Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 311 (2122) Latin Penitentials

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Matthew T. Hussey


356. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 311 (2122)

Latin Penitentials

[Ker 307, Gneuss 565]

HISTORY: A collection of penitential texts stemming from Irish, A-S, and Frankish traditions, assembled and ordered as a single anthology (Frantzen 1983: 37). The script in the manuscript is a form of caroline minuscule that may be English or continental. The manuscript's origins may have been in north or northwest Francia from the second half of the 10c; however, T.A.M. Bishop found the same hand in four other manuscripts, some with early English provenances and perhaps origins; Bishop finds the main scribe of Bodley 311 in the primary texts of Worcester Cathedral Library Q.8 ff. 165-72 +Add. MS 7 ff. 1-6, El Escorial, E.II.l [129a], Rouen Bibliotheque Municipale U. 107 (1385) ff. 20-26 [444], and in the Latin and OE glosses on CCCC 285 (46] (Bishop 1971: xxv, 18). Dumville (1993: 53- 56) accepts this identification of scribe across these manuscripts, though he does not find the evidence for the glossing in CCCC 285 convincing, thus making the case for an English scribe less secure. The scribe of Bodley 311-who names himself 'John' in the colophon ('IOHANNES ME SCRIPSIT' on f. 85r)-may have worked in a Frankish scriptorium whose books were imported into England in the late 10c or early llc. Frantzen (1983: 37) suggests that Bodley 311 could have been designed for export to England. The book may have come to Worcester, where its fellow, Worcester Cathedral Library Q.8, was located in the 12c (Gameson 1996: 242), though Conner suggests that Bodley 311 was in Exeter in the 10c (1993: 20, but cf. Gameson 1996: 152). A partly erased OE inscription on f. lr in a late 1 0c or early l lc Anglo-Saxon square minuscule links the manuscript to a house dedicated to St Mary. A single OE gloss was added in the early l lc (f. lr, 'eorðe' for 'terra').

Though there is no evidence that the book was in Exeter earlier and it cannot be found in Leofric's donations or inventory, Bodley 311 was in Exeter before the second quarter of the 14c, as the Exeter library inventories of 1327 and 1506 have entries identifiable with Bodley 311 (Oliver 1861: 304 and 368; Ker, Cat.; Conner 1993: 8). The manuscript was refurbished in 1411-12 and chain anchorages, likely from the medieval Exeter library, are now covered by the early 17c recovering (Clarkson 1996: 169-74). The book was part of the foundation gift of 81 manuscripts given to the Bodleian Library by the Dean and Chapter of Exeter in 1602; Thomas Bodley's brother Lawrence was a canon of Exeter and may have induced this gift (Philip 1983: 18). An early modern clip staple in the upper board indicates the book was chained in the Bodleian in the 17c. The book was rebacked in 1956 (Clarkson 1996: 169-74).


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