Sunday, July 5, 2020

A daughter’s desperation, a mother’s mediation: Early Modern Women’s Voices

I’m teaching ‘A Human in the Archives’ class this summer, and was browsing manuscripts on the British Library Digital website (BL Digitized Manuscripts) to find examples of legible letters for transcribing and editing. I love these weekend sessions lingering online with books and papers I would never find through more deliberate and contained searching. This summer, too, I was meant to be in the UK, where I'd have located the relevant sources for my research on women scribes, and looked focusedly at those. The global pandemic’s lockdown might have prevented in-person reading, but it has encouraged dipping-in and -out of primary sources serendipitously.

In browsing around for ‘letters’, I came across London, British Library, Additional MS 32091. It’s a collection of Early Modern English State papers and documents, but there’s also, curiously, a set of twelfth-century Latin folios containing correspondence between the English and Papal courts. I work mostly in the twelfth century; I looked it up. It has lovely purple Ps, one of the rarer colours in manuscript decoration at this time. 

London, British Library, Additional MS 32091
Happy to have seen the Ps and saving them for another day, I then spotted an Early Modern English letter sent by Elizabeth Brydges, Lady Chandos, to Robert Dudley in 1559. The British Library description says the correspondence is about ‘the imprisonment of her daughter on the pretence of bewitching her husband, George Throckmorton’. I skipped to folio 176r to see what was afoot. 

London, British Library, Additional MS 32091, fol. 176r

Quick bibliographical searching reveals relatively little about the writer, Elizabeth, or the daughter, who is Frances Brydges Throckmorton. The only-known existence of this gentlewoman seems to boil down to this letter and a couple of other related documents (for some of which see the very brief discussion in M. Gaskill, Crime and Mentalities in Early Modern England, [CUP, 2000], p. 69). The latest scholarly reference to Frances over-hastily labels her a ‘criminal’ (M. White on Frances Throckmorton in A Biographical Encyclopedia of Early Modern Englishwomen, ed. Levin, Bertolet, Carney [Routledge, 2017], pp. 36-37), when she was almost certainly a victim of domestic ill-treatment. Moreover, even with the evidence of this letter, in which Frances is centred but not named, she has been confused with her shadowy sister, Mary Brydges. (It’s irritating, too, to see Google’s insistence on replacing a search for ‘Frances Throckmorton’ with ‘Francis Throckmorton’. Gender-bias in databases, anyone?)

Sudeley Castle, where the eleven Brydges children of Elizabeth were brought up
It turns out that in 1559 Frances had been locked up in ‘close prison’ in the notorious Fleet gaol in London, with only her keeper permitted access to her. Alone, afraid, and aged perhaps only 23, she stood accused of ‘wytchcraft and sorcerye’—of poisoning her husband, George, apparently driving him to madness at the court. That such a crime culminated in this episode at court necessarily meant Elizabeth I—newly crowned—knew and was ‘incensed’ about the situation. Many other courtiers seem also to have known and been involved in deliberations about the case during the late summer of 1559. Frances was ostensibly friendless, where George had witnesses and the advocacy of his powerful brother, Nicholas Throckmorton, diplomat and administrative aide to the Queen. Nicholas was also George's intermediary with William Cecil, Elizabeth I’s chief advisor, writing an overwrought and dramatic letter, now preserved in the State Papers.

It isn’t known for how many months Frances had been in isolation in prison, but the witchcraft and poisoning is said to have occurred over seven years—presumably the time of her entire marriage to George, which might then have taken place as early as 1552 when she was sixteen. What is particularly moving about Frances's plight is her mother’s explanation to Robert Dudley of how Frances ended up in this situation:

It is so that my said daughter is charged with witchcraft and sorcery, and that she should thereby go about to get her husband’s love, and that the late falling mad of her husband at the court should be caused by her witchcraft and sorcery. All which said matter she denies unto death as untrue and by him surmised and he has brought in certain poor people of no credit or honesty, who by [his] threatening and entreating, have accused her of certain things which she should go about to do about seven years past. Which persons she swears she never knew nor had [anything] to do with them nor with any others, more than looking in her hands.

