Making Histories: Locating the Belfast Fragment of the Middle English Prose Brut

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Perry, Ryan M M (2014)

In this essay Ryan Perry employs a fragment of the Middle English Prose Brut, recently discovered in the Special Collections department of Queen’s University, Belfast, to discuss larger issues in respect of the diverse production methods which characterise the production of this text. As part of this process the essay investigates the origins of the unique textual interpolation contained in the Belfast Brut fragment, and through comparison with Dartmouth College, Rauner Special Collections Library, Codex MS 003183, the essay suggests some of the different approaches Brut producers took when tasked with ‘making history’.
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    5. My thanks to Dr Nicky Tsougkarakis, Edge Hill University, who provided the translations of the Latin chronicles discussed in this essay.

    6. The practice of boiling a body in water or wine in order to remove the flesh, and thus facilitate the transportation of human remains over long distances, was relatively common in medieval Europe; the process was coined as mos teutonicus by the Florentine chronicler Boncampagno da Signa who associated it with German aristocrats in particular. Danielle Westerhof provides the closely contemporary example of Louis IX of France, who after dying in Tunis in 1270 had his flesh and bones separated in this way so that his bones (and heart) could be returned to France (78-79).

    7. My thanks to Stephen Kelly and Kath Stevenson (Queen's University of Belfast) for supplying me with images from the book.

    8. See the entry for 1270 in Christie.

    9. To avoid confusion with the now fragmentary Harley 266, I will use the phrase “Belfast / Harley book” to refer to the once complete codex, which included the entirety of Harley 266, the passages now preserved in Brett MS 3 12.B, and others now missing.

    10. See the dot maps in the newly digitized edition of A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English.

    11. As I wrote in the Notes and Queries article, “Scribe A has characteristics which suggest he might be from a [ . . . ] Westerly county, perhaps from anywhere between the Severn Estuary region in Gloucestershire to somewhere in Hampshire” (189).

    12. In this I correct my previous suggestion that the scribe may have learned literacy in a county closer to London (Perry 199).

    13. Hanna makes this argument with respect to Bodley 953, a manuscript commissioned by Sir Thomas Berkeley. HM 136. Huntingdon Library, San Marino. The Digital Scriptorium Database.

    University of California, Berkeley. Web. 12 April 2013. <http://dpg.lib.

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