A Digital Catalogue of the
Pre-1500 Manuscripts and Incunables of the
Canterbury Tales
Second Edition
Location:  AberystwythNational Library of Wales Peniarth 392 D
Alternate identifier:  Hengwrt MS 154
☙       ☙       ☙
Canterbury Tales (mutilated: missing VIII 554-1481 [probably never included in Hg] and X 1180-end; DIMEV 6414
Present order (view in DIMEV): I III VIIef IX II Va IVb Vb VIIIa IVa VI VIIabcd X (to 1180)
There are good reasons to believe that VIIef IX (Section II) were intended to follow II Va IVb Vb VIIIa IVa VI VIIabcd (Section IV): Section II begins with the Mel-Mk link, and Section V, in its first line (fol. 235r), signals that the MancT was the previous text (and the reading has been altered to make that link).
Progress of Copying: 
The presence of catchwords at the ends of most quires (absent at the end of the anomalous Q [6]), excepting those that come at the ends of structural sections, most probably indicates that the exemplars were acquired in the form of booklets (see Doyle and Parkes 1979, pp. xxvi; Hanna 1989). Although Manly-Rickert (1:267) argue that Q [6] results from the scribe’s having continued to copy from the verso of the first leaf of the new quire directly to its conjugate, rather than the recto of a new leaf, Doyle and Parkes caution that “Manly and Rickert did not notice that there is some difference of the membrane, frame, and ink between quires 6 and 7 and those on either side” (1979, pp. xxvii). The ink in Qq [6-7] is a flatter, more faded shade of grayish-brown as compared with the ink in neighboring quires. Following on this point, Hanna describes the parchment as being of a “greyish tinge quite unlike any other sheets in the vicinity.”note He conjectures that the single bifolium that constitutes Q [6] is indicative of the scribe’s having failed to receive all of the copytext for Fragment I at one time, and that the copytext for Qq [7-8] arrived later. Thus Q [6] represents a temporary “booklet boundary, later superseded…. Estelle Stubbs raises the possibility that Qq [6-7] were once part of a gathering of ten that was restructured–discarding the outer bifolium–when incorporated into the Hengwrt Manuscript. The text that had been contained on the discarded bifolium was then recopied on the present fols. 41 and 50 (respectively, the end and beginning of the adjacent quires) to make the transition from Knight’s Tale to Miller’s Prologue appear continuous (“Observations on the Hengwrt Chaucer, Section IV”). This account of the relies on the view that possibly even tales otherwise fully integrated into a sequence (linking prologues, etc.) might have existed as discrete textual units in Chaucer’s collection of [draft] fair copies.
Structural section II is written in a lighter shade of yellowish-brown ink, the same shade that appends the note “Of this Cokes tale | maked Chaucer na | moore” to fol. 57v, suggesting that the exemplar for Fragment III was obtained separately and that the text was inserted between two other structural sections where it could most easily be accommodated.
In Section III, McT follows NPT without any sign of hesitation (fol. 107r); no thought seems to have been given to the possibility that Fragment VIII might intervene.
Section IV presents a number of textual and physical anomalies. MLT ends at the bottom of fol. 128r (the first folio of Q [18]), with the verso left blank (now filled with the Brereton family records). Presumably, the scribe hoped to find a link to the following (fol. 129r) SqT. At the “end” of SqT (V 672), at the top of fol. 137v, the scribe at first left the rest of that page blank and proceeded to copy MerT from the top of fol. 138r (judging from the varying shades of ink). Later, the scribe inserted Fk Headlink, altered at V 675 to read “Marchant,” in a yellowish ink (as in Section III).
On fol. 151r, at IV 2319, there is a distinct change from dark brown to grayish ink. It is at just this point (IV 2318: see Manly-Rickert 2:281-3; Dempster 1946) that several MS groups apparently change their affiliations. The plausible explanation is that while Hg was able to acquire text for the rest of the tale, the apparent early fragmentation of the exemplar was problematic for many other MSS. At the end of MerT (fol. 152v), the scribe left the rest of that page blank. (The lower half of 152v is now filled with a memorandum of Andrew Brereton). Having anticipated that a link/prologue and the first twelve lines of the tale would not fit on the space remaining on fol. 152v (or perhaps lacking those lines in the copytext), the scribe apparently continued copying from V 721 at the top of the present fol. 154r, leaving the join for a later date–in fact, it would appear, the very last bits that Adam Pinkhurst produced for the Hengwrt project–at which time the Sq-Fk Link was adapted for the purpose and it, along with the first lines of FkT, were copied on an inserted singleton, fol. 153, with an ample amount of casting off to fill out the folio (Doyle and Parkes 1979, pp. xxxi; Manly-Rickert 1:271-2).
