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About the Manuscripts

Here you can learn more about the manuscripts you see in the course. Where "Images Online" are marked, it is possible to see the manuscript digitally.  We hope you'll enjoy exploring these texts!

Week 1

Shelf mark: Gg.1.1
Repository
: Cambridge University Library
Title: Trilingual compendium of texts
Date: c. 1307-1350
Description: This enormous volume of over 1200 pages contains a huge variety of verse and prose texts: literary, historical, grammatical, scientific, astronomical, prophetic, theological, pastoral and devotional. The majority of them are written in Anglo-Norman (the French of medieval England) but some are written in English or Latin and some are bilingual. Many of the texts are illustrated, including treatises on the properties of the earth and the human brain.
Provenance: Nothing is known about the medieval ownership of this manuscript except that it was written and read in England. It was given to Cambridge University Library in 1715. 
Images Online: http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/view/MS-GG-00001-00001

Shelf mark: Dd.4.24
Repository
: Cambridge University Library
Title: Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Date: c. 1390-1420
Description: An early manuscript of the Middle English Canterbury Tales which was copied either shortly before or shortly after Chaucer’s death in 1400. It is written by a single scribe on quires of paper and parchment.  
Provenance: The manuscript was probably copied in London. It came to Cambridge University Library in 1715 from the library of John Moore, Bishop of Ely.
Images Online: http://www.chaucermss.org/dd

Shelf mark: Gg.5.35
Repository
: Cambridge University Library
Title: The Cambridge Songs manuscript
Date: c. 1039-1060
Description: This manuscript is principally known for the ten leaves at the end which contain a famous collection of Latin lyric poems, many with musical notation, known as the ‘Cambridge Songs’. These poems were originally written in the Rhineland area. The rest of the manuscript contains a varied collection of early Christian and classical verse and prose texts arranged into classbooks for educational use in the abbey.
Provenance: Written and used at St Augustine’s abbey, Canterbury, it seemed to have remained there until the Reformation. The manuscript was bought by Cambridge University Library in 1672.

Week 2

Shelfmark: Add. 3389
Repository:
Cambridge University Library
Title: Mass for Ascension Day (fragment)
Date: First third of the 12th century
Description: A single-leaf fragment from a Latin gradual, a liturgical manuscript containing chants and antiphons for masses throughout the year, containing part of the text and music for the Mass for Ascension Day.
Provenance: The manuscript was written in central Italy, probably in southern Tuscany or Lazio. This leaf was later used as a pastedown in the binding of an early printed book which was published in Venice in 1480. The book was bought by the University Library, probably in the late nineteenth century, and the leaf was removed from the printed book and given its own manuscript shelfmark.
Images Online: http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/view/MS-ADD-03389/1

Shelfmark: Ff.1.17.1
Repository:
Cambridge University Library
Title: The Later Cambridge Songs
Date: 1180-c. 1230
Description: This manuscript, a single quire of eight leaves, contains 35 songs on secular and sacred subjects, many with musical notation. Most are in Latin but a couple include phrases in Anglo-Norman. The manuscript is a rare survival of what must have been a common type of musical manuscript – an informal production, probably written by performers. Many of the songs are unique to this manuscript and it offers a valuable insight into early English music-making.
Provenance: The quire was preserved because in the late thirteenth century it was used as a wrapper to bind a larger work, a treatise on the virtues and vices. The owner of the treatise, ‘Frater Roger of Schepiswed’, wrote his name on one of the musical flyleaves. Shepshed is a village near Loughborough in Leicestershire. The manuscript came to the University Library from the collection of Richard Holdsworth (d. 1664), Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. The two manuscripts were separated in the twentieth century and now bear the shelfmarks Ff.1.17.1 (music) and Ff.1.17.2 (virtues and vices). 
Images Online: http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/view/MS-FF-00001-00017-00001/1
Bibliography: John Stevens, The Later Cambridge Songs: An English Song Collection of the Twelfth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

Shelf mark: Add. 710
Repository: Cambridge University Library
Title: Dublin Troper
Date: c. 1360
Description: A Latin liturgical manuscript with words and music for tropes, sequences and other chants used at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. 
Provenance: Additions and erasures indicate that the manuscript remained in use in the cathedral into the early sixteenth century. After that it was owned by the antiquary and collector Ralph Sheldon (1623-84), by Richard Mant, the bishop of Down (d. 1848) and by James Henthorn Todd, precentor of St Patrick’s cathedral (1805-69). It was bought from Todd’s family by the University Library in 1870.
Catalog Entries:
Iain Fenlon, ed., Cambridge Music Manuscripts, 900-1700 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), pp. 79-81.
Jayne Ringrose, Summary Catalogue of the Additional Medieval Manuscripts in Cambridge University Library acquired before 1940 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2009), p. 5.

Shelf mark: Add. 2602
Repository:
Cambridge University Library
Title: Springfield Antiphoner
Date: c. 1300
Description: A Latin liturgical manuscript containing the words and music of the antiphons and chants for the Divine Office throughout the year, divided into sanctorale (saints’ feasts) and temporale (other feasts of the year including Christmas and Easter). The manuscript also contains a calendar listing feasts throughout the year, a psalter and various other prayers. The manuscript bears numerous signs of prolonged and heavy use, including physical wear and tear, additions and erasures.
Provenance: The manuscript was found in the roof of All Saints’ church in Springfield, Essex during repairs in 1867. It was bought by the University Library in 1885. The manuscript had obviously been in Springfield since the medieval period; the death dates of many people associated with the village were written into the calendar to ensure that they were commemorated by the parish on their anniversaries.
Catalog Entries:
Iain Fenlon, ed., Cambridge Music Manuscripts, 900-1700 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), pp. 62-66.
Jayne Ringrose, Summary Catalogue of the Additional Medieval Manuscripts in Cambridge University Library acquired before 1940 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2009), pp. 14-16.

Week 3

Shelf mark: Or. 948
Repository
: Cambridge University Library
Title: Śiśupālavadha, Kirātārjunīya, Mālatimādhava
Date: Unknown
Description: A Sanskrit manuscript from Kashmir written on birch bark containing epic poems.
Provenance: The manuscript was donated to Cambridge University Library in 1916.