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New York » Public Library » MS De Ricci 115

Library Place New York
Library Name Public Library
Shelfmark MS De Ricci 115
Folio Range Whole MS (152 fols)
Date IX 3/3
  • Brittany
  • Landévennec

South-Western England (Winchester?)

  • Jerome, Letter to Pope Damasus (1r-2v)
  • Eusebius, Letter to Carpianus (2v-3v)
  • Preface to the four Gospels (3v-4v)
  • Preface and capitula to Matthew's Gospel (4v-6v)
  • Canon tables (7r-12v)
  • Image of Christ surrounded by the symbols of the four Evangelists (13v)
  • Matthew's Gospel (14r-49v)
  • Mark's Gospel, preceded by preface and capitula (50r-71v)
  • Luke's Gospel, preceded by preface and capitula (72r-113v)
  • John's Gospel, preceded by preface and capitula (114r-143v)
  • Capitulare evangeliorum (144r-151v).
Old Breton Materials No
Irish / Hiberno-Latin materials Yes
Connection with Brittany

This is the famous and important MS also known as 'Harkness Gospels' (from the name of the collector who donated it to the New York Public Library in 1928) or 'Landévennec Gospels'. It is probably one of the most intensively studied Breton manuscripts, the most detailed available analysis being still Morey, Rand and Kraeling 1931. That this Gospel-book was written at Landévennec is proven by three entries referring to Saint Winwaloe (3 March, 28 April, 13 May) in the Capitulare evangeliorum at fols 144r–151v (cf. Morey, Rand and Kraeling 1931: 41–64; it should also be noted that Saint Samson of Dol—another major Breton saint—is mentioned at July 28). Moreover, the presence of a rich iconographic repertoire (especially the horse-headed representations of Saint Mark at fols 13v and 51v) has provided a benchmark against which other MSS could be evaluated, leading to the formation of the concept of a 'Landévennec group' of Gospel-books (cf. e.g. Crozet 1958: 184; Alexander 1985: 271; Lemoine 1994b), which includes, in addition to the present codex, the following MSS: Bern, Burgerbibliothek, MS 85; Boulogne-sur-Mer, BM, MS 8; London, BL, Egerton 609; Oxford, Bodleian Library, Auct. D.2.16; Troyes, BM, MS 960.

Like many other Breton MSS—especially Gospel-books—the 'Harkness Gospels' may have reached England at an early stage, probably already during the tenth century (Huglo 1985: 246; ILLB Q229, p. 216–17). The script and the iconography present the mixture of insular and Carolingian features which is so typical of the manuscript production of Early Medieval Brittany (a feature which has been 'politicised', perhaps excessively, in Alexander 1985: 271, where the author describes the iconography of the 'Landévennec group' as a form of 'résistance culturelle consciente aux modes franques et aux prétentions franques de domination culturelle'; for a list of abbreviations—many of them insular—used in this MS, see Morey, Rand and Kraeling 1931: 12–14). A similar mixture also characterises the text and the liturgical practices for which this MS is a witness, with some features pointing to Britain and Ireland, and others pointing to Tours (cf. esp. Morey, Rand and Kraeling 1931: 16–35; Huglo 1985: 247; according to Chalker 1937: 209–10, the scribes may have been using an 'Alcuinic' as well as a 'Celtic' version of the Gospels, with the latter being used as 'the second-choice, "filler" text, since it was used less than the other (Alcuinic) type'). In particular, one of the closest cognates of the Harkness Gospels as to their text, but also in relation to palaeographical and iconographical aspects, may be Oxford, Bodleian Library, Auct. D.2.16 (cf. Chalker 1937: 210–14; at p. 214 Chalker points out that these two MSS may descend 'from a common prototype'). Moreover, Lemoine (2004: 157–64) has drawn attention to specific similarities with the Bodmin Gospels (London, BL, Add. 9381), but only as far as the incipits, explicits, prefaces, capitula and iconography are concerned. Finally, this MS is also notable for the presence of Breton neumes written above Christ's cry from the cross (Heli. heli. læma zabdani hoc est deus meus. deus meus ut quid me dereliquisti) at fols 48r-v (Huglo 1985: 248–9, with facsimile at p. 252); however, since these neumes are additions, they cannot be dated precisely (Rankin 2018: 99; cf. also the interesting comments in Rankin 2012: 489, 'a later addition [in the Harkness Gospels] shows the writing of Breton neumes associated with an Insular text-hand of the mid or later tenth century: whether or not the book itself was ever in England, the neumes can be linked with a scribe trained in England').

Number(s) in Bischoff's Katalog 3625
Essential bibliography

Alexander 1985: 271–3; ASM 623–4 (§866.5); Besseyre 2008: 12, 16–7; Chalker 1937; Crozet 1958: 184; Deuffic 1985a: 266–8; Deuffic 1985c: 25, 26, 29; Deuffic 2008: 112; Deuffic 2011: 65; EBGB 10, 14; Guillotel 1985: passim; Hartzell 1981; Huglo 1985; ILLB Q229 (pp. 216–18); Kerlouégan 1982b: 317; Kitzinger 2013b: 37–8; L&S §962; Lebecq 2020: 94; Lemoine 1994b; Lemoine 2004: 155, 157–64; Lemoine 2005: 16–21; Lemoine 2008: 187, 192, 194–5, 198; McGurk 1987: 165 (n. 2), 189 (n. 54); Morey 1929; Morey, Rand and Kraeling 1931 (also containing numerous plates from this MS); OHLP 257; PMSB 303 (§53); Rankin 2012: 489; Rankin 2018: 99, 101, 150; Simon 1986: 127; Smith 1992: 169–70, 175 (n. 120); Wikipedia.

URLs for digital facsimile
Last Updated 2021-06-12 09:34:02
Author Jacopo Bisagni
DHBM Identifier #93
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