The Production and Use of English Manuscripts 1060 to 1220

described by Orietta Da Rold

London, British Library, Cotton Otho C. i, vol. 2

London, British Library, Cotton Otho C. i, vol. 2

The Production and Use of English Manuscripts: 1060 to 1220

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© The Production and Use |

of English Manuscripts 1060 to 1220 |

Gregory's Dialogues, Vitas Patrum, & c.

Date: s. xiin- s. ximed, s. xiii


The manuscript is made up of four parts (see also Franzen 1998, pp. 1-5) which contain:

Part 1, fols 1-61 includes an eleventh-century copy of the metrical preface, introductory lines and Books 1 (fols 1-30v) and 2 (fols 31-61v) of the Old English translation of Gregory's Dialogues. The metrical preface begins 'se þe me rædae æresðþa stream' (Dobbie 1942, p. 112) and the introductory lines to book 1, 'Her ongynneð se æresðþa stream' are unique to this manuscript (Hecht 1900, p. 2). In the metrical preface there is an erasure under 'tan' of 'ƿulftan' in 'Me aƿritan het ƿulfstan bisceop' (fol. 1r/8) in a hand of the second half of the 11th century (Sisam 1953, p. 202). Sisam notes that the original reading could be Wulfsige, bishop of Sherbourne in the time of Alfred. The alteration could be an indication that this manuscript unit was written for Wulfstan II of Worcester.

Part 2 and Part 3, fols 62-148, contain Books 3 (fols 62-100) and 4 (fols 100-37) of the Old English translation of Gregory's Dialogues. The text ends 'mid heora seolfra riht' (Hecht 1900, p. 336/1) with half a folio blank (fol. 137/11-30). It includes translations from the Vitae Patrum (fols 137v-43v, see Assmann 1889, pp.197-99), the letter of Boniface to Eadburga (fols 143v-46r, Sisam 1953, pp. 212-23) and Evil Tongues (fols146r-1448v). Ker notes that this part is written by two Worcester hands about 40 years after part 1 (Ker 1957, p. 237).

Part 4, fols 149-155 contains Ælfrician material (fol. 149r, see Skeat 1881-1900, n. 1, ll. 20-49) and Ælfric's Hexameron, fols 149v-151v (see Crawford 1921), with the running title is 'De creatore et creatura'. Fols 151v-154v contain texts with the running title 'De sex etatibus mundi', and fols 154v-155v include material with the running title 'De populo israhel quando uolueri' (see Pope 1967-68, n. 20, pp. 641-53). Missing text probably due to loss of leaves.

Annotations by contemporary readers are numerous. They include marginal notes by Coleman, who was chancellor to Wulfstan II, Bishop of Worcester, and who died in 1113, on fols 105v, 106v, 107v, 110r, 112v, 113r/v, 114v, 115r, 116r,117v, 118v, 122v, 123r, 131r, 132v, 133v (Johnson and Rudolf 2010, pp. 1-13). Running titles have been added by one hand, s. xi2, and are now visible in Part 1, 2, 3 and 4 on fols 5-7, 30, 63-70, 90, 94, 103-108, and 149-155. This hand, as noted by Ker (1957, p. 236) and Franzen (1998, p. 3), also writes the running titles in Hatton 113 and Hatton 114. There are also several annotations in all parts by the Tremulous Hand datable to s. xiiiex. Some of this material is drawn from Cambridge, Clare College 30 and Junius 121 (Franzen 1998, p. 3). On fol. 149r a booklist is included, but this is only partially legible. It refers to around 6 books, and it is written in a later hand of s. xiii (see Sisam 1953 and Ker 1957, p. 237).

Physical Description:

Object Description:

Form: codex

Extent: Fols 1 - 155

Foliation and/or Pagination:

Fols 155, foliated 1-49, 51, 50, 52-155 in 1869. The last four folios are bound out of sequence.

Collation: The manuscript was damaged in the fire in the Cotton library in 1731, and each leaf is mounted separately. Ker (1857, p. 237) suggests that 'ff. 62-148, before and after which there are evident breaks, consisted probably of 11 quires, each of 8 leaves. A leaf is missing after f. 97'. There is a blank folio before 149r.


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