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Detailed record for Harley 491

Author William of Jumièges
Title Gesta Normannorum ducum
Origin France, N. W. (Normandy)
Date 1st quarter of the 12th century, probably between 1104-1110
Language Latin
Script Caroline minuscule
Scribe Symeon of Durham and two continental scribes
Decoration Initials in red with occasional foliate decoration, and small initials highlighted in red (ff. 1-28v).
Dimensions in mm 180x 125 (140 x 100)
Official foliation ff. 48 (+ 2 unfoliated modern paper flyleaves at the beginning and 3 at the end).
Form Parchment codex
Binding BM/BL in-house. 19th century; marbled endleaves.
Provenance Symeon of Durham (fl. c.1090-1128), Benedictine monk and historian: written for him and under his supervision in Normandy by two continental scribes toward the end of the first decade of the 12th century; first eight lines of text (f. 3), corrections and quire signatures in his hand (see Gullick 1998).
The Benedictine cathedral priory of St Cuthbert, Durham: listed in a mid-12th-century and the 1395 library catalogues (see Catalogi veteres 1838); ownership inscription, early 14th century 'Liber sancti Cuthberti de Dunelm' (f. 1); ownership inscription, early 15th century (f. 3; see Watson 1987).
Robert Brakenbyri (d. 1391), monk at Durham: inscribed 'Liber Roberti de Brakenbyri' (f. 3; see Wright 1972).
Thomas Swalwell (d. 1539), monk a Durham: annotated by him.
John Stow (b. 1524/5, d. 1605), historian and antiquary: author's name in his hand (f. 2; see Watson 1966).
Sir Richard St George (b. 1554/5, d. 1635), herald: his inscription 'Ricardus S. Georgii Norry. Fero et spero', therefore datable to between 24 January 1607, when he was created Norroy king of arms, and 28 September 1616, when he was knighted (f. 2; see Watson 1962; Harrison 2004).
Sir Simonds d'Ewes (b.1602, d. 1650), 1st baronet, diarist, antiquary, and friend of Sir Robert Cotton (see Wright 1972).
Sir Simonds D’Ewes (d. 1722), 3rd baronet and grandson of the former: inherited and later sold the D’Ewes library to Robert Harley on 4 October 1705 for £450 (see Add. 70478 (formerly Loan 29/254 packet 2); Watson 1966; Wright and Wright 1966).
The Harley Collection, formed by Robert Harley (b. 1661, d. 1724), 1st earl of Oxford and Mortimer, politician, and Edward Harley (b. 1689, d. 1741), 2nd earl of Oxford and Mortimer, book collector and patron of the arts.
Edward Harley bequeathed the library to his widow, Henrietta Cavendish, née Holles (b. 1694, d. 1755) during her lifetime and thereafter to their daughter, Margaret Cavendish Bentinck (b. 1715, d.1785), duchess of Portland; the manuscripts were sold by the Countess and the Duchess in 1753 to the nation for £10,000 (a fraction of their contemporary value) under the Act of Parliament that also established the British Museum; the Harley manuscripts form one of the foundation collections of the British Library.
Notes According to a mid-12th-century catalogue of Durham priory library, originally this manuscript was bound together with another tract, entitled 'Descripcione regnorum diversorum in Anglia antiquitus': see Catalogi veteres 1838; Harrison 2004.
The manuscript also includes two undecorated fragments used as flyleaves:
two leaves from a Mass lectionary, probably written in Lotharingia, mid-11th-century (ff. 1-2; see Gneuss 2003);
two leaves from a mortuary roll for Turgot of Durham, datable to 1115-1117 (ff. 47-48v).
Turgot of Durham (b. c.1050, d. 1115), author and bishop of St Andrews, died at Durham on 31 August 1115: the roll is therefore datable to between September 1115 and 1117 and is the earliest datable English obituary roll known; the present fragment bears ten tituli or subscriptions, including those from St Mary's and St Vincent's at Laon, St Cross at Waltham, and Saint-Laumer at Blois (ff. 47-48v; see Harrison 2004).
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: [n. pub.], 1808-12), I, no. 491.

Catalogi veteres librorum Ecclesiæ Cathedralis Dunelm: Catalogues of the Library of Durham Cathedral, at various periods, from the Conquest to the Dissolution, including Catalogues of the Library of the Abbey of Hulne, and of the Manuscripts preserved in the Library of Bishop Cosin, at Durham, [ed. by Beriah Botfield], The Publications of the Surtee Society, [7] (London: Nichols and Son, 1838), pp. 3, 56.

Durham Cathedral Manuscripts to the End of the Twelfth Century, intr. by Roger A. B. Mynors (Oxford: University Press, 1939), no. 84.

Andrew G. Watson, 'Sir Simonds D'Ewes's Collection of Charters, and a note on the Charters of Sir Robert Cotton', Journal of the Society of Archivists, 2 (1962), 247-54 (p. 252, n. 33).

Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: A List of Surviving Books, ed. by Neil R. Ker, 2nd edn, Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks, 3 (London: Royal Historical Society, 1964), p. 73.

Andrew G. Watson, The Library of Sir Simonds D'Ewes (London: British Museum, 1966), p. 207, no. A908.

Cyril E. Wright, Fontes Harleiani: A Study of the Sources of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1972), pp. 80, 131, 142, 293, 319, 380.

Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: A List of Surviving Books, ed. by Neil R. Ker, Supplement to the Second Edition, ed. by Andrew G. Watson, Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks, 15 (London: The Royal Historical Society, 1987), p. 30.

Michael Gullick, 'The Hand of Symeon of Durham: Further Observation on the Durham Martyrology Scribe', in Symeon of Durham: Historian of Durham and the North, ed. by David Rollason (Stamford: Shaun Tyas, 1998), pp. 14-31 (pp. 14-15, 27, pl. 7a).

Michael Gullick, 'The Two Earliest Manuscripts of the Libellus de Exordio', in Symeon of Durham: Historian of Durham and the North, ed. by David Rollason (Stamford: Shaun Tyas, 1998), pp. 106-19 (p. 119).

Anne Lawrence-Mathers, Manuscripts in Northumbria in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Woodbridge: Brewer, 2003), p. 163.

Helmut Gneuss, 'Addenda and Corrigenda to the Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts', Anglo-Saxon England, 32 (2003), 293-305 (pp. 299-300).

Julian Harrison, 'The Mortuary Roll of Turgot of Durham (d. 1115)', Scriptorium: Revue internationale des études relatives aux manuscrits, 58 (2004), 67-83, pls 18-20.

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Decorated initial

f. 13v
Decorated initial

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