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Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Greek Miscellany

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript is a composite made up of parts copied at dates between the early 16th century and 1690 and subsequently bound together. It contains a varied <i>Greek Miscellany</i> of texts including works on ecclesiastical organisation and history, canon law, chronicles, the monuments of Constantinople and recipes.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The oldest part of the manuscript is brief, containing two letters written by a man named Andronikos to one Demetrios, on paper whose watermarks place it in the first half of the 16th century. One of these letters heaps praise on the city of Venice in tones that suggest that writer and recipient may have belonged to the Greek community of Venice or one of its overseas territories.</p>Most of the older parts of the manuscript were copied by Ioannes Malaxos, a prolific scribe and probably a monk, who worked in Constantinople in the second half of the 16th century. He may well have been related to two contemporary scribes originally from Nauplion in the Peloponnese, Manuel and Nikolaos Malaxos. He collaborated on occasion with Manuel after the latter moved to Constantinople, and both of them worked with another Naupliot scribe in the city, Theodosios Zygomalas.<p style='text-align: justify;'>Malaxos himself is believed to have composed various texts in the manuscript relating to the historic buildings and monuments of Constantinople and its environs, including descriptions of the city gates and of the church of the Pammakaristos, at that time the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, and its funerary monuments. Besides those from the tombs of the Pammakaristos, inscriptions transcribed by Malaxos included one from the walls of Chalkedon, across the Bosphoros, and another bearing a Novel (law) of the Emperor Manuel I, then at the Pammakaristos but transferred in 1567 to the mausoleum being prepared for the reigning Sultan Suleiman II. Other texts copied by Malaxos include short chronicles and chronological lists of office-holders, lists of ecclesiastical offices and recipes for products including medicines, inks and soap.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The material on the Pammakaristos enables the completion of the component of the manuscript in which it appears to be placed between 1572 and 1587. The former year is the last in which a son of the voivod Alexander of Moldavia, whose tomb is mentioned here, is known to have been alive; the latter is the year in which the Pammakaristos, described here as the patriarchal church was seized by the Ottoman government, prior to being turned into a mosque (Burke, 'Studi su copisti', p.230). There are two physically distinct portions of the manuscript copied by Malaxos, which may be of different dates. The other must date from later than 1566, since Malaxos added an entry to the end of a short chronicle he had copied, recording the accession in that year of the Ottoman Sultan Selim II. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The later component parts of the manuscript were copied by the Scottish scholar and long-serving royal librarian Patrick Young (1584-1652), during the decade or so before his death. The texts he copied here are mainly of canon law. He also added a substitute folio to replace one originally coped by Malaxos, which had been lost. This is one of many Greek manuscripts variously owned, copied, commissioned and annotated by Young. The items copied by him here are mainly canon law texts and lists of ecclesiastical offices from the Byzantine era.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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