Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, Cod. Bodmer 48
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Notice établie par Elizabeth Solopova dans Chaucer, The General Prologue on CD-ROM. Edited by Elizabeth Solopova, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000. Nous remercions Cambridge University Press, qui en conserve le ©, pour leur autorisation à reproduire cette description, que nous avons mises à jour. (

Manuscript title: Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales
Date of origin: s. XV 3/4
Support: Paper with parchment sewing guards.
  • “Anneau” (closest to Briquet 689, 1457 [with variants as late as 1477], but it is bisected by a chainline that is 2.7 cm from those to its left and right; the Briquet mark is centered between chainlines. 3.5 x 2.8 cm; (cf. numbers 164-166 [1467] in Beazeley’s Tracings of Watermarks at Canterbury, vol. 1). The same mark, probably resewn on the mold, appears in Oxford, Bodleian Library, 414 (in Oxford, Bodleian Library, 414, the mark is located between chainlines): fols. 1-8, 15.
  • “Sun with letters”: (cf. numbers 178-181 [1473-5] in Beazeley’s Tracings of Watermarks at Canterbury, vol. 1). Cf. Briquet “Lettres assemblées” 9477 (variations from 1466-1479). This mark is virtually identical with a tracing in the Briquet Archive in Geneva: “Papiers Briquet,” “2 ou plusieurs lettres” 6908 (1477). The identical mark appears in London, British Library, Egerton, 2864: fols. 9-14, 16-57, 62-63.
  • “Armoire,” closest to Briquet 1886 (“Ecu au nom de Lile,” 1471 [with variants to 1480]), measuring 6.4 cm from the tip of the fleur-de-lis to the bottom of the shield, by 3 cm across the widest portion of the shield, centered between chainlines 4.2 cm apart: 58-61; 64-154; 157-159,
  • “Armoire,” closest to Briquet 1885 (“Ecu au nom de Lile,” 1469 [with variants to 1473]), but with one twin centered between chainlines 3.7 cm apart, and measuring 6.6 x 3.2 cm, and the second centered between chainlines 3.7 cm apart and measuring 7 x 3.2 cm: 155 +156; 160-199.
  • “Bull’s Head (“Tête de Boeuf”) with a separate sexfoil element,” with chainlines 2.2 | 2.8 cm from the line that bisects the mark (unidentified): 200-247.
Extent: II + 247 + VI
Format: 2° = 28.7 x 19.5 cm (“Chancery”).
Collation: Fol. 1 is now separated and glued with the fly leaves at the front to a parchment guard. There is a pencil “foliation” at the top right marking fol. 1 as “Page 1,” fol. 2 as “Page 2,” etc., through fol. 5. Beginning with fol. 3, there is also an ink foliation to the right of the pencil numbering. This continues through the MS. Catchwords, visible after fol. 191, underscored in red.
Condition: Many pages at the front and back are repaired at the edges.
Page layout: Single column, 36-40 lines, margined in red ink, brown crayon, and (from fol. 56v ) drypoint. Unruled. Written space variable: 17.5-19.3 x 10.6-12 cm. Names and the first words of prologues and tales are underscored in red. Fifteenth-century signatures visible in some of the early quires.
Writing and hands:
  • One secretary hand, probably the same as Oxford, Bodleian Library, 414: single-compartment a, short r, B-shaped final s, long s initially and medially, with the “rolled umbrella” type of thick-bodied but tapering descenders (occurring often in ligature with t), tailed g, both looped and unlooped forms of d (the former with an angular lobe, the latter with a rounded one), reverse form of circular e used predominantly. Descenders on bottom lines are often greatly extended. Body height is approximately 1.5-2 mm.
  • Some corrections are made by expunction (in the text ink) as well as red strike-through (e.g. fol. 30r).
  • Another very similar hand occurs in MS Bodl. 221, Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes, which also shares a paper stock with Cologny, CB 48: Briquet 1885 (“Armoire,”). The spelling system in the Hoccleve MS is, however, markedly different from that found in Cologny, CB 48 and Oxford, Bodleian Library, 414.
