Cambridge, Trinity College B.11.2 (241) Amalarius of Metz, "Liber officialis"

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Matthew T. Hussey


77. Cambridge, Trinity College B.11.2 (241)

Amalarius of Metz, "Liber officialis"

[Ker 84; Gneuss 174]

HISTORY: A copy of Amalarius of Metz's (c. 775-c. 850) allegorical and exegetic commentary on the liturgy, written in the 9c, known as the "Liber officialis''. The manuscript was written in a fine A-S square minuscule at St. Augustine's, Canterbury in the middle decades of the 10c (Bishop 1957: 324-26; Barker-Benfield 2008: 3.1812-13) and has been more specifically dated to the 930s (as representative of Phase II square minuscule) by Dumville (1991: 43; 1992: 132 n. 351; 1993: 88-89; 1994b: 139), though Gameson suggests that this early date "fits ill" with the decoration and display script (Gameson 1996: 167-68, n. 152); Bishop identifies the scribe's hand in several other manuscripts (Bishop 1957: 324-26). The version of Amalarius's text is the "retractio prima;' an abridged and intermediary version of the work from the mid to late 9c (Hanssens 1948-50: 162-69). The "retractio prima" is extant earliest in Breton and English manuscripts that were made or circulated in the first several decades of the 1 0c (Dumville 1994a; Keynes 1992: 16-17) and, along with excerpts from another Amalarian work on the liturgy, later came to be a source for Ælfric's "Letter to the Monks of Eynsham" (Jones 2000 and 2001: 175).

The manuscript is decorated with beautiful colored initials and very lightly glossed in Latin, partly by the main scribe, and partly by later users or readers from the 10c through the llc. There are two OE glosses of the 10c (ed. Ker, Cat.). To the main manuscript, a folio (f. ll2) was supplied, perhaps by the original scribe after an interval (Bishop 1957: 326) or perhaps by a second scribe (Keynes 1992: 16) in the later 10c. This supply leaf was originally left blank on the lower half of f. 112v, and a late 1 0c or early 11c hand added an antiphon in Anglo-Caroline minuscule. An inscription of the first half of the 11c on the front fly (f. i recto) naming 'bryhtricus presbiter' may indicate an owner. The manuscript had come to Exeter by the third quarter of the 11c, and perhaps before; a quire of six leaves was added (foliated 113-115, 115a, and 120-121) in an Exeter hand (Ker, Cat.; Keynes 1992: 16-17; Drage 1978: 157-58) with further Amalarian material, some of which represents a variant form of the "retractio prima" which may lie behind Ælfric's "Letter" and is otherwise only represented in (though partly lost from) Salisbury, Catheral Library 154 (Jones 2000 and 2001). Another Exeter scribe (Drage's scribe 10) on f. 3 added a note on the "dies aegyptici" (Drage 1978: 163) and a third (Drage's scribe 2) added the Leofrician donation inscription in Latin and OE on f. 121 v. An entry in Leofric's inventory- one "liber officialis amalarii" -suggests that Leofric donated the book to Exeter in 1072 (inventory ed. Lapidge 2001: 136; Conner 1993: 232). The front fly bears pen trials and scribbles of the 12c.

The manuscript was still in Exeter when catalogued in 1327 as "Liber Amalarii. Postquam scripsi libellum" (Oliver 1861: 303); the 1506 inventory has a "Collectio Amalarii" which may represent Trinity B.11.2 (though Drage (1978: 336) suggests this entry does not pertain to this manuscript. Drage reports that in John Joscelin's (1529-1603) copy of the Exeter donation list, there is a note on the entry "Amalarius" stating that Matthew Parker (1504-1575) borrowed the copy from Exeter and returned it (Drage 1978: 336). However, a red crayon inscription on f. lr by Matthew Parker (Keynes 1992: 17) names John Parker (1532-1592), and it was (ca. 1560) in John Parker's collection at Beakesborne (Ker, Cat.). It was subsequently bequeathed to Trinity College by Archbishop John Whitgift, upon his death in 1604.

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