MS Ee.4.32 and the Case of the Disappearing ‘Pope’

Cambridge University Library, Ee.4.32

Chronicle

English and Latin

s.xv2

MS Ee.4.32 contains two texts: The Three Kings of Cologne and the English Prose Brut Chronicle. Renown Brut scholar Lister Matheson asserts that: ‘The Middle English prose Brut survives in more manuscripts than any other Middle English work except the two Wycliffite translations of the Bible’[1]. Matheson’s compiled catalogue of the Brut lists nineteen extant versions of the Latin Brut[2], forty-nine versions of the Anglo-Norman Brut[3], and over one-hundred-seventy versions of the Middle English Brut[4]. For a complete list and location of these manuscripts, please see Matheson’s monograph The Prose Brut: The Development of a Middle English Chronicle. 

The Brut Chronicle features just two instances of strikethrough. There are, however, a number of instances where the word ‘pope’ seems to have been first erased and then re-entered into the text. This phenomenon begins on fol.82r, within the rubrication ‘How Stephene of Langetoun come in to Engelonde through the pope commandement and thaune he wente aȝenſ one aftere’. 

This pattern of erasure—through a careful combination of liquid (which has, in places, left smudged ink) and scraping (which has, in other places, left the membrane rougher and lighter) continues up through fol. 87r, through the end of  the rubrication ‘How þe clerkes þat were outlawed of Engelonde come aȝen ond how kyng John was aſſaillede’, and then further on into the rubrication on fol. 88v, well into the body text of fol.90r. 

This pattern is particularly intriguing because it appears that just one hand is responsible for reintroducing ‘pope’ into the text; the word is written quite distinctly. The lobe of the letterform ‘p’ extends so far backwards that it crosses the stem, creating what in several instances could be mistaken for a ligature. This, combined with the distinctive ‘e’: sometimes backwards, at times upside-down and elongated, at the end of each ‘pope’ makes for an easily distinguishable difference between this word and its surrounding text.

EE.4.32 was copied onto membrane. The quality of the decorations, particularly in the Brut text (which include gold-gilt ornamentation and a variety of colored inks) indicate that this manuscript was of some worth at its time of production—making any word erasures particularly apparent. Western Illuminated Manuscripts: A Catalogue of the Collection in Cambridge University Library dates MS Ee.4.32 to the 15th century, citing either half of the century as likely dates of production…leading to questions about whether this is perhaps a Reformation-era tinkering with the text. Erasures are especially apparent in those sections detailing the (mis)adventures of King John; is there a reason these headings specifically have been so methodically revised? And what might prompt another owner, reader, or otherwise handler of this manuscript to ink the word ‘pope’ back into its place(s)? 

Questions abound…but the research continues! 

Research conducted as part of the M.Phil in English: Medieval and Renaissance Literature, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge.


Notes:

[1] Lister M. Matheson, The Prose Brut: The Development of a Middle English Chronicle (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1998), p.ix

[2] Ibid, p. xx.

[3] Ibid, p. xvii. 

[4] David Ruddy, ‘The Brut Chronicle’, University of Michigan (1996) <https://quod.lib.umich.edu/b/brut/about/>.  [Accessed 2020]. 

Arthur Marotti’s The Circulation of Poetry in Manuscript in Early Modern England

Arthur F. Marotti’s The Circulation of Poetry in Manuscript in Early Modern England (Routledge, 2021) is a study that examines the transmission and compilation of poetic texts through manuscripts from the late-Elizabethan era through the mid-seventeenth century, paying attention to the distinctive material, social, and literary features of these documents.The study has two main focuses: the first, the particular social environments in which texts were compiled and, second, the presence within this system of a large body of (usually anonymous) rare or unique poems. Manuscripts from aristocratic, academic, and urban professional environments are examined in separate chapters that highlight particular collections. Two chapters consider the social networking within the university and London that facilitated the transmission within these environments and between them. Although the topic is addressed throughout the study, the place of rare or unique poems in manuscript collections is at the center of the final three chapters.The book as a whole argues that scholars need to pay more attention to the social life of texts in the period and to little-known or unknown rare or unique poems that represent a field of writing broader than that defined in a literary history based mainly on the products of print culture.

Learn More!

