Higden, Ranulf, ? - d. 1364
R. Higden, Polychronicon. manuscript
England, between ca. 1400 and ca. 1450.
1 volume (vi, 276, iv leaves: foliated , i-x, 1-270, ) : parchment, illustrated ; 30.3 x 22.5 cm.
Higden's Polychronicon (ff. 1-268v), preceded by an Index of books 1-6 and chapters 1-44 of book 7 (ff. iii-ix), and an illustrated genealogical descent of English kings from Egbert to Henry VI (ff. ix-x verso).
On f. x verso is a drawing of Windsor Castle and below it a scene identified as the consecration of Thomas Bekynton in Eton College Chapel, 13 October 1443.
The Polychronicon is a copy of the AB text, said by J. Taylor, The Universal Chronicle of Ranulf Higden, Oxford, 1966, p. 116, to be a sister manuscript to Harvard College MS 116.
Book 1 begins on f. 1; book 2, f. 36; book 3, f. 62; book 4, f. 101; book 5, f. 131; book 6, f. 169; book 7, f. 197.
Book 7 is in 44 chapters; chapters 45-52 cover 1342-1377 in the common continuation called (C) by Taylor (pp. 114-117). From the coronation of Richard II to the end at 1420 the text is in annalistic paragraphs year by year, not in chapters.
In nine places the scribe went wrong in the opinion of a corrector, by beginning a new paragraph and leaving space for a 2-line initial where the text should have run straight on; the corrector filled these spaces by writing in them before the initials were put in, and all the letters he wrote are cancelled by expunction. For details see Ker as cited in the references below.
Very many marginalia, most of them in the same beautiful hand that supplied the genealogical descent on ff. ix-x, and including some neat drawings, for example the Tower of Babel (f. 6v) and Romolus and Remus (f. 58). Some of the marginalia may show an interest in the southwest of England. See Ker as cited below for additional details.
An annotation on f. 257v, on the words spoken in English by Henry IV before his coronation in 1399, has been identified with the same hand as Lambeth Palace MS 436 and British Library MS Sloane 2515, and may be assigned confidently to John Blacman.
The Index references are by book, chapter, and letter.
The genealogical descent is illustrated by pen-and-ink pictures in roundels of Egbert, Alfred, Athelstan, Edgar, Canute, Edward 'confessor et virgo', William I, Richard I, Henry III; a roundel for Henry V was not filled, and a large half roundel at the foot of the column on f. x verso is inscribed 'Henricus VIus'.
The descent of Henry VII from Edward III has been added in the margins of f. x in a late 15th century hand.
Below the drawing of Windsor Castle on f. x verso is a roundel inscribed 'Edwardus iiiitus rex potentissimus' surrounded by four points of the compass with east at the top, with the names of English districts and notes of them in each of the four directions.
Written on fairly thin smooth parchment.
Leaves i, ii, 269, 270 are medieval flyleaves.
Written space 197 x 130 mm.
40 long lines; ff. iii-x and 23v-24v in two columns of 40 lines.
Collation of ff. iii-x, 1-268: 1-4⁸ 5¹⁰ 6-9⁸ 10¹⁰ 11-34⁸.
Quires signed + (a)-z 7 aº–gº a+ b+.
Script: Higden's text is in a mainly secretary hand, the same throughout: 8-shaped g is regular, long-tailed r occasionally used, two-compartment a common. The index is in a hand of the same type, and the genealogical descent and many of the marginalia are in skilful secretary by one hand.
For details of illustrations see notes above.
Initials of books are shaded blue and pink on gold grounds, with the arms of Eton (added) within, and prolongations into the margins formed of green branches, pale-lilac lily flowers and gold and green leaves. Initials of chapters are 3-line and 2-line, blue with red ornament.
Secundo folio: adhibere.
An early 19th century crimson morocco binding by C. Lewis was replaced in the first half of the 20th century by a W. H. Smith morocco binding.
Written in England; in Somerset in the first half of the 15th century.
Perhaps once intended as a gift to Eton from John Blacman, fellow 1443-1453, but in fact his gift to the charterhouse of Witham where he became a religious in or after 1459; see provenance note below. No. 4 in the list of Blacman's books printed by M. R. James, Henry the Sixth, 1919, p. 55: "Item librum policronicon 2 fo adhibere".
Belonged in the 16th century to John France and to Edward Griffiths; see provenance notes below.
The centre folios of quires 4 and 5 have been reversed during rebinding, so that ff. 112 and 113, and 208 and 209 are out of sequence.
This catalogue record is based on the work of Neil Ker, as cited in the references below.
Ker, N. R.. Medieval manuscripts in British libraries, v. 2 (1977), p. 782-784
Eton College Library, MS 213
Inscription at the foot of f. 1: "Liber domus beate marie de Witham ordinis Cartus' ex dono M. Iohannis Blacman." For marginalia in the hand of John Blacman see notes above.
Inscription on f. 1v in a 16th century hand: "John France (?) his book".
Inscription on f. 270 in a 16th century hand: "Edward Griffiths".
Bought by Lord Ashburnham from the bookseller Rodd: Ashburnham Appendix 105 (Historic Manuscripts Commission, Eighth report, App. III, p. 105): sale at Sotheby's, 1 May 1899, lot 91.
Bought for Eton College at the George Dunn sale at Sotheby's, 11 February 1913, lot 515 for £330; see Eton College Chronicle, 27 Feb. 1913, p. 314.
20th century maroon morocco binding by W. H. Smith.
Higden, Ranulf, ? - d. 1364
Chronology, Historical Manuscripts.
Blacman, John, ? - d. 1485 former owner.
Ashburnham, Bertram Ashburnham, 1797 - 1878 Earl of former owner.
Dunn, George, 1865 - 1912 former owner.