Bedford returns to England, (Brie, 432:34 ff.).
  • Fol. 188v: 2 x crosses, two Dukes made, and the death of the duke of Exeter, (Brie, 433:16-28)
  • Fol. 74v: 'Thomas of Canterbury removed from heading', (Brie, 147).
See Long Description for further discussion.
Style of hand
A splayed and unnattractive anglicana script with secretary influence, 2-compartment 'a', backwards 'e' which resembles an 'o' with a backwards slash within;
Approximate date of hand
Poss. mid or 2nd quarter C15.
Described by (in order of investigator)
Ryan Perry; Jason O'Rourke.
Further information in the wiki?
Long Description

Transcription of an anomalous passage

Culturally Mapping London, British Library MS. Harley 753

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Date of Description
Credits and Sources
Described by Ryan Perry from microfilm with reference to the long description and Matheson, PB.