The urgent denials of Frances can be clearly heard here, as can the recognition of her naivete in ‘looking in her hands’. Perhaps this information came directly from her mother, who managed to visit with her or speak to her through the gaoler. At this time, according to John Stow, Elizabeth lived in Knightrider Street, just to the south of St Paul's and not very far from the Fleet. In the letter, Frances's words show her rejection, under threat of death—and which she would deny to the point of death—any wrongdoing. She claims to have been the victim of a plot to bring about her arrest and execution, a plot devised by George Throckmorton involving the coercing and threatening of bribed and improbable witnesses. She swears that she knows nothing about poisoning him, and has never met these false accusers. What has given him ‘evidence’ is her desire to have him love her, which she has sought to determine and influence through the practice of palmistry, popular in the sixteenth century: the ‘looking in her hands’. This vignette gives us a glimpse into an unhappy and perilous marriage, and unrequited love for the young wife.

The Fleet Prison, London, and its surroundings

Trying desperately to obtain the love of her husband might have been doubly important, because from Elizabeth's letter we learn that Frances is imprisoned while pregnant. This causes her mother to tell Dudley that the situation represents a grave danger to mother and unborn child, and she beseeches him to orchestrate bail for Frances. 

In a flurry of correspondence in August 1559, recorded in the Domestic State Papers (State Papers published by Gale, accessible with subscription), the case was clearly coming to a head. Elizabeth was writing both to Robert Dudley and, as part of a broader campaign, also directly to William Cecil. In the very same week that Elizabeth was writing to Cecil, so too was Nicholas Throckmorton—urging Cecil to see the malice of Frances, the ‘dearness’ of his brother George, and preempting an effort by Frances’s supporters to have the case thrown out: ‘If some devices are sought to colour the matter to the woman's advantage, he heartily requires him, for justice and the example's sake, not to be too much pitiful nor remiss in this case, what suit soever be made unto him for her.’ Cecil, for his part, noted in the State Papers that ‘Of Throckmorton's brother George [I] will write no more, but trust to see justice done upon his devilish wife. All the danger is that her deeds were done before Her Majesty's reign, and so pardoned’.

The best efforts of the violent, coercive George Throckmorton and the 'conspiratorial' Nicholas Throckmorton ('conspiratorial', according to his ODNB entry, by Stanford Lehmberg) seemed to have failed in having Frances condemned. Perhaps because of her mother’s determined intervention, or because of her obvious innocence, Frances was pardoned after a second Commission investigated. It seems likely, though, that she didn’t live long after her imprisonment, since, rather bizarrely, her sister Mary appears to have married George within a year or two. I haven't yet been able to trace Frances's death.

Elizabeth herself died just a few months later in December 1559. She was memorialised in a panegyric epitaph at St Faith's, London, that John Stow recorded. She was a woman of 'honour', a 'worthy Dame', and she certainly fought for her daughter. Through the two letters of Elizabeth, and the emotive efforts of Nicholas Throckmorton, it is possible to see into the domestic lives of an ill-matched husband and wife—he, a manipulative bully; she, naïve and lonely. Not only through the correspondence can we retrieve the voices of a resolute woman negotiating with senior courtiers to save her daughter, we can also hear the resilience of an unjustly imprisoned mother-to-be. We are warned, too, quite emphatically, against trusting tools of prognostication, like palmistry; in Frances's case, trying to secure love through divination proved to be her undoing, almost costing her her life.

