Bodleian Library, MS. Rawlinson B.171

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Longer Description of Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Rawlinson B.171

1. Production Practicalities and Reception Issues:

checked against microfilm.

  • Pressmark / Name of  Book: Bodl. MS Rawlinson B.171.
  • Matheson nos.: 1, 17.
  • Date(s): ca. 1400; mid-C15.
  • Type of book: Brut Chronicle
  • Manuscript or print?: MS
  • No of items: 1
  • Contents: Brut chronicle, fols. 1r-201v; begins imperfectly; colophon after end of scribe A’s stint, fol. 171r: ‘dio gracias’.
  • Writing support: parchment
  • Watermark?: n/a
  • Book Construction: Folio, Quarto etc.:
  • Collation: tentative, from film.
  • No of leaves: ii + 201 + i fols. flyleaves at front and back are prob. mod. paper.
  • Blank leaves: none apart from mod. flyleaves.
  • Quires: i-ii8; iii8 (wants 2); iv-xxi8; uncertain after this.
  • Foliation: top right corner, every 5th leaf.
  • Composite MS? poss.: Scribe A’s work was complete, and was added to by Scribe B at a later date. Further codicological work should reveal whether Scribe B was using existing quires left by Scribe A, or added some of his own to the ms. 
  • Booklets?:
  • Catchwords? (on which fols?): 8v; 16v; 22v; 30v; 38v; 46v; 54v; 62v; 70v; 78v; 86v; 94v; 102v; 110v; 118v; 126v; 134v; 142v; 150v; 158v; 166v.
  • Quire signatures? (where?): none visible on film.
  • Damage?: n/a
  • Page layout:
  • a. ruling: (ink or drypoint?) Scribe A: frames and lines; Scribe B: frames, lines not visible on film.
    b. columns: 1 throughout.
    c. lines: Scribe A: 26-27; Scribe B: 25-30.

  • Ink:
  • Dimensions:
  • front board:
  • Folio / page:
  • Writing space:
  • Binding: leather, prob. blind tooled in rectangles with floral flourishes at corners, and central panel (prob. in diff. colour); 5 raised bands
  • Decoration?: n/a
  • Artist?: n/a
  • No. of Scribes: 2: A: fols. 1r-171r; B: fols. 171v-201r.
  • Named scribes?:
  • Hand date; style; version; holograph, autograph?: scribe A: Anglicana, around 1400, cf. hand A TCD 490 (see notes); scribe B: mid-C15 secretary with Anglicana looped ‘d’.
  • Hand, rubrication in other MSS?: A is poss. hand A from TCD 490.
  • Compiler?: n/a
  • Rubrication, sigla: Scribe A:  two-line caps, infilled with pen flourishes into margin, poss. in colours; chapter headings and numbers, prob. in red, with varying styles of line markers, prob. in red; paraphs in text, poss. in colours; double hyphens at tends of lines, poss., in red; catchwords rubricated with flourished underlining (underlining poss. in red);  ascenders of some letters in top and bottom lines flourished into margins; some Latin side notes and occasional ‘nota’ marks; Scribe B: two-line caps, not always infilled, with unusual pen flourishing (often terminating in curled fronds), poss. in colours; chapter headings, poss. in red; chapter numbers in margins; some English and Latin side notes; paraphs in text, poss. in red; some numbers in text underlined, poss. in red; ‘stella comata’, and Latin words underlined, poss. in red.
  • Biobibliographical information: marginalia, glosses, signatures, compiler/ scribe / owner / authorial identification:
  • Front pastedown: modern pressmarks: ‘rawl. B.171’; ‘11539’.
  • 85v: partially erased marginalia, C16.
  • 95v: ‘A Lambe’, C17?
  • 99v: ‘A Lambe’, C17?
  • 144v: ‘A bore’, C17?
  • 201v: three  coats of arms (as yet unidentified) with notes indicating what the colours should be, C15-16?; ‘sere John[?] T[…]l’, C16?
  • Glosses and underlining:
  • C15 glosses on fols. 2v, 197v?.
  • C16 glosses at fols. 11v, 107r, 165r  [different hand: 3r, 7r, 14r, 15v, 76r].
  • C18 gloss on fols. 3v.
  • Underlining on fols. 171v, 172r, 191r  (poss. scribal).
  • Immediate Ownership(s) / Patronage:  n/a
  • Later ownership(s): see PB, pp. 79-80, for suggestion.
  • Affiliations: (geo-)political, institutional etc:
  • Language(s); translation activities: Scribe B draws attention to Latin phrases in his text by underlining.
  • Dialect: South-West Herefordshire.
  • LALME vol., page, LP, grid no.: I, 150; III, 167.
  • Locality: region; household (secular/religious) urban / rural:
  • 2. Intertextual relations:

  • Textual descent: ‘Common Version’, group CV-1333. See Matheson, PB, pp. 79-80.
  • Evidence of exemplar:
  • Intra-textual relations to texts in same MS:
  • Extra-textual to other books, texts, traditions: close correspondence with Anglo-Norman source (PB, pp. 84-85 shows a collation between Bodl. MS Rawl. B.171, Bodl. MS Douce 323 and TCD MS 490). This MS is the base text for Brie’s Edition of the Brut.
  • Decoration:
  • Translation, language: Prob. translated from the Anglo-Norman source, Bodl. MS Rawl. B.171 is the closest to the source text, but none of the surviving English MSS has the original translation.


3. Credits and acknowledgments:

The description of this MS is based on microfilm work by J O’R and CCM. Textual descent based on Matheson, PB. Adapted and updated by Ryan Perry (including scribal identification). Thanks to Lister Matheson, who compared a test passage in Rawlinson B. 171 (hand A) with TCD 490 (hand A), and confirmed that the dialectal features of the texts were consistent (he also concurred with Ryan Perry that the hands in the manuscript were similar enough to suggest a common copyist).

4. Select Bibliography for this MS



BL MS Harley 3945
Society of Antiquaries MS 93

Bodl. MS Douce 323
Bodl. MS Rawlinson C.155

Rylands MS Eng. 103.
Rylands MS Eng. 206.


NLW MS Peniarth 398D

New Haven, Yale University
Beinecke MS 494

New York
Mrs. J. D. Gordan MS 63


The Brut or The Chronicles of England, ed. byFriedrich W. D. Brie, 2 vols, vol I: EETS OS 131 (London: Oxford University Press, 1906; repr. 1960), Part II: EETS OS 136. 1908; repr. Millwood: Kraus, 1987.

5. Notes:

It appears likely that scribe A is scribe A of TCD 490. As well as using very similar scripts, the scribe(s) similarly pen(s) highly idiosyncratic ascenders into the upper margin, including a side-profile face, a feature which is not matched anywhere else in the corpus. Lister Matheson examined a test passage from both mss. and found the dialectal features to be consistent.

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