Arthur F. Marotti is Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at Wayne State University. He is the coauthor of Ink, Stink Bait, Revenge, and Queen Elizabeth: A Yorkshire Yeoman’s Household Book and author of Manuscript, Print, and the English Renaissance Lyric, both from Cornell. He is also the author of John Donne, Coterie Poet and Religious Ideology and Cultural Fantasy: Catholic and Anti-Catholic Discourses in Early Modern England.

https://www.routledge.com/The-Circulation-of-Poetry-in-Manuscript-in-Early-Modern-England/Marotti/p/book/9780367715403?utm_source=cjaffiliates&utm_medium=affiliates&cjevent=31fa7a6c8ffd11ec83703abd0a180512

An Introduction to Biocodicology and the Beasts 2 Craft Project

The life of a book holds many stories, all leaving an invisible signature trapped in the pages, waiting to be read by those with the keenest eye. However, what if an eye is not enough? Invisible traces have seemed impossible to recover, but this is all changing with recent technological advances available to us. The emerging field of Biocodicology1 offers the tantalising prospect to read these long forgotten biographies, revealing complex stories of use, handling, storage and production.

But why is this relevant? What can we really learn that cannot already be ascertained from reading the text? The value of the materiality of manuscript production cannot be overstated. Understanding the craftsmanship involved in the production of materials, so intrinsically linked to the users themselves, are as much a part of the codex as the words inscribed on the page. Understanding book production in terms of the livestock economies that sustained them, the choice of animals (age, sex, breed), the idocincracies of each skin requiring specialist knowledge of treatment and production. But then there are additional stories imprinted on the completed text, how was it being used? Were these objects of reverence with barely a scratch as proof of their sacred status, or are they everyday books to be used and thumbed and splashed and cleaned? Much the same way as our favourite recipe books contain evidence of the ingredients we use, manuscripts may present similar signatures from their users, a drop of wine here, a stain of milk there, a veritable feast of biomolecules preserved for posterity, lying dormant waiting to be revealed.

Where were these books kept? In pristine condition in a specialist box away from the light and water and dirt that might transform them? Or were they accidental victims of severe weather conditions, flood or fires? All these situations can leave traces behind that we can now explore.

And what of the creatures living on the leaves? Bacteria and fungi are as much a part of the story as anything else, and can give us clues as to the storage environments of these objects, in addition to offering us the possibility of early diagnosis of detrimental strains that may need to be considered by the conservation teams.

These are some of the questions we are beginning to ask and trying to answer in the field of biocodiciology. Encompassing genetic, proteomic and lipid analysis, all these biomolecules are now accessible to us in a way that they never were before, and they are shining a light on some of the questions we perhaps thought could never be answered.

Emma Nichols from the Cambridge University Library talking to students about her ongoing role as a conservator collaborating with the B2C team

However, we would like to present biocodicology not just as new scientific techniques to be applied to cultural heritage objects, but rather as a true multidisciplinary field, needing the relevant expertise from manuscript scholars, scientists, conservators, digital analysts and crafter practitioners. It is a constant dialogue between the fields of what is wanted, what is needed and what is possible, each informing the others and enhancing their potential in ways that would otherwise not have been thought possible.

Biocodicology offers the possibility of conducting research in a way that compliments and integrates with the current methodologies, expanding the potential questions that can be answered. Using these techniques we have addressed a long held debate regarding the materiality of 13th C pocket bibles 2, explored the production history of the York Gospels 3 and participated in the complete 360 analysis of a 12th century glossed gospel of St Luke 4. All of these projects have required collaboration between scholars from many different disciplines to be able to resolve the questions originally posed.

Dr Sarah Fiddyment in her labs showing one of the many parchments she has sampled.

Over the years, we have amassed a large amount of data, particularly relating to parchment species, with over 5000 separate samples being analysed. This is starting to reveal a geographic pattern of species choice that could prove very useful in questions of origin and provenance. We are continually fostering new collaborations to expand the field and the data we acquire, so that it becomes more relevant with each sample added.

Part of the reason we have been able to access so many documents is due to the non-invasive sampling technique we developed alongside book conservators, using triboelectric extraction. This involves using a pvc-eraser to lightly wipe the surface of the parchment, and from the small crumbs generated we are able to extract enough proteins and DNA for subsequent analysis.

Broadly, the main techniques that are used in biocodicology are:

  1. Protein analysis: including Peptide Mass Fingerprinting (eZooMS) and proteomic analysis. This allow us determine the species of animal used to make the parchment, assess the quality of production (related to lime exposure) and analyse surface treatments and/or stains (deposits from plants, medicines, or human touch)
  2. Genetic analysis: both animal and microbiome. This gives further detail about the animal source, such as sex and sometimes breed, and offers the possibility of broad geographic provenance. The microbiome can inform about the environment the object has been stored in and potentially diagnose problematic microorganisms present.
  3. Visual analysis: including transmitted light photography and macro lens photography. This gives crucial information regarding the preparation of the parchment, the choice of animal, the method of production and possibly even evidence of breed (in the case of sheep due to the presence of hair follicles).
  4. Lipid analysis: currently under development. Analysing the fats present in the parchment offers the possibility of looking at climate signals and possibly dating.
  5. Craft practice and recreation: allows us to gain further insight into the production of parchment, recipes, choice of skins, etc based on the limited documentation that is available. Through trial and error using experimental recreation not only can we gain further understanding in the nuances of parchment making but we can also create control data sets for our analytical procedures.  
Dr Jiří Vnouček, conservator and part of the the B2C team, demonstrating traditional parchment manufacture at the medieval market in Gasir, Iceland

