Copenhagen, Kongelike Biblioteket, Ny kgl. Sam. 167b (4) "Waldere" (fragments)

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A. N. Doane


152. Copenhagen, Kongelike Biblioteket,

Ny kgl. Sam. 167b (4°)

"Waldere" (fragments)

[Ker 101; Gneuss 816]

HISTORY: Two leaves remaining from the lay of "Walter of Aquitaine" in a poetic OE version; to judge from its expansive narrative style probably originally a poem of considerable length (the 10c Latin analogue is 1456 hexameter lines). The leaves are informally prepared and poorly written. Ker says "s. x/xi(?)" and calls it "an irregular and ill-formed hand"; Stokes (2014: 161) suggests similarities to Cotton Charter viii. 35, another poorly written l lc piece, in this case a possible forgery of a 9c document. Pointing out the high number of errors in the writing and, supposedly, in the language, Himes (2009: 11-13, cf. 15-35) suggests foreign influence, perhaps a Frankish-trained scribe. Gameson speculates that manuscripts like this one (and the Beowulf-manuscript), with hands difficult to parallel elsewhere, may be from royal or secular writing shops (Gameson 2012: 98) and the poorly prepared surface and chaotic layout and script suggest origin in an unpracticed or unprofessional milieu. On the verso of Leaf 1 is added in different ink a floral (acanthus) interlace design of the late lOc/early l lc (Winchester style, T. D. Kendrick in Norman 1933: 4-5). (The terms "Leaf l" and "Leaf 2" reflect the conventional ordering of the leaves based on their presumed place in the story of "Walter of Aquitaine"; on the literary issues see Norman 1933: 7-34, Dobbie 1942: xx-xxvi). Merely on grounds of probability, it has been assumed since Stephens' editio princeps that the leaves were brought to Denmark by Grimur Thorkelin, some of whose "bundles" came to the Royal Library (Stephens 1860:15). Found "among unarranged fragments, 'mostly taken from books or book-backs', by the librarian, E. C. Werlauff, 12 Jan. 1860" (Ker, Cat., cf. Dobbie 1942: xix).

[Note: Stephens' 1860 edition included "photographic" facsimiles which are in fact hand-made facsimiles superimposed over photographic images (Himes 2009: 14); these are virtually illegible in the copy available to the describer, and Holthausen (1899: 1) noted that this was also the case in the copy he saw; Holthausen's edition contains "actual size" autotype reproductions which are legible; facsimiles in Zettersten 1979: 14, 16, 18, 20; Himes 2009 presents facsimiles taken in UV light. There is now an online digital facsimile; see "Image Notes."]

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