The Making of a Manuscript: TCC B.15.17

The visualization post this week was about making a manuscript and the various different economies, ecologies, and congealing materialities that bring forth parchment, the material support on which a text is eventually written.

One of the things I want to draw attention to in that post and the upcoming ones is the fact that a manuscript is specifically more than a text, and thus requires us to look at it with different eyes and tools than we use for looking at texts.  A manuscript contains, or even embodies texts, but it also is and does myriad other things that all affect the way that it matters–the way it signifies in both a material and symbolic sense.

To highlight what I mean, today we are going to encode and examine Trinity College Cambridge B.15.17, a manuscript with a little more known history than most, and I’m going to draw attention to choices I make in coding that aim to bring the manuscript object itself into focus, rather than just simply the texts contained therein.

We are going to think about TCC B.15.17 as  emerging at a specific nexus within three different networks or systems that all had to work in concert to allow this particular concrescence of text and material to happen at this particular point in spacetimematterThe three systems I’m going to invoke (but not by any means exhaust) are:

  • ecological
  • economic
  • textual/literary

They are, of course, all entangled with each other, so we won’t be able to ever talk about movement in one of these networks of interactions  without that also being entangled with the other scales and systems at work.

At the ecological focal length, we are thinking about the ways in which the material substrata for manuscript “raw” materials come to be in a usable format.  In Capital, Marx points out that any process of production necessarily begins with “raw materials,” which are “raw” not insofar as they are unadulterated or un-produced by human labor (quite the opposite, actually) but because they provide the un-formed matter that will be used to create the product of a specific labor.  Thus RAW MATERIAL is actually matter that is in a stage of production in which it has been prepared for the next transformation by human labor, but has not yet undergone the transformation that the labor in question will affect upon it.  Thus, the product–even the commodified product–of one process becomes the raw material for another.

The Raw Materials of any manuscript production process include:

  • the support–parchment, vellum, or in some cases (esp. after 1450 in England) paper
  • ink, generally iron gall ink
  • quills or other writing instruments
  • thread for quiring, and possibly for binding
  • boards for a hard binding
  • leather, for covering boards or a soft binding
  • any decorative elements for binding (precious metals, stones, enamel, etc.)
  • colored pigments for decoration or painting (and their animal, mineral, and vegetable sources)
  • gesso and/or gold leaf for illumination

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, it immediately draws our attention to entire ecological systems necessary to produce the plants, animals, and minerals necessary for the process of making a manuscript.  You need entire ecosystems (some assisted by human intervention like farming) to facilitate all the cows, sheep, and birds necessary to supply folios, instruments, and coverings.  You also need ecosystems to furnish trees for wood, and various plants for dyes, emulsifiers, binders or coverings. And, of course, you need significant other geological processes to produce the mineral components of pigments, the stones and metals for various tools that make the components ready for writing, and the gold itself.

All of these materials are extracted from their ecological, biological, and/or geological contexts by means of human labor. It is only in the process of being excised from these contexts an transformed into individuated pieces that the “raw material” for manuscript making comes into being.

In the case of TCC B.15.17, we have a little more decoration on the opening folio than we usually find in our Piers Plowman manuscripts.

fol. 1r from PPEA
fol. 1r from PPEA

 

Author’s photo used with permission of the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge

In this Piers manuscript, then, we have to think not only about how the parchment and ink have come to us, but also the pigments and decorative elements.  We’d need to consider the gold, gesso, blue, mauve, red (for rubrics), and white, and what makes them up and where those components come from.  But honestly, in most Piers manuscripts, we have to think at least a little bit about pigments and their ecologies and economies, because almost all Piers MSS use red, generally in the rubrics and almost always in the decorative initials beginning Passūs. Most also make use of blue pigments for initials, using red only for filigree decoration, and many also have alternating red and blue paraph marks.

Author’s photo, used with permission of the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge; fols. 4v-5r

Now, we also have to think about how these ecologies intersect with the economies of a London or Westminster bookshop, whence this manuscript was almost certainly made.  We have to think about the large quantities of parchment or vellum that would have been making their way from the English countryside into the metropole, the extraction and sale of pigment materials, and the gold economy of Late Medieval London.

We also would have to think about the metropolitan book-making trade as a whole, and about the scribal economy of professional book production.  B.15.17 is a particularly interesting manuscript in these respects, since Linne Mooney has identified its scribe as Adam Pinkhurst, none other than the scribe famous for copying well-known Chaucer manuscripts, most notably (though not without contestation) the Ellesmere and (possibly) Hengwert copies of The Canterbury Tales.  Other work identifies Pinkhurst as the very same scriveyn unto whom Chaucer wrote such scathing words about his copying.