John Indagine, trans. Fabian Withers, The Art of Chiromancy, Manuel Divination and Physiognomy (London, 1558)

Monday, June 1, 2020

Manuscript layout: accessing new knoweldge

After doing a Bibliographical Society of America webinar on manuscript mise-en-page (page layout), there were lots of interesting questions raised. For follow-ups, you can see a few things using the #BSALayout hashtag on Twitter, and the presentation itself is here: BSA Webinar Mise-en-Page. One of the more important of my scholarly sources for this presentation is "Where are the Prickings?" by L. W. Jones. It's is a must-read, published in the Transactions of the American Philological Society in 1944 (Volume 75, pp. 71-86). Written in the thick of World War II, many manuscripts were inaccessible (familiar much in a time of pandemic?) and plates had to be used by scholars who generally worked in the archives and repositories. Jones had this to say:


As in Britain during WWII, manuscripts were moved to places of relative safety: bunkers, caves, and bomb-proof shelters indeed. Andrew Prescott commented on the story of the tunnels constructed underneath the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth in the second World War, details of which are given by Rhidian Griffiths in this video: Secrets of a War-Time Library

In these days of pandemic and state violence, it is currently impossible for researchers to get to see manuscripts, just as it was impossible for Jones. Rather than working with plates, though, now we have the incredible luxury--if we have access via a connected computer--of browsing manuscripts, often in full, online. What quickly becomes apparent from working with digitized materials is the more limited vision of scholars in previous decades. Many had no option but to work remotely and depend on the selection of plates available in major publications. So, Codices Latini Antiquiores (by E. A. Lowe, and for more on which, see ELMSS) with its plates of early manuscripts or the volumes of the New Palaeographical Society were singularly important. And whole narratives were formed on the basis of this available evidence--narratives that are still very much in place now: about the evolution of script, or the modes of preparation of the manuscript page. But now we have hundreds of thousands of whole manuscripts, millions of individual folios, to explore and evaluate. As such, it will become clearer as research continues that some of the accepted histories of manuscript production are not quite right.


The field of manuscript studies will certainly change, then; grand narratives will be overturned, as we're able to see that while certain parts of a MS adhere to a particular layout, or have specific prickings patterns, this may not be true of the whole codex as it exists online. Our work is so profoundly transformed and facilitated by digitizers. It is important then to say thank you to digital repositories, to digitizers, & data wranglers. It is also time to request that given what e-research can accomplish, libraries, archives, galleries, and museums, in consultation with users, should seek to STANDARDIZE THE METADATA to make it discoverable. This will allow researchers of all kinds to build on predecessors' work to make scholarship more usable and to encourage new generations of interested students to engage in bringing more manuscripts and archives to life.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Mise-en-Page in Medieval Manuscripts

An Introduction to Mise-en-Page Bibliography to accompany the Bibliographical Society of American Webinar (28 May 2020). A link will be posted.

The link for the presentation from 28 May 2020 on mise-en-page (western manuscripts, mostly British, mostly monastic) is here: You Tube Mise-En-Page

