Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, Cod. Bodmer 43

Lipscomb Lan, ‘A Fifteenth-Century Prose Paraphrase of Robert of Gloucester's Chronicle.’ Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill, NC, USA, 1990. With additions by Dr Erik Kooper, Utrecht University, NL (July 2007).

  • The Prose Brut
  • A unique Prose Paraphrase of Robert of Gloucester's Metrical Chronicle
Entstehungszeit: 15th century
Alternative Bezeichnung: The Chronicles of London
Beschreibstoff: Membrane
Umfang: iii + 208 + iii pages (unusually, the MS is numbered per page and not per folio).
Format: 270 x 190 mm.
Seitennummerierung: Modern pagination in pencil in top right corner of recto sides only, per page; 104 fols., last number is 207.
  • Thirteen complete quires of 8 leaves each.
  • The MS has probably lost another quire at least at its end. It currently ends in the 33rd of 34 lines in the second column of the verso side of the last folio in the final quire. However, it is evident under U/V light that the word "and" followed the last surviving sentence of the work ("And Sir Edward ran to the freirs menores."), and there are traces of other writing in the last line of ruled space. There is no evidence of a catchword, but the spaces after the last intact sentence and the entire right half of the bottom margin have been heavily erased.
  • From this it would seem that the scribe originally had hopes of ever being able to complete the text. That the manuscript remained unbound (possibly for that reason) for quite some time without its final quire(s) appears from the fact that both the first and the last page are soiled, and had to be mounted on stubs when the manuscript was rebound in 1909.
  • Since the text as editied by Wright runs up to line 12,049, the prose paraphrase of some 660 lines is missing. If 55 lines in Wright’s edition equal appr. 2 columns in Bodmer 43, this means that about 12 pages = 6 folios are lost, i.e. a little less than a quire (= 8 folios).
Seiteneinrichtung: Writing block appr. 195 x 135 mm. 2 columns par page; 34 lines per column. Every page has been carefully ruled, with a separate box for the headers at the top of the page, divided into three by the four vertical lines defining the two columns.
The whole manuscript was carefully planned: pencil lines divide every page into two columns of appr. 195 x 60 mm by means of two horizontal and four vertical lines, separating the columns by a space of 15 mm. There originally must have been fairly generous margins on all sides, but due to cropping these are now rather narrow except for the bottom one (15 and 35 mm on the sides, 17 mm at the top, 60 mm at the bottom). In the top margin two horizontal lines provide space for the headers, for which there are three blocks (due to the four vertical lines), which are mostly used all three, e.g. on the last page “Kynge – Henry – thred”.
Schrift und Hände:
  • English secretary hand, late 15th century. One hand.
  • A few phrases that the scribe thought important were written in red, in the body of the text, e.g. on p. 30a oure lorde / Ihesu crist was borne in be/delem, or the well-known phrases wassaille … wassaille and drynke hayle on p. 52a, b.
  • The scribe has used such a peculiar variant of the capital ‘E’ that the illuminator who did the large capitals at one point in the text three times produced a capital ‘O’ instead of an ‘E’: on p. 116b Odmunde (for ‘Edmunde’), on p. 118a Odwyn, and on the same page in the second column, 118b, Odgar (they are all spelled correctly both in the text and in the header).
  • Illuminated border of flower and leaf decoration around the first page.

  • Numerous decorated initials in gold on parti-colored blue and lake grounds, with bar borders and floral sprays at both ends of the bar.

    These large initials are all contained in 4-line boxes measuring 25 x 30 mm (h x b). To this rule there are two exceptions: the large initial ‘I’ on the first page, which extends 13 lines down, and the first initial of the prose version of Gloucester’s Chronicle, which is a 5-line capital, at the beginning of a new recto page (p. 5). In the body of the text small capitals have often been touched up with a faded yellow.

  • Headings to each page in red.

