Archive for January 2011

15 January 2011

Editing the Instituta Cnuti 2: Finding the Witnesses

My first task in editing the Instituta Cnuti has been to locate all of its witnesses—whether preserved in medieval manuscripts or in early modern antiquarian commonplace books.  This task began with the work of the last editor, Felix Liebermann, whose Gesetze der Angelsachsen is still the standard edition of most of the texts being reedited for Early English Laws.  Liebermann had identified the following witnesses by these sigla and shelfmarks:

1.    Cb      Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, Lat. 4771, fols. 1–35.

2.    Ct      Cambridge, Trinity College R. 5. 42, fols. 135ff .

3.    Di      Oxford, Bodley Digby 13, fols. 41ff .

4.    H       Rochester Cathedral, Textus de ecclesia Roffensi per Ernulphum episcopum, fols.  58ff.

5.    Jl       British Museum, Cotton Julius C.II, fols. 65ff.

6.    Jo      Cambridge, St. John’s College G.16, no folios provided.

7.    Ko     Copenhagen, Arne-Magnaeanus 1.

8.    Lb      London, Lambeth 118, fols. 94–104.

9.    Pa      Paris, Bibliothèque nationale Lat. 6044, no folios provided.

10. Pl      A manuscript which was, until 1895, Phillipps 8078, and then belonged to H. S.  Nichols & Co. in London, fols. 11ff.

11. Rc      London, British Museum, Regius 13.C.II, fols. 108–119.

12. Rl      Oxford, Bodley Rawlinson C.641, fols. 30ff.

13. S        London, British Museum Harley 746, fols. 77ff.

14. Sin    Rome, Vatican, Christina reg. 451.

15. T       British Museum, Cotton Titus A.XXVII, fols. 159vff.

16. Va    Rome, Vatican, Christina regina 587, fols. 99v.

17. Vl     British Museum, Cotton Vitellius A.XIII, fols. 189v, 181, 195, and 172.

18. Vc    Rome, Vatican 3495.

Four further copies he listed were not assigned sigla:

19.  British Museum Additional 5485, fols. 39ff.

20.  British Museum, Harley 596, fols. 42ff.

21.  British Museum, Harley 785, fols. 13ff .

22.  Rome, Vatican, Christina reg. 451.

Liebermann listed 22 copies, but this total included lost manuscripts and derivative texts.  Ko had been lost before Liebermann began his work, while Jl, Pa, Rc, Va and Vc, along with the four copies not assigned sigla, were, he concluded,  all derivative of surviving witnesses.

While most of these copies are still where they were in Liebermann’s day, a few had moved.  His Rochester Cathedral manuscript, known familiarly as Textus Roffensis, is now Stroud, Medway Archive and Local Studies Centre, MS DRc/R1.  His Pl, which had been in the Phillipps collection, was acquired by the British Museum, where it is now British Library, Additional MS 35,179.

This is my starting list of witnesses—what Liebermann identified as original witnesses (meaning that no other manuscript stands between these and the archetype) and what he claimed were derivative.  My two first tasks were to see if I could add to the list and to check to see if any he identified as original witnesses or as derivative copies were in fact misidentified.  Index and catalogue searches in major libraries turned up nothing new.  Since the Instituta travels with one version of Henry of Huntingdon’s Historia Anglorum, I checked Diana Greenway’s 1996 edition to see if there were any there I had missed.  She says that inclusion of the Instituta is one of the distinguishing marks of version 5B, and lists (according to Liebermann’s sigla) Lb (copied in Rc); Jo; Ct; Va and Bd.  Greenway adds two more to Liebermann’s list:

23. Ba             Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Lat. 10185, of which she says Liebermann’s Bd is a  copy.

24. Ab     London, British Library, Additional 21088, which she says is a copy of   Liebermann’s Bd.

I was able to add another manuscript which neither Liebermann nor Greenway was aware of, a manuscript that includes a copy of the Instituta extracted from Henry of Huntingdon’s Historia Anglorum.  I found this copy by chance.  Liebermann had mentioned a manuscript in the College of Arms that he could not locate, but which he said had a text of the revised version of the Leges Edwardi Confessoris (his ECf retr., now abbreviated for Early English Laws as ECf3).  A manuscript holding the Leges Edwardi did not appear in the 1988 Catalogue of Manuscripts in the College of Arms, ed. L. Campbell and F. Steer, and I decided to see what evidence there was that it had ever been part of the collection.  I initially thought that perhaps Liebermann’s MS Ar had belonged to the collection—Liebermann certainly must have had reason to think it had—but that it had been one of those manuscripts notoriously pawned by John Vincent to his friend Richard Sheldon and never redeemed.  I discovered a text of the Confessor’s laws in the Catalogue of the Books Printed and Manuscripts in the Herald’s Office, produced in May 1690.  There, it was listed as follows: ‘no. 98   King Edward the Confessor’s Laws and severall other things promiscuosly.’  Vincent 98, however, appeared to have disappeared as the librarian, Robert Yorke,  was unable to find it.  I then proceeded through more recent catalogues and found that in the 1788 catalogue it was listed as having been rebound with Vincent 65 and 75.  Vincent 65 did indeed hold all three of these manuscripts, and Vincent 98 had a copy of the Leges Edwardi.  It was not, however, the third version of the Leges, as Liebermann had thought, but the second version.  More important, however, for my present work was my discovery that Vincent 98 also held a copy of the Instituta Cnuti, something none of the earlier catalogues had noted. So quite by chance, I had found a new witness to the Instituta.

25. Ar     London, College of Arms, Vincent 98, [unnumbered, but by my count fols. 42v–49v].

Are there other copies yet to be found?  I suspect there are.  Nevertheless, the labor involved in tracking down further copies, about whose existence I have no clues, would be misspent.  The edition, then, will be built on a base of 25 manuscripts.  This total includes both original witnesses and derivative texts, and rather than take Liebermann and Greenway’s word on this, I will collate the copies to see if I can determine which are which.  That is my next step.