Q [22] is the most problematic in terms of structure, with the Second Nun’s Tale inserted in the center of the quire, between the Franklin’s Tale and the Clerk’s Prologue and Tale, resulting in an anomalous gathering of sixteen. The ink of Second Nun’s Tale is darker than the grayish ink of the surrounding tales. One way to account for this is to assume the scribe knew that a text of a certain length would be provided at a later time and so continued copying from the end of Franklin’s Tale through the rest of the structural section, or that he had to rewrite the portions of the Franklin’s Tale and Clerk’s Prologue now found on the inserted leaves when the decision was made to insert Second Nun’s Tale. But the more probable explanation is that the scribe had a previously-copied Second Nun’s Tale with the blank leaves included as part of a gathering of ten (five bifolia), since the ink used for Franklin’s Tale and Clerk’s Tale is the same; i.e., as Doyle and Parkes note, the material on fols. 164-5 and 173v could not have been recopied after the scribe had copied Second Nun’s Tale in the different shade of ink (xxxi). Stubbs, echoing Doyle and Parkes, has noted that the decoration of the running heads is different in the Nun’s Tale from elsewhere in Hg, but identical with that in the Parson’s Tale, and suggested that these two tales were copied independently, “from a different system, a different set of exemplars, a parallel copy of the Hg manuscript” (“Observations on the Hengwrt Chaucer, Section IV”).
If the Second Nun’s Tale is a parallel or older copying, it would have had to have been copied on five bifolia, with the first one-and-a-half folios and the final verso left blank, and with the Franklin’s Tale subsequently spilling over onto first three blank pages and the Clerk’s Prologue commencing on the blank final verso. But why would a scribe leave blanks like this when, if he had begun copying on what is now fol. 165r, the text for the Second Nun’s Tale would have fit perfectly on a gathering of eight? One possibility is that provision was left for a link to be composed and added to this stand-alone copy of the Tale. It is possible that both the Nun’s Tale and Parson’s Tale (along with the Miller’s Tale, as noted above) were fair copies made by Adam at a different time, perhaps in a different place, that were incorporated into the Hengwrt project. As Doyle and Parkes observe, the explicit for FkT is added by someone other than the scribe, probably the same hand as that of the running heads and the glosses in PsT (1979, pp. cccii, xliii).
Blank space was left by the scribe in Mel (VII 1777, fol. 233r). El is OUT at this same point in the text. It would seem that the copytext (Chaucer’s “foul papers”?) was illegible at this point and the scribe responded by leaving exactly the same space as the unreadable text in his exemplar.
Section V, although currently ordered to follow Mel, signals that MancT should have been the previous text. This was accomplished through an erasure in X 1, with “Mau[n]ciple” being substituted for whatever underlay it originally.note

Parchment: “more probably sheep than calf…of middling thickness and quality, with a good mat (velvety) finish” (Doyle and Parkes 1979, pp. xxi), trimmed and very stained. Portions eroded (gnawed by rats?) have been replaced with blank parchment (1956).
Page Size:  
Approximately 29 x 20.5 cm (trimmed irregularly).
250 folios remain containing three separate foliations, the most recent dating from the conservation efforts of 1956. The pencil foliations (one on the original parchment and one on the parchment patch) commence with the first page of CT as “2.” An older, ink foliation, in the lower gutter, begins by numbering this page “1.” (A “leaf from an early-fourteenth-century Sarum breviary with musical notation” was formerly bound with the MS as fol. 1 [Doyle and Parkes 1979, pp. xlii]).
[1-5]8 fols. 2-41
[6]2 fols. 42-43
[7]6 fols. 44-49
[8-11]8 fols. 50-81
[12]6 fols. 82-87
[13-20]8 fols. 88-151
[21]8+1 (2+χ1) fols. 152-160
[22]6+10 (+χ10) fols. 161-176note
[23-28]8 fols. 177-224
[29]10 fols. 225-234
[30-31]8 fols. 235-250
Doyle and Parkes detect five structural sections:
I   fols. 2-57 (Qq [1-8]; Textual Fragment I)
II   fols. 58-87 (Qq [9-12]; Textual Fragment III)
III   fols. 88-111 (Qq [13-15]; Textual Fragments VIIef IX)
IV   fols. 112-234 (Qq [16-29]; Textual Fragments II Va+V 673-708 IVb+IV 2419-40 & V 1-8 Vb VIIIa IVa VI VIIabcd
V   fols. 235-50 (Qq [30-32?]; Textual Fragment X, defective)
In structural section IV, a series of signatures is observable, though there is disagreement over just what can be made out. In the following table, I juxtapose my own findings from examining the signatures under UV light with Doyle and Parkes’s presentation of Manly-Rickert’s readings “in Roman letters, queried if doubtful, in square brackets if conjectural; [Daniel] Huws’s readings in italics, queried if doubtful, with [Doyle and Parkes’s] conjectures also italicized in square brackets” (1979, pp. xxiii). (“MR” = “Manly-Rickert”; “DP” = Doyle and Parkes):
quire Mosser Huws MR DP
[16] h h? k?  
[17] l l  
[18] m m  
[19] N N  
[20] o o  
[21] k k p  
[22] ? q?  
[23] p p [r]
[24] ?note ? [s]
[25] (o/Ð)note o? [t]
[26] q? q? ? v?
[27] ? [x]
[28] r r y  
[29] σ s S [z]
In Q [25], on fols. 193 and 195, an o is visible with UV light and on fols. 194 and 196 UV light reveals the combination of a superior o with “Д (i.e., majuscule “eth”) beneath. In Q [28], the r is the long form of the graph, flourished on fol. 220. In Q [29], the s is the sigma form.
