203. London, British Library, Cotton Nero A. ii Three combined MSS: an 11c English prayerbook

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A. N. Doane


  1. London, British Library, Cotton Nero A. ii

Three combined MSS: an 11c English prayerbook,

an 8-9c northern Italian prayerbook,

a 12c English collection of St. Cuthbert material.

[Part 1: Ker 157 (with BL Cotton Galba A. xiv), Gneuss 342; Part 2: Lowe 2.186]


HISTORY: Nero A. ii is a compendium by Robert Cotton (see the note on f. 2r) of three quite distinct manuscripts of diverse origins: Part 1 (ff. 3-13), an llc A-S private prayer book with a calendar and computational material (it contains no OE, but was almost certainly once part of Cotton Galba A. xiv); Part 2 (ff. 14-45), an 8-9c north Italian collection of devotional texts and liturgical ordinations, compiled before 767 (Hallinger 1963: 79-80), showing Insular decorative elements (e.g., ff. 27v, 45r), probably prepared for private use; and Part 3 (ff. *44, 46-108 + 1), a 12c small-format compilation of texts on St. Cuthbert. Part 3 is probably the latter half of a manuscript that once contained Bede's prose "Life of St. Cuthbert." The exact relationship of Nero, Part 1, to Galba is not clear, nor is the date of separation known; Nero has escaped the fire and water damage that marks Galba. Part 1 was written at Winchester, probably at St. Mary's (Nunnaminster). Its range of dates is indicated by the inclusion of a lunar table pertaining to the years 1029-1047.

[Further Notes on Part 1: Taken to be part of Galba A. xiv by Ker (Cat., 200) because of similarities in page size, layout, contents, abbreviations and punctuation and in some of the handwriting. At least three hands can be distinguished in this part. Ker and Muir (1988) see the same hand on Nero ff. 10v-12v as on Galba £ 125r. Ker also identifies the "backward sloping" hand on Nero ff. 1-10 with that on Galba £ 2 (the Galba hand seems much less expert), and Nero f. 13v as similar to Galba f. 54 (the similarity seems very general). Lapidge (1981) disputed Ker's conclusions for the unity of the two manuscripts (85-86, where he argues for an origin of Nero in the far west of Wessex, perhaps St. Germans, Cornwall), but Muir's summary of the evidence for unity is conclusively in favor (Muir, xi-xii; see in this series the "History" section in the description of Galba A. xiv for Lapidge's later opinion, that Nero was produced at Winchester for one of its dependencies). According to Muir (xvi), the book (i.e., Nero and Galba considered together) was originally blank and items were written in as occasion offered, without regard for the boundaries of gatherings. The texts seem to be drawn informally from a variety of liturgical and computistical sources and follow no particular order. Muir suggests (xvii) that the handwriting and Latinity show either beginning or poorly trained writers. (See also the description of Cotton Galba A. xiv.)]

CODICOLOGICAL DESCRIPTION: [iii] + [iv] + 109 (present foliation 3-108, 44* uncounted [+ 1]; older cancelled foliation 1-108 [+ 1]). Rebound and repaired in January 1865. Present average page size 158 x 111 mm. Three modern paper flyleaves; four parchment flyleaves, the first marked "xl," a repaired leaf of a 13c or 14c breviary; the next, "x2" (canceled), has the Cotton press-mark on the verso; "x3" is blank; the fourth, marked "Fol. 1," has an elaborate painted Cottonian frontispiece pasted to the recto and the Cottonian table of contents on the verso (third and fourth now counted as 1 and 2 in the present foliation). Endleaves are modern paper.


Part 1: Hair on outside of all sheets. Writing area 145 x 100 mm. in calendar; 130 x 75 mm. in prayer text. Ff. 3-8 are ruled for 31 lines, with double bounding lines on outside margins (ignored by scribe). Ff. 9-12 are ruled (roughly) for 18 lines (with perhaps 12 extra lines scratched in, scribe using only about one of three) and more or less ignored by scribes F.13, which seems more carefully prepared and executed than the rest of Part 1, is ruled for 13 lines. Writing in both Insular and Anglo-Caroline minuscule.

Collation: I10 (ff. 3-12), II singleton (f. 13).

Part 2: At least a quire missing at the beginning. HFHF. 145 x 82 mm. (trimmed at top). Ruled for 19 lines on the outside of the sheet; double scorings on outside margins, single on inside. Thick parchment. Brownish ink, capitals and decorations by scribe, apparently following an Irish­ style exemplar.

