Athelston: A Middle English Romance

Athelston: A Middle English Romance

Athelston: A Middle English Romance

Athelston: A Middle English Romance

Excerpt

The poem of Athelston is contained in one manuscript only, No. 175 of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. The most authoritative account of the manuscript is in the Catalogue of the Manuscripts of Gonville and Caius College, by M. R. James, 1907-8, pp. 199-201. The manuscript is one of a fine collection given to Caius College by William Moore, a seventeenth-century alumnus of Caius, and University Librarian, of whom it is recorded 'that through his whole life (he was) a diligent collector and transcriber of the choicest manuscripts which he could possibly purchase by love or money: all of which he gave to Caius College'. Our manuscript (which is of vellum, size 9 × 6 5/8 in.) is certainly a choice one, neat and pleasant in appearance. It consists of seventy-nine leaves, each divided into two columns. The number of lines in a column varies, in Athelston from thirty-four to thirty-eight. The manuscript belongs to the early fifteenth century, and, according to M. R. James, is in at least two hands. The contents, all English verse except for one fragment at the end, and chiefly romances, are as follows: (1) Richard Coer de Lyon; (2) Sir Ysumbras (in a rather smaller hand); (3) a Life of St. Catherine; (4) a piece entitled Matutinas de cruce; (5) the poem of Athelston; (6) Beues of Hamptoun; (7) a fragment of religious prose, De spiritu Gwydonis. Athelston alone of these pieces lacks a title, and this accounts, doubtless, for its not being listed in the mention of this manuscript in the Catalogi MSS. Angliae et Hiberniae, Oxford, 1697.

The poem of Athelston begins a little below the concluding . . .

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