Beasts to Craft is an ERC funded advanced investigator grant, awarded to Professor Matthew Collins, that brings together a large group of scholars from different disciplines to develop and establish the field of Biocodicology. Although the project consists of a european network of participants, part of the team, including myself, are based in Cambridge at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. A biochemist by training, I have spent the last eight years working on the protein analysis of parchment, and I will continue to carry out this facet of the project here in Cambridge. In addition to the protein analysis we also carry out the genetic analysis of parchment, headed by my colleague Dr Matthew Teasdale, originally a cattle geneticist but also having branched out into parchment analysis over the last eight years. We are always open to new collaborations so please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like to discuss participating in our project.

Dr Sarah Fiddyment is a postdoctoral research associate on the ERC Beasts to Craft project based at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 under Grant Agreement No. 787282. 

Further reading

1. Fiddyment, S. et al. So you want to do biocodicology? A field guide to the biological analysis of parchment. Heritage Science 7, 35 (2019).

2. Fiddyment, S. et al. Animal origin of 13th-century uterine vellum revealed using noninvasive peptide fingerprinting. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 112, 15066–15071 (2015).

3. Teasdale, M. D. et al. The York Gospels: a 1000-year biological palimpsest. R Soc Open Sci 4, 170988 (2017).

4. Gibbons, A. Goats, bookworms, a monk’s kiss: Biologists reveal the hidden history of ancient gospels. Science (2017).

Lyell Lectures 2016

‘Public Reading and its Books: Monastic Ideals and Practice in England c. 1000-c. 1300’, to be given by Dr Teresa Webber (Trinity College, Cambridge), in the Weston Library Lecture Theatre (the former ‘New Bodlean’ Library), Broad Street, Oxford, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5pm, from 3 May to 19 May, as follows:

3 May ‘Public Reading in Monastic Observance: the framework of norms

5 May ‘Reading the Gospel

10 May ‘Reading the Bible’

12 May ‘Celebrating the Saints’

17 May ‘Reading in Chapter’

19 May ‘Reading at Collation: Monastic Ideals and the Practice of Public Reading’

http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/whats-on/upcoming-events/2016/may/lyell-lectures-1

Workshop “Collecting Knowledge, Creating Knowledge”

COLLECTING KNOWLEDGE, CREATING KNOWLEDGE MEDIEVAL MISCELLANIES BETWEEN AUTHORIAL STRATEGIES AND SELECTIVE RECEPTION

Cambridge, 27 February 2016

Seminar Room 11, Faculty of History (3rd floor)

West Road CB3 9EF

10:00 – 10:30 Welcome Coffee and Registration in the Senior Combination Room

10:30 – 11:00 Introductory remarks by Rosamond McKitterick (Cambridge)

11:00 – 13:00 Reading the Classics

Chair : Mary Garrison (York)

Joanna Story (Leicester) The Reception of Classics in Munich Clm 14641

Justin Stover (Oxford) Victorinus, Isidore and a Bamberg Miscellany

Paulina Taraskin (London) Reading Horace: British Library Harley 2724

Renan Baker (Oxford) Sedulius Scottus and the exempla of Roman imperial biographies

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch in the Senior Combination Room

14:00 – 16:00 Collecting Knowledge in the Early Middle Ages

Chair : Teresa Webber (Cambridge)

Giorgia Vocino (Cambridge) Miscellanies For and From the Classroom: some Italian Examples (9th-11th centuries)

N. Kıvılcım Yavuz (Leeds) The Art of History-Making in Eighth-Century Francia: the Case of Historia Daretis Frigii de origine Francorum

Claire Burridge (Cambridge) Early Medieval Medical Miscellanies: an Exploration of Three Manuscripts

Anna Dorofeeva (Frankfurt) Strategies for Knowledge Organisation in Early Medieval Latin Glossary Miscellanies: the Example of Munich, Bayerische

Staatsbibliothek, Clm 14388

16:00 – 16:30 Coffee & Tea in the Senior Combination Room

16:30 – 17:30 Round table

Attendance at the workshop is free of charge, but registration is required. Depending on the number of attendants we may need to ask for a small contribution to the cost of refreshments.

For further details and to register, please contact Giorgia Vocino (gv275@cam.ac.uk)

CollectingKnowledge_Workshop_27.02.2016