London, British Library, Cotton Faustina A. ix Ælfric, from Catholic Homilies I & II and other OE Homilies

Main Article Content

Rolf H. Bremmer
Kees Dekker


192. London, British Library, Cotton Faustina A. ix

Ælfric, from Catholic Homilies I & II and other OE Homilies

[Ker 153, Gneuss --]

HISTORY: A collection of homilies written in the first half of the 12c. The manuscript is dated by Ker to the first half of the 12c, which is further narrowed down by Treharne (2000: 21) to "the end of the first quarter of the century:' Nothing is known about the origin and provenance of the manuscript. Treharne (2000: 23) sees a slight correspondence with a St. Albans manuscript on account of a "flourished initial M;' but makes no claim. The cycle of homilies was intended for Sundays and festivals other than saints' days, and runs from the second Sunday after Epiphany (the first homily beginning imperfectly) to Pentecost. A missing quire at the beginning would, in all likelihood, have contained an additional homily, and one missing quire after f. 50 presumably contained the homily for Ash Wednesday (Ker, Cat.). No other items are thought to have followed at the end (Clemoes 1997: 31). All except five of the homilies in this manuscript derive from Ælfric's "Sermones Catholici": eleven from the First Series and ten from the Second. The five items from another source are the homilies for the fifth, sixth, and seventh Sundays after Epiphany (the seventh Sunday does not actually exist in the calendar), and those for the Tuesday (or Monday) and Thursday in Holy Week. [Note: T he manuscript has been described by Pope (1967: 48-51), Godden (1979: xlvii-1), Clemoes (1997: 30-32), and Teresi (2007: 285-310). Faustina A. ix is known as MS N in the JElfrician tradition, related closely to M (Cambridge University Library li.4.6 [101]) and O (Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 302 [48]), both because they share many items by .tElfric and because they all contain (parts of) items not by .tElfric. Clemoes (1997: 32) and Teresi (2007: 291-97) provide item-byitem comparisons of MSS M, N, and 0. The homilies of the First Series belong to the cS line of transmission, together with MSS CUL li.4.6. and CCCC 302 ( Clemoes 1997: 109, 112-13). T he homilies of the Second Series belong to an advanced stage of the first recension, although the exact relation between manuscripts M and N is difficult to ascertain: Godden (1979: xlix) believes that "[o]ne can only assume that M and Ngo back independently to a source within .tElfric's scriptorium and that the shared readings, including the errors, arose there:' The verdict by Clemoes (1997: 71-76) and Godden (1979: lxiv-lxv) on the entire collection in this manuscript is that it derives from a separate collection set up by Ælfric himself as a series of homilies for occasions other than saints' days from Christmas to the Sunday after Pentecost, to which later some other items were added first in this manuscript. Teresi (2007: 309-10), on the other hand, argues that the manuscript is too far removed from Ælfric, and that therefore this collection was probably made by others, away from Ælfric's scriptorium.] From the erased title on f. 2 it appears that, in 1565, the manuscript belonged to William Bowyer (d. 1670) of Wimbledon, Surrey, bailiff of Westminster and keeper of the records in the Tower, whence it came in the possession of Henry Elsynge (1577-1635), also keeper of the records in the Tower and Clerk of the Parliament. In 1597 Sir Robert Bruce Cotton (1571-1631) acquired the manuscript from Elsynge (Kleist 2007: 475,478). It was used by John Joscelyn for his collation of Ælfric's letter to Sigeferth, and mentioned by him in a prefatory note, which was subsequently transcribed and printed by Wanley in the latter's Catalogue (1705: 199; cf. Ker, Cat., p. 193). Before Robert Cotton became the owner the manuscript had been rebound and supply leaves added, in line with the policy of Parker's library. There is an owner's mark of(Sir) Thomas Cotton (1594-1662) on f. 2r (bottom).

Article Details

Manuscript Descriptions