Seminar on the Evidence of Manuscripts (19 June 1993)

September 21, 2016 in Manuscript Studies, Uncategorized

“Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MS 201”

The Parker Library, 19 June 1993

Invitation for 'Corpus MS 201' Seminar 19 June 1993In the Series of Seminars on the Evidence of Manuscripts
The Parker Library

Invitation in pdf (2 pages including RSVP Form)

The previous Seminar in the series considered

“Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts at Worcester”
(Pembroke College, Oxford, 13 March 1993)

[First published on 21 September 2016 by Mildred Budny]

This meeting cast the spotlight upon a single volume — albeit a complicated and multi-partite volume, comprising an assembly of 3 Parts from different former manuscripts.  A Triple Decker, with lots of trimmings.

Once upon a time, the margins of the book were included in the trimming process, alas.  We had a close look as experts gathered from several centres, even by proxy.

The Plan

The workshop was “devoted to Corpus Christi College, MS 201“.  A complex choice, not only because of the subject, that is, the manuscript and its context in its own time and through time, but also because of the line-up in terms of casting for the performance on the day and the frailties of the human condition.  Not for the first time in our Series, Patrick Wormald was unable to attend as planned, so that a colleague stepped in to represent some of his views on the subject.

The 1-page Invitation Letter (shown here and downloadable here with its RSVP Form) sets the pace.

This manuscript contains a collection of homiletic, legal, monastic, religions and other texts in Latin and Old English (Part I), now joined with a bilingual copy from Exeter of the Capitula of Theodulf of Orléans (Part II) formerly bound with MSS 191 and 196.  A number of the homilies and legal texts are by Wulfstan, Archbishop of York, and elements of the collection show his influence.  The Old English texts include sets of verses, Apollonius of Tyre and a translation of the Regularis Concordia.  Part I was apparently produced in stages, perhaps in more than one centre:  it was augmented apparently at the New Minster, Winchester.  Its character, structure and place(s) of origin have long been subject to debate.

Gold stamp on blue cloth of the logo of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence. Detail from the front cover of Volume II of 'The Illustrated Catalogue'The Letter also gives both the background and the spur for the intended showjumping (hurdles included, by definition).

The manuscript has been a focus of our research work at the Parker Library over a number of years.  For example, it was closely examined for a new catalogue of Anglo-Saxon and related manuscripts at Corpus.  As part of our ongoing exploration of the manuscript, the workshop will discuss its nature, its problems, its context and related matters.  We hope that you might attend to give your advice and help.

The Style

We aim to run the workshop on informal lines, as a round table.  This will give plenty of opportunity to respond to the speakers and ask questions.

As usual for the Series.  A good recipe.  See the First Seminar in the Series for the overall Recipe.  Delicious and nutritious Food for Thought.  For the success of that Book-Cooking, see a response for a Seminar late in the Series (June 1994).

As for books from and made or augmented at the New Minster, at the Seminar we kept in mind some others now at other centers, as with the Donation Charter of 964 CE in book form and the Liber Vitae of circa 1031, both now at the British Library and both fully digitised.  The former is Cotton MS Vespasian A VIII, the latter Stowe MS 944. Both have framed frontispiece illustrations depicting royal patrons:  the former with King Edgar (king from 959 to 975) and the latter with both King Cnut (king from 1016 to 1035) and his Queen Emma/Ælfgifu (died 1052).

© The British Library Board. Cotton MS Vespasian A VIII, folio 2v. New Minster Charter of 964 CE in book form.

© The British Library Board. Cotton MS Vespasian A VIII, folio 2v. Frontispiece with King Edgar for the New Minster Charter of 964 CE in book form.

© The British Library Board. Stowe MS 944, folio 6r. Framed frontispiece for the New Minster 'Liber Vitae' of circa 1031, with King Cnut and his Queen Emma/Ælfgifu.

© The British Library Board. Stowe MS 944, folio 6r. Framed frontispiece for the New Minster ‘Liber Vitae’ of circa 1031, with King Cnut and his Queen Emma/Ælfgifu.

The Speakers

The Invitation Letter lines up the Speakers and sketches their subjects.

Mildred Budny will give an introduction to the manuscript and summarise our research work on it.

Patrick Wormald will discuss its structure and its connection with Archbishop Wulfstan.

Malcolm Godden will present a case for its production at Winchester.

Graham Caie will examine the poetic texts, their mise-en-page and their relation to the rest of the manuscript.

Joyce Hill will consider the problems of the first text by Scribe A, the Regularis Concordia.

Tim Graham will survey the signs of early modern use in the book.

As always, “we hope that others will contribute to the discussion from their areas of specialisation and interest”.