Western Manuscript Studies Select Bibliography


Albritton, B., G. Henley, and E. Treharne, eds., Medieval Manuscripts in the Digital Age (London: Routledge, 2020)
Bischoff, B., Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages, trans. Dáibhí O. Cróinín and David Ganz (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990)
Bishop, T. A. M., English Caroline Minuscule, Oxford Palaeographical Handbooks (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971)
Boyle, L. E., Medieval Latin Palaeography: A Bibliographical Introduction, Toronto Medieval Bibliographies 8 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984)
Brown, T. J., A Palaeographer's View: The Selected Writings of Julian Brown, ed. Janet Bately, Michelle P. Brown, and Jane Roberts, with Preface by Albinia C. de la Mare (London: Harvey Miller, 1993)
Brown, M. P., A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600 (London: British Library, 1990)
Brown, M. P., and P. Lovett, The Historical Source Book for Scribes (London: British Library, 1999)
Brown, M. P., The British Library Guide to Writing and Scripts: History and Techniques, The British Library Guides (London: British Library, 1998)
Clemens, Raymond, and Timothy Graham, Introduction to Manuscript Studies (London: Cornell University Press, 2007)
Colker, M. L., ‘Some Recent Works for Palaeographers’, Medievalia et Humanistica 8 (1977): 235-242
Da Rold, O., and E. Treharne, eds., Cambridge Companion to British Medieval Manuscripts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), espec. Chapter 1: R. Beadle and R. Hanna, ‘Describing and Cataloguing medieval English manuscripts: a checklist’.
Da Rold, O., M. Swan, and E. Treharne, New Medieval Literatures 13 (2012 for 2011)
Da Rold, O., T. Kato, M. Swan, and E. Treharne, The Production and Use of English Manuscripts, Stanford University, 2nd rev. ed. (, 2018)
Denholm-Young, N., Handwriting in England and Wales (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1954)
Dumville, D., English Caroline Script and Monastic History: Studies in Benedictinism, AD 950-1030, Studies in Anglo-Saxon History 6 (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1993)
Gillespie, A., and D. Wakelin, eds., The Production of Books in England c.1350–c.1530 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013
Grieve, H. E. P., Examples of English Handwriting, 1150-1750, Essex Record Office Publications 21 (Chelmsford: Essex Education Committee, 1954)
Hector, L. C., The Handwriting of English Documents, 2nd ed. (London: Edward Arnold, 1966)
Jenkinson, H., The Later Court Hands in England, 2 Vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1927)
Johnson, C., and H. Jenkinson. English Court Hand A.D. 1066-1500, 2 Vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1915)
Knight, S., Historical Scripts: From Classical Times to the Renaissance (New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Books, 1998)
Lowe, E. A., ed. Codices latini antiquiores: A Palaeographical Guide to Latin Manuscripts Prior to the Ninth Century, 12 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934-1972)
Lowe, E. A., English Uncial (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960)
Parkes, M. B., English Cursive Book Hands, 1250-1500, Oxford Palaeographical Handbooks (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969)
Petti, A. G., English Literary Hands from Chaucer to Dryden (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977)
Prescott, A., and E. Treharne, ‘The Origin and Context of the Salisbury Magna Carta’,
Preston, Jean F., and Laetitia Yeandle, English Handwriting, 1400-1650: An Introductory Manual, Pegasus Paperbooks P6 (Binghamton, NY: Centre for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, 1992)
Rumble, A. R., ‘The Palaeography of the Domesday Manuscripts’, in Domesday Book: A Reassessment, ed. P. Sawyer (London and Baltimore: Edward Arnold, 1985) pp. 28-49
Sawyer, D., Reading English Verse in Manuscript, c.1350-c.1500, Oxford English Monographs (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020)
Sheppard, J. M., The Buildwas Books: Book Production, Acquisition and Use at an English Cistercian Monastery, 1165-c.1400, Oxford Bibliographical Society (Oxford: Bodleian Library, 1997)
Stokes, P. A., and S. Brooks, DigiPal:

Stokes, P. A., Scribal Attribution Across Multiple Scripts’, Speculum (2017), DOI: 10.1086/693968

