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London » British Library » MS Royal 5.E.XIII

Library Place London
Library Name British Library
Shelfmark MS Royal 5.E.XIII
Folio Range Whole MS (100 fols)
Date X med.
  • Brittany (?)
  • Northern Francia (?)


  • Canon in Ebreica (1r-9r)
  • De reddendis decimis et primitiuis quae dominus precipit (9r-15v)
  • Cyprian, Ad Quirinum testimonia (Testimoniale sancti Cipriani episcopi) (16r-51v)
  • Excerpts from the Collectio Canonum Hibernensis (52r-68v)
  • Penitential of Pseudo-Bede-Egbert (De remedis peccatorum) (69r-79r)
  • Canonical and penitential fragments (79r-v)
  • Fragment of the Latin version of the Book of Enoch (79v-80r)
  • De uindictis magnis magnorum peccatorum (80r-81v)
  • Incomplete copy of the Gospel of Nicodemus (82r-100r)
Old Breton Materials Yes
Irish / Hiberno-Latin materials Yes
Connection with Brittany

This MS probably reached England at an early stage, as shown by the presence of entries in a tenth- or eleventh-century English hand (e.g. at fol. 80v, although note the doubts expressed in Elliot 2013: 106 as to when this MS was brought to England). The dating adopted here is the one indicated in ASM 378 (Bischoff, Kat. §2493 opted instead for 'IX. Jh., Ende'; cf. also Bischoff 1976: 159, n. 126; Meens (2014: 232) adopts an even earlier dating 's. IX med.'). This MS contains three glosses in Old Breton (fols 2v, 38r, 63r), so that production in a Breton scriptorium must at least be envisaged as a possibility, although Bischoff (Kat. §2493) only said what follows in relation to its place of writing: 'Frankreich (Kanalküste?, unter bretonischem Einfluß).' An origin in 'N[orthern] France or Brittany' is suggested also in ASM 378.

The abbreviation system does indeed point to a Breton origin (consider, e.g., the instances of the distinctive abbreviation ɔc for contra, for example at fols 69r; cf. Lemoine 2008: 190–1; note also the occurrence of the invocation In nomine Dei summi at fol. 16r, for which cf. Lemoine 2008: 196). A possible Breton origin for this MS (or perhaps for its exemplar) is supported also by the range of texts contained therein, especially in view of the remarkable interest of the Early Medieval Breton literati for penitential literature and the Collectio Canonum Hibernensis. It is also worth noting that, in addition to containing the Latin version of several apocryphal texts, this MS also preserves a copy of a rare work of probable Irish origin: the Canon in Ebreica, surviving only in the London codex in question and in Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, Aug. 254 (possibly written in Northern Italy and later preserved at Reichenau; s. VIII ex. / IX in.) (cf. Ambrose 2013: 11–14; Bischoff, Kat. §1735). The text titled De uindictis magnis magnorum peccatorum too exhibits prominent Hiberno-Latin features and appears to have survived in this codex only (cf. Ambrose 2011: 45–7). Note, in conclusion, the following comments by Dumville (2005: 58, with additional bibliography in n. 50), according to whom this MS, which may have had a 'German parent', 'contains alongside Old-Breton notes a non-Latin gloss (ersceg to in fundiculum) whose very language has so far defied identification' (although it now seems that it may be Old English, as has been suggested in Elliot 2013: 106).

Number(s) in Bischoff's Katalog 2493
Essential bibliography

Ambrose 2011; Ambrose 2013; ASM 378–9 (§459); British Library Digitised Manuscripts; CLH 214–15 (§183), 772 (§611); Dumville 1973: 331 and n. 204; Dumville 1994: 87–91, ; Dumville 2005: 58; Elliot 2013: 105–6; Fleuriot and Evans 1985; Frantzen 1983: 579; Lambert 2018: 40; Lemoine 2008: 190–1, 196; Meens 2014: 232 (erroneously listed as 'Royal 5 E. XII'); OHLP 257; Petitmengin 1993; Schrijver 2011: 10; Simpson (McKee) 1999: 288; Stevenson 1999: 348, n. 117.

URLs for digital facsimile
Last Updated 2021-05-11 15:13:48
Author Jacopo Bisagni
DHBM Identifier #78
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