bonæ litteræ: occasional writing from David Rundle, Renaissance scholar

Manuscript Descriptions

My Oxford doctoral thesis, ‘Of Republics and Tryants: aspects of quattrocento humanist writings and their reception in England, c. 1400 – c. 1460’, completed in 1997, included an appendix providing detailed manuscript descriptions of a score of relevant codices. I have subsequently published one of these, and discussed others in print; a couple, meanwhile, have been superseded by later scholarship. Many, though, remain unpublished and include information not available elsewhere. As dissertations are not the most accessible items, this page is intended to provide links to my descriptions. Please note that these have not been revised from the state they appeared in the thesis, including the original errors and infelicities; for ease of citation, the original pagination has been retained. I do intend to revise some of these for publication; if you wish to refer to any of them, it would best to contact me for an update on their latest status.

I give below a table listing the manuscripts described in the appendix, and, in the last column, either a link to the pdf file of the description or an explanation for its not being included here. The table is followed by an outline of the format of the descriptions, and a list of abbreviations used.





[1]. Aberystwyth: National Library of Wales, MS. Peniarth 336A 312 – 315 DGRMS1
[2]. Cambridge: Corpus Christi College, MS. 472 316 – 323 DGRMS2
[3]. Cambridge: Jesus College, MS. Q.G.15 324 – 330 DGRMS3
[4]. Cambridge: Trinity College, MS. B.14.47 331 – 333 DGRMS4
[5]. Cambridge: Trinity College, MS. O.9.8 334 – 341 DGRMS5
[6]. Cambridge: University Library, MS. Gg.i.34(i) 342 – 347 revised and published in Bodleian Library Record
[7]. Dublin: Trinity College, MS. 438 – Notice 348 – 354 DGRMS7
[8]. Durham: Dean & Chapter Library, MS. C.iv.3 355 – 370 DGRMS8
[9]. Florence: Biblioteca Riccardiana, MS. 952 371 – 375 superseded
[10]. London: British Library, MS. Cotton Otho.A.vii – Notice 376 – 378 discussed in ‘The Scribe Thomas Candour’, English MSS Studies, xii
[11]. London: British Library, MS. Harl. 1705 379 – 392 DGRMS11 Note: a revised version is to appear in Library of Humfrey
[12]. London: British Library, MS. Harl. 2268 393 – 414 DGRMS12
[13]. London: British Library, MS. Harl. 3426 415 – 420 DGRMS13Note: a revised version to appear in Library of Humfrey
[14]. London: Lambeth Palace Library, MS. 354 421 – 423 DGRMS14
[15]. Manchester: Chetham’s Library, MS. Mun.A.3.131 – Notice 424 – 426 full description to appear in Library of Humfrey
[16]. Manchester: John Rylands Library, MS. lat. 211 427 – 430 DGRMS16
[17]. Oxford: Balliol College, MS. 315 – Notice 431 – 433 DGRMS17
[18]. Oxford: Bodleian, MS. Auct. F.5.26 434 – 441 DGRMS18
[19]. Oxford: Bodleian, MS. Bodl. 915 442 – 447 discussed in ‘The Scribe Thomas Candour’, English MSS Studies, xii
[20]. Oxford: Magdalen College, MS. 218 448 – 451 DGRMS20
[21]. Oxford: New College, MS. 288 452 – 457 DGRMS21
[22]. Seville: Biblioteca Colombina, MS. 5/1/20 458 – 460 DGRMS22
[23]. Città del Vaticano: BAV, MS. Vat. lat. 10669 – Notice 461 – 463 superseded

The conventions employed in the entries are as follows:

Some entries are marked as ‘notices’ which provide only summary information, revising a recent catalogue entry. The majority are full descriptions.  They are headed by a short title of their contents and a synopsis of date and place of production. The dating follows the conventional form as outlined by M.Parkes, Medieval Manuscripts of Keble College, Oxford (London, 1979), p.xix.