Thus, B.15.17 presents us with a manuscript that is uniquely connected to a known book economy in London that also intersected with the same forces (and even artisans) who produced some of Chaucer’s works.  This is highly unusualfor Piers manuscripts, that tend largely not to be produced in Londonand which intersect with Chaucer’s works in almost no other way.

Second, it tells us something about the way in which economies and textual contexts overlap.  This is one of the very few Piers manuscripts that have direct evidence of being bespoke. Here are some of the reasons I would venture to claim that about this manuscript:

  • it obviously comes from a well-known book shop in London, one that we know to have produced several other well known and decorated manuscripts
  • it has idiosyncratic decoration–namely the fancy initial on the opening folio that is significantly more decorated than most Piers MSS
  • It also has extra initialsthat mark not only the beginnings of passūs, but also other passages as well; there are eight additional initials for a total of 29
  • It also contains very particular contents, that were likely requested rather than just put together for a pre-assembled book for sale

Indeed, the books contents itself bring us to the textual milieu in which Piers was circulating.  We have already noted elsewhere that Piers tends to circulate with certain texts more than others. One of the authors with whom Piers tends to circulate most often is Richard Rolle, whose work also has its own textual milieu and religious economy.

So, in addition to Piers‘ textual context, we also have to consider Rolle’s textual context.  In particular, in this manuscript we have Rolle’s Form of Living, made for Margaret Kirkby enclosed as an anchorite at Hampole.  Interestingly, Rolle became so associated with  Hampole through this work in particular that his location was conflated with hers, and he became known as the “hermit of Hampole,” or in some places, including in University College Oxford MS 45 (another Piers MS) as “R. Hampole.”

Finally, after Piersand Rolle’s Form of Living, TCC B.15.17 has a short poem known by its first lines “Christ made to man a fair present…” (IMEV 1000) that occurs in three other manuscripts. What is more, this particular poem also happens to share a stanza with another poem, “Þu sikest sor/ Þi sorwe is more” (IMEV 5850) that occurs only once.

So, before we even start to talk about Piers’ sources and quotations, we have several different textual economies at play in this manuscript that exert a kind of pressure on book buyers or commissioners based on both desire and exposure.

In this particular codex, we have the B version of Piers, a short contemplative treatise aimed at a quasi religious and greatly popularized among lay readers, and a short, 11-stanza poem on the love and sacrifice of Christ. Based on the texts in this manuscript, I’d say we are probably looking at a codex that is an aid to lay devotion. Based on its material supports, I’d say we are looking at a wealthier, lay patron willing to pay for a very high quality book, but outside the range of deluxe production.

I reach this conclusion by drawing on all of the complex concrescences that allow this particular codex to be materialized in this particular way. I could not have reached this conclusion by analyzing either the only texts contained here or the style and quality of the production and decoration. I needed BOTH types of information to really pinpoint the personal, religious, and economic impetus for this manuscript.

And THAT is why I would argue for a more comprehensive type of manuscript description and encoding for Piers MSS in particular.  Manuscript descriptions of Piers manuscripts tends to be very limited by an intense focus only on the Piers-text contents of a given codex.

The Trinity Catalogue only says this, and includes a brief list of contents:

Vellum, 11.25×7.5, ff. 147, 28-30 lines on a page. Cent. xiv, plainly written, with rough but good ornament.

Given by Willmer.

At the bottom of f. ib is a name.

On this MS. Skeat (Piers Plowman, II.p. lxviii.) says that it represents Text B, group b. It was printed in extenso by T. Wright.

Collation: I8-168 172 188 1910 (wants 10 blank).

Kane describes this manuscript thus:

S. xiv/xv. 147 vellum leaves of good quality containing: 1. Fols. 1a-130b the B version of Piers Plowman; 2. Fols 131a-47a a prose treatise incip. In euery synful man or womman þat is bounden in dedly synne explic. Þanke god and pray for me þe grace of Iesu crist be wiþ þee and kepe þee Amen; 3. Fols 147a, b Crist made to man a fair present, IMEV 611.

