BL Harley MS. 3945

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Production Practicalities and Reception Issues:

checked against microfilm

  • Pressmark / Name of  Book: BL MS Harley 3945
  • Matheson no.: 8
  • Date(s): C15
  • Type of book: Brut Chronicle
  • Manuscript or print?: MS
  • No of items: 1
  • Contents: Brut chronicle, fols. 1r-117v, ends imperfectly.
  • Writing support: parchment
  • Watermark?:
  • Book Construction: Folio, Quarto etc.
  • Collation: tentative, from microfilm:
    • No of leaves: i + 117 fols. + i; flyleaves are prob. C18? paper.
    • Blank leaves:
    • Quires: ms is prob. quired in 8s, but many fols. are missing and up to fol. 61v there are no visible catchwords.
    • Foliation: modern pencil, top right corner.
    • Composite MS? no
    • Booklets?: no
    • Catchwords? (on which fols?): 61v, 69v, 77v, 85v, 93v, 101v, 109v,
    • Quire signatures? (where?):17r: iii (trimmed); 33r: vj q 48r: viij; 56r ix q; 70r: xjq; 94r: xiiij; 102r: .xv….j.… ;  110r: xvj?
    • Damage?: bottom margin of fol. 116 mutilated without loss of text; bottom outer corner of fol. 117 torn away with loss of text.
  • Page layout:

a. ruling: (ink or drypoint?) frames and lines, poss. in lead or drypoint. See notes for further observations.
b. columns: 1
c. lines: A: 27-31; B: 32-37

  • Ink:
  • Dimensions:
    • front board:
    • Folio / page:
    • Writing space:
  • Binding:
  • Decoration?:
  • Artist?:
  • No. of Scribes: 2: A, fols. 1r-60v; B, fols. 61r-117v.
  • Named scribes?: no
  • Hand date; style; version; holograph, autograph?: both scribes: C15 Anglicana, double-compartment ‘a’ and ‘g’, ‘d’ with looped ascenders; both scribes use both long ‘r’ and ‘2’-shaped ‘r’. See notes.
  • Hand, rubrication in other MSS?: no
  • Compiler?:
  • Rubrication, sigla: fol. 1r: 4-line cap in gold with pen sprays into top and inner margin, with gold circular terminals; rest of ms: spaces left for 3 line caps, (fols. 61r-117r have guide letters), caps added later by various hands from fol. 3r to fol. 48r; spaces left for chapter headings;  occasional side notes, poss. added later in C15; catchwords rubricated in boxes; double slashes in text.
  • Biobibliographical information: marginalia, glosses, signatures, compiler/ scribe / owner / authorial identification:
    • Front pastedown: pressmarks.
    • Flyleaf (ir): pressmarks.
    • 1r: ‘5 die Novembris, A. D. 1729’, ‘chronicle of England from Brute to K. Edw: 3d.’.
    • 2r: pen trials and scribbles.
    • 10v: ‘Jn my begynyng god me speed my grace and virtu to prosed a men cothe Rychard Falwey’, pen trials, C16.
    • 11r: pen trials by Richard Falwey, C16.
    • 30r: religious maxim, C16.
    • 41v, pen trials, C16.
    • 42r: drawing of a plant with stylised flowers.
    • 42v: drawing of a crown, next to chapter on Arthur’s letter to Rome.
    • 43r: pen trials, C16.
    • 44r: two drawings of a woman’s head entitled ‘mestres stafforde’, C15.
    • 46r: drawings of bleeding heart, and geometric design.
    • 46v: drawing of a crown, next to chapter on Arthur’s return to Britain to combat Mordred.
    • 50r: ‘John Acton off thomete [the mele?] John Rofford off tho[…]’, C15.
    • 52r: drawings of a sword, and a boar’s head.
    • 52v: pen trials and scribbles.
    • 53v: ‘Richard noyham taylar of’, pen trials, ‘Ryght worsypfole master J Recommend me vnto yow glad to hre of you’, C15.
    • 54r: drawings of bleeding heart, and geometric design, pen trials, C15.
    • 55v: pen trials, C15.
    • 57v: pen trials, C15.
    • 59r: ‘spes mea in deo est’, ‘my trust is in god only’, ‘I had rather be rych than por’, C16.
    • 60r: pen trials, C15; drawings of plants with flowers.
    • 62r: ‘henry the holy man and J […]’, C15.
    • 63v-64r: scribbles.
    • 67r: ‘John tilar’, ‘John tyla[…]’, C16.
    • 74r: scribbles.
    • 75v: ‘Compl[…]’, pen drawings of two human faces, C16?; pen trials, C15.
    • ‘Hardy and Kente Parry[…] nat hardy by’, C15.
    • 84v: inverted: two pen drawings of human heads.
    • 85v: inverted: pen drawing of human head.
    • 87v-88r: pen trials and scribbles.
    •  95v: ‘Jn the name of god amen’, C15; pen trials.
    • 96r: prayer, C15.
    • 105v: Latin maxim(?), C15.
    • 106r: pen trials.
    • Back flyleaf, (ir): modern librarian’s note dated Jan. 1883.
  • Glosses and underlining:
    • C15 glosses on fols. 6v, 7r, 8r, 9r-11r, 12r-13r, 14r-16v, 18v, 19v, 21r, 25r-26r, 28r-29v, 33r-v, 40v, 48r, 51v, 57r, 58r, 61v, 62v, 64v, 65v, 66v, 68v, 69v, 75r (Latin), 76r (French), 78v, 82r,  84v, 84v (Latin).
    • C16 glosses on fols. 46r, 51v, 57r, 68r, 83v, 115v.
    • Maniculum on fol. 63v.
    • Immediate Ownership(s) / Patronage:
    • Later ownership(s):
    • Affiliations: (geo-)political, institutional etc:
    • Language(s); translation activities:
    • Dialect:
    • LALME vol., page, LP, grid no.:
    • Locality: region; household (secular/religious) urban / rural:

    Intertextual relations:

    • Textual descent: Matheson ‘Common Version’, group CV-1333. See Matheson, PB, pp. 79, 83, 84-87.
    • Evidence of exemplar:
    • Intra-textual relations to texts in same MS:
    • Extra-textual to other books, texts, traditions:
    • Decoration:
    • Translation, language:

    Credits and acknowledgments:

    The description of this MS is from microfilm work by J O’R. Textual descent based on Matheson, PB.

    Select Bibliography for this MS:


    NLW MS Peniarth 398D

    Rylands MS Eng. 103
    Rylands MS Eng. 206

    Bodl. MS Douce 323
    Bodl. MS Rawl. B.171
    Bodl. MS Rawl. C.155

    New York
    Gordon MS 63


    I am doubtful that the whole of the ms is ruled with lines, although it is difficult to tell from the microfilm. However, it appears as if scribe B does not use ruled lines, since in the spaces left for chapter headings ink dots have been left as a guide, and the text seems to have been written without the aid of lines. Frames can be seen in Scribe B’s portion of the ms.

    The hands of scribes A and B are very similar, and the ms may in fact represent the work of a single scribe, although the duct of the two hands is different. Also note that scribe B uses catchwords and guide letters, whereas A does not.

    According to the quire sigs. there may be a quire missing at the beginning of the ms, before fol. 17r. 17r is signed iii, but is quire ii, as the ms stands today. The rest of the quires in the ms are consistent with this numbering, so it would not appear to be a scribal error.

    The rubrication of the ms was never undertaken as part of the original project; some caps were filled in later, prob. by various hands.

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