bonæ litteræ: occasional writing from David Rundle, Renaissance scholar

Humfrey and a diverting lapsus calami

Posted in Offbeat observations by bonaelitterae on 4 July, 2009

My waking hours at the moment are being spent providing addenda and corrigenda to Roberto Weiss’ Humanism in England during the fifteenth century, for the projected on-line edition to be produced in the autumn by the Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature. Checking a reference he provides to Charles Kingsford’s English Historical Literature this morning, I note that a passage from a chronicle recording the death of the duke of Gloucester in custody in 1447 contains praise of the late prince, with the transcription opening thus:

hic dux erat vix literatissimus…

Even I have hardly been as harsh in criticism. Given the context, Kingsford, or his typesetter, clearly slipped where it should say ‘vir literatissimus’. A claim which, even these five words demonstrate, could hardly be made for the chronicle’s author.

Enjoy the weekend!