Collation ii + 1-168 172 188 19 indeterminable (9 leaves) + ii.  Foliation modern pencil top right recto 1-147. Binding seventeenth-century leather, the arms of George Willmer impressed and gilded front and rear.  Irregularly cropped with occasional loss of text or marginalia.  Size of page 28.7 x 19 cm, frame 23 x 14 cm (Piers), 23.5 x 13.5 cm overall double columns (item two). Ruled for 33-5 lines per page.  The text of Piers divided into paragraphs with alternate blue and red signs.  Text in one anglicana formata hand throughout; elaborated ascenders in top lines; incipits and Latin engrossed in bastard anglicana by main scribe.  On fol. 1a a handsome illuminated initial capital and vinet in late fourteenth-, or early fifteenth-century provincial, style, much rubbed and stained.  Passus initials and some others pen-drawn in red and blue; incipits red; Latin boxed in red.  A few marginal subject-heads, corrections and interlinear glosses by main scribe; some nota’s in another hand’ some favourite lines singled out in fifteenth-century hand by ‘a feyrse’ (e.g. I 85 on fol. 6b). Among (fifteenth-century?) pen-trials on fols 1a, 87a and last leaf the names ‘bond John Rychard’. On fol. 77a beside XIII 266,  ‘stratford’ in a hand ‘very like John Stow’s’ (A. I. Doyle), as also ‘1350’ on fol. 77b beside XIII 269.

And Schmidt’s is hardly any different. While these descriptions cover the very basic information about the manuscript and its textual and visual contents, there is still a lot of other information to be gleaned from the object itself.  TCC B.15.17 gives us a clear example of what kinds of other things we might want to know, and might be able to seek out if given the right information. When we encode manuscript data, then, we might want to consider what else could we include that may be of use to someone else somewhere down the line.

With that, here is how I try to include as much of this information as possible in the TCC B.15.17 data:

TCCB.15.17p1 TCCB.15.17p2 TCCB.15.17p3 TCCB.15.17p4

 

{

“@context”: {

“foaf”:”http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/”,

“name”: {“@id”:”foaf:name”},

“MSshortHand”: {“@id”:”foaf:nick”},

 

“dcterms”: “http://purl.org/dc/terms/”,

“DateRange”: {“@id”: “dcterms:PeriodOfTime”},

“provenance”: {“@id”: “dcterms:provenance”},

“language”: {“@id”: “dcterms:language”},

“PhysicalObject”: “http://purl.org/dc/dcmitype/PhysicalObject“,

“PrintedEdition(s)”: {“@id”: “dcterms:BibliographicResource”},

 

“TEI”: “http://www.tei-c.org/release/doc/tei-p5-doc/en/html/ref-“,

“msDesc”: {“@id”: “TEI:msDesc.html”},

“msIdentifier”: {“@id”: “TEI:msIdentifier.html”},

“repository”: {“@id”: “TEI:repository.html”},

“msContents”: {“@id”: “TEI:msContents.html”},

“work”: {“@id”: “TEI:msItem.html”},

“title”: {“@id”: “TEI:title”},

“author”: {“@id”: “TEI:author.html”},

“DialectRegion”: {“@id”: “TEI:region.html”},

“publisher”: {“@id”: “TEI:publisher.html”},

 

“xsd”:”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema#”,

“date”: {“@id”: “xsd:date”},

 

“LALME”: “http://www.lel.ed.ac.uk/ihd/elalme/elalme_frames.html”,

“IMEVid”: “http://www.dimev.net/Records.php?MSS=”,

“IMEPNo”: “UNLINKEDreference”,

“MEScribesid”: “http://www.medievalscribes.com/index.php?navoff&browse=manuscripts&id=”,

“MECompBib”: “http://quod.lib.umich.edu/h/hyperbib/”,

“MSSWMid”: “http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/mwm/browse?type=ms&id=”

“PPEA”: “http://www3.iath.virginia.edu/seenet/piers/”

“Zotero”:”https://www.zotero.org/groups/engl_534a_f12/items/collectionKey/84TX5UCF/itemKey/”

}

,

“@type”: “PhysicalObject”,

“MSshortHand”: “TCCB.15.17″,

“HoldingLocation”: “Cambridge, UK”,

“repository”: “Wren Library, Trinity College”,

“msIdentifier”: “B.15.17″,

“OnlineExhibition”: null,

“Olim.”: “M. R. James catalogue 353″,

“LALME”: null,

“LALMEGrid”: null,

“MEScribes”:176,

“MEScribesurl”: “http://www.medievalscribes.com/index.php?navtype=authors&navauthor=Langland&browse=manuscripts&id=176&nav=off”,