Thompson, E. Maunde, An Introduction to Greek and Latin Palaeography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1912)
Thompson, E. Maunde, G. F. Warner, F. G. Kenyon, and J. P. Gilson, et al. eds. Facsimiles of Ancient Manuscripts, The New Palaeographical Society, 2nd series (London: Oxford University Press, 1913-1930)
Thompson, E. Maunde, G. F. Warner, F. G. Kenyon, and J. P. Gilson, eds. Facsimiles of Ancient Manuscripts, The New Palaeographical Society, 1st series (London: Oxford University Press, 1903-1912)
Thomson, S. Harrison, Latin Bookhands of the Later Middle Ages, 1100-1500 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969)
Treharne, E., ‘“The Good, the Bad, the Ugly”: Old English Manuscripts and Their Physical Description’, in Matthew Hussey and John Niles, eds., The Genesis of Books: Studies in the Scribal Culture of Medieval England in Honour of A. N. Doane (Brepols, 2012), pp. 261-83
Treharne, E., ‘Manuscript Production’, in The Encyclopaedia of Medieval Literature in Britain, ed. Sian Echard and Robert Rouse (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017), IV: 2071-78
Treharne, E., ‘Raw Materials: The Role of Palaeography in Medieval Studies’, in Andrew Rabin and Stefan Jurasinki, eds., Languages of the Law in Early Medieval England: Essays in Honor of Lisi Oliver, Mediaevalia Groningana ns 22 (Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 2019), pp. 155-75
Ullman, B. L. Ancient Writing and its Influence (1932; rpt. Medieval Academy Reprints, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1989)
Wright, C. E., English Vernacular Hands from the Twelfth to the Fifteenth Centuries, Oxford Palaeographical Handbooks (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960)

