bonæ litteræ: occasional writing from David Rundle, Renaissance scholar

Manuscripts of John Tiptoft

Version 3.

John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester, is sometimes described as England’s first ‘Renaissance prince’ — and that is not meant as a compliment. It is intended to suggest instead that, owing to his time in Italy in 1459 – 61, he learnt Renaissance style and Renaissance realpolitik, and then imported them to an innocent England: he was, in short, all manners and no morals. As will be clear, I have no truck with that interpretation but there is a fascination in both his book-collecting and the political activities of his circle.

What appears below is an updated version of the list of manuscripts relating to the library of John Tiptoft which I provided as a hand-out when I spoke in Philadelphia in November 2007 at ‘The Treasured Hunt’ symposium, organised by the Free Library. At that point, several manuscripts had recently come to light; most important are the group now in Paris which can help revise our understanding of the fortunes of his collection, as well as shedding new insight into humanism in the north-east of Italy, c. 1460. In 2012, two further manuscripts [32.5 & 35] were added to the list of ‘probable’ manuscripts, and another [31.5] in August 2014, so the present total is thirty-seven manuscripts in total.

List of manuscripts owned by John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester

Recent discoveries are noted in bold. Rejected manuscripts are not listed.

[1].Cambridge: Gonville & Caius College, MS. 152 / 202 (Apuleius, De Deo Socratis)

[2].Cambridge: St. John’s College, MS. I. 38 (James 226) (humanist miscellany)

[3].Dublin: Trinity College, MS. 438 (humanist miscellany produced in Oxford, 1450 / 1)

[4].Kobenhavn: Kongelige Bibliothek, MS. GL. Kgl. S. 2154 (Sallust; produced in the workshop of Vespasiano da Bisticci, Florence, 1450s)

[5].London: British Library, MS. Harl. 103 (devotional tracts; England, s. xiv) – the evidence to relate this to Tiptoft is the donor note at the foot of the contents list at fol. Iv which reads: Ex dono Illustris domini Johannis comitis / Wigornie domini Tiptot & de powis 1470.

[6].London: British Library, MS. Harl. 2639 (Suetonius, De Grammaticis; Tacitus, De Oratoribus; s: John Free, Ferrara, ante 1462)

[7].?London: British Library, MS. Royal. 18. D. iv (Lydgate, Fall of Princes; England, s. xv1) – coat-of-arms at fol. 1 includes those of Tiptoft

[8].Oxford: Bodleian, MS. Arch. Selden. B. 50 (Ognibene da Lonigo, commentary on Juvenal; Padua, c. 1460)

[9].Oxford: Bodleian, MS. Auct. F. 1. 7 (Plutarchus Latinus, Vitae; Florence, s. xvmed)

[10].Oxford: Bodleian, MS. Auct. F. 1. 13 (Lucretius; s: ‘V. f. I’, Padua, s. xvmed)

[11].Oxford: Bodleian, MS. Auct. F. 2. 19 (Cicero, Tusculan Disputations; Padua, c. 1460)

[12].Oxford: Bodleian, MS. Auct. F. 2. 27 (Lactantius, Divinae Institutiones; Florence, s.xvmed) – Tiptoft annotations at fol. 26, 27v, 28, 28v.

[13].Oxford: Bodleian, MS. Auct. F. 5. 4 (Juvenal; s: Bartolomeo Sanvito; Padua, s. xvmed) – John Free adds Greek at fol. 50; erased notes at fol. 87v by Tiptoft.

[14].Oxford: Bodleian, MS. Bodl. 646 (Basinio of Parma, Astronomica; Padua, 1455 x 1461)

[15].[15]. Oxford: Bodleian, MS. Bodl. 866 (Augustine; Jerome; s. xi)

[16].Oxford: Corpus Christi College, MS. 66 (Manilius, Astronomica; s: ‘V. f. I’)

[17].Oxford: Corpus Christi College, MS. 82 (Quintus Curtius; s. xii)

[18].Oxford: Corpus Christi College, MS. 91 (Nonius Marcellus; Florence, s. xv2/4) – Tiptoft’s manicula at fol. 46; notes by him at fol. 40, 41.

[19].Oxford: Corpus Christi College, MS. 253 (Eusebius, De Preparatione Evangelica, trans. George of Trebizond; s. xv2) – written by the scribe of Oxford: Bodleian, MS. Arch. Selden B. 50; probably identifiable as the manuscript given to Syon Abbey by Tiptoft [see V. Gillespie ed., Syon Abbey [Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues, ix] (London, 2001), no. 512 [p. 149].

