17-09-28: Oxford St. John’s College MS 190


On September 28, Matt Aiello (English) led our meeting by taking us through Oxford St. John’s College MS 190; Matt told us about his work on the manuscript and its short inclusion of Middle English, and we collectively transcribed some lines in Latin.

1. Could you tell us about this manuscript?
So this manuscript is Oxford St. John’s College MS 190. It has been dated, roughly, to the thirteenth century, but based on palaeographic dating I think it’s probably the third quarter of the thirteenth century s.xiii(b1). It is a miscellany of theological work in Latin with bits in French, and the attached folio (f. 237r), is the only place that English occurs in the manuscript. The English are couplets on Christ’s passion (which are translations of the given Latin right above it), and a quatrain on a friend’s death, but written as couplets. The hand is in a shaky Textualis/Anglicana hybrid. The page dimensions are 170 x 120 mm, and based on dialectal localizing, Margaret Laing, in her Catalogue of Sources for a Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English locates the manuscript to the Abbey of St. Peter in Westminster.

2. How did you become interested in this manuscript?
I became interested in this manuscript simply because it fell in the survey I was conducting of all thirteenth-century manuscripts at Oxford that contain English from this period. I really like this example of English, in particular, because I think the quatrain on the bottom right was a spontaneous composition that was inspired by the lines of grief on Christ’s passion copied adjacently, and I think it’s beautiful and it makes me teary-eyed and also makes me wonder about the life of this particular scribe and if he had recently lost a friend. I’ve reprinted it below:

Anglice. Wanne frend schal fram frend go . into unkuhelonde
nis no wunder þet frend bie wo .’ and wring bo his honde .

3. What is your favorite detail about this manuscript?
It is the only surviving copy of this quatrain on a friend’s death, and the scribe has sought to make it spatially separate from the other marginalia, which to me signals that one should pay special attention to it.


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


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.

Transcribathon!: Noon to Midnight Reading Old Handwriting and Making Digital Texts

Provenance Online Project

photoLast Thursday staff from Penn’s Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts and the Folger Shakespeare Library were joined by students and scholars from the Penn community for a world premiere event. This was (as far as we know) the world’s first ever Transcribathon: twelve hours from noon to midnight of intently examining Renaissance manuscripts and transcribing them using the beta version of an exciting new transcription software called Dromio that the Folger is developing as a part of its Early Modern Manuscript Online (EMMO) project to help make it easier for experts and newbies alike to help make digital transcriptions of centuries old manuscripts.  Transcribathon participants were fortified with both pizza and slices of the manuscript cake (created by hand by yours truly) shown above.

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Palaeography Group Holiday Party

Penn Ph.D student Alex Devine has been a regular at meetings of the Manuscript Collective. As organizer of the Penn Palaeography Group, he leads a monthly gathering of graduate students that share about current research, discuss new texts acquired by the Kislak Center, and work together on transcriptions.

Alex Devine Alex Devine

After attending meetings of the Manuscript Collective, he generously invited the Penn Manuscript Collective to join the Paleography Group’s holiday party. Plenty of food and drink were on hand as the group read through medieval manuscripts of carols and Christmas recipes.

edible Paleography flair, courtesy Anne Dutlinger edible gingerbread Palaeography flair, courtesy Anne Dutlinger

We began with a reading of “Now ys the tyme of crystymas” from a 16th century commonplace book (find the entire book here). This jaunty rhyme calls for a festive celebration—those who can bring no sport to the hall should be sent to the stocks!

Make we mery bothe more and lasse / For now ys t[h]e tyme of CrystymasMake we mery bothe more and…

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DigiPal Project

Parker Library

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be focusing on various digital projects and resources both old and new which incorporate data concerning one or more manuscripts from the Parker Library collection.

Image from CCCC MS 389, f.1v Image from CCCC MS 389, f.1v

The DigiPal Project is one of the most exciting digital medieval projects around  – and it uses lots of images from our manuscripts. In fact, you can see one on the header of their website.

It’s based at the Department of Digital Humanities in King’s College London and the Project Director is Dr Peter Stokes who has worked extensively on many of the Anglo-Saxon manuscripts in the Parker Library. DigiPal is a palaeographical resource based on digital images of manuscripts or documents but incorporating many types of annotation and detailed description of the hands, texts and manuscripts and (when it’s complete) several different ways of interrogating, organising and displaying…

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Manuscript Road Trip: The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies

Manuscript Road Trip

The Flight into Egypt, Walters Art Museum, MS W.188, f.112r The Flight into Egypt, Walters Art Museum, MS W.188, f.112r

As we head north out of Baltimore on I-95, we’ll cross the Delaware River and head into Wilmington, where there are manuscripts to be found at the University of Delaware.

The pre-1600 manuscripts at the University are part of a collection with the shelfmark “MSS 095.” There’s a list of the relevant records here and some highlights are described here. Of particular interest to me is a relatively recent acquisition, U. Delaware MSS 095 no. 31, a Book of Hours for the use of Noyon. There aren’t any images on the Special Collections website, but there are a few on this blogpost written by a Special Collections staff member, as well as a little information about the manuscript’s history. But I’d like to know more…how did it get to Delaware, and what can be gleaned about its history before…

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