Codicology/ Mise-en-page / Scribal Practices
Arduini, Franca, and Guglielmo Cavallo, The Shape of the Book, from Roll to Codex (3rd Century BC-19th Century AD) (Firenze: Mandragora, 2008)
Bischoff, F. M., and M. Maniaci, ‘Pergament—Handschriftenformate—Lagenkonstruktion’, Scrittura e Civiltà 19 (1995): 277–319
Briquet, C.-M., Les filigranes: dictionnaire historique des marques de papier dès leur apparition vers 1282 jusqu'en 1600 (Geneva: A. Jullien, 1907)
British Library Catalogue of Bookbindings <>
Brown, M., The British Library Guide to Writing and Scripts: History and Techniques (London: The British Library, 1998)
Brown, T. J., ‘The Distribution and Significance of Membrane Prepared in the Insular Manner’, in Le Paléographie Hébraîque Médiévale (Paris, 1974) pp. 127–35.
Brown, T. J., with a technical description of the binding by Roger Powell and Peter Waters, eds., The Stonyhurst Gospel of St John (Oxford: University Press for the Roxburghe Club, 1969)
Busby, Keith, Codex and Context: Reading Old French Verse Narrative in Manuscript, 2 vols. (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002)
Canart, P. et al., ‘Recherches préliminaires sur les matériaux utilisés pour la réglure en couleur dans les manuscrits grecs et latins’, Scriptorium 45 (1991): 205-225
Clement, R. W., ‘Codicological Considerations in the Beowulf Manuscript’, Proceedings of the Illinois Medieval Association 1 (1984): 13-27
Codex Sinaiticus (London: The British Library): http://>
Dane, Joseph A., ‘On the Shadowy Existence of the Medieval Pricking Wheel’, Scriptorium 50 (1996): 13–21
Da Rold, O., ‘Codicology’, in The Encyclopaedia of Medieval British Literature, ed. S. Echard and R. Rouse (Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2017), pp. 531-538
Da Rold, O., ‘Materials’ in The Production of Books in England c.1350–c.1530, edited by A. Gillespie and D. Wakelin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 12-33
Da Rold, O., ‘Paper in Medieval English Books’ in P. O Machain, ed., Paper and the Paper Manuscript: A Context for the Transmission of Gaelic Literature (Cork: University College Cork, 2012), pp. 1-7
Dukan, M., ‘De la difficulté à reconnâitre des instruments de réglure: planche à régler (mastara) et cadre-padron’, Scriptorium 40 (1986): 257-261
Dukan, M., La réglure des manuscrits hébreux au Moyen âge (Paris: Centre regional de publication de Paris, 1988)
Gameson, R., ‘The material fabric of early British books’, in The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Vol. 1, ed. R. Gameson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011): 11-93. Web. Cambridge Histories Online. 11 May 2020.
Gilissen, L., ‘La Composition des Cahiers, le Pliage du Parchemin et l’Imposition’, Prolégomènes à la Codicologie (Ghent: Éditions Scientifiques Story-Scientia, 1977), pp. 21–44
Gilissen, L., ‘Les réglures des manuscrits’, Scrittura e civilta 5 (1981): 231-252
Gruys, A., and J. P. Gumbert, eds., Codicologica: Towards a Science of Handwritten Books, 5 vols. Litterae textuales (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1976-1980)
Gumbert, J. P., ‘Ruling by Rake and Board: Notes on Some Late Medieval Ruling Techniques’ in P. Ganz, ed., The Role of the Book in Medieval Culture (Turnhout: Brepols, 1986), pp. 41–54
Hanna, R., ‘Booklets in Medieval Manuscripts: Further Considerations’, Studies in Bibliography 39 (1986): 100-111
Hobson, G. D., ‘Some Early Bindings and Binder's Tools’, The Library 19 (1938/9): 202–49
Hobson, G. D., English Binding before 1500 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1929)
Jones, L. W., ‘Where are the Prickings?’, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 75 (1944): 71-86
Jones, L. W. ‘Pricking Manuscripts: The Instruments and their Significance’, Speculum 21 (1946): 389–403 
Jones, L. W., ‘Prickings as Clues to Date and Origin: the Eighth Century’, Mediaevalia et Humanistica 14 (1962): 15-22
Ker, N. R., ‘From “Above Top Line” to “Below Top Line”: A Change in Scribal Practice’, in N. Ker, Books, Collectors and Libraries: Studies in Medieval Heritage (London: Hambledon Press, 1985)
Kwakkel, E., ‘The Cultural Dynamics of Medieval Book Production’, in Manuscripten en miniaturen: Studies aangeboden aan Anne S. Korteweg bij haar afscheid van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 2007) pp. 243–52
Maniaci, M., and P. F. Munafò, Ancient and Medieval Book Materials and Techniques (Vatican: Biblioteca Vaticana Apostolica, 1993)