[20].Oxford: Jesus College, MS. 109 (Tacitus, Augusta Historia; Ferrara, 1458)

[21].Oxford: Magdalen College, MS. lat. 64 (Servius, Grammatica; Padua, s. xvmed)

[22].Oxford: Merton College, MS. 315 (Eusebius, Chronicle; s. ix)

[23].Oxford: Queen’s College, MS. 314 (Silius Italicus, Punica & Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica [incomplete]; Padua, s. xvmed)

[24].Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS. lat. 5714 (Thucydides, trans. Valla)

[25].Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS. lat. 5728 (Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, dec. IV)

[26].Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS. lat. 7525 (Valla, Elegantiae) – annotations throughout by Tiptoft and John Free.

[27].Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS. lat. 7725 (Quintilian) – notes by John Free at fol. 16r-v, 22.

[28].Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS. lat. 7966 (Servius) – copiously annotated by a range of hands, with Tiptoft himself present at fol. 158, 159v, 160, 161 – 70, 171v – 180, 184, 217.

[29].Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS. lat. 8064 (Lactantius, In Statium) – with Tiptoft annotations at fol. 4?, 9v, 14, 15, 33, 44v.

[30].Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. lat. 8524 (Cicero, Epistolae Familiares) – annotations throughout by Tiptoft and John Free.

[31].Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS. lat. 8677 (Macrobius, Liber Saturnaliorum etc) – with annotations by Tiptoft and John Free.

Manuscripts probably from his library:

[31.5]. Cambridge: Corpus Christi College, MS. 409 (Cicero, De finibus) – with epitaphs added by John Free (fol. 82-83) – on this, see the related post.

[32]. Cambridge: University Library, MS. Mm. III. 4(Homer, trans. Pilato; s: V f I; Padua, s. xvmed) – format very similar to Oxford: Bodleian, MS. Auct. F. 1. 13.

[32.5]. Leiden: Universiteitsbibliotheek, MS. Voss. O. 59 (Tibullus, Catullus).

[33].Oxford: Corpus Christi College, MS. 79 (Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, dec. I; s: Antonio Farina, Ferrara, 1458) – annotations by John Free, and others (fol. 20v – 24v, 74) in a hand that also appears in MS. Arch Selden B. 50.

[34].Pisa: Biblioteca Universitaria, MS. 531 (Lucian & Libanius, trans. Francesco Griffolini; s: Bartolomeo Sanvito) – appears to be a dedication copy for Tiptoft but no internal evidence to confirm it.

[35]. Città del Vaticano: BAV, MS. Vat. lat. 3162 – Juvenal and Persius (Padua, c. 1460) – written by scribe of [11] above — on this, see my posting.

Last updated: 3rd August 2014.


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  1. […] The article shows how scholarship has not yet drunk to the full from the book-lists of collectors like Humfrey, duke of Gloucester: there are more vivifying drops that can be squeezed out of the pithy records, in particular by a study of their verba probatoria ( the first words of the second folio of text, originally intended to identify the unique volume being cited but also allowing us on occasion to clarify the contents of a now-lost manuscript). Rod Thomson also provides helpful listings of known manuscripts owned by a range of English ‘humanist’ collectors, in the first place the duke of Gloucester, but also William Gray, Robert Flemyng and John Tiptoft (there kindly acknowledging the information which I could provide and which I present elsewhere on this website). […]

  2. […] For those who are less interested in the niceties of Latin epistolography, the lecture will also provide — the gods of Powerpoint willing — some visual stimulation. The argument will be underpinned by discussion of my research into the library of John Tiptoft. It was a collection which, in the middle of the twentieth century, was lamented as being nearly completed lost. We can now identify over thirty manuscripts from the collection, and for those who are interested, they can view the present list on this website. […]

  3. […] perhaps second only to that of Humfrey, duke of Gloucester in the fifteenth century. We now have over thirty books from his collection, dispersed across Europe (his hopes of donating his books to Oxford where thwarted by his own […]

  4. […] this was the fate of Cambridge: Corpus Christi College, MS. 409. Thus, it is now added, as 31.5 to the listing on this website of ‘probable’ manuscripts from Tiptoft’s […]

  5. […] Tiptoft, earl of Worcester (c. 1427-1470), whom I have mentioned on more than one occasion here. One of the pages on this site provides a listing of his manuscripts, an updated version of which will act as an appendix to the […]

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