Pages in category "Cotton Library"
The following 43 pages are in this category, out of 43 total. This list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
The following 43 pages are in this category, out of 43 total. This list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
1. Camden Roll – The Camden Roll is a 13th-century English roll of arms believed to have been created c. 1280, containing 270 painted coats of arms with 185 French blazons for various English and European monarchs, lords, the original roll is now held at the British Museum as Cotton Roll XV.8. It consists of three vellum membranes in total measuring 6.25 by 63, the face of the roll consists of 270 painted shields arranged in 45 rows of six shields, each with associated names and/or titles listed above each shield. The dorse includes French blazons for 185 of the shields on the face, the roll belonged to William Camden, Clarenceux King of Arms, c. 1605, and is believed to have been several documents and manuscripts which were willed to Sir Robert Cotton, 1st Baronet, of Connington. In 1700 Sir John Cotton, Sir Roberts grandson, sold the Cottonian library to the nation, held at The Queens College, Oxford, MS. Tricked by Robert Glover, Somerset Herald of Arms, held at the College of Arms, MS. Trick believed to be attributed to Richard Scarlett, held at the British Museum, MS. Held at the College of Arms, MS. L.14, trick is attributed to Nicholas Charles, Lancaster Herald of Arms. Illustrated by R. S. Nourse based on the list of blazons in James Greenstreets The Original Camden Roll of Arms published in Vol. XXXVIII of The Journal of the British Archaeological Society,1882
2. Casket letters – The Casket letters were eight letters and some sonnets said to have been written by Mary, Queen of Scots, to the Earl of Bothwell, between January and April 1567. They were produced as evidence against Queen Mary by the Scottish lords who opposed her rule, in particular, the text of the letters was taken to imply that Queen Mary colluded with Bothwell in the murder of her husband, Lord Darnley. Marys contemporary supporters, including Adam Blackwood dismissed them as complete forgeries or letters written by the Queens servant Mary Beaton, the authenticity of the letters, now known only by copies, continues to be debated. The Queens husband, Lord Darnley, was killed in mysterious circumstances at the Kirk oField in Edinburgh on 10 February 1567, Bothwell was widely thought to be the main suspect for Darnleys murder. The Earl of Moray, Marys half-brother, and the Confederate Lords rebelled against Queen Mary, Mary surrendered at the Battle of Carberry Hill on 15 June 1567, was imprisoned at Lochleven Castle, and on 24 July 1567 abdicated. Her infant son was crowned as James VI of Scotland on 29 July 1567, at this time rumours spread that Mary had abdicated because of the discovery of letters which incriminated her. He had not revealed this to Queen Elizabeth, Moray convened his Privy Council on 4 December 1567. It is maist certain that sche wes previe, art and part and of the actuale devise, Mary escaped from Lochleven and made her way to England in May 1568. Her status was uncertain, as she had accused of crimes. Moray came to England and showed the letters to Elizabeths officers. Nearly a year later, in October 1568, the Earl of Moray produced the Casket letters at a conference in York, headed by Thomas Howard, Moray again showed the casket letters at Westminster on 7 December 1568. The letters, sonnets, divorce and marriage contract were examined at Hampton Court on 14 December 1568, for overriding political reasons, Queen Elizabeth neither wished to accuse Queen Mary of murder nor acquit her of the same, so the conference was intended as a political show. Queen Mary was refused the right to be present, though her accusers, the outcome was that the Casket letters were accepted by the English commissioners as genuine after a study of the handwriting, and of the information contained therein. However, Queen Marys commissioners were refused access to the letters to review or to study them, yet, as Queen Elizabeth had wished, the inquiry reached the conclusion that nothing was proven. The outcome of the enquiry was to prolong doubts about Marys character that Elizabeth used to prevent the Queens meeting, the meeting at York was established as a conference to negotiate an Anglo-Scottish treaty. John Lesley, Marys secretary, heard one of her accusers, William Maitland of Lethington, that Elizabeths purpose was not to end her cause at this time. Maitland had heard this from the officer at York, the Duke of Norfolk. This conversation came to light, having found in Lesleys correspondence
3. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th-century Middle English chivalric romance. It is one of the best known Arthurian stories, with its plot combining two types of motifs, the beheading game and the exchange of winnings. The Green Knight is interpreted by some as a representation of the Green Man of folklore and by others as an allusion to Christ. Written in stanzas of verse, each of which ends in a rhyming bob and wheel, it draws on Welsh, Irish. Gawain accepts and beheads him with his blow, at which the Green Knight stands up, picks up his head, and reminds Gawain of the appointed time. In his struggles to keep his bargain, Gawain demonstrates chivalry and loyalty until his honour is called into question by a test involving Lady Bertilak, the lady of the Green Knights castle. The poem survives in a manuscript, the Cotton Nero A. x. which also includes three religious narrative poems, Pearl, Purity and Patience. All are thought to have been written by the unknown author, dubbed the Pearl Poet or Gawain Poet. In Camelot on New Years Day, King Arthurs court is exchanging gifts, a gigantic figure, entirely green in appearance and riding a green horse, rides unexpectedly into the hall. He wears no armor but bears an axe in one hand, the splendid axe will belong to whoever takes him on. Arthur himself is prepared to accept the challenge when it no other knight will dare. The giant bends and bares his neck before him and Gawain neatly beheads him in one stroke, Gawain and Arthur admire the axe, hang it up as a trophy and encourage Guinevere to treat the whole matter lightly. As the date approaches, Sir Gawain sets off to find the Green Chapel, also present is an old and ugly lady, unnamed but treated with great honour by all. Gawain tells them of his New Years appointment at the Green Chapel, Bertilak laughs, explains that the Green Chapel is less than two miles away and proposes that Gawain rest at the castle till then. Before going hunting the next day Bertilak proposes a bargain, he will give Gawain whatever he catches on the condition that Gawain give him whatever he might gain during the day. After Bertilak leaves, Lady Bertilak visits Gawains bedroom and behaves seductively, when Bertilak returns and gives Gawain the deer he has killed, his guest gives a kiss to Bertilak without divulging its source. The next day the lady comes again, Gawain again courteously foils her advances and she comes once more on the third morning, this time offering Gawain a gold ring as a keepsake. He gently but steadfastly refuses but she pleads that he at least take her belt, a girdle of green and gold silk which, tempted, as he may otherwise die the next day, Gawain accepts it, and they exchange three kisses
4. Lindisfarne Gospels – The manuscript is one of the finest works in the unique style of Hiberno-Saxon or Insular art, combining Mediterranean, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic elements. The Lindisfarne Gospels are presumed to be the work of a monk named Eadfrith, current scholarship indicates a date around 715, and it is believed they were produced in honour of St. Cuthbert. During the Viking raids on Lindisfarne this jewelled cover was lost, the text is written in insular script, and is the best documented and most complete insular manuscript of the period. In the 10th century an Old English translation of the Gospels was made and this is the oldest extant translation of the Gospels into the English language. Cottons library came to the British Museum in the 18th century, Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island, is located off the coast of Northumberland in northern England. In around 635 AD, the Irish missionary Aidan founded the Lindisfarne monastery on “a small outcrop of land” on Lindisfarne, King Oswald of Northumbria sent Aidan from Iona to preach to and baptize the pagan Anglo-Saxons, following the conversion to Christianity of the Northumbrian monarchy in 627. By Aidan’s death in 651, the Christian faith was becoming well-established in the area. In the tenth century, about 250 years after the production of the book, Aldred, in his colophon he recorded the names of the four men who produced the Lindisfarne Gospels. Some scholars have argued that Eadfrith and Ethelwald did not produce the manuscript, however, Janet Backhouse argues for the validity of the statement by pointing out that, there is no reason to doubt statement because he was recording a well established tradition. Eadfrith and Ethelwald were both bishops at the monastery of Lindisfarne where the manuscript was produced, as Alan Thacker notes, the Lindisfarne Gospels are undoubtedly the work of a single hand, and Eadfrith remains regarded as the scribe and painter of the Lindisfarne Gospels. According to Aldred’s colophon, the Lindisfarne Gospels were made in honor of God and Saint Cuthbert, scholars think that the manuscript was written sometime between Cuthbert’s death in 687 and Eadfrith’s death in 721. Due to increasingly slack religious practice in Lindisfarne, Cuthbert was sent to Lindisfarne as a way to reform the religious community, in Lindisfarne Cuthbert began to take on a solitary lifestyle, eventually moving to Inner Farne Island where he built a hermitage. Cuthbert agreed to become bishop