The Manuscript(s)

Logo of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence in Monochrome VersionSeveral manuscripts, besides the Star taking both Center-Stage and the Main Spotlights, were present in person (or in the Flesh) or by proxy.  The Letter listed the main Cast to bring on Stage.

MS 201 will be available for examination during the workshop, along with others in the collection.  They include the manuscripts with which Part II formerly belonged (MSS 191 and 196) and the two Corpus witnesses to Archbishop Wulfstan’s so-called Commonplace Book (MSS 190 and 265).

As usual, “other manuscripts may emerge for inspection as they occur to us in the course of the session”.  (It can be useful to have the keys, or to know those who do, and who are willing to open the vaults where appropriate, don’t you think?)

In the discussion at the seminar, other relatives not able to travel received mention, of course.  For example, another witness to that so-called Commonplace Book of Archbishop Wulfstan made repeated entrances onstage: Cotton MS Nero A I.

For example, within its pages is preserved 1 of the 4 extant witnesses to Wulfstan’s powerful Sermo Lupi ad Anglos (“Homily of the ‘Wolf’ to the English”) in Old English. The copy in MS 201 represents the only surviving witness to the “Intermediate Version” of that text, for which the others provide witnesses to the shorter and longer versions.  Seen here, as the sermon begins and ends in the Cottonian witness (folios 110r and 115v):

© The British Library Board. Cotton MS Nero A I, folio 110r. Opening of the 'Sermo Lupi'. Reproduced by permission.

© The British Library Board. Cotton MS Nero A I, folio 110r. Opening of the ‘Sermo Lupi ad Anglos’

© The British Library Board. Cotton MS Nero A I, folio 115r. Closing of the 'Sermo Lupi'.s cropped

© The British Library Board. Cotton MS Nero A I, folio 115r. Closing of the ‘Sermo Lupi’.


The Hand of the Man (or “The Wolf”)

A bonus, for manuscript scholars, is the presence in the Cottonian manuscript (as well as in various other extant manuscripts) of entries attributed, probably rightly, to the hand of Wulfstan himself. The attribution is neatly reported by N.R. Ker in his monumental Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon (1957), for example in the entry for this very manuscript (his number 164, pages 211–215).  Examples of Wulfstan’s entries appear, for example, on the pages shown here.

© The British Library Board. Cotton MS Nero A I, folio 120r. Reproduced by permission.

© The British Library Board. Cotton MS Nero A I, folio 120r.

© The British Library Board. Cotton MS Nero A I, folio 125v. Reproduced by permission.

© The British Library Board. Cotton MS Nero A I, folio 125v.


The Participants

Invitations were sent to:

R.I. Page, Mildred Budny, Tim Graham, Catherine Hall, Nicholas Hadgraft, Nigel Wilkins, Simon Keynes, Graham Caie, Joyce Hill, Andrew Prescott, Christine Fell, Janet Bately, Malcolm Godden, Patrick Wormald, Alex Rumble, Tessa Weber, Stephen Harper, Rohinie Jayatilaka.

An informed company.  (To use English understatement.)

Present (in person or by proxy

, as described below)

Patrick Wormald was represented by a report based upon a telephone conversation with him the night before the Seminar.

The Refreshments

As usually the case for the various meetings in the Series of events on “The Evidence of Manuscript” at the Parker Library, “Alas, we must ask our participants to contribute to the cost of lunch, as our Research Group funds cannot cover it”.  Those outside funds had come specifically to subsidise the research staff, photographic work, and similar expenses.  They did not provide for hospitality for experts who traveled at their own expense and contributed their expertise freely for the work on the materials in the College collection.  Therefore it was with a sense of relief that, when the Series travelled, the hosts could provide, for example, both morning coffee and lunch (as in Oxford and London).

The Proxy

As with only a few other events in the Series, there was an alteration to the expected program.  The flexible approach, for example usually without titles for papers, but with some indication of the subject matter, allowed for freedom of choice in the formation of the presentations. That approach still prevails in most of the Events of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, as eloquently described at one of them in March 2016.  (It was most unusual for a speaker to turn up to speak, but to announce upon beginning that the subject was quite different.  (Then, taken aback, we organisers reckoned afterward that, had there been proper — or for that matter any — notice, we would had the chance to change the sequence of speakers, if we wished.)

Coffee Break at the 2002 British Museum Colloquium.

At the 2002 British Museum Colloquium

For this Seminar, it turned out that Patrick Wormald could not attend. The night before, he telephoned Mildred Budny from hospital to report the news and to convey apologies.

At various times over the course of years, Patrick’s health encountered challenges, so it was not altogether unusual to have to wonder if he could come to present a paper.

In 2002

Such was the case, for example, in the several weeks before the Research Group’s 2002 British Museum Colloquium on “Form and Order in the Anglo-Saxon World”, at which Patrick was chosen as the Keynote Speaker to conclude the 3-day proceedings.  Our British Museum co-organiser worried to such an extent in the several weeks before the event that she wished sharply to withdraw his invitation, which seemed unwarranted and disrupted the preparations unduly behind the scenes.