39-44 lines per page, single columns. Written space variable from 21-23 x 11.5-13 cm.
Doyle and Parkes’s (1978) “Scribe B.” See Scribe B=Adam Pynkhurst
On the five “supplementary” hands, see Doyle and Parkes 1979, pp. xliii-xlvii. Of special interest are hands C and F. Hand C adds the “Adam” stanza (MkT VII 2007-14) in the gutter of fol. 89v, and could be the same scribe as that of British Library MS Arundel 38, Henry V’s copy of Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes. Doyle and Parkes’s observations on hand F are particularly noteworthy: “Unlike hands C, D and E, hand F, was trying to deal with lacunae for which sufficient manuscript authority was not readily available…. He may have relied on his own invention, or his director’s. Hand F is very like Thomas Hoccleve’s hand in his own poetical anthologies, Huntington Library HM 144 [sic: HM 111?] and 744 and Durham University Library (England), Cosin V.III.9….”note On fol. 83v, the last five words of III 2048 are added by Hand F. The last line on this folio (III 2064) is marked by Hand F with ‘b’ and ‘a’ for correction, altering the reading to that found in the a-b MSS. The line appears in El as in Hg before the intervention of Hand F (see further Mosser 2008).
Blue initials (2-line, extending above the first line of text for several more lines) with red penwork mark the openings of tales, prologues, and links. Blue paraphs mark lesser textual divisions and glosses. The opening page of CT (fol. 2r) begins with a 7-line initial W in blue, gold, and an orange-red. The text is surrounded by a full border–bars of the same colors, decorated with knots and trefoils–although the heading (“Here bygynnyth the Book of the tales of Caunt[er]bury”), in a goldish-brown ink, is above, and in places overlapped by, the top bar (a color facsimile appears as the frontispiece in the Variorum facsimile; see also The Hengwrt Chaucer Digital Facsimile; Manly-Rickert [1:567] and Doyle and Parkes [1979, pp. xxxix] offer brief descriptions and both link the style of the illumination on fol. 2r to that in El).
Rebound at the National Library of Wales in 1956 in red morocco, blind stamped diamond and rectangular geometrical patterns, with metal ring and hook clasps and braided leather hinges. Sewn on five double bands. This binding replaces dark, tanned goat(?) on older (medieval?) oak boards, removed and stored in 1930 (see Doyle and Parkes 1979, pp. xxxix-xlii [includes photographs of the old boards]; Manly-Rickert 1:267).

See Scribe B=Adam Pynkhurst: Language
Doyle and Parkes suggest that one of the supplementary hands in Hg, designated by them as “Hand F,” “is very like Thomas Hoccleve’s hand.” Doyle and Parkes have also identified Hoccleve as “Scribe E,” a collaborator with Scribe B in the Trinity Gower. However, since some of Hoccleve’s “most characteristic letter forms are absent from words in Hg” they leave the question “open.” The possibility that Hand C may have copied British Library MS Arundel 38 (Regiment of Princes) adds to the suspicion of an early Hoccleve connection with Hg (Doyle and Parkes 1979, pp. xlvi).
The earliest evidence of ownership is that of a signature on fol. 87r: “ffouke Dutton Huius ly(bri) est possesoer.” The name is erased but still visible under UV light. Manly-Rickert (1:279-81) find a “Fulke Dutton” who was a “rich draper of Chester and a great purchaser of monastic property,” who “was mayor in 1537, 1548, 1554,” and died in 1558 (a date Doyle and Parkes suggest as appropriate to the handwriting and that “[t]he penwork knots and underline would not be inappropriate for someone who became mayor of the city” [1979, pp. xlvii]). “Of the same period, and certainly well after 1534 when it was initiated by law, are the cancellations of the word “Pope” and the insertion of “bishop” or “byshop” on fols. 115r, 169v, 170r, 173r by a current hand somewhat resembling that on fol. 43v” (Doyle and Parkes 1979, pp. xlviii). Ownership in Chester and Wales is also supported by the Brereton family records of five births entered on fol. 128v (a verso left blank following the end of MLT on fol. 128r), in which it is recorded that John Brereton was “Christened att | St Petteres Church in Chester” and that Frances, Richard, and Ann were born “at llanver | neare carnarvon.” The Banestar / Bannester family also recorded the births of five family members on fol. 165r (in the blank half-page left at the end of the FkT in the double-sized quire enlarged to accommodate the inclusions of SNT). Manly-Rickert detail additional evidence of the MS’s “presence in Chester in the later 16 C” (1:281).
Hg is included in a 1658 catalogue of manuscripts belonging to Colonel Robert Vaughan, of Hengwrt, Merionethshire. In 1859, a descendent, Sir Robert Williames Vaughan left the MS to W. W. E. Wynne, of Peniarth. Sir John Williams acquired the MS from the estate of Wynne’s son, W. R. M. Wynne and subsequently donated it to the National Library of Wales in 1909 (Manly-Rickert 1:282-3).

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