Collation: I-III8 (ff. 14-37), IV8 (2 and 7 half-sheets) (ff. 38-45).

Part 3: HFHF. Written area 122 x 66 mm. 25 pencil rulings on each sheet of finely prepared white vellum. Old *44 blank.

Collation: I4 (*44, 46-48, 1 and 4 half-sheets), II-III12 (ff. 49-72), IV12 + 1 (ff. 73-84 + f. 85), V-VI12 (ff. 86-108 + 1). F. 85 <old 84) belongs after f. 47.


Part 1 (ed. Muir 1988: 3-23):

  1. ff. 3r-8v Calendar.

  2. f. 9r Table of lunar cycles from 1029-1047.

  3. f. 9v Instructions for computing concurrences: 'Si uis scire quot con­ currentes | in anno sunt'.

  4. f. 10r Instructions for computing the age of the moon: Hee sunt . uii. etates lune.

  5. ff. 10v-11v/1 Panegyric for King Athelstan: 'Carte dirige gresisus p<er> maris et nauium' (text reconstructed by Lapidge 1981: 87-93).

  6. ff. 11v/2-12v Prayer to God the Father: 'D<omi>ne d<eu>s om<ni>p(o­ ten)s rex relgum et d<omi>n<u>s dominanltium' (ed. Birch 1887: 2.332; this text is item 3 in Galba A. xiv).

  7. f. 13r Prayer to St. Dunstan: 'O indite confessor chr<ist>i' [neumed].

  8. f. 13v Prayer to Æthelberht Martyr: 'Indite martir ouans te plebs | uenerator in oda' [neumed].

Part 2:

  1. ff. 14r-25r Sermon, beginning imperfectly: '... Isaias p<ro>pheta dicit Uy I uobis qui iungitis agrum I ad agrum.. .. neque maledici regnu<m> di<s>possedelbunt' (ff. 17v/16-21/4 ed. Levison 1946: 308-12; see 302-14).

  1. ff. 25v-27v/17 De auaricia . 'Auarus non imlpletus pecunias . quam de est | quod hab& . quam quod non | hab&; [explicit:] 'Quia | beatus est . dare . quam . | accepere expl<i>cit'.

  2. ff. 27v/18-30r/1 Legirnus in libro deuterolnomium; ‘JORDANE |transmissum pręcepit . moy|ses d<omi>no iubente. populum'; [explicit:] 'Unde apostollus dicat Bonum autem facilentes non deficiamus tempore 11 [enim suo metemus non deficientes]' (= Gal. 6.9).

  3. ff. 30r/2-3lv/4 de diui<tis> & lazari 'Hie diuis populus iudaicus intellegitur'; [explicit:] 'hii sunt nomina ipsorum | aggeos saradeos & theuma I cus'.

  4. ff. 3lv/4-33v/11 Sermon (attributed to Augustine) "De fide catho­ lica": In nom<ine> d<omi>ni ie<s>u chr<ist>i Inlcipi<un>t fides s<an>c<t>i a[u]gustini ep<iscop>i | contra om(ne)s hereticus . | 'Credimus in unu<m> uerum d<ominu>m | pattern & filiu<m> & sp<iritu>m s<an>c­<tu>m'; [explicit:] 'Siquis aliquas scriplturas pryter eas quas catholllica ecclesia recepit uel in aluctoritatem habendas esse | uel fuerit uene­ randus . anatheima sit' (ed. PL 39.2175-76).

  1. ff. 33v/11-34v/10 lncipit de littera | 'Littera quid est ęlimentu<m> | uocis articulati'; [explicit:] 'Litterae dicitur | quasi lege itera quia legen|tibus iter preb&’.

  2. ff. 34v/10-36r/17 lncip<it> chro|nica de tempor<ibus> mundi | 'Ab exordio mundi . usquę | ad diluuium'; [explicit:] 'Constituit ter | minus gener<a>ti<on>u<m> secundum nume | rum angelorum d<e>i' (ed.Hearne 1719: 167-68).

  3. ff. 36r/18-37r/2 Sententia s<an>c<t>i iohann[is]|os aurei [incipit cut off at top off. 36v; top off. 37r cut off]; [explicit:] 'secundum opera sua,.

  4. f. 37r/3-18 Sententia s<an>c<t>i hyeronimi | 'Unicuique autem homini | duo adsistunt angeli'; [explicit:] 'p<er> uinut sint boni sint | mali'.