There, however, Patrick accomplished his lecture on “The Power of Command: Pre-Conquest England as a Developing ‘State’ ”. An important, impassioned statement of his mature and ever-developing views on the subject.  Complementing the 5-page Colloquium Program, the 14-page Colloquium Booklet publishes its Abstract.  It was an honour to hear his evolving views about the lecture as part of the organisation of the event and the editing of its booklet, to honour the invitation to Patrick to deliver his lecture, and to publish the Abstract.

Invitation Letter for Workshop at the Parker Library on "Corpus Christi College, MSS 23 and 223" on 5 June 1992

Invitation Letter for 5 June 1992

Cover Page for 2002 British Museum Colloquium Program Booklet, with Abstracts of Papers, compiled and edited by Mildred Budny, and laid out and printed by the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence.

Cover Page for 2002 Colloquium Booklet

In 1992

At another Seminar in our Series at the Parker Library, the year before the Seminar on MS 201, Patrick was likewise, at short notice (in that case a few days), unable to attend to present his paper.  That Seminar had as its subject the two early medieval manuscripts at Corpus, 1 Anglo-Saxon and 1 Carolingian, but both owned in Anglo-Saxon England, to contain collections of the works of the late-antique poet Prudentius:

“Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MSS 23 and 223”
The Parker Library, 5 June 1992

In that case, Patrick had planned to “examine the possible connection between MS 223 and Grimbald of St. Bertin“.  At short notice, David Ganz stepped in to “impersonate Patrick Wormald”, by presenting a related investigation, although in his own (David’s) inimitable style.  His offering provided both a survey of Carolingian manuscripts surviving from the Abbey of Saint-Bertin and a set of suggestions — some  of them expressly and explicitly “provocative” — about a possible connection between MS 223 and Grimbald, even to the point of physical contact in some form(s), say as ownership, annotator, and/or medium of transport of the book to Anglo-Saxon England.

In 1993

Here, however, the seminar employed a different approach to representing Patrick, although perforce absent, at the proceedings.  In a way, it brought to the table a tangible representative of his thoughts and cumulative research about the manuscript, its relationship to Wulstan (among others), and its wider context, even into our own times.

Notes by Telephone for 19 June 1993 Side 1

Notes for 19 June 1993 Side 1

Notes by Telephone for 19 June 1993 Side 2

Notes for 19 June 1993 Side 2

The Research Group Archives preserve the notes which Mildred Budny made on a white paper envelope during the telephone conversation on the night before the Seminar, when Patrick explained his absence, its reasons, his location under care, the course of treatment, the projections for recovery, and his intentions for the presentation he would have made on the day.  Balancing the receiver of the pay-phone on her shoulder, and writing hastily at his dictation, she took hold of the only blank paper at hand, unfolding the flap of a windowed small-format envelope and writing as his flow continued apace.

In the process, the notes were entered in sections which went down one side of its “leaf”, down the other side (avoiding the window), and in vertical rows — that is, with the writing surface turned to suit — both on the outer side of the envelope (beside or below the window) and on the inside of the flap.

Coffee Break at the 2002 British Museum Colloquium.

At the 2002 British Museum Colloquium.


Invitation for 'Corpus MS 201' Seminar 19 June 1993*****

The Next Seminar, For a Related Manuscript

The next month, another Research Group Seminar on “The Evidence of Manuscripts” visited the British Library for a session, with a presentation also by Joyce Hill, devoted to

“British Library, Cotton MS Tiberius A.iii:
An Eleventh-Century Miscellany of Latin and Old English Texts
Owned by Christ Church, Canterbury”

The British Library, 9 August 1993

© The British Library Board, Cotton MS Tiberius A. III, folio 2v.

© The British Library Board, Cotton MS Tiberius A III, folio 2v

Invitation to Workshop on "Cotton MS Tiberius A.iii" at the British Library on 9 August 1993, Page 1

Invitation Letter Page 1 for 9 August 1993

The next Seminar at the Parker Library considered

“Professionals’ Views of Manuscript Writing”
The Parker Library, 1 November 1993

See the full list of the Series on “The Evidence of Manuscripts”.


The Catalogue and the Handbook

The Illustrated Catalogue of Insular, Anglo-Saxon, and Early Anglo-Norman Manuscript Art at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (2 volumes, 1997), reports some of the findings of this Seminar, among others, in its account of the manuscript.  There, MS 201, Part I, is Budny Number 29:  “Wulstanian Ecclesiastical and Secular Handbook”.