Each description is divided into four sections: technical description, listing of contents, discussion of provenance and bibliography.

Technical descriptions are divided into seven sections as follows:

I Material, size of page and number of leaves. Material is distinguished between paper and parchment; comment is made on the disposition and quality of parchment, or on watermarks in the paper. Size of page recorded in millimetres, length × breadth. The number of pages or folios (depending on present numbering) is recorded with all later flyleaves noted in roman numerals and all sheets of the original codex (including blank folios) noted in arabic numerals: eg. vi (2 paper, 4 parchment) + 292 + vi (4 parchment, 2 paper).

II Collation, catchwords and signatures. The quires are collated, excluding flyleaves, following the system described in N.Ker, Medieval Manuscripts of British Libraries, iii (Oxford, 1983) p.vii. The presence of catchwords is noted, but their position is mentioned only if it is not in the bottom righthand corner. The presence of quire or folio signatures is also noted.

III Size of written space, number of lines, pricking and ruling. The size of written space is measured from the top line or, if there is none, from the top of the first line’s minims to the bottom line or, if there is none, the bottom of the last line’s minims; measured in millimetres, length × breadth. All manuscripts listed here are written in one column, so number of long lines is recorded. Presence of borders and ruling also noted but comment is not made of implement used. Presence and position of prickholes noted.

IV Handwriting. Only the handwriting of the scribes is discussed here. The basic distinction made is between gothic and humanist scripts, with the latter divided into lettera antica and italic. Notable features of the handwriting are recorded, be they particular letter-forms, abbreviations or punctuation.

V Illuminations. Presence of illuminated initials and borders noted and their pigments mentioned. No attempt is made to describe representational drawings.

VI Marginalia. A brief survey is provided, attempting to distinguish the annotations of different readers, beginning with the scribe.

VII Binding. Only brief comment is made, unless the binding is fifteenth century.

2o fo. Verba probatoria are noted for each fascicule of a manuscript and also for folios other than the second if structure of the manuscript suggests they could have been used in cataloguing (as, for example, in the case of BL, MS.Harl. 1705).

The listing of contents is confined to the items of the original codex, excluding all later additions. Therefore, contents lists or other writings found on the flyleaves are not recorded in this second section. If these additions are written in a hand which also annotates part of the main text, they are discussed under marginalia in the technical description; otherwise they are mentioned in the history of the manuscript. In the listing, the following symbols are used:

/           line-break

^…^      addition between the lines

\…/       addition on the line or in the margins

|…|        scribal writing in the margins

||           break in the text

[…]      editorial expansions or additions

Words written in italics signify that they were inserted by a hand other than the scribe of that section.

Each item is followed by, in order, bibliographical details, notes on pecularities in this particular copy and, if necessary, comments on the content. Under bibliographical details, references are provided to printed versions of an item; if no printed version exists, reference is made (where possible) to Bertalot, Initia Humanistica or other bibliographical tool which mentions manuscript copies of the text. Other manuscripts are selectively listed only if such bibliographical information does not occur elsewhere or if those copies elucidate the circulation of the manuscript described.

Discussion of provenance discusses any evidence available for the origin and the circulation of the manuscript. Any ex libris or other mark of ownership is discussed in this section. Also, the implications of the technical evidence are explained as are the insights that the contents can provide about the circulation of texts in fifteenth century England.

Each description ends with a brief bibliography. In this section, and elsewhere, the following abbreviations are used:

