London. British Library, Cotton MS Vitellius A XII

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The British Library, Polonsky Pre-1200 Project
London. British Library
British Library, Cotton MS Vitellius A XII
Biblissima authority file
  • Latin
  • Old English
  • Computistical memoranda; Ecgberht of York, Dialogus Ecclesiasticæ Institutionis ; Abbo of Fleury, De Differentia Circuli et Spherae ; Hrabanus Maurus, De Computo ; Eight computistical poems; De Septem Miraculis Mundi ; De Duobus Verticibus Mundi ; De Diebus Aegyptiacis ; Ordo Librorum Catholicorum in Circulo Anni Legendorum ; De Vocibus Litterarum ; Greek and Hebrew alphabets with interpretations; Untitled computistical tract; De Sex Aetatibus Hominis ; Isidore of Seville (Pseudo-Gildas), De Natura Rerum ; T-O world map; Abbo of Fleury, De Cursu Septem Planetarum per Zodiacum Circulum ; Abbo of Fleury, De Duplici Signorum Ortu ; Three runic alphabets; Calendar [with ‘Dog Days’]; Priscian, Versus de Caelestibus Signis ; Versus de Duodecim Ventis ; Calendar [with ‘Egyptian Days’]; Cummian, Epistola de Controversia Paschali; Bede, Epistola ad Pleguinam de Aetatibus Saeculi; Magister Constabularius, Compotus Constabularii ; computistical tables; untitled computistical treatise with hand diagrams; Serlo of Bayeux, poems; Godfrey of Winchester, Liber Proverbiorum; Hildebert of Lavardin, Vita Beatae Mariae Aegyptiacae ; miscellany of poems by Hildebert of Lavardin, Marbod of Rennes, Ausonius, and Godfrey of Winchester; Bartholomew of Exeter, Penitential; The Lord's Prayer in Old English; exemplum
  • This composite manuscripts contains six parts (f. 3; ff. 4-77; ff. 79-86; ff. 87-107; ff. 109-135 and ff. 136-185) that were produced between the late 11th and late 12th centuries. The six parts perhaps may all have been written in England and were probably joined together in the library of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton (b. 1571, d. 1631). The second and third part were written at the cathedral church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Salisbury. The second of the two Calendars (ff. 72v-77v), however, was produced by a Continental scribe who was working either on the Continent or in England. The Calendar contains a number of unusual feasts that can also be found in the first, English Calendar. This indicates that the Continental version may have been brought to Salisbury and used there as an exemplar (Rushford, Atlas (2002), p. 38). Aside from an Old English text (the Lord’s Prayer), the manuscript contains a variety of Latin works concerning the computus, calendar, astronomy, geography, prognostics, grammar, proverbs, theology, and penance. The manuscript contains a number of important texts: the second part contains the only extant complete copy of the Dialogus Ecclesiasticæ Institutionis (Dialogue of Church Institutions) by Ecgberht (d. 766), Archbishop of York. The third part contains the only extant copy of the letter on the Paschal controversy by St Cummian Fada (b. 592, d. 662), Bishop of Clonfert (ff. 79r-83r). The fourth part contains the only extant copy of the Compotus Constabularii (1175): a computistical work focusing on the dating of Easter that was written by an English author who had access to Arabic scientific materials. A monk from the cathedral priory of Christ Church, Canterbury, refers to him as ‘Magister Cunestabulus’. The cathedral priory’s surviving library catalogue indicates that Christ Church once owned three copies of this text (Moreton, ‘The Compotus’ (1999), 61-82; Nothaft, Dating the Passion (2012), pp. 146-54). The manuscript’s second part’s contents are very similar to those of 10th-century manuscript Exeter, Cathedral Library, MS 3507; both manuscripts may share a common exemplar (see Ker, Medieval Manuscripts , II (1977), pp. 813-14). Contents:f. 3r: Computistical memoranda. ff. 4v-8r: Ecgberht of York (d. 766), Archbishop of York, Dialogus Ecclesiasticæ Institutionis . ff. 8r-10v: Abbo of Fleury (b. c. 945, d. 1004), abbot of Fleury, De Differentia Circuli et Spherae (On the Difference between the Circle and the Sphere). ff. 10v-40v: Hrabanus Maurus (d. 856), De Computo (On the Computus). ff. 40v-42v: Eight anonymous computistical poems. ff. 42v-43r: De Septem Miraculis Mundi (On the Seven Wonders of the World), beginning: ‘Primum capitolium romae salvium tutius quam civitas’. ff. 43r-44r: De Duobus Verticibus Mundi (On the Two Poles of the World), beginning ‘Duo sunt extremi vertices mundi’. ff. 44r-44v: De Diebus Aegyptiacis (On the Egyptian Days), beginning ‘Hos dies maxime observare debemus’. f. 44v: Ordo Librorum Catholicorum in Circulo Anni Legendorum (Order of Catholic Books to be Read during the Year), beginning ‘In primis in .lxx. ponunt eptaticum’. ff. 44v-45r: De Vocibus Litterarum (On the Pronunciation of Letters), beginning 'Omnes vero litterae a similitudine vocis characteras