Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 421 Homilies

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Jonathan Wilcox


59. Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 421


[Ker 69, Gneuss 109]

CCCC 421 contains two different manuscripts under a single cover, each part broken into two non-contiguous blocks. Part 1 comprises pp. 3-98 and 209-24 (Quires I-VII and A'V), which were once contiguous in view of an offset of text from p. 209, lines 10 and 22, on the blank p. 98. Part 1 is later than Part 2, which comprises pp. 99-208 and 227-354 (Quires VIII-XIV, XVI-XXIV) and is closely associated with CCCC 419 [58]. Pp. 1-2 were originally the opening leaf of CCCC 419.

HISTORY: Part 1 was written by three Exeter scribes during the third quarter of the 11c. The Exeter contents once continued through at least one further homily: the table of contents lists 'De Duodecim Abusiuis, 356' after the final surviving item, Ælfric's "Catholic Homilies" (CH) 1.21, which ends imperfectly on p. 354. CH 1.21 lacks the final four or five lines of the text as printed, which might be expected to occupy half of the missing p. 355. Since "De duodecim abusivis" is listed as starting on p. 356, there may have been some kind of break in the contents at this point, although not the end of a quire, which might help to explain the subsequent loss. It is uncertain whether Part 1 was bound with Part 2 at Exeter. The manuscript is not included in the inventory of items donated to Exeter by Bishop Leofric sometime between 1069 and 1072. Part 2, the earlier part of the manuscript, is closely associated with CCCC 419. It is written by the same single scribe of the first half of the 11 c, shares the same written area, and is identical in details of codicological preparation. Like CCCC 419, its place of origin is unknown: textual and linguistic evidence suggest a link with Canterbury, but the idiosyncratic contents militate against a Canterbury origin. As with CCCC 419, more precise localization might be suggested by the particularly close textual relation and shared corrections with Cambridge, Trinity College, B. 15. 34 [80], a Canterbury manuscript which subsequently traveled to an unidentified center (see account of CCCC 419). Part 2 was used extensively as long as its language was comprehensible: Wilcox (1988: 21-37) identifies some twenty hands that make corrections and revisions in CCCC 419 and CCCC 421, Part 2, often confining their attention to a single homily, probably in preparation for delivery. At an early stage, the prayer was added to the originally blank page at the front of CCCC 419, now CCCC 421, p. 2 (item 1). This is written by a hand similar in general aspect to the main hand, but with clear differences of detail, perhaps a different scribe in the original scriptorium. While it was still in use, Part 2 probably traveled to Exeter along with CCCC 419. It may have been joined to Part 1 there or at a later time, in Parker's care. The complete manuscript passed through the hands of Archbishop Matthew Parker, who provided the table of contents on p. [vii], and whose son John provided the pagination. The table of contents is headed by Parker's designation of the manuscript as 'Liber Sextus' and '6' is written on the foreedge of the pages. The table of contents lists 15 homilies, including the nowlost "De duodecim abusivis," and includes cross-references for five of them to folio number 'in li<bro> negro', namely CCCC 198 [41]. It was Parker who arranged for the frontispiece from CCCC 419 to be inserted at the front of this manuscript, reversed to make the drawing more prominent (see Graham, 1998: 194-95). CCCC 421 was bequeathed by Archbishop Parker on his death in 1575 to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where it was given the shelf-mark S. 13, which is written on p. [vi] and beneath the table of contents on p. [vii]. There are signs of early modern use throughout the manuscript. Passages are underlined or marked in the margin in pencil or fading dark ink, especially OE translations of neighboring biblical quotations which would serve for a LatinOE dictionary. The end of the manuscript, including all of "De duodecim abusivis," had gone missing by the time of Wanley's full description published in 1705. The manuscript was rebound in the 18c (Ker, Cat., 118) and again by 'John P. Gray of Green Street' in November 1954, as recorded on the opening flyleaf, when Quire XIX was misbound (the microfilm predates this misbinding and preserves the correct order).

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