Alexander & Temple J.J.G.Alexander & E.Temple, Illuminated Manuscripts in Oxford College Libraries (Oxford, 1985)
Baron, Bruni H.Baron, Leonardo Bruni Aretino (Leipzig, 1928)
BAV Città del Vaticano: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana
Bertalot L.Bertalot, Initia Humanistica 2 vol.s [in progress] (Tübingen, 1985-90)
Bertalot, Studien L.Bertalot, Studien zum Italienischen und Deutschen Humanismus 2 vol.s (Rome, 1975)
BJRL Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
BL London: British Library
Bod. Oxford: Bodleian Library
BodLR Bodleian Library Record
BRUC A.B.Emden, Biographical Register of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, 1963)
BRUO A.B.Emden, Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to AD.1500 3 vol.s (Oxford, 1957-9)
CCloseR Calendar of Close Rolls
Colophons [Bénédictins da Bouvert] Colophons des Manuscrits Occidentaux 6 vol.s (Fribourg, 1965-82)
CPL Calendar of Papal Letters
CPatR Calendar of Patent Rolls
CUL Cambridge: University Library
DBI Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani
de la Mare la Mare, ‘Manuscripts given to the University of Oxford by Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester’, BodLR, xiii (1988) pp.30-51 & pp.112-21
DH&EH [Bodleian exhibition catalogue] Duke Humfrey and English Humanism (Oxford, 1970)
DHL [Bodleian exhibition catalogue] Duke Humfrey’s Library and the Divinity School, 1488-1988 (Oxford, 1988)
EHR English Historical Review
Ep.Acad. H.Anstey, ed., Epistolae Academicae Oxon. 2 vol.s (Oxford, 1898)
exhib. cat. exhibition catalogue
Furietti J.A. Furiettius, ed., Gasparini Barzizii Bergomatis et Guinforti Filii opera (Rome, 1723)
Garin E.Garin, Prosatori latini del Quattrocento (Milan, 1952)
Griffiths, Humanism G.Griffiths, J.Hankins & D.Thompson, ed., The Humanism of Leonardo Bruni (Binghamton, 1987)
GSLI Giornale Storico della Letteratura Italiana
Hain L.Hain, Repertorium Bibliographicum 4 vol.s (Milan, 1948)
Hankins J.Hankins, Plato in the Renaissance 2 vol.s (Leiden, 1990)
Harth Poggio Bracciolini, Lettere, ed.H.Harth 3 vol.s (Florence, 1983-7)
Harvey M.Harvey, England, Rome and the Papacy, 1417-1464 (Manchester, 1993)
IMU Italia Medioevale e Umanistica
Iter P.O.Kristeller, Iter Italicum 7 vol.s (Leiden, 1963-97)
JEccH Journal of Ecclesiastical History
JWCI Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes
Ker N.Ker, Pastedowns in Oxford Bindings (Oxford, 1954)
Luiso F.Luiso, Studi su l’epistolario di L.Bruni (Rome, 1980)
Mann N.Mann, “Petrarch MSS in the British Isles”, IMU, xviii (1975) pp.139-527
Mehus L.Mehus, ed., Leonardi Bruni … Epistolarum libri 2 vol.s (Florence, 1741) [epistle number followed by Luiso number]
Pächt & Alexander O.Pächt & J.J.G.Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford 3 vol.s (Oxford, 1966-73)
PL J.P.Migne, Patrologia Latina
RIS Rerum Italicarum Scriptores
Rundle, “Virtue & Weiss” D. Rundle, ‘On the difference between Virtue and Weiss: Humanist texts in England during the fifteenth century’ in D.Dunn, ed., Courts, Counties and the Capital (Stroud, 1996)
Sammut A.Sammut, Unfredo Duca di Gloucester e gli umanisti italiani (Padua, 1980)
Schirmer W.Schirmer, Der Englische Frühhumanismus [2nd ed.] (Tübingen, 1963)
TCBS Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society
TRHS Transactions of the Royal Historical Society
Vickers K.Vickers, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (London, 1907)
Weiss R.Weiss, Humanism in England during the Fifteenth Century [3rd ed] (Oxford, 1967)

As well as the above abbreviations, the following symbols are used: * designates a manuscript that I have not been able to consult in person, + designates a manuscript I have consulted only on microfilm. A manuscript number in bold signifies a cross-reference to another codex discussed in the appendix.


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  1. […] manuscript descriptions have been on-line for some time now, and I am always grateful to scholars who contact me to say they have found them […]

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