CUL Dd.1.17 in Spacetime

This week’s code post is going to be short and sweet, unlike this week’s manuscript!

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 4.09.05 PM

Encoded this week is Cambridge University Library Dd.1.17, one of my favorite manuscripts, and the second largest compilation manuscript in the Piers corpus.  It is, however, a far cry from the Vernon, with only twenty-some-odd items as opposed to close to four hundred.

What I find so amazingly interesting about this manuscript is its tight concentration on a very particular type of text. In particular, its concentration on history and travel literature.  Now, I am by no means an expert in all these contents, so if you happen to work on one of the texts named here, I’d welcome any input you have in the comments below!

What I can see, however, is a very distinct trend towards cosmic history and Orientalia. If we take the larger network graph, Dd.1.17Clusterand make it its own graph, with full articulation, it would look like this:CULDd117

Looking at these MS contents, we can clearly see a few distinct (if not discrete) categories of works including all manner of histories:

  • The cosmic history, the Polychronicon 
  • Church histories from Henry of Huntingdon, Martinus Polonus, and Clement of Lanathony’s Concorida Evangelistarum. 
  • Four Histories of Britain, including Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Britorum, histories of both the kings and the abbots of England, and the Chronicon breve rerum anglorum
  • History of Charlegmane
  • Histories of the East including Gesta Trojanorum, Jacques de Vitry’s History of Jerusalem, and Haytonus’ History of the Eastern Lands

In addition, there are several works of religious instruction (the Compendium ‘Consolatio Peccatorum’, the Testament of the Patriarchs, the Dream of Thomas the Martyr, and a work on How Healthy Men Should Visit the Sick).

There are TWO works of travel literature:

  • The book of Marco Polo
  • TheTravels of Sir John Mandeville

and FOUR different works on Islam:

  • Fides Saracenorum
  • Gesta Machometi
  • De statue Saracenorum
  • Ortus et processus Machometi

Plus two works I don’t really know where to put: the Seven Sages of Rome, and the Prophecy of Johannis of Ligunbio.



Now, for me, this begs the question of what on earth is Piers Plowman doing in this massive collection?  Why Piers for this? I have a hunch, and I’m going to follow up on it in the third chapter of my dissertation, but let me allude to it here.  Piers IS a kind of travel literature.  It is an armchair pilgrimage of a different variety than either Marco Polo (who actually travelled East) or John Mandeville (who was, as we all know, an epic liar* ), but one that still leads to a holy land, ‘The Castle of Truth,’ by way of the active life and the quest for Dowel, Dobet and Dobest.

*Calling John Mandeville a liar is, of course, tongue in cheek. Mandeville, as a narrator, need not be *truthful* to perform his function, any more that Will needs to be the actual Langland, or the narrator of the Canterbury Tales actually Geoffrey Chaucer (as opposed to his persona).

And so, without further ado, here is this fabulous compendium of Orientalia, the history(/ies) of the world, and of course Imaginative Pilgrimage.

CULDd.1.17p1 CULDd.1.17p2 CULDd.1.17p3 CULDd.1.17p4



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“Title”: “Polychronicon Ranulphi Higdeni Cestrensis”,

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{“No.”: 2,

“Title”: “Galfridi Monemutensis Historia Britonum”,

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“Title”: “Henrici Hutindeunensis Epitola ad Henricum regem de serie regum potentissimorum”,

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“Title”: “De gestis Karoli regis gallorum (multiple tracts)”,

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“Title”: “Cronica fratris Martini Poloni”,

“Folios”: “129r-158v”


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“Title”: “Chronicon breve rerum Anglicarum”,

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{“No.”: 7,

“Title”: “Gesta Trojanorum secundum guidonem de Columna Messanensem”,

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“Title”: “Prophecia Johannis de Ligunbio”,

“Folios”: “203v-203v”


{“No.”: 9,

“Title”: “Historia Hierosolumitana secundum magistrum Jacobum de Vitri”,

“Folios”: “204r-230v”


{“No.”: 10,

“Title”: “Jacobi de Theramo Compendium ‘Consolatio Peccatorum’”,

“Folios”: “231r-261v”


{“No.”: 11,

“Title”: “Incipit Testamentum Patriarcharum”,

“Folios”: “1r-5v”


{“No.”: 12,

“Title”: “Explicit Cronica Marciani Scoti de gestis regni Anglorum”,

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{“No.”: 13,

“Title”: “Explicit Liber Dominit Marci Pauli de Venetis de conditionibus et consuetudinibus orientalium begionum”,

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{“No.”: 14,

“Title”: “Iste Liber intitulatur Flos Ystoriarum Terrae Orientis Quen compilavit frater Haytonus, dominus Chursi, consanguineus regis Armeniae ex mandato summi pontificis”,

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“Title”: “Liber sancti Gildae Abbatis de gestis Anglorum”,

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{“No.”: 20,

“Title”: “Dialogus of Piers Plowman”,

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{“No.”: 21,

“Title”: “How men that ben in hele sholde visit sike folk”,

“Folios”: “31r-32r”


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“Title”: “Sir John Mandeville’s Journey to the Holy Land”,

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{“No.”: 24,

“Title”: “Clementis Lantoninesis Ecclesie presbiteri concordia quator evangelistarum”,

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2 thoughts on “CUL Dd.1.17 in Spacetime”

  1. I’m working on a dissertation chapter right now about Dd. 1.17. I’d love to chat with you about this sometime.

Please do collaborate!

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