  • Progress of copying: The scribe mistakenly writes The prolog of the clerk[es] tale of oxford as the rubric for the tale on fol. 102r, but prolog of the is crossed out. On fol. 131r, in the margin next to the first line of SNT ([T]his maiden bright cecili as hir lif sei­), in rubric, is Cecilia V[ir]go clarissima. On fol. 163v, the rubric for ­e Shipmans tale is in the margin, with the tale beginning on the top line. At the bottom of fol. 169r is the explicit/incipit Here endith the prolog of the p[ri]oresse | and the tale folowi­ On ­at o­ir syde. Cologny CB 48 and Oxford, Bodleian Library, 414 share an identical and otherwise unique ordering.
  • Illumination: None.

  • No running heads early, then scrawled titles in light brown ink on rectos (sixteenth-century?). Incipits and explicits written in a larger version of the text hand in rubric. Red capital strokes in MLT and irregularly from there on. A 4-line red W, with brown penwork, on fol. 1r. Elsewhere, prologues and tales are introduced by 2- to 3-line red initials. Red paraphs throughout.
Additions: There are numerous indexing glosses (sixteenth century?) in the same hand and ink as the scrawled running heads. The same hand also writes 2d . p[ar]s, 3d p[ar]s, 4. p[ar]s, 5. p[ar]s, 6 p[ar]s in ClT where no part divisions are indicated by the scribe. A different hand (also sixteenth-century?), in a black ink, has added explanatory glosses in English, such as millers have thumbes of | gold at A563. Next to lines B1 452-456, this hand has commented Blasphemous | Idolatry. In the margin near the beginning of Mel (fol. 177r ) are a reader’s comments: this story is worth | reading and read this story for it is full of good matter.
  • Very worn and wormed fifteenth-century chemise binding, sheepskin over oak (?) boards, sewn on four thongs, parchment pastedowns. Resewn early in the nineteenth (?) century. Two heavy red silk strips on the inside front of the chemise (extruding between the front board and the covering). The remains of two diamond-shaped bosses are on the back, on which, no doubt, the strips in the front once attached. Below the top boss is a strip of parchment, ruled in red, with the following text in a fifteenth-century textura semiquadrata, beginning with a 1-line blue initial with red penwork: In isto libro conti | ne[n]t[ur] Fabula Cantua | riens[is] In Anglicis. This is covered with a transparent membrane and held in place by red silk strips secured with brass nails. On the spine, in modern ink, is CHAUCER.
  • Two heavy, unmarked paper flies at the front and six at the back, the second and fifth of which have the watermark “1807” at the fore-edge. On fol. Ir [V1] is a contents list (nineteenth-century?).
  • Geoffrey Chaucer: Canterbury Tales (to l. 1061) Tale Order: a through Ea, then d (modified): Aabcd B1 D Ea Fb G C B2 H I.
Provenance of the manuscript:
  • On the front pastedown is the inscription This ancient Manuscript of | The Canterbury Tales | by | Geoffrey Chaucer | was given to me by | The Right Honourable | Lord William Gordon | 1808. | J. P. Kemble. Near that is a penciled note referring to the Kemble sale catalogue for January 26, 1821, No. 567. Below that is the inscription Phillipps MS | 8136. The same hand has written the Phillipps number at the bottom of fol. 1r. At the very bottom of the inside cover is a strip of parchment with a notation J.urry Xh : Ch: oxon borrowed this book 1714.
  • On fol. 90v, at the foot of the page, is the following: Itm all the ade endes that is howynge me | In chellame a monge my fryndes. Below that is: Itm fyrst symon mockt howes me ——xxx s | Itm more wyllam myre howes me——xxxvs | Itm more edwarde welles of godmassame howes me xs. If this refers to Edward Welles of Godmersham (=godmassame?), Kent, he had other unpaid debts as well. Parker’s visitation of 1573 records under: “GodmershamItem Edwarde Wells, Willms Chapman do Refuse topay the money to the poor wch they are ceassed at” (Archæologia Cantiana 1911, p. 281).
  • On fol. 7v, in the lower margin, is Thys ys Rych. On fol. 123v, at the bottom left, probably in the same hand but a different ink is R Peny y. On fol. 155v, at the bottom left, is Rychard howell | wyttnes at the sealyng. At the top of fol. 163v is the smudged name [?] Jhon payn. On fol. 169v, at the top, is I[t]m mr Frost mr harrye fynche. There was a Sir Thomas Finch of Eastwell (near Godmersham) who had a son, Sir Henry Finch (1558-1625), who was in Parliament (for Canterbury) in 1592-3, and re-elected in 1597. He “was called to the degree of serjeant-at-law” in June 1616, and knighted at Whitehall later that same month (Philipot 1898, pp. 67-8; Berry 1930, p. 206; DNB; Manly-Rickert 1:425). There were also Finches in Sandwich (Berry 1930, p. 165).