  5. ff. 37r/18-42r/6 Ratio de cursus qui | fuerunt ex auctores '[Si sedulo inspiciamus auc] tores in exordium . repper(i) Imus'; [explicit:] 'nisi sicut ipse | beatus benedictus uixit' (ed. Hallinger 1963: 83-91).

  1. f. 42r/6-15 de | septe<m> damnacionis peccatoru<m> 'Prima dam­ nacio id est a s<an>c<t>is d<e>i septracio'; [explicit:] 'Septi Ima disperteio'.

  2. f. 42r/15-42v/14 de septem | remunerationis iustor<um>. 'Prima remuneracio id est relsurrectio'; [explicit:] 'in semlpiternum'.

  3. ff. 42v/14-43v/1 Cassian, from the fifth "Collation" (chaps. 2-3): sententia de octo | principalia uicia 'Primum gastromargia | quod sonat uentris'; [explicit:] 'ut est sup<er>bia || & cinodoxia' (ed. Pichery 1955: 190).

  4. ff. 43v/1-44r Sententia s<an>c<t>i hyeronimi | 'Nee nos negamus cunctis | pauperibus'; [explicit:] '& cu<m> ac|ciperit dolit metens carna|lia . & seminans spiritalia' | explicit'. [F. 44v blank.]

  5. f. 45rv Sermon (opening): DE CARITATE | 'D<OMI>N(U)S DICIT | In euangelium. Maiorem cari|tatem nemo ha|b& quam' [ends imperfectly].

Part 3:

  1. ff. 45r-46r/19 Bede, "Historia ecclesiastica" 4.32: '[N]ec silentio preterundum q(uo)d ante t<r>i|ennium p<er> reliquas ei<us> factum nup<er>' (ed. Colgrave and Mynors 1969: 446-49).

  2. ff. 46r/19-83r (+84) "Historia translationum Sancti Cuthberti": (Quomodo in p<er>egrini habitu a mi|nistro elfredi panem diuisum cuthb<er>tus accep(it) '... ita 7 p<ro>fessionis. | se(cu)laris . uidelicet uite 7 sp(ir)tua(lis) p<er>sone per' [ending imperfectly in chap.18] (ed.Hinde 1868: 159-93, also Arnold 1868/1862: 1.229-55, 2.333-53 [chaps. rearranged]; cf. Hardy 1862: 303-5). [F. 84 belongs after f. 46.]

  1. ff. 85r-107v Breuis relatio De s<an>c<t>o Cuthb<er>to. 7 quomodo | corpus eius Dunhelmum uenerit. Et exce<r>pta de uita & mirac<u>lis s<an>c<t>i Cuthb<er>ti. (ed. Hinde 1868: 223-33; cf. Hardy 1862: 315-16).


Arnold, Thomas, ed. Symeonis Monachi Opera Omnia. Vols. 1 & 2. Rolls Series, 75. London: Her Majesty's Stationer's Office, 1882; repr. Wiesbaden: Kraus, 1965.

Birch, Walter de Gray, ed. Cartularium Saxonicum. London: Whiting, 1887.

Colgrave, Bertram, and R. A. B. Mynors, eds. Bede's Ecclesiastical History of  the English People. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969.

Hallinger, Kassius, et al., eds. Initia consuetudinis Benedictinae: Consuetudines saeculi octavi et noni. Corpus Consuetudinum Monasticarum, 1. Siegburg: Schmitt, 1963.

Hardy, Thomas Duffus. Catalogue ofMaterials Relating to the History of Great Britain and Ireland. Vol. 1: From the Roman Period to the Nor­ man Invasion. Rolls Series, 26. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1862; repr. Wiesbaden: Kraus, 1966.

Hearne, Thomas. Thomd! Sprotti Chronica. Oxford: Sheldonian Theatre, 1719.

Hinde, Hodgson, ed. Symeonis Dunelmensis Opera et Collectanea. Vol. 1. Surtees Society, 51. Durham: Andrews, 1868.

Lapidge, Michael. "Some Latin poems as evidence for the reign ofAthel­ stan." Anglo-Saxon England 9 (1981): 61-98.

Levison, Wilhelm. England and the Continent in the Eighth Century. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1946.

Muir, Bernard James, ed. A Pre-Conquest English Prayer-Book (BL MSS Cotton Galba A.xiv and Nero A.ii (ff.3-13)). Henry Bradshaw Society, 103. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1988.

Pichery, E., ed. Jean Cassien, Conferences. Sources Chretiennes, 42. Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1955.

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