Oxford, Bodleian Library, Barlow 20

| Shelfmark | Date and Language | Contents |
| Physical Description | History | Record History | Bibliography |

Repository:Bodleian Library
Idno:Barlow 20
AltName:SC 6420
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Date and Language
Date:s. xv2
Dialect:Scribal dialect: Worcestershire. Linguistic Atlas Grid Reference: Not mapped (McIntosh, Samuels and Benskin 1986, p. 250).
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A generously decorated copy of the Canterbury Tales beginning with the General Prologue and ending with the Manciple's Tale. The manuscript is affiliated to London, British Library, MS Royal 18 C. II and Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Laud misc. 739, both of which are manuscripts containing West Midlands dialect. Manly and Rickert believe the manuscript to be dated to 1450-1480 (1940, p. 55), whilst Seymour (1997, p. 165) dates it to 1450-1475.

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Physical Description
Extent:310 x 210
Collation:1-33(8). Originally 34 quires of eights. First quire lost. Regular catchwords.
Layout:Pricking not visible. Writing space of 210 x 110 mm. Text does not fill the space. Single columns with 31-38 lines. Margined in dry point and brown ink but not ruled.
Writing: One scribe writing in Anglicana Formata mixed with cursive Secretary forms c. 1450-1475. Uneven brown ink. Mosser describes the hand as a 'cursive hybrid anglicana hand, employing hairline connecting strokes, tapered descenders, both circular and open e, 8-shaped g, two-compartment, anglicana a, B-shaped final s, z-shaped r following round forms, anglicana long r elsewhere, looped d, minimal use of serifs. The w graph is composed of two billowing loops with a B-shaped element to the right, but in KnT [Knight's Tale] another form appears, constructed of two parallel, vertical strokes and a B-shaped element; ? and appear commonly. Body height approximately 2mm' (Blake and Robinson 1996).
Decoration: In red: glosses in the Man of Law's Tale; irregular for page headings, titles, incipits, explicits. Two and three-line gold initials with, usually, quartered grounds in blue and rose with white line decoration and outlined in black. Black hairlines with their bases tinted a bright green protrude from the corners. On f. 5r the voids within the initial W are blue with 'barley twist' decoration in white. These initials begin prologues and occasionally some other textual divisions. Four and five-line champ initials mark the beginning of each tale. Capitals in gold on quartered rose and blue grounds with white line decoration. Outlined in black with profuse sprays of curled feathering in pairs, tinted green at the tips. The sprays also carry gold trefoils and gold balls with green tinted pen squiggles. Gold balls with green tinted pen squiggles also adorn the sides of the initial. Some champ initials have their voids filled with a delicately painted and highlighted acanthus. The void of the initial A on f. 44r is filled with a green acanthus on a darker green ground with subtle yellow highlights. F. 64r has the same but uses pink and white to create a subtle acanthus.
Binding: Not medieval. Second half of the seventeenth century; rebacked in the nineteenth century. Size: 320 x 220 mm. Covered in brown leather with tooled borders, now much rubbed. Mitred and pasted onto pasteboard. Sewing is unascertainable. Seven bands across the spine; three decorated. Tooled edging typical of other Barlow manuscripts.
Foliation:ff. i + 265. One paper flyleaf at the beginning and end. The Manciple's Tale ends on f. 261r. The statement on the old foliation reads, 'Really i plus 265 leaves, for 20 is three leaves and 135 and 180 are double.' The last folio of the text is numbered 259; the next 265, is blank.
Additions:F. 112v - 'an astronomycall reason why women are not comendyd of wryters'. F. 118v - same hand - 'A defynityon of gentilyty'. F. 119r - same hand: 'gentilyte ys ye renowne of our auncesters for theyr bounty wch ys ye gyft of god...'; 'Tullyus Hostilius was discendid of pare parentage but by hys owne vertue encompanyed with godes grace rose to great nobleness'; 'then doth aman begyn to be a gentleman when he begynneth to lyue vertuously to eschewe synne'; 'he t couetyth ys but poore in at he desireth at ys not in hys might'; 'verry pouerty as Iuuenall sayth ys synne'. F. 207v glosses in the same hand.
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Origin: Written in England in the mid to late fifteenth century, probably in Worcestershire.
Provenance: Sixteenth century: F. 64r - 'Wyllyam Dubledaye' () sixteenth century italic with device, a paraffe, possibly a notary's mark. F. 84r - a crude coat of arms has been drawn - two cross crosslets with space for a third, apparently a chief. On f. 73r, the shield is parted per pale, and only one cross crosslet drawn, with space for two more. According to Manly and Rickert, cross crosslets were used by some branches of the Weeks family (Manly and Rickert. 1940. p. 57). F. 259v 'Per me Iohannem Wekes' () written in a late sixteenth-century hand. The same hand also wrote an English couplet and a prologue to a legal instrument dated 34 Elizabeth, 1591-2. The couplet is written above the name 'Iohannem Wekes' and reads, 'Thy master's booke doth scorne thy name To scribble therin then cease for shame'. Beneath this in a different hand is written, 'My masters booke will geve me lefe too scribble therin y ask no lefe'. Other inscriptions include plant names and bits of Latin. The manuscript was acquired by Thomas Barlow, Lady Margaret Professor, Bishop of Lincoln (1675-91), and Bodleian Librarian (1652-60).
Acquisition:The manuscript was bequeathed to the Bodleian Library in 1693-1694 by Thomas Barlow (d. 1691) along with fifty-four other manuscripts and all his printed books (Madden 1937, p. 1043).
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Record History
Catalogued and encoded in July of 2003 by Rebecca Farnham, University of Birmingham.
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Related Manuscripts Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Barlow 20 is closely affiliated to London, British Library, MS Royal 18 C. ii and Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Laud Misc. 739, both of which are West Midlands manuscripts.
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