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Pembroke College : Panoplia Dogmatike

Pembroke College

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, copied in England and completed in 1632, is the first part of a four-volume copy of the <i>Panoplia Dogmatike</i> of Niketas Choniates. The author was a high official of the Byzantine government in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, best known for his history of his own time, which includes the principal Byzantine account of the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade in 1204. Following this disaster, Choniates took refuge in Nicaea, seat of an emerging Byzantine government in exile, but failed to regain steady employment in imperial service. It was there that he completed this text, a vast theological compilation, which includes allusions to the straitened circumstances in which he now lived.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The main purpose of the work was the refutation of heresies and other religions, including paganism, Judaism, Islam, and non-Orthodox strands of Christianity from antiquity to the present. Among these is the western, Catholic Church, whose emerging schism with the Orthodox Church had both contributed to and been inflamed by the outcome of the Fourth Crusade. Drawing heavily on existing texts, the work's most original sections concern various theological controversies that had occurred within 12th-century Byzantium. The early chapters were closely based on the similar work of the monk Euthymios Zigabenos, composed a century earlier.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This copy was produced by the clergyman Thomas Bayly or Bailey, as part of his project to produce an edition and Latin translation of the text. The first five of its 27 books had previously been translated into Latin by Pierre Moreau, but it otherwise remained unavailable in print. Bayly's undertaking was never completed, but extensive evidence of his approach is present in his marginal annotations to the four volumes and a variety of associated papers which have been preserved alongside them. Although presently bound in four volumes, and referred to as such in Bayly's papers, the original pagination of the manuscripts is in two sequences, one covering the first and second volumes and the other the third and fourth. This suggests that they had perhaps been produced as a two-volume set originally but soon rebound as four when this proved unwieldy.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Besides Moreau's publication, Bayly's only access to the work of Choniates itself was the single Bodleian Library manuscript which served as the exemplar for this copy, but he aimed to improve and expand upon the text by collating it with the texts of works on which Choniates had drawn. These included works of the Fathers of the Church which Bayly consulted through their printed editions, and the work of Euthymios Zigabenos, consulted via a manuscript copy in Trinity College, Cambridge. The four volumes are extensively annotated with proposed emendations from these sources, and Bayly also envisaged incorporating additional passages from Zigabenos which Choniates had omitted in his adaptation of the earlier work. Copies of some of these passages survive among the associated papers, along with notes regarding the planned translation and other texts which may have been intended to supplement the edition. There are also two sections of Latin translation, one a brief excerpt, while the other, longer section, comprises the early part of Book 6 of the text. Since Moreau's translation had extended to the end of Book 5, this presumably represents the beginning of Bayly's main work of translation, and may well be as far as he ever got with the task.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Like Choniates, Bayly's life was afflicted by warfare infused with religious controversy. A committed Royalist with Catholic sympathies during the English Civil War, he served in the defence of Raglan Castle in 1646, despite his clerical vocation. He also published tracts regarding the king's religious opinions and discussions with his own patron, the Catholic Henry Somerset, Marquess of Worcester, which had occurred while all three men were at Raglan. It was perhaps due to unemployment after the surrender of Raglan and Worcester's imprisonment that in December 1646 Bayly sold his manuscripts of Choniates to the London bookseller Cornelius Bee. However, in March 1647 he was able to retrieve two of the four volumes, along with a number of printed books. The circumstances are unclear, but evidently the four were subsequently reunited. Bayly was briefly imprisoned in 1649, after publishing writings in defence of the recently executed king and against the new regime of the Commonwealth, and subsequently left the country, converting openly to Catholicism. The manuscripts presumably remained in England, where they were acquired by another clergyman, Richard Drake, who donated them to Pembroke College in 1663.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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