at the request of King Ecgfrith in 684, Cuthbert died on 20 March 687, and was buried in Lindisfarne. As a venerated saint his tomb attracted many pilgrims to Lindisfarne, the Lindisfarne Gospels is a Christian manuscript, containing the gospels of Matthew, Luke, Mark, and John and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The manuscript was used for purposes to promote and celebrate the Christian religion. The Lindisfarne Gospels manuscript was produced in a scriptorium in the monastery of Lindisfarne, the pages of the Lindisfarne gospels are vellum, made from the skins of sheep or calves and evidence from the manuscript reveals that the vellum used for the Gospels was made from calfskin. The text of the manuscript is written “in a dense, dark brown ink, often almost black, which contains particles of carbon from soot or lamp black”. The pens used for the manuscript could have cut from either quills or reeds
5. Magna Carta – Magna Carta Libertatum, commonly called Magna Carta, is a charter agreed to by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, on 15 June 1215. Neither side stood behind their commitments, and the charter was annulled by Pope Innocent III, at the end of the 16th century there was an upsurge in interest in Magna Carta. Lawyers and historians at the believed that there was an ancient English constitution, going back to the days of the Anglo-Saxons. Both James I and his son Charles I attempted to suppress the discussion of Magna Carta, until the issue was curtailed by the English Civil War of the 1640s and the execution of Charles. The political myth of Magna Carta and its protection of ancient personal liberties persisted after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 until well into the 19th century. In the 21st century, four exemplifications of the original 1215 charter remain in existence, held by the British Library, there are also a handful of the subsequent charters in public and private ownership, including copies of the 1297 charter in both the United States and Australia. The original charters were written on parchment sheets using quill pens, in heavily abbreviated medieval Latin, each was sealed with the royal great seal, very few of the seals have survived. The four original 1215 charters were displayed together at the British Library for one day,3 February 2015, to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. Magna Carta originated as an attempt to achieve peace between royalist and rebel factions in 1215, as part of the events leading to the outbreak of the First Barons War. England was ruled by King John, the third of the Angevin kings, although the kingdom had a robust administrative system, the nature of government under the Angevin monarchs was ill-defined and uncertain. Following the defeat of his allies at the Battle of Bouvines, John had to sue for peace, John was already personally unpopular with many of the barons, many of whom owed money to the Crown, and little trust existed between the two sides. John held a council in London in January 1215 to discuss potential reforms, both sides appealed to Pope Innocent III for assistance in the dispute. John also began recruiting mercenary forces from France, although some were sent back to avoid giving the impression that the King was escalating the conflict. Letters backing John arrived from the Pope in April, but by then the rebel barons had organised into a military faction and they congregated at Northampton in May and renounced their feudal ties to John, marching on London, Lincoln, and Exeter. Johns efforts to moderate and conciliatory had been largely successful. The King offered to submit the problem to a committee of arbitration with the Pope as the supreme arbiter, John met the rebel leaders at Runnymede, a water-meadow on the south bank of the River Thames, on 10 June 1215. Here the rebels presented John with their demands for reform. By 15 June, general agreement had been made on a text, and on 19 June and it focused on the rights of free men—in particular the barons
6. Otho-Corpus Gospels – The Otho-Corpus Gospels is a badly damaged and fragmentary 8th century illuminated manuscript. It was part of the Cotton library and was burnt in the 1731 fire at Ashburnham House. The manuscript now survives as charred fragments in the British Library, thirty six pages of the manuscript were not in the Cotton collection and survived the fire. They are now in the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, the manuscript, before the fire, was a major insular Gospel Book with close ties to the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Book of Kells and the Durham Cathedral Library, MS A. II. The Echternach Gospels, and other manuscripts, with both textual and decorative similarities. The extant fragments show that the manuscript was decorated in much the style as other Insular Gospel Books. For example, folio 28 recto in the British Library contains the remnant of the page to the Gospel of