Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, lat. 943 "Sherborne Pontifical;' "The Pontifical of St. Dunstan"

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Matthew T. Hussey


422. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, lat. 943

"Sherborne Pontifical;' "The Pontifical of St. Dunstan"

[Ker 364; Gneuss 879]

HISTORY: An A-S pontifical and benedictional in a single manuscript, as was common in England from the late 10c on (Gneuss 1985: 131), with supplementary texts, such as the 8c prologue to Ecgbert's penitential and the related "First Capitulary" of Ghaerbald of Liege (Ebersperger 1999: 32-41; Elliot 2010). This core bishop's book includes the letter (dated 21 Sept. 960, no. 8 below) of Pope John XII to Dunstan; the book's paleographical and art historical links suggest an origin after 969 but before the 980s or possibly 973, probably in Christ Church, Canterbury (Brooks 1984: 248, 3 76-78; Karkov in Scragg 2008: 231; Dumville 1992: 82-84; Ebersperger 1999: 33- 34; Gameson 1996: 173-75; Rosenthal 1981 and Rosenthal in Ramsay et al. 1992; Temple 1976: no. 35). The connections with Christ Church and the letter to Dunstan suggest that the book was Dunstan's pontifical, but this cannot be proven. The original hand for the main texts is the same scribe as Exeter, Cathedral Library 3507 [131b] and Oxford, Bodi. Lib., Bodley 718, and perhaps a correcting hand in London, Lambeth Palace 149 [311] (Ker, Cat., 154; Conner 1993: 19-20; Gameson 1996: 162-63). The script is datable to the second half of the 10c (Ker, Cat.); Conner (1993: 44-47) suggests that the script of the trio of books Paris 943, Exeter 3507, Bodley 718 is later than that of the Exeter Book (Exeter Cathedral Library 3501 [130], which would mean after about 970 or 980, fitting the historical date of Dunstan's archepiscopacy.

The core bishop's book has some closely contemporary additions made at least by the late 10c or early l lc: a list of bishops of Sherborne up to Æthelric (1002-1012) and a letter to Wulfsige of Sherborne were added at the beginning of the book, perhaps in an appended quire (though these leaves may have been original); subsequently, shorter texts were added to the blank spaces in these leaves in the later llc. Two 10c/11c OE church dedication homilies, each comprising a quire of its own (quires XXI and XXIII) were perhaps made as independent booklets or were made for this manuscript. To the first of these added quires (XXI), an ordo for a consecration of an abbot was added, necessitating an added bifolium, to which other l lc additions were made. To the last quire (XXIII), several additions were made in both England and France in the llc and 12c, including a writ of bishop Æthelric, suggesting an early llc provenance in Sherborne. These additions, in turn, have led some to suggest a Sherborne origin (notably Ker, Cat., 438; Turner in Backhouse et al. 1984: 55; Prescott 1987: 126; for contents, see Ebersperger 1999: 34-35). Alternatively, in light of the paleographical connections with manuscripts known to be at Exeter, and the fact that the OE homilies in Paris BN lat. 943 otherwise only being found in a known 11c Exeter manuscript (London, Lambeth Palace 489 [318]), Conner has argued that the pontifical was probably written at Exeter, with appended prefatory material from Christ Church, Canterbury (including the drawings), as a commission for the reformed house at Sherborne (Conner 1993: 39-44 and 86-93). The pontifical would have served Wulfsige, first bishop of reformed Sherborne from 993-1002 (Keynes in Barker et al. 2005), and his successor Æthelric, who perhaps wrote on f. 170v.

A booklist on ff. 154v-155r for a foundation dedicated to Mary in a north Frankish script shows that the book had gone to a Frankish center in the 11c (Delisle 1868-81: 2.446-47; Ker, Cat., 438-39; Ebersperger 1999: 39; de Bruyne 1912); this center may have been Notre Dame, Chartres, or Lorsch, though these attributions are by no means certain (Ker, Cat., 438-39; de Bruyne 1912: 481-83; Rouse 1971: 111 and 1983: 205; Avril and Stirneman 1987: 13; Ebersperger 1999: 39). Marginal notes in plummet on ff. 8lr, 82v, 83rv, 105v, 106r, 107v, 129v, and 147v in a 12c or 13c informal script show that the Latin parts of the book were still in use in the later Middle Ages.

John Bale may have seen or possessed the book in France in the 16c (Dumville 1994), though evidence for this is tenuous. In the 16c, Francois Pithou referred to the book as present in his own library in Paris (Pithou 1588, see Ker, Cat., 438-39). An ownership mark on f. lr shows that in the 17c it was owned by Antoine Faure and later in the 17c it was noted by Mabillon (1668-1701: 5.328). Edmond Martene printed liturgical texts from this manuscript in his De Antiquis Ecclesiae Ritibus (1736). It appears to have been inherited by Leonard de Jayac, executor of Faure's estate, from whom the Bibliotheque Nationale purchased the manuscript in 1701 (Delisle 1868-81: 1.320; Ebersperger 1994: 35). Rebound in Louis XVIII covers between 1814 and 1825. The manuscript has recently been reproduced in an on-line digital facsimile (see "Photo Notes").

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