“MEScribesid”: {“@id”: “MEScribesid:176″},

“MSSOnline”: null,

“PPEA”: “W”,

“TEAMS”: null,

“IMEVNo”: 2459-11,

“IMEVid”: {“@id”: “IMEVid:CamTCC353″},

“IMEVurl”: “http://www.cddc.vt.edu/host/imev/Records.php?MSS=CamTCC353″,

“MECompBib”: null,

“MSSWMid”: null,

“MSSWMidID”: null,

“DateRange”: 1400,

“Provenance”: “George Willmer”,

“AquisitionDate”: “1608-1614″,

“Material”: “Vellum”,

“SupportQuality”: 9,

“Folios”: 147,

“Script”: “Anglicana Formata”,

“ScriptQuality”: 9,

“Scribe”: “Adam Pinkhurst or Scribe B”,

“msContents”: [

{“No.”: 1,

“Title”: “Piers Plowman”,

“Folios”: “1r-130v”

},

{“No.”: 2,

“Title”: “Form of Living”,

“author”: “Richard Rolle”,

“Folios”: “131r-147r”,

“IMEPNo”:

},

{“No.”: 3,

“Title”: “Crist made to man a fair present”,

“Folios”: “147r-v”,

“IMEVNo”: 1000-1

}

],

“NumberOfWorks”: 3,

“PositionOfPiers”: 1,

“PiersFolios”: 131,

“PiersPercentMS”: 88.4,

“PiersTextVariety”: “B”,

“LinesOfPiers”: 7300,

“DialectRegion”: {

“Locale”: “London”,

“geometry”: {

“type”:”Polygon”,

“coordinates”:[[[[-0.071068,51.50618],[-0.064201,51.516647],[-0.061798,51.527969],[-0.088921,51.536087],[-0.120163,51.537792],[-0.143852,51.526901],[-0.149002,51.507889],[-0.148315,51.493996],[-0.128746,51.488651],[-0.125999,51.49036],[-0.124111,51.497524],[-0.123253,51.50436],[-0.120335,51.50885],[-0.11467,51.510666],[-0.103683,51.511093],[-0.096302,51.510239],[-0.088234,51.50853],[-0.081196,51.508316],[-0.073643,51.5065],[-0.071068,51.50618]]]]

}

},

“MapRep”: {“type”:”Point”,”coordinates”:[-0.229076,51.590426]},

“Collation”: [“I8-168″“,”172“,”188“,”1910 (wants 10 blank)”],

“PiersDecoration”:  [

“Border”:”Three and a half page vine border”,

“Initial”: “handsome illuminated initial capital and vinet in late fourteenth-, or early fifteenth-century provincial, style, much rubbed and stained; 8 lines tall, and done in a mauve (possibly red at one point?), with 6 decorative, white x’s inside the column of the “I”; blue and mauve tendrils curl around both sides of the initial on a gold background”],

“PassusMarkers”: [

{“I”: “fol. 1r”,

“HeightInLines”: 8,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: null,

“Line”: ““In ?? A somer seson  . whan softe was þe sonne.”},

{“W”: “fol. 4v”,

“HeightInLines”: 4,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “null,

“Line”: “What þis metels bymeneþ . Ye men þt ben murye””},

{“W”: “fol. 5r”,

“HeightInLines”: 4,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus primus de visione”,

“Line”: “What þis mountaigne bymeneþ . and þe mke dale”},

{“I”: “fol. 8v”,

“HeightInLines”: 3,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus secundus de visione vt supra”,

“Line”: “?Iet I conned on my knees…?”},

{“T”: “fol. 10v”,

“HeightInLines”: 2,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: null,

“Line”: “Thanne tened hym Theologie…”},

{“N”: “fol. 13r”,

“HeightInLines”: 4,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus tercius de visione vt supra”,

“Line”: “Now is mede þe mayde . and namo of hem alle”},

{“C”: “fol. 19v”,

“HeightInLines”: 3,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus quartus de visione vt sup~”,

“Line”: “Cesseth seiþ þe kyng…”},

{“T”: “fol. 23r”,

“HeightInLines”: 3,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus quintus de visione vt sup~”,

“Line”: “The kyng and hise knyȝtes…”},

{“T”: “fol. 25r”,

“HeightInLines”: 3,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus sextus de visione vt sup~”,

“Line”: “This were a wikkede wey… “},

{“T”: “fol. 41r”,

“HeightInLines”: 3,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus vij9 de visione vt sup~”,

“Line”: “Treuþe herde telle her of…”},

{“M”: “fol. 43v”,

“HeightInLines”: 4,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: null,

“Line”: “Many tyme þis metels . haþ maked me to studie”},

{“T”: “fol. 45r”,

“HeightInLines”: 4,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus viij9 de visione & primus de dowel”,

