Lollardy in Medieval Scotland?

Ploughing through the marginal annotations of the Bible from the country house (promising this will be the last post on this MS for the time being), I was struck by a short comment affixed to Ezekiel 33:6-7.  It was truncated by the modern binder, and currently reads:

no[ta] con[tra] lolla|

no[n] p[o]p[u]l[u]s t[erre sed]|


This is only a [revised with a suggestion from Laura Light] tentative transcription.  Abbreviations and truncation render expansions indecisive.   Other options are possible, and suggestions most welcome.

The biblical location is also of importance.  Ezekiel 33:6-7 discusses the watchman, who neglects to warn the people in the face of a looming threat.

I’m still working to fill in the gaps – both on the palaeography and the use of these verses in anti-Lollard polemics.  More to come soon.


Taking Off the Gloves & the Pacman Ghost

On another chilly morning I found myself in the library of the country house.  This time round the milder weather, a small heater and the running around of Joe (one of the family’s dogs) brought much comfort to the investigation.  But the frozen landscape still made for a scenic walk from Innerleithen.

In-depth investigation of the manuscript turned out most revealing (and a nice support to the project’s rationale of inferring from the manuscript evidence on medieval Scotland).

Following the arrival of the Bible to Culross, notes in several hands were made.  A fifteenth-century hand added the opening words of 1 Sam 25 (‘mortuus est autem Samuel’), which are lacking in the original.  This is a testimony to an active reading of the biblical text at Culross, and to the existence of an additional Bible in the Monastery.  Such a discovery is not a complete surprise, given the known activities at Culross.  However, the lack of any library record makes any discovery of importance.

Several corrections to chapter divisions likewise support this hypothesis.  As I’m growing quite anal about chapter divisions and their fluctuation (with thanks to Paul Saenger, the fons et origo of this obsession), it was good to see the attention given by medieval readers to these divisions, in an image of Exodus 16.  

A keen interest in the hymns and poetry of the Bible is also a mark of this Bible.  This

can be traced to the original scribe, as in the previous image, in which the Song of the Sea (Shirat haYam, Ex 15) was written  in alternating red and blue initials.  This layout is usually reserved for the Psalms, and only rarely applied to other biblical hymns.  The poetry of the Bible, and its role in the liturgy, continued to be a source of interest to subsequent readers of the this Bible.  One such reader added a list of the Gallican Canticles at the end of 2 Paralipomenon.  This list (I thank Laura Light for her assistance in its identification) employs an interesting reference system, one that makes use of book, chapter and page identification.

Lastly, a symbol which I like to call ‘The Pacman Ghost’ appears at the very end of 2 Paralipomenon.  It identifies the place of the apocryphal Prayer of Manasses

(oratio Manasses) which is supplied in full at the very last folio of the manuscripts.  Such feature appears at times in Late Medieval Bibles, as in Huntington Library, HM 51, fol. 376v.  But you must agree that the similarity between the manuscript and the computer game cannot be easily dismissed!

The Medieval Bible Roadshow

In the last few weeks I went into small silence.  The holidays were followed by the design of a biblical database, and I assumed that these will be of less interest for readers.  If you are, however, keen about using FileMaker Pro scripts in the analysis of manuscript collation (or in family pictures from the Christmas market) – feel free to drop a line in the comments.

For the time being I thought of sending word that the medieval Bible is taking to the road.  As part of the Carnegie project, I’ll be travelling between partner institutions and using local manuscript collections, wherever available, to discuss the unique features of the Late Medieval Bible, the challenges and merits of its digital analysis.  The schedule at the moment is:

  • Aberdeen 1 March, 14:00. Special Collections Centre Seminar Room, Lower Ground Floor, University Library
  • St Andrews 14 March, 14:15
  • Glasgow 16 March, 14:30. The level 12 Henry Heaney Seminar Room, University Library

The Aberdeen and Glasgow sessions will take place in Special Collections, using their medieval manuscripts.  Edinburgh will not be neglected for long – I am putting together  an extended workshop which will bring scholars from further afield to examine its biblical manuscripts.

More soon.