  • Given its other Kentish connections, p. 2 may be the MS described by Abraham de la Pryme: “All the works of old Chaucer, in long folio. This vol. belonged to the monastery of Canterbury. Penes D. Edmund Canby, de Thorne, in com. Ebor” (de la Pryme 1870, p. 319, no. 6; Manly-Rickert 1:424). Although p. 2 does not contain “All the works of old Chaucer”, Manly-Rickert note that “[i]n a British Museum copy of Urry (643.m.1, p. 36 or Preface), William Thomas said that Urry used the Canby MS and that it lacked ‘the Coke’s tale and Gamelyn and also the Squire’s and Merchant’s Tale, and is imperfect at the end.’ These defects are true only of Oxford, Bodleian Library, 414 and Cologny CB 48, and the last clause is true of Cologny, CB 48 only” (Manly-Rickert 1:424).
  • Thomas also stated that at the date of the writing—1770—the MS belonged to Lord Irwin (Manly-Rickert 1:424). From Irwin (Charles Ingram Viscount Irvine) it passed to William Gordon, his son-in-law, and, as the note on the inside cover states, it passed from Gordon to Kemble. Manly-Rickert state (1:424) that below Kemble’s note is one by “‘T. F. F’ (T. Fitzroy Fenwick) indicating that it was sold at the Kemble sale in 1821 (No.567). It was bought by Heber and contains, pasted inside the back cover, his small circular label with the number 494 […] . At the Heber sale in 1836 it was bought by Thorpe, who sold it to Sir Thomas Phillipps.”
Acquisition of the manuscript: Rosenbach acquired the MS from Phillipps in November 1923 (Morris 1988, p. 42). Cologny, CB 48 is described in the 1940 Rosenbach catalogue, An Exhibition of Fifteenth Century Manuscripts in Honor of the Six Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400), p. 7. Although Rosenbach priced the MS at $85,000, Bodmer was able to acquire it for $46,500 (Kraus 1978, p. 273).
  • Berry, William. County Genealogies: Pedigrees of the Families in the County of Kent. London: Sherwood, Gilbert, and Piper, 1830.
  • Archæologia Cantiana 29. [London]: Kent Archaeological Society, 1911, p. 281.
  • Kirby-Miller, Wilma Anderson. “Scribal Dialects in the C and D Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales.” Diss. University of Chicago, 1938, p. 68-70.
  • Kraus, H. P. A Rare Book Saga: The Autobiography of H. P. Kraus. New York; G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1978.
  • Manly, John M., and Edith Rickert, eds. The Text of the Canterbury Tales: Studied on the Basis of All Known Manuscripts. 8 vols. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1940, l. 421-426.
  • McCormick, Sir William and Janet E. Heseltine. The Manuscripts of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: A Critical Description of Their Contents. Oxford: Clarendon, 1933, p. 397-404.
  • Morris, Leslie A. Rosenbach Abroad: In pursuit of books in private collections. Philadelphia: Rosenbach Museum and Library, 1988, p. 42.
  • Owen, Charles A., Jr. The Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1991, p. 79-81.
  • Philipot, John. The Visitation of Kent, Taken in the Years 1619-1621. Harl. Soc. 42. Ed. Robert Hovenden. London, 1898.
  • Rosenbach Company. An Exhibition of Fifteenth-Century Manuscripts and Books in Honor of the Six Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400). March 25-April 30, 1940. New York, p. 7.
  • Rosenbach Company. English Poetry to 1700. Philadelphia: Rosenbach Co., 1941. 37, No. 156.
  • Spiegel der Welt. Handschriften und Bücher aus drei Jahrtausenden. Eine Ausstellung der Fondation Martin Bodmer Cologny in Verbindung mit dem Schiller-Nationalmuseum Marbach und der Stiftung Museum Bärengasse Zürich, Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, und Marbach, Deutsche Schillergesellschaft, 2001, 2 Bände, Bd I, S. 451-456.