Einband: Bound 1909 in blue morocco leather pointillé by Katherine Adams, Broadway, Worcestershire.
Hauptsprache: Middle English, Southeast Midlands dialect
  • pp. 1-4 (ff. 1-2v) The Prose Brut (also called The Chronicles of London) In the noble londe of / Surrey there was a noble / kynge and a myghti man and / of grete renowne . that men / callede Dioclician that welle / and wortheli gouernede hymself / thrugh his noble Chiualry so / that he conquerede alle the lon/des aboute hym
    Textgeschichte: The Prose Brut part of the MS contains the story of Albina and is drawn fairly closely from that work as it appears in Brie's edition
  • pp. 5-208 (ff. 3-104v) Robert of Gloucester: A unique Prose Paraphrase of Robert of Gloucester's Metrical Chronicle Frome . the be / gynnynge of / the worlde to / the tyme that / nowe is bene / seuene ages. …–… But the / sad and discrete men wold not / But tariede vndre the wode/side bedynge their bedes every / man armed abydynge the / commynge out of the kynges / Oste . And when the two ostes / met there was many a mo/dre sonne broght to grounde / and the kynge of Almayne / was taken in a wyndemylle þat / somtyme was Duke of Corne/walle . And sir Edward ron / to the ffreiers menores \FINIS/. added in a later hand.
    The Prose Paraphrase of Robert of Gloucester part of the MS begins with an account of the seven ages of the world (corresponding to l. 190 in Robert of Gloucester’s text) and continues without omission until an imperfect ending, at the beginning of the battle of Lewes (corresponding to line 11,388). This means that two columns in Bodmer 43 represent appr. 55 lines of Robert’s text.
    Textgeschichte: This prose paraphrase is a unique work though related textually to another prose paraphrase of Robert of Gloucester in Cambridge University Library MS Ll.2.14, ff. 1-143 . The latter has been edited by Lan Lipscomb as his dissertation. He was aware of Bodmer Codex 43 and treated its relation to CUL Ll.2.14 in the dissertation. The two works share an almost identically written passage (CUL f. 26v, l. 3 to f. 38r, l. 6; Bodmer p. 83b, l. 4 to p. 99b, l. 13) and two interpolations (the Destruction of Cirencester: CUL, folio 34r; Bodmer, p. 94a-94b; a Distinct Miracle of the Ring in the Life of Edward the Confessor: CUL, ff. 70v-71v; Bodmer, p. 145a-145b). On the basis of these and other parallels, Lipscomb argued in his dissertation that the two works descend from a common archetype now lost. He also edited small portions of Codex 43 to emend CUL Ll.2.14. See pp. iii-iv, xi, lxxiii-cxx, and Appendix 3, pp. 245-264.
Provenienz der Handschrift:
  • Names of several owners in 16th-century hands appear; portions which have been obscured mainly by cropping are underlined:
    • Christopher Greathett and John Hales, Hales Place (at Hackington, near Canterbury, p. 5),
    • Barnabe Holbey (possibly Holbech, p. 9),
    • Barnabe (p. 156),
    • Barnabe (erased but legible, p. 157),
    • John Greathett, Parkwood in, ? knau , known by me, Bartholomew Hales (Bartholomew appears to overwrite Barnabe, p. 207).
  • On a slip inserted in the MS someone has traced some of these names (probably from DNB):
    • Hales Place is at Hackington, a suburb of Canterbury
    • Sir Chrisdtopher Hales d. 1541, master of the rolls, MP Canterbury 1523, Solliciter-general 1525, justice of assizes, 1532, conducted proceedings against More, Fisher and Anne Boleyn, 1535. Granted Church lands in Kent.
Erwerb der Handschrift: Bought from the library of the 2nd Lord Aldenham, sale by Sotheby, March 22, 1937.
For Codex 43, see
  • “The Aldenham Library: Catalogue of the Famous Library, The Property of the Rt. Honourable Lord Aldenham, The First Portion, First Day's Sale, Monday, March 22nd, 1937.” Item #107, p. 42. Sotheby and Co.
  • Catalogue of the Aldenham Library mainly Collected by Henry Hucks Gibbs, First Lord Aldenham: Revised and brought up to date by Helen Rudd. Privately printed by the Arden Press. Letchworth, Hertfordshire, 1914, p. 392.
  • A Catalogue of Some Printed Books and Manuscripts at St. Dunstan’s, Regent’s Park and Aldenham House, Herts: Collected by Henry Hucks Gibbs. London, 1888, p. 158.
For The Prose Brut (also called The Chronicles of London), see
  • Kennedy, Edward D. “Chronicles and Other Historical Writing.” In A Manual of the Writings in Middle English: 1050-1500. Ed. Albert E. Hartung. Vol. 8. New Haven, CN, 1989, pp. 2629-2637 (discussion), and pp. 2818-2833 (bibliography).
  • Brie, F. W. D., ed. The Brut or the Chronicles of England. Early English Text Society, Original Series 131, 136, London 1906-08.
  • Brie, F. W. D., ed. Geschichte und Quellen der mittelenglischen Prosachronik The Brute of England oder The Chronicles of England. Marburg, 1905.
For The Prose Paraphrase of Robert of Gloucester's Metrical Chronicle, see
  • Lipscomb, Andrew D. (Lan), "A Fifteenth-Century Prose Paraphrase of Robert of Gloucester's ‘Chronicle’." Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1990. This is an edition and study of a textually related but still distinct prose paraphrase of Robert of Gloucester found in Cambridge University Library MS Ll.2.14.
  • Kennedy, Edward D. “Chronicles and Other Historical Writing.” In A Manual of the Writings in Middle English: 1050-1500. Ed. Albert E. Hartung. Vol. 8. New Haven, CN, 1989, pp. 2621-2622 (discussion), and p. 2807 (bibliography).
For Robert of Gloucester's Metrical Chronicle, see
  • Wright, W.A., ed. The Metrical Chronicle of Robert of Gloucester, 2 vols. Rolls Series no. 86. London, 1887.