acceperunt'. ff. 45r-45v: Greek and Hebrew alphabets with interpretations (also known as Interpretationes Hebraici et Graeci Alphabetorum ), followed by a list of names for the Greek numerals. ff. 45v-46r: A computistical tract on finding Concurrents and Epacts, beginning ‘Si vis scire concurrentes in nona kalendas aprilis’. f. 46r: De Sex Aetatibus Hominis (On the Six Ages of Mankind), beginning ‘Prima infantia’. ff. 46r-63v: Isidore of Seville (d. 636), Bishop of Seville, but here attributed to Gildas (fl. early 6th century), De Natura Rerum (On the Nature of Things). f. 63v: A note on the division of the world among the sons of Noah: ‘Tres filii noe diviserunt orbem in tres partes post diluvium. Sem in Asia. Cham in Affrica. Iaphet in Europa’. f. 64r: A T-O world map, with a list of provinces written for each of the three parts. ff. 64r-64v: Abbo of Fleury, De Cursu Septem Planetarum per Zodiacum Circulum (On the Course of the Seven Planets through the Circle of the Zodiac), incomplete, containing the treatise’s ending only. f. 64v: Abbo of Fleury, De Duplici Signorum Ortu (On the Double Rising of Symbols), beginning: ‘De duplici ortu signorum dubitantes’. f. 65r: Three runic alphabets; followed by a runic inscription with a Latin transliteration above: ‘pax vobiscum et salus pax’. ff. 65v-71r: Calendar [with ‘Dog Days’]. f. 71v: Additions to the Calendar, added in a contemporary script. f. 72r: [?] Priscian (fl. 500), Versus de Caelestibus Signis (Poem on the Heavenly Symbols), beginning: 'Ad Boreae partes arcti vertuntur'. f. 72r: Versus de Duodecim Ventis (Poem on the Twelve Winds), beginning ‘Quatuor a quadris consurgunt limite venti’. ff. 72v-77v: Calendar [with ‘Egyptian Days’]. ff. 79r-83r: Cummian, Epistola de Controversia Paschali (Letter on the Easter Controversy). ff. 83r-86v: Bede the Venerable (d. 673, d. 735), Epistola ad Pleguinam de Aetatibus Saeculi (Letter to Plegwin about the Ages of the World). ff. 87r-97v: Magister Constabularius, Compotus Constabularii (1175). ff. 98r-98v: Computistical tables.ff. 99r-100v: A computistical treatise concerning calculating epacts and concurrents; including a section on how to find the dates for the feasts of the Nativity and Easter without a calendar; and sections explaining how to calculate dates by using the hand as a mnemonic device (with four hand diagrams). ff. 101r-107v: An untitled astronomical treatise, beginning 'Scientia hec a grecis translata apud latinos'. ff. 109r-114r: Serlo of Bayeux (d. 1104), canon of the cathedral chapter of Bayeux, collection of poems. ff. 114r-117r: Godfrey of Winchester (b. before 1055, d. 1107), poet and prior of the Benedictine monastery of St Swithun, Winchester, Liber Proverbiorum (Book of Proverbs). ff. 117r-122v: Hildebert of Lavardin (b. 1056, d. 1133), Archbishop of Tours, Vita Beatae Mariae Aegyptiacae (Life of St Mary of Egypt), beginning 'Sicut hiemps laurum non urit, nec rogus aurum'. f. 122v: Hildebert of Lavardin, De Plagis Egypti (On the Plagues of Egypt), beginning 'Prima rubens unda', imperfect. f. 123r-130r: Collection of poems, including the works of Marbod of Rennes (b. 1035, d. 1123) and Hildebert of Lavardin.ff. 131r-132v: Godfrey of Winchester, collection of poems. f. 132v: Three anonymous untitled poems, beginning 'Absque metu belli florebat uita Metelli'; ‘Non, Ernulfe locus, non mille sophismata prosunt’; ‘Cum pater Augustus me desponsaret Hibero’. ff. 133r-135r: [?] Hugh the Chanter (d. c. 1140), Versus Hugonis Sotovaginae Cantoris et Archidiaconi Eboracensis (Poem of Hugh Sottovagina, Chanter and Archdeacon of York), beginning ‘Philosophus quidam quaesitus quid sit amicus’. f. 135r: De Abbatis Mitris Utentibus et Deliciose Viventibus (On the Mitres of Abbots, Their Uses and their Delicate Lives’, beginning ‘Forma fuit quondam Cluniacus religionis’. ff. 135r-135v: Two anonymous untitled poems, beginning ‘heu stolidi qui tam cupidi’; ‘Hugo sacerdoti Willelmo quae tria voce’. f. 135v: Versus Augustini Canonici (Poem on Augustinian Canons), beginnig 'Dum vel dictator rudis es vel versificato'. ff. 136r-185r: Bartholomew (d. 1184), Bishop of Exeter, Penitential, with a note in the lower margin of f. 184v that extends to f. 185r. f. 184v: The Lords’ Prayer, in Old English, beginning: ‘Fader ure be giert on heofena’.f. 185r: A Latin exemplum concerning a bishop with the ability to tell from the expression on people’s faces whether they are worthy or unworthy to go to Communion, beginning ‘Legitur de quidam episcopo’.The manuscript contains a later addition: f. 4r: A (?) 12th-century title inscription: ‘Rabanus de Compoto’. f. 2r: A table of contents, added by Richard James (b. 1592, d. 1638), librarian for Sir Robert Bruce Cotton (b. 1571, d. 1631)[ff. 1r, 1v, 2v, 3v, 51r, 51v, 78r, 78v are blank]. Decoration:See the descriptions of the separate parts.
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