Maniaci, M., ‘Un repertorio da leggere fra le righe’, Gazette du livre médiéval 28 (1996): 13-22
Marichal, Robert, ‘Du “volume” au “codex”’, in Mise en page et mise en texte du livre manuscrit, ed., H-J. Martin and Jean Vezin (Paris: Editions du Cercle de la Librairie—Promodis, 1990), pp. 45-54.
Mazal, O., ‘Medieval Bookbinding’ in The Book through Five Thousand Years, ed. H. D. L. Vervliet (London: Phaidon, 1972), pp. 314–38
Moorman, Charles, The Statistical Determination of Affiliation in the Landmark Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales. (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1993)
Muzerelle, D., La machine à rouler…les codicologues!’, Gazette du livre médiéval 31 (1997): 22-30
Muzerelle, D., Vocabulaire codicologique (2003):
Needham, P., Twelve Centuries of Bookbindings, 400–1600 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979)
Nixon, H. M. ‘The Binding of Winton Domesday’, in Winchester in the Early Middle Ages, ed. M. Biddle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), pp. 526–40
Ornato, E., ed., La Face cachée du livre médiéval: L'Histoire du livre (Rome: Viella, 1997)
Pantin, Isabelle, ‘Mise en page, mise en teste et construction du sens dans le livre moderne’, Melanges de l’Ecole francaise de Rome (2008): 343-61:
Parkes, M. B., ‘The Influence of the Concepts of Ordinatio and Compilatio on the Development of the Book’, in Scribes, Scripts and Readers: Studies in the Communication, Presentation and Dissemination of Medieval Texts, ed. M. B. Parkes (London: Hambledon, 1991), pp. 35-70.
Parkes, M. B., ‘Layout and Presentation of the Text’, in Cambridge History of the Book in Britain 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 55-74
Pearson, D., Books as History: The Importance of Books beyond their Texts (London: British Library, 2011)
Peikola, Matti, ‘Guidelines for Consumption: Scribal Ruling Patterns and Designing the Mise-en page in Later Medieval England’, in Manuscripts and Printed Books in Europe 1350–1550: Packaging, Presentation and Consumption, ed. Emma Cayley and Susan Powell (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013), pp. 14–31
Pollard, G., ‘Describing Medieval Bookbindings’, in Medieval Learning and Literature: Essays Presented to R.W. Hunt, ed. J. J. G. Alexander, and M. T. Gibson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), pp. 50–65
Pollard, G., ‘Notes on the Size of the Sheet’, The Library, 4th Ser., 22 (1941): 105–37
Pollard, G., ‘Some Anglo-Saxon Bookbindings’, The Book Collector 24 (1975): 130–54
Pollard, G., ‘The Construction of English Twelfth-Century Bindings’. The Library 5th series, 17 (1962): 1–22
Rand, E. K., ‘How Many Leaves as a Time?’, Palaeographia Latina 5 (1927): 52-78
Roberts, Colin H., and T. C. Skeat, The Birth of the Codex (London: Oxford University Press, for the British Academy, 1987)
Robinson, P. R. ‘The “Booklet”: A Self-Contained Unit in Composite Manuscripts’, in Codicologica, ed. A. Gruys, and J. Peter Gumbert (Leiden: Brill, 1980), pp. 46–69
Rosenfeld, R., ‘Pricking Wheels’, Gazette du livre médiéval 37 (2000): 18-25
Rouse, R.H., and M. A. Rouse, ‘Ordinatio and Compilatio Revisited’, in M. D. Jordan and K. Emery, eds, Ad Litteram: Authoritative Texts and their Medieval Readers (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992)
Stinson, T., ‘Codicological Descriptions in the Digital Age’, in Kodikologie und Paläographie im Digitalen Zeitalter - Codicology and Palaeography in the Digital Age, ed. M. Rehbein, P. Sahle, and T. Schaßan (Norderstedt: Books on Demand, 2009) pp. 35–51
Stinson, T., ‘Counting Sheep: Potential Applications of DNA Analysis to the Study of Medieval Parchment Production’, in Kodikologie und Paläographie im Digitalen Zeitalter 2, Codicology and Palaeography in the Digital Age 2, ed. Franz Fischer, Christiane Fritz, and Georg Vogeler (Norderstedt: Books on Demand, 2011)
Stokes, P. A., ‘Codicology’, in The Literary Encyclopedia, ed. R. Clark, and H. Magennis (2006): < rec=true&UID=1679>
Turner, E. G. The Typology of the Early Codex (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977)
van Regemorter, B., Binding Structures in the Middle Ages: A Selection of Studies (London: Maggs Brothers, 1992)
Wakelin, D., Scribal Correction and Literary Craft: English Manuscripts, 1375-1510 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014)

