17-09-14: Cambridge St. John’s College MS H.5

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On September 14, the resurrected Graduate Paleography Group met for the first time in a long time, honoring the memory of our illustrious leader Alex Devine and vowing to carry forth his legacy into the future.

Our new group organizer, Sarah Wilma Watson (English), led this meeting by guiding us through Cambridge St. John’s College MS H.5, and we collectively transcribed some lines from both the Middle English and the Latin sections of the manuscript.

1. Could you tell us about this manuscript?
Cambridge St. John’s College MS H.5 is one of three surviving copies of Stephen Scrope’s Middle English translation of Christine’s Epistre Othea (a mirror for princes). The manuscript measures about 8 x 11 inches and contains 61 parchment folios. It was made in England between 1450 and 1460 and includes a dedication to Humphrey Stafford, Duke of Buckingham.

2. How did you become interested in this manuscript?
At some point before 1487 the manuscript made its way to the Isle of Wight and into the hands of Emalyn Bramshott, a more or less unknown gentrywoman. Emalyn’s name appears on flyleaf i verso written as “Emalyn Bremschet.” A Latin prayer, naming the supplicant/ speaker as Emalena appears on flyleaf ii verso. At the back of the manuscript on the back flyleaves is a Middle English devotional text on the Five Sorrows of the Virgin Mary concluding with the phrase “Bremschet Scripsit” [see image above]. Finally, below this appears, the birth dates, places, and godparents of ten children born to William and Emelen Bremschet in a mixture of Latin and English.

3. What is your favorite detail about this manuscript?
This manuscript is exciting because the late-medieval annotator has customized this literary manuscript in the way that readers often personalize Bibles and Books of Hours.

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