Front Covers for Volumes I & II of 'Insular, Anglo-Saxon, and Anglo-Norman Manuscript Art at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge: An Illustrated Catalogue' by Mildred Budny, with the title of the publication and the gold-stamped logo of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, co-publisher of the volumes

Cover for "Selected Pages from Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts: A Palaeographical and Textual Handbook" by Mildred Budny, Leslie French et al.

Cover for the ‘Palaeographical and Textual Handbook’

The Palaeographical and Textual Handbook chose Page 83 in its witness to the Sermo Lupi ad Anglos as the Specimen Page from MS 201. One of the first Seminars in the Series on “The Evidence of Manuscripts” presented a preview of the Handbook:

“Facsimiles, Diplomatic Texts and Editions
Parker Library, 17 March 1990

For me, it was natural to choose that specimen for the Handbook.

The Long Term

As an undergraduate, for one of the formative courses for my choices as a scholar long-term, a course on Old English taught by “Miss McGrew” in the Spring of 1970 at Vassar College, I studied closely the text of “Wulfstan’s Address to the English”.  It is Number 9 (pages 37–43 with introduction) in one of the assigned textbooks, the edition by Roger Fowler of Old English Prose and Verse:  An Annotated Selection with Introduction and Notes (1966). Through that course and related courses in English and history, I fell in love with the subject of early medieval England in its adoption and transmission of writing and other forms of language, art, and culture. Wulfstan’s text rapidly became a favourite, for its stirring style and sense of urgency to co-ordinate words and deeds in purposeful, beneficial forms.

© The British Library Board. Cotton MS Nero A I, folio 110r. Opening of the 'Sermo Lupi'. Reproduced by permission.

© The British Library Board. Cotton MS Nero A I, folio 110r. Opening of the ‘Sermo Lupi ad Anglos’

Julia McGrew became a friend, and we kept in touch long after she retired to Denmark and a pig farm. I treasure her letters, many of which report the activities of her cats.  It was she who advised me to apply, when the time came to consider graduate study, to University College London because of David Wilson, whose writings she recommended. I don’t think that they ever met, so it was a recommendation sight unseen.

My copy of Fowler’s edition received close study, as the many annotations — mostly about the language and its translation into modern English — both between the lines and in the margins attest. Such pertains to its text of the Sermo Lupi ad Anglos, which, as its editor reports, among the “five manuscripts which contain copies differing in wording and in length” (unnamed in his account or notes of variants), “reproduces one of the longer versions, from what is probably the earliest of the manuscripts, British Museum, Cotton Nero A. i.”

Looking now at those annotated pages on soft, yellowing paper, I marvel that it became possible, through determination, perseverance, various fellowships and grants, part-time jobs, searches for outside funding, and long, close study of the manuscripts and other sources themselves, to become acquainted with many of the surviving witnesses to the Old English (and other) texts recorded from Anglo-Saxon England and beyond. The Sermo Lupi ad Anglos included, in its various forms.

The early fascination with the manuscripts themselves came almost at first sight. As recollected in one of the first posts for the Research Group’s blog on “Manuscript Studies”, which considers the merits of The Foundling Hospital for Manuscript Fragments”. After the completion of the Ph.D. dissertation (London, 1985), and the move to the University of Cambridge for post-doctoral research first at Downing College and then at the Parker Library, it became inevitable that my close acquaintance with the manuscripts would both deepen and expand into, or return to, some other forms of texts and manuscripts than the Bible manuscripts which had formed the central focus of my integrated research.

Thomas Hill welcomes guests to The Library Cafe. Photography © Mildred Budny

At the Entrance to The Library Café. 10 June 2016. Photography © Mildred Budny.

You could hear more about this process of formation and development, as well as that of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, in an interview online for The Library Cafe, hosted by Thomas Hill, Vassar College Art Librarian, in October 2016.  The list of interviews so far is impressive, as glimpsed, for example, in the list of “labels” for its subjects (here).

The interview, recorded in June 2016 at a Vassar reunion, gave the superlative opportunity to review, and in some ways to reconsider, in a very constructive light, the answers to such questions as these:

1. First off, can you tell us about your background?  You’re a Vassar graduate. Were there Vassar professors or fellow students who had a formative influence on you?

2. Can you tell us generally about your career as a researcher since you left Vassar?

3. Can you tell us about the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, about its mission, history, and structure?

With thanks to Tom, for the invitation to join his interview series, his generous hospitality, and his inspiring conversations, such a spirit has helped to govern and to generate — as well as to regenerate — the recent flow of reports on our website about the early Series of Seminars and related events devoted to “The Evidence of Manuscripts”, in the “First Series” of scholarly events organised or co-organised by Yours Truly.  They led, perhaps naturally and inevitably, to further series of Events (seminars, workshops, and symposia included) and Congress Activities recorded elsewhere on our website.  Join the journey!