“Line”: “Thus yrobed in russet…”},

{“A”: “fol. 46r”,

“HeightInLines”: 2,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: null,

“Line”: “And þus I wente wide wher . Walkyng myn one”},

{“S”: “fol. 47r”,

“HeightInLines”: 3,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus ix9 de visione vt sup~ & prim9 de dobet”,

“Line”: “Sire Dowel dwelleþ…”},

{“T”: “fol. 51r”,

“HeightInLines”: 3,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus x9 de visione et ii9 de dowel”,

“Line”: “Thanne hadde wit a wif…”},

{“T”: “fol. 58r”,

“HeightInLines”: 3,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: null,

“Line”: “T”his is a long lesson quod I…”},

{“T”: “fol. 59v”,

“HeightInLines”: 3,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus undecim9″,

“Line”: “Thanne sc’pture scorned me…”},

{“M”: “fol. 65v”,

“HeightInLines”: 2,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: null,

“Line”: “Ac muche moor in metynge þus…”},

{“M”: “fol. 67v”,

“HeightInLines”: 4,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus xxij9″,

“Line”: “I am ymaginatif quod he…”},

{“A”: “fol. 72v”,

“HeightInLines”: 3,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus xiij9 vt”,

“Line”: “And I awaked þ’ wiþ…”},

{“I”: “fol. 80r”,

“HeightInLines”: 4,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus xx9 et primus de dobest”,

“Line”: “I haue but oon hool hater quod haukyn…”},

{“A”: “fol. 86r”,

“HeightInLines”: 3,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus xv9 ?? Finit dowel, & incipit dobet”,

“Line”: “Ac after my wakynge . it was wonder long”},

{“N”: “fol. 96r”,

“HeightInLines”: 4,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus xvi9 v et prim9 de dobet”,

“Line”: “Now faire falle yow quod I þo…”},

{“I”: “fol. 99v”,

“HeightInLines”: 3,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: null,

“Line”: “I am feiþ quod þat freke . it falleþ noȝt to lye”},

{“I”: “fol. 101v”,

“HeightInLines”: 4,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus xvij9 ?? Et ii9 de dobet”,

“Line”: “I am Spes quod he…”},

{“W”: “fol. 108r”,

“HeightInLines”: 3,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus xviij9 ?? Et iij9 de dobetr”,

“Line”: “Wolleward and weetshoed . Wente I forþ after”},

{“T”: “fol. 115v”,

“HeightInLines”: 4,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus xix9 et explicit dobet et incipit dobest”,

“Line”: “Thus I awaked and wroot…”},

{“T”: “fol. 124r”,

“HeightInLines”: 3,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: “Passus xxide visione vt prim9 de Dobest”,

“Line”: “Thanne as I wente…”},

{“W”: “fol. 124v”,

“HeightInLines”: 2,

“Color”: “blue”,

“Filigree”: “red”,

“Rubric”: null,

“Line”: “Whan nede haþ undernome me þus…”}

],

“PublishedEdition(s)”: [

“Print”: [

{“Title”:”The Vision and Creed of Piers Ploughman”,

“Editors”: [“Thomas Wright”],

“Publisher”: “Reeves and Turner”,

“Date”: 1842},

{“Title”:”Piers Plowman: The B Version”,

“Editors”: [{“name”:”George Kane”},{“name”:”E. Talbot Donaldson”}],

“Publisher”: “Athlone Press”,

“Date”: 1975}

],

“Facsimile”: [{“@id”: “Zotero:THDTAFRS”},{“@id”: “PPEA:w.html”}]]

}

 

3 thoughts on “The Making of a Manuscript: TCC B.15.17”

  1. You’re such a pro, Angie! I think you should write some of this up for the Atlantic’s OBJECT LESSONS series. Talk to ALK about pitching. I think it’s a great venue and they. need. more. women. writers.
    Also, since I’ve just set up my OWN wordpress account and went with their default 2014 theme, I see a certain, uh, resemblance between my blog and yours. Hmmm. Apologies!
    Finally, philosophical posthuman comment, on ‘raw materials’ which is this: you’re of course looking at human labor, but that ‘extraction from context’ is, as you know, happening all the time with a host of other users. Everything’s ‘raw material’ to something, which is to say that none of it is raw material.

    1. Absolutely, Karl. But I figured I had rambled quite enough in that direction and decided to pull back. I’m still working on a productive way (bah dum ching) to talk Historical Materialism and New Materialism together.

  2. Angie, you might find fun and profit in Simon Horobin, ‘“In London and opelond”: The Dialect and Circulation of the C Version of Piers Plowman’, Medium Ævum 74 (2005), 248-69.

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