A few journals
Fragmentology, Digital Medievalist, Digital Philology, Gazette du livre medieval, Manuscript Studies, Scriptorium, Speculum, The Library, Traditio, Viator

Very select online resources

British Library Digitized Manuscripts:

Cambridge, Trinity College, Wren Library:

Design History:

Digital Vatican Library:
Earlier Latin Manuscripts, ELMSS:
E-Codices, Virtual Library of Switzerland’s Manuscripts:
Erik Kwakkel’s Blog, ‘Medieval Books’, especially:
Hand Bookbindings: Plain and Simple to Grand and Glorious <>
John Rylands University Library of Manchester Digital Collections:
Medieval Academy of America Digital Resources:
Parker on the Web (Cambridge, Corpus Christi College manuscripts):

Pricking and Ruling video:

Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts:

Stanford Medieval Fragments collection:
Walters Art Museum Ex Libris:

Please send corrections or additions to Elaine Treharne, Thanks!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The history of boredom in a time of lockdown

Here's a thread on the etymology of Boredom and its earlier ally, Sloth, that I wrote as a Twitter thread. It's fascinating that boredom wasn't present in English until the eighteenth century. Its etymology is a little peculiar, too.

Bored as a border collie? Get ready to glaze over. Here’s a thread on boredom & English words for a ‘disinclination to action’. First curious thing to know is that a ‘bore’ doesn't exist in English until 1766. /1

Google N-gram for Boredom, Laziness, and Ennui from 1600-2012
‘Boredom’ doesn’t emerge in English until the 19thC with Dickens’s ‘chronic malady of boredom’. The etymology of ‘bore’ is obscure; it may have arisen to describe ‘ennui’, by analogy of being persistently irritated by something; ie with the persistence of boring a hole /2 

‘To bore’ is recorded in 1768 when Earl of Carlisle said: ‘I pity my Newmarket friends, who are to be bored by these Frenchmen.’ In the Oxford English Dictionary, there is also a use in 1535 to ‘bore one’s ears’, which surely offers the best parallel. /3

So, weren't people bored before the leisure heyday in the 18thC? Yes. Boredom is many-faceted. An ironically vibrant semantic field has lassitude, inertia, torpor, sluggishness, inactivity, indolence, enervation, disinclination, lethargy, apathy, listlessness /4

The Oxford English Dictionary reminds us of a term ‘boreism’--‘the practice of being a bore’. George Eliot (hoorah!) wrote: “The male could assert his superiority & show a more vigorous boredom" in an uncanny anticipation of mansplaining. Mansplaining=stultification? Yes, indeed /5

Is boredom in Old Eng. rare? We imagine there was a lot to do to survive daily. But a plethora of terms exist: unrotnes (tedium); æmelnes (weariness); asolcennes (indolence); aswindan (enfeebled, languishing in spirit); æswind (torpor); slæcfull (slackful) /6

‘Wlæc’ is a fav word, meaning lacking in spirit or energy. It's modern ‘wlak’; that is lukewarm, tepid, lacking spirit, languid. A fab OE word is ‘bæftansittende’ (to be sitting behind still), translating Latin ‘reses’--dormant, stationary, idle, immovable /7

Important is ‘Sloth’, from Old Eng ‘slæwð’ (ME ‘sleuðe’). It's the 6th of the 7 (or 8) capital sins (‘acedia’ or ‘accidia’—‘without care’—in Latin). Chaucer’s Parson says: ‘Accidie maketh hym heuy’. It means idle thoughts, or being lazy in worship of God /8
From a tree of Acedia, says 15thC Desert of Religion, comes ‘Gruchyng alswa & drerynes, Langour, wanhope...spredes on ilka syde’. It's dreariness, languor, carelessness, neglect, oblivion, forgetfulness, stupefaction, ‘wanhope’ or ‘insufficient faith’ /9
London, British Library, Harley 3244

The 14thC Piers Plowman, shows Sloth as hideous: 'Then came Sloth all beslobbered with two slimey eyes… What I tell with my tongue is two miles from mine heart. I am occupied each day holidays and other With idle tales in the alehouse & sometimes in churches' /10
John Walton of Osney Abbey translated Boethius in 1410, where he basically says about a slothful person, ‘Call him a lazy ass’: He þat useþ sleuthe and ydelnesse And will noght done no werkes profitable, Thow myght hym calle a verrey asse expresse. /11
Slothfuls end up in hell's snake-pit. As Morrissey sang: ‘The Devil will find work for idle hands to do’. Or, in St Jerome's cheery words, Fac et aliquid operis, ut semper te diabolus inveniat occupatum: Do something so that the Devil always finds you busy /12
London, British Library, Harley 603: The Harley Psalter
The moral of the story is don’t be an asolcena (‘sluggard’), but definitely practice rest, mental relaxation, and idleness because then you get time to think (and read the OED for no particular reason) /13

All these Old English words on ‘sloth’ with impressive subtleties and manifold expressiveness are in the fabulous & searchable Open Access, Open Access, and /En