Mark. All that is still legible is a portion of the word Initium, the letters INI are formed into a large monogram decorated with red and yellow knotwork. This page was so damaged and shrunk by the fire that the vellum has become translucent, in many of the insular gospels, such as the Lindisfarne Gospels, and the Book of Kells, each Gospel has an Evangelist portrait before the Gospel. In many other insular gospels, such as the Book of Durrow, folio 27 recto in the British Library, which is one of the best preserved pages of this manuscript, contains the image of the lion of Mark. This page bears a stylistic similarity to the corresponding page in the Echternach Gospels. A copy of a page of the material for Mark was made in 1725 for the Earl of Oxford, and used by Thomas Astle for his book The Origin and Progress of Writing. The letters at the top of the page were display capitals, farther down the page there is a second set of capitals in a different style which are surrounded by a block of small red dots. At the bottom of the page the scribe of the copy included a sampler of letter forms found in the manuscript which was not found on the original page, astles manuscript containing the copy is also in the British Library
7. Liber Eliensis – The Liber Eliensis is a 12th-century English chronicle and history, written in Latin. Composed in three books, it was written at Ely Abbey on the island of Ely in the fenlands of eastern Cambridgeshire, Ely Abbey became the cathedral of a newly formed bishopric in 1109. The Liber covers the period from the founding of the abbey in 673 until the middle of the 12th century and it incorporates documents and stories of saints lives. The work typifies a type of history produced during the latter part of the 12th century. Similar books were written at other English monasteries, the longest of the contemporary local histories, the Liber chronicles the devastation that the Anarchy caused during the reign of King Stephen. It also documents the career of Nigel, the Bishop of Ely from 1133 to 1169, other themes include the miracles worked by the monasterys patron saint, Æthelthryth, and gifts of land to Ely. Two complete manuscripts survive, complemented by partial manuscripts, the Latin text was published in 1962, and an English translation followed in 2005. Extracts had appeared in print earlier, the Liber Eliensis provides an important history of the region and period it covers, and particularly for the abbey and bishopric of Ely. The Liber Eliensis was written at Ely Abbey, which became Ely Cathedral upon conversion into a bishopric in 1109, for van Houts, the first stage was the translation of an Old English work into Latin, commissioned by Bishop Hervey. The rest of the work, van Houts argues, was composed in the 1170s, the second has a preface apologising for the delay in its completion, and could not have been started before 1154, as it records events from that year. The third and final book was completed between 1169, when Bishop Nigel died and whose death is mentioned in the book, and 1174, as there is no mention of Nigels replacement, Blake states that this suggests that book three was finished before the new bishop took office. Traditionally the work was ascribed to either Thomas or Richard, two monks of Ely mentioned in the text, Blake thinks that Richard was the author, but he considers the evidence to be inconclusive. Janet Fairweather, a classicist and a recent translator of the Liber, whoever the author, the Liber specifically states that it was written at the bidding of some members of the monastic community at Ely. The northern histories record the stories of the various Cistercian houses in the north. Those from the south, including the Liber Eliensis, mainly concern themselves with the controversies involving their respective religious houses. The northern histories are less concerned with controversy, and overall are more prone to hagiography, to a large extent the work is composite, that is, it is a compilation borrowing from or at least using earlier sources. The work on Maldon was included because the hero of the work was Byrhtnoth, works more directly related to Ely were also used. The primary one of works was Bishop Æthelwold of Winchesters Libellus
