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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Devotions

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This devotional manuscript is a composite volume that consists of two parts. Although both parts were produced separately from one and another, it is likely that the second part was copied with a view to complement the first part.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript's first part (ff. 3r-145v) begins with a collection of catechetical teachings in Middle English prose (ff. 3r-18v) and is followed by a large collection of devotional instructions and prayers in Middle English and Latin prose and verse (ff. 19r-143r). This part was copied by seven scribes. While Margaret Connolly (2009) dates the manuscript broadly to the 15th century, Ann Eljenholm Nichols (2014) dates it to c. 1425.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript's second part (ff. 146r-157v) contains prayers and protective amulets in English and Latin and medical recipes in English. The texts were copied by two scribes probably in the late 15th or early 16th century.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The first part contains a unique Middle English visionary account about a nun from Hampole Priory, West Yorkshire, who is visited by the soul of her brother, a knight who had died after he had been mortally wounded in the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(168);return false;'>80v-81v</a>). In the vision, her brother gives her a letter on which are written six psalms and prayers with which she can save him from Purgatory if she performs them for his soul for twenty consecutive days. Although scholars have previously considered this work an authentic text from Hampole Priory (see Harley (1989) and Connolly (2010)), near-identical 15th-century texts in Middle Dutch and Middle German prayer books suggest that it is a translation of a Continental exemplum instead. Since none of the Continental versions situate the events of the vision at Hampole Priory or even in England, it appears that the English translator reworked the narrative specifically to promote the nunnery’s intercessory prayers among potential lay benefactors (Drieshen (2022)).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Clarck Drieshen<br /> Project Cataloguer<br /> Cambridge University Library</p>

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