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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Collection of devotional works

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This mid 15th-century manuscript contains an important collection of Middle English religious prose and verse. It features a commentary on the Seven Penitential Psalms, known as <i>The Seven Psalms</i>, and meditations on the Passion, known as the <i>Meditations upon the Seven Days of the Week</i>, which were both translated out of French into English by Eleanor [née Malet] Hull (c. 1394–1460), the daughter of Sir John Malet of Enmore, Somerset (d. before 1395), retainer of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, and of his wife, Joan (c.1370–1426). Eleanor Hull is the first woman translator from French into English who is known by name. The copy of <i>The Seven Psalms</i> preserved in this manuscript is unique, and only one other extant copy of the <i>Meditations</i> is known (Chicago, University of Illinois, MS 80). It is only in this manuscript, however, that Eleanor is credited for her work: she is identified as the translator in rubrics at the end of each work (ff. 147r, 179v) and in another inscription by a different hand ('Alinor Hull', f. 148r).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Eleanor is thought to have made her translations in the 1420s, following the death of her husband, Sir John Hull, and while residing at Sopwell Priory, a Benedictine nunnery in Hertfordshire that was dependent on the Benedictine abbey of St Albans. Eleanor was associated with the latter house for a large part of her life: in February 1417, she was admitted to St Albans' confraternity, earning her a place in the so-called St Albans Benefactors' Book (now <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>London, British Library, Cotton MS Nero D VII</a>) as 'Domina Elianora de Hulle'. Moreover, in 1456, together with the priest Roger Huswyf, she donated a four-volume copy of the <i>Postillae</i> of Nicholas of Lyra to the abbey, now Cambridge, University Library, MS Dd.7.7-10.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Eleanor's connection with St Albans likely explains how her works came to Richard Fox (d. 1454), proctor or steward of St Albans. Fox copied a large section of MS Kk.1.6 (ff. 1r [table of contents], 194r-214v), perhaps in collaboration with the five other scribes who copied the manuscript's original contents. He also rubricated the entire volume after its completion and was responsible for writing out the rubrics that mention Eleanor by name (ff. 147r, 179v). Fox was the manuscript's first owner, as can be evidenced from his will of 1454, in which it is identifiable by its incipit as one of the 'vi bounde bokes' that he passed on to his son John.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Clarck Drieshen<br /> Project Cataloguer<br /> Cambridge University Library</p>

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