Rauner Codex MS 003183: The Beeleigh Abbey Brut at Dartmouth College

By Bryan, Elizabeth J. | The Journal of the Early Book Society for the Study of Manuscripts and Printing History, Annual 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Rauner Codex MS 003183: The Beeleigh Abbey Brut at Dartmouth College


Bryan, Elizabeth J., The Journal of the Early Book Society for the Study of Manuscripts and Printing History


Codex MS 003183 in the Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, is a fifteenth-century manuscript of the Middle English prose Brut (MEPB) that was in W. A. Foyle's private manuscript collection, housed at his residence at Beeleigh Abbey for much of the twentieth century. (1) Its purchase by Dartmouth College in 2006 has made the manuscript accessible once again, and there are significant observations to be made about the manuscript itself and about how this manuscript fits in to the large textual corpus of the MEPB. (2)

Rauner MS 003183 seems to be an independent revision and abbreviation of the Brut version that Lister Matheson, following Friedrich Brie, calls the Extended Version (EV) to 1419 (EV-1419). In the content of its 1377-to-1419 continuation, at least, MS 003183 likely derives from subgroup A of the EV, since it shares with EV-1419:A (and apparently no other EV group) a textual lacuna concerning Henry IV's early years (See Appendix 2 and discussion below). MS 003183 could be said to form a "fifth branch" that parallels the four recensions of the Abbreviated Version (AV) to 1419 (AV-1419:A, B, C, and D). The one trait that most dramatically identifies the AVs, the absence of four chapters after the death of King Arthur, is featured in MS 003183, where Conan rather than Constantine succeeds Arthur. Yet MS 003183 is not one of the recognized AV texts. In content, it is a fuller text than any one of the AV-1419 groups A to D, so its taxonomically significant details cannot possibly be derived from AV texts. (See Appendix 1 for selected transcriptions of Rauner MS 003183.)

In wording, MS 003183 is unusually idiosyncratic (even for the MEPB), to the extent that none of the AV-1419 texts could possibly be derived from MS 003183. As neither source nor product of the AV manuscripts, then, MS 003183 is a unique recension that is comparable to the AVs. If MS 003183 represents a unique recension or version, however, the physical manuscript has some intriguing company. London, British Library MS Royal 18.A.ix and San Marino, Huntington Library MS HM 131, two AV-1419:A(c) manuscripts of the MEPB, show rubrication styles similar to those of the second rubricator of MS 003183. If these three manuscripts, representing two different redactions of the Middle English prose Brut, were at some point in a common workshop setting or were farmed out to the same professional rubricator, then they suggest a book production milieu in which texts of the Middle English prose Brut were being abbreviated and revised from EV sources to produce individualized manuscripts. Linne Mooney and Matheson convincingly show that a common workshop produced numerous manuscripts of a single MEPB version, the AV-1419:B manuscripts. (3) Rauner MS 003183 helps make visible a slightly different production habit of multiple abbreviations of the Brut in which the same material "finish" could be applied to various narrative versions.

Description of the Manuscript

The fifteenth-century manuscript contains 121 unnumbered vellum folios in a limp leather binding of the sixteenth century. Dorothy Africa has assessed the binding as "a stationer's binding, the sort most commonly used for ledgers and business records, characterized by external bands, decorative lacing patterns, tackets and an overlap front flap." (4) Folios 1 to 5, which comprise the first quire, were added most likely in the sixteenth century; they contain a table of contents in a sixteenth-century hand. (5) This table-of-contents hand writes an occasional Elizabethan-style h and confuses letter forms for y and thorn, although otherwise the hand achieves a script eerily imitative of the fifteenth-century script of the rest of the manuscript.

The writer of the table of contents copied the chapter headings from within the manuscript itself rather than from any other source, as shown by this writer's replication of several errors made by the manuscript's rubricators, including five erroneously repeated chapter headings (see discussion under "Rubrication").

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Rauner Codex MS 003183: The Beeleigh Abbey Brut at Dartmouth College
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?