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Detailed record for Harley 651

Part 1 ff. 4-177v 
Author Eusebius of Caesarea; Jerome; Prosper of Aquitaine; Sigebert of Gembloux; Robert de Torigny; Henry of Huntingdon
Title Collection of chronicles including Chronici canones; Epistola ad Warinum
Origin England, S. (Reading)
Date 2nd or 3rd quarter of the 12th century
Language Latin
Script Protogothic
Decoration 1 large puzzle initial in red and blue with penwork decoration in both colours and light brown (f. 7). 4 large (ff. 4, 5, 64, 148v) and numerous smaller initials in blue, green, red or light brown, often with penwork decoration in one or more of the alternate colours, or with a reserved design. Small puzzle initials in red and blue or in red and light brown, occasionally with penwork decoration. Rubrics and running headers (ff. 67-176) in red.
Dimensions in mm 350 x 240 (260/270 x 165) written in 2 columns (apart from ff. 4-63v where the number of columns varies)
Part 2 ff. 185-191v 
Title Provinciale
Origin England, S. (Glastonbury)
Date 15th century
Language Latin
Script Gothic
Scribe John Merelynch
Decoration Numerous initials in blue with red pen-flourishing. 1 small initial in red with violet pen-flourishing (f. 191).
Dimensions in mm 350 x 240 (220 x 130) in two columns
Official foliation ff. 196 (+ 4 unfoliated paper flyleaves at the beginning and 5 at the end; + 1 unfoliated paper leaf and 1 unfoliated parchment leaf after f. 2 and 1 unfoliated parchment leaf after f. 185; ff. 2, 2a are of paper).
Form Parchment codex
Binding BM/BL in-house. Rebound in 1968. Fragments of the previous binding (rectangular segments from the centre of the light brown leather covers with armorial stamps in gold) pasted inside covers.
Provenance Part 1
The Benedictine abbey of St Mary, Reading, Berkshire, founded in 1121: a textual interpolation, the script, the decoration, and the type of corrections (see English Benedictine Libraries, p. 432 and Coates 1999, pp. 52-54). Probably executed between the late 1130s and the late 1140s under the guidance of Robert de Sigillo (see Coates 1990, pp. 58-59); recorded in the library catalogue of c. 1192 (Egerton 3031, f. 9v) as 'Cronica Eusebii Ieronimi Prosperi Sigeberti monachi gemblacensis in uno volumine' (see English Benedictine Libraries, B71.81); inscribed, 15th century 'De monasterio sancte Marie Radyngie' (f. 1).
Added by different ?15th-century hands, title 'Liber Chronicorum Eusebii et Jeronimi' (twice) and 'Chronica eusebii et jeromini' (ff. 3, 3v), fuller list of contents (f. 3v) and marginal notes.

Part 2
The Benedictine abbey of St Mary, Glastonbury, Somerset: after the end of the text the main scribe wrote 'libellus fratris Johannis Merylynch de perquisito eiusdem' (f. 191v). John Merelynch was a monk at Glastonbury in the 15th century and signed other manuscripts from this abbey (see English Benedictine Libraries 1996, p. 159). Probably once part of Harley 641, ff. 118-206 (see Ker 1964, p. 91; Watson 1966).

Part 1 and 2
Sir Simonds d'Ewes (b.1602, d. 1650), 1st baronet, diarist, antiquary, and friend of Sir Robert Cotton (see Wright 1972): bound for him in 1645 for 3 s. and clasped for 1 s. (segments from this binding with his armorial stamp pasted inside covers). D'Ewes inscribed 'Volumine sive Tomo 60' (f. 1v), number '78' (f. 4); added table of contents (f. 2), edited 15th-century table of contents (f. 3v), foliated manuscript (up to the present f. 194), and probably inscribed one text (ff. 177v-184v), (see Watson 1966).
At or by this time were added ff. 192-196 with further texts in different ?14th/15th-century hands (including a chronicle up to the year 1384; further details in Catalogue 1808): ff. 192-196 measure 280 x 180, they have been enlarged by strips of parchment to meet the size of the text block of parts 1-2 and have been foliated by D'Ewes; traces of a later medieval foliation on f. 192.
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 Watson 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 Part 1: Remains of quire marks (in the centre of the lower margin of the verso of the last leaf of the quires).
Part 2: Leaf signatures: 'ci'-'ciiii'.
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), I (1808), no. 651.

Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: A List of Surviving Books, ed. by N. R. Ker, 2nd edn, Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks, 3 (London: Royal Historical Society, 1964), p. 91, 156.

Andrew G. Watson, The Library of Sir Simonds D'Ewes (London: British Museum, 1966, p. 113 (no. A155).

C. E. Wright, Fontes Harleiani: A Study of the Sources of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1972), pp. 131, 165, 283.

English Benedictine Libraries: The Shorter Catalogues, ed. by R. Sharpe and others, Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues, 4 (London: British Library, 1996), p. 432 (B71.81).

Alan Coates, English Medieval Books: The Reading Abbey Collections from Foundation to Dispersal (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999), pp. 28, 43, 50, 52-54, 59, 149 (no. 28).

Julian M. Luxford, The Art and Architecture of English Benedictine Monasteries, 1300-1540: A Patronage History, Studies in the History of Medieval Religion, 25 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2005), p. 108.


Part  1   ff. 4-177v
Eusebius of Caesarea; Jerome; Prosper of Aquitaine; Sigebert of Gembloux; Robert de Torigny; Henry of Huntingdon Collection of chronicles including Chronici canones; Epistola ad Warinum
* * *
Puzzle initial

f. 7
Puzzle initial

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