BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPTS
Beinecke MS 281 England, ca. 1470
John Lydgate, Life of Our Lady
1. ff. 1r-4r This Boke was compiled by John Lydgate Monke of Bury at the
excitacion and steringe of the Worshipfulle Prince Kynge henre the fyfthe. In
the honoure glorie and Worship of the birthe of the moste glorious mayde Wyffe
and moder of Oure lorde Ihesu Criste. chapitred and marked after this table.
Furste a Prologe of the natiuite of our lady. Capitulo primo...How
candelmasse daie toke furste the name. Capitulo iiij.^^xx viij.
2. ff. 4r-114v Here begynnith the Prologe of the Natiuite of oure
ladye. O Thoughtfull herte planted in distresse/ W^^t slombre of slouthe this
long Wyntris night/...Benigne ladie anone to be gynne. Here endithe the
Prologe of the Natiuite of oure ladye. And here begynnethe the Natiuite Of
oure ladie. Capitulo primo. [f. 6r:] A ffloure of vertue fulle longe kepte
in close/ fful many a yere. With holsumme leves sote/...To thi servauntes
shelde and socoure be/ To kepe and save from alle aduersite. Amen.
Beinecke MS 281 was not used by J. A. Lauritis, ed., who published the text
in 1961 (Duquesne Studies, Philological series 2 [Pittsburgh, 1961]; see
3. Back flyleaf Unidentified recipe for an odoriferous substance, in
Latin, on recto; verso blank.
Parchment (thick, furry), ff. ii (modern parchment) + i (original parchment
flyleaf) + 114 (both modern foliation and pagination) + i (original parchment
flyleaf) + ii (modern parchment), 309 x 197
(196 x 118) mm. Written in 28 lines of verse; single vertical and double
horizontal bounding lines, full length and full across; additional pair of
rulings in upper,
lower, and outer margins. Ruled in ink; prickings at top, bottom, and outer
edges of leaves (mostly trimmed).
I-XIV^^8, XV^^2. Catchwords, enclosed in scrolls, in lower margin above
additional horizontal lines.
Written by a single scribe in a more formal style of bastard Anglicana than
appears in Parkes, Cursive Book Hands, pl. 16 (i); delicately decorated
ascenders and descenders along upper and lower edges of written space.
On f. 5v a large coat of arms, Carent quartered with Toomer, in a green,
orange, and gold frame, against a dark green ground, perhaps a slightly later
addition; f. 6r, a small coat of arms, Carent, in the lower margin, against a
gold ground, surrounded by a phylactery wrapped around the bar border. Arms
supported by two seated dogs, in black pen, set in an oblong landscape, edged
heavily in black.
One 8-line (f. 6r), four 6-line (ff. 1r, 21r, 52r, 85v) and one 4-line
(f. 106r) initials, blue and red with white highlights, filled with large
flowers and acanthus leaves, orange, green, pink, blue, and light blue,
against irregular gold grounds, edged in black, with full (ff. 1r, 6r), 3/4
(ff. 52r, 85v) or single marginal (ff. 21r, 106r) borders. The full and 3/4
have gold, blue and red bands attached to initial, with curling and braided
sections sprouting curling acanthus at corners; often against gold cusps, with
spiraling black ink hair-spray vines with small green teardrop leaves, pink,
brown, green, and blue flowers, and gold dots with small pink and blue leaves.
2-line gold initials on irregular blue and red grounds with white highlights,
each with two sprigs of black hair-spray with green leaves and gold dots, as
above. 1-line blue and gold initials, with red or pink penwork. Rubrics
Binding: s. xix. Brown goatskin blind-tooled, with a gold-tooled title.
Bound by Francis Bedford (London, 1800-84), who worked with C. Lewis and set up
his own shop in 1841.
Written in Southern England ca. 1470 according to K. L. Scott. Arms of the
Carent family on f. 6r (argent, 3 roundels azure with 3 chevrons tenne,
supported by dogs); the Carent arms, quartered with the Toomer arms, appear
on f. 5v (quarterly, first and fourth argent, 3 roundels azure with 3 chevrons
tenne [Carent]; second and third argent, 3 bars wavy tenne [Toomer]; crest
a dog proper). The Carent arms are also found in Manchester, Rylands/University
MS Eng. 1 which J. J. G. Alexander ("William Abell 'Lymnour' and 15th-century
English Illumination," Kunsthistorische Forschungen. Otto Paecht zu seinem
70. Geburtstag [Strasbourg, 1973] p. 169, n. 35) believes belonged either
to William Carent (1395-1476), or to his brother John Carent (d. 1478), or to
William's son John Carent (1425-83). On the Carent family see also J. M. Manly
and E. Rickert, Text of the Canterbury Tales, vol. 1 (Chicago, 1940)
pp. 614-15. Unidentified note of the late 15th century: "thys boke yeryn/
to the quene our souereyne/ lady ffor to se the converssacyon/ off our moost
blessed lady off/ hevyn ffor to conffort/ and to passe tyme in/ redyng and
ovyr/ seying thys lyttll/ trety off hyr blessed", with the motto [?]
"aymer^^z et a tandyr", on verso of original front
flyleaf. Signature of Thomas Colley, f. i verso; his partially erased
inscription on final contemporary flyleaf. Beinecke MS 281 does not appear to
be either MS 85 or MS 257 (now Urbana-Champagne, University of Illinois 85)
from Mostyn Hall, which Lauritis was unable to locate for his
critical edition, since the physical description of MS 281 does not correspond
to those in the sale catalogue for Mostyn Hall (Sotheby's, 13 July 1920).
Belonged to Hannah D. Rabinowitz (bookplate). Purchased by Yale in 1960 from
C. A. Stonehill as the gift of Edwin J., Frederick W., and Walter Beinecke.
secundo folio: [table, f. 2] how the aungel
[text, f. 7] the aungel tolde
Bibliography: Faye and Bond, p. 49, no. 281.
A. I. Doyle, "English Books In and Out of Court from Edward III to Henry
VII", in English Court Culture in the Later Middle Ages,
ed. V. J. Scattergood and J. W. Sherborne (London, 1983) p. 174.
Barbara A. Shailor