8. Nowell Codex – The Nowell Codex is the second of two manuscripts found in the bound volume Cotton Vitellius A. xv, one of the four major Anglo-Saxon poetic manuscripts. It is most famous as the containing the unique copy of the epic poem Beowulf. Due to the fame of Beowulf, the Nowell codex is also known simply as the Beowulf manuscript. The manuscript is located within the British Library with the rest of the Cotton collection, the current codex is a composite of at least two manuscripts, the first manuscript and the second manuscript. The main division is into two totally distinct books which were not bound together until the 17th century. The first of these, originally owned by the Southwick Priory, dates from the 12th century and it is the second, older manuscript that is more famous. This second manuscript is known as the Nowell codex, after Laurence Nowell, whose name is inscribed on its first page, at some point it was combined with the first codex. It was then acquired by Sir Robert Cotton, in his library, it was placed on the first shelf as the 15th manuscript of the bookcase that had a bust of Vitellius, giving the collection its name. The Nowell codex is dated around the turn of the first millennium. Recent editions have specified a date in the decade after 1000. Vitellius A. xv was heavily damaged in 1731 when a partially destroyed the Cotton library. The second codex begins with three works, a life of Saint Christopher, Wonders of the East, and a translation of a Letter of Alexander to Aristotle. These are followed by Beowulf, which takes up the bulk of the volume, and Judith, the somewhat eclectic contents of this codex have led to much critical debate over why these particular works were chosen for inclusion. One theory which has gained considerable currency is that the compiler saw a thematic link, Anglo-Saxon literature Beowulf Caedmon manuscript Exeter Book Liber Monstrorum Vercelli Book R. D. Fulk, ed. and trans. The Beowulf Manuscript, Complete Texts and The Fight at Finnsburg, ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press. Originally published by Rutgers, State University of New Jersey Press,1981, full digital coverage of the manuscript on the British Librarys Digitised Manuscripts website
9. The Owl and the Nightingale – The Owl and the Nightingale is a twelfth- or thirteenth-century Middle English poem detailing a debate between an owl and a nightingale as overheard by the poems narrator. It is the earliest example in Middle English of a form known as debate poetry. Verse contests from this period were usually written in Anglo-Norman or Latin. This poem shows the influence of French linguistic, literary, after the Norman Conquest, French became a predominant language in England, but English was still widespread and recognized as an acceptable language for poetry, if only burlesque debates. There is no information about the poem’s author, date of composition or origin. Nicholas of Guildford is mentioned several times in the text as the man best suited to judge which bird presents the strongest argument and his character never actually makes an appearance, and the poem ends with the debate unresolved and the owl and nightingale flying off in search of Nicholas. Critics tend to agree that the most likely reason for the mention of Nicholas of Guildford in the poem is because he is the author and it is equally difficult to establish an exact date when The Owl and the Nightingale was first written. The two surviving manuscripts are thought to be copied from one exemplar, and they are dated to the half of the 13th century. 1091-2, the nightingale prays for the soul of king Henri, scholars see no evidence that the poem predates the surviving manuscripts by many years. It is possible that the poem was written in the 12th or 13th century, linguistic evidence suggests the poem’s origins lie in Kent or a neighboring province, but there is little evidence to support this theory. Because The Owl and the Nightingale cannot be dated, it is nearly impossible to properly reconstruct the original dialect. Recent scholarship also acknowledges that provenance could be anywhere in Wessex, there are two known manuscripts of The Owl and the Nightingale, ff. 156-68, Jesus College, Oxford, MS.29 and ff, Both are bound together in collections of other works. They are both estimated to be written in the half of the 13th century and copied from one exemplar which is now lost Jesus College, Oxford. 29, This manuscript, given to Jesus College between 1684 and 1697 by rector Thomas Wilkins, contains 33 texts in English, Anglo Norman, all of the script is in one hand and written in a plain, amateurish style. The Owl and Nightingale is written in two columns with some letters in blue and red but no illumination. The text, written by at least two different scribes, is in two columns with some letters in red and no illumination. The script is a professional, gothic bookhand and this manuscript has a 19th-century binding and shows no evidence of whom the previous owner may have been
10. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle – The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, multiple copies were made of that one original and then distributed to monasteries across England, where they were independently updated. In one case, the Chronicle was still being updated in 1154. Nine manuscripts survive in whole or in part, though not all are of historical value. The oldest seems to have been started towards the end of Alfreds reign and these manuscripts collectively are known as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Taken as a whole, however, the Chronicle is the single most important historical source for the period in England between the departure of the Romans and the following the Norman conquest. Much of the information given in the Chronicle is not recorded elsewhere, in addition, the manuscripts are important sources for the history of the English language, in particular, the later Peterborough text is one of the earliest examples of Middle English in existence. Seven of the nine surviving manuscripts and fragments now reside in the British Library, the remaining two are in the Bodleian Library at Oxford and the Parker Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. All of the manuscripts are copies, so it is not known for certain where or when the first version of the Chronicle was composed. It is generally agreed that the version was written in the late 9th century by a scribe in Wessex. After the original Chronicle was compiled, copies were made and distributed to various monasteries, additional copies were made, for further distribution or to replace lost manuscripts, and some copies were updated independently of each other. Some of these copies are those that have survived. The earliest extant manuscript, the Winchester Chronicle, was written by a single scribe up to the year 891, the scribe wrote the year number, DCCCXCII, in the margin of the next line, subsequent material was written by other scribes. It is known that the Winchester manuscript is at least two removes from the original Chronicle, as a result, there is no proof that the Chronicle was compiled at Winchester. The Chronicle, as well as the distribution of copies to other centres of learning, of the nine surviving manuscripts, seven are written entirely in Old English. One, known as the Bilingual Canterbury Epitome, is in Old English with a translation of each annal into Latin, another, the Peterborough Chronicle, is in Old English except for the last entry, which is in early Middle English. The oldest is known as the Winchester Chronicle or the Parker Chronicle, six of the manuscripts were printed in an 1861 edition for the Rolls Series by Benjamin Thorpe with the text laid out in columns labelled A to F. He also included the few remnants of a burned seventh manuscript
11. The Battle of Maldon – The Battle of Maldon is the name given to an Old English poem of uncertain date celebrating the real Battle of Maldon of 991, at which the Anglo-Saxons failed to prevent a Viking invasion. Only 325 lines of the poem are extant, both the beginning and the ending are lost, the poem is told entirely from the perspective of the English, and names many individuals that Mitchell and Robinson believe were real Englishmen. The poem as we have it begins with the Anglo-Saxon warriors dismounting to prepare for battle, a Viking messenger offers the English ealdorman Byrhtnoth peace if he will consent to pay tribute. Byrhtnoth angrily refuses, telling the messenger that he fight the heathen Vikings in defense of his land. Not all the English are portrayed as heroic however, one, Godric the son of Odda, flees the battle with his brothers and, most improperly, the poem as it has come down to us ends with another Godric disappearing from view. This time, it is Godric, the son of Æthelgar, advancing into a body of Vikings, ofermōde, occurring in line 89, has caused much discussion. Literally high spirits or overconfidence, ofermōde is usually translated as pride, both Glenn and Alexander translate it as arrogance and Bradley as extravagant spirit. In 1731, the only manuscript of the poem was destroyed in the fire at Ashburnham House that also damaged and destroyed several other works in the Cotton library. The poem has come down to us thanks to the transcription of it made c,1724, which was published by Thomas Hearne in 1726. After being lost, the transcription was found in the Bodleian Library in the 1930s. Who made this original transcription is still unclear, some favouring John Elphinstone, according to some scholars, the poem must have been written close to the events that it depicts, given the historical concreteness and specificity of the events depicted in the poem. According to Irving, the events told with such clarity could only have been composed shortly after the events had taken place. While this may seem strange to an audience, who are used to “realistic fiction. Niles, in his essay “Maldon and Mythopoesis”, also argues for a composition date. He states that the three references to Æthelred the Unready necessitate an early composition date, before Æthelred had achieved his reputation for ineffectiveness. This argument hinges upon Byrhtnoth’s, and the poet’s, degree of knowledge of Aethelred’s ill reputation, if Byrhtnoth had known of Aethelred’s nature, would he have been willing to sacrifice himself for an undeserving king, effectively throwing away his own life and those of his men. Niles indicates that this not appear to be supportable through the actions. Apparently Byrhtnoth did not know of the nature, and most likely the poet himself did not know of the king’s nature either