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Manuscript Description
Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Digby 185
MS Appellation:SC 1786
Author:Hoccleve and Anon
Contents:Prose Brut, Hoccleve, Regiment of Princes, Hoccleve's Gerelaus and wife, Hoccleve's Jonathas both from Gesta Romanorum, Hoccleve's romance of King Ponthus of Galicia [trans from French?]
Date Range:1440-1465; (Hunt and Watson's notes on Digby Cat)
Scribal Hands:
Examples of the hand. Click on the link above for full details and images of individual letter forms.

Dialect:West Riding Yorks
No of Folios:2 new parchment flyleaves, blank except note on ii verso identifying arms + 203 folios + 2 newish parchment flyleaves, blank. Both first and last flyleaves have stains from fold-over of tanned cover
Pagination:Modern-ish, the usual Digby foliator, large arabic in pencil in upper outer corner, stylized with 8 on its side, etc.
Catchwords:By the scribe in usual place about 2/3 across lower margin. Catchwords are elaborately decorated as on f127v, some coloured. A hat around one, a man's head, coloured, blowing out the catchword, a bird holding a scroll with the catchword, etc.
Page Size:290 x 193
Frame:2 x vertical, 4 x horizontal enclosing top and bottom lines, ruled within, in very fine, very faint ink; a few leaves, for example f156, retain pricking along outer edge; all have pricking top and bottom.
Writing Space:208 x 140
Incipits and Explicits:Explicits only.
Illuminated Initials:Elaborate decorated or illuminated initials at beginning of each text, up to 14 lines high, almost all incorporating coats of arms, all involving the Swillington coat of arms (of Yorkshire).
Flourished Initials:Blue lombard initials with red penwork, often quite elaborate extenders, sometimes with figures at ends of tendrils, a sunflower, a head, etc., and bubbles around some of these flourished sprays or extenders (f127v). Some larger initials and explicits in black ink strapwork, very well executed. Alternating one-line red or blue initials, red rhyme markers/brackets in right margins.
Other Names (not owners):Arms, especially of Swillington (of Yorkshire, near Leeds), quartered with Rivers and sometimes with Beauchamp, then again quartered with Townley and Alford'see Macray's description; and on f157v, ten coats of arms: Swillington or Rivers, Swillington, Waterton, Gascoigne, Fitzgerald or Gerard, Alford or Alesford, Alford, Townley, Houghton, and a badge not yet identified as associated with any particular family. Later owned by Nicholas Gilbourne (top margin f1, motto bottom margin f1: second half 16th century); also bottom margin f1 Kenelm Digby's signature.
Miscellaneous Info:Joel Fredell argues that this manuscript was almost certainly produced in York, based on bubbles around penwork flourishing, and bright green in some of the decorated initials (eg f1r) is characteristic of northern production (for argument related to the green, see John B. Friedman, Northern English Books, Owners, and Makers in the Late Middle Ages, Syracuse: Syracuse Univ. Press, 1995. This MS not included in appendix B, 'A Handlist of Extant Northern Manuscripts'.
Further Information:R. W. Hunt and A. G. Watson, Bodleian Library Quarto Catalogues IX, Digby Manuscripts with 'Notes on Macray's Descriptions of the Manuscripts' by A. G. Watson. Oxford: Bodleian Library, 1999. Cols 195-196 of Macray's catalogue, page 85 of Watson's notes.
Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York, King's Manor, York YO1 7EP