[Image: Herebert page]

Manuscript Studies
Medieval and Early Modern

IV.viii. Paleography Sample: William Herebert, OFM

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[Image: Herebert page]William Herebert, OFM (d. ca. 1333)
London, British Library, MS Addit. 46919, f. 205r.
Herebert was a friar, a member of the Hereford Franciscan convent, who spent a significant period of time in Oxford, where he was, for several years, a lecturer in the schools of the Oxford Franciscans. His manuscript, now British Library MS Addit. 46919, is a miscellany in Latin, French and English, of materials which might be useful for an itinerant preacher, from theological works and sermon aids to recipes gastronomic and medicinal, including a remedy for a lame horse. The manuscript also includes six Latin sermons and 21 English poems (mostly translations of Latin hymns, antiphons, and liturgical passages), which, according to a note on f. 205r (the page reproduced here), are Herebert's own translations, and are copied into the manuscript "in manu sua," in his own hand. This, then, is a sample of the hand of William Herebert, of Hereford and Oxford, in the early decades of the fourteenth century.

Herebert's hand is a clear and not inelegant cursive bookhand of the early fourteenth century, of a type very common in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century manuscripts produced in England, and for which M. B. Parkes coined the term "Anglicana" (English Cursive Book Hands, 1250-1500: the paleographical features of the hand are described on pp. xiv-xvi, and cf. Plates 1-3). The principal distinctive features of "Anglicana," as described by Parkes, are these: "two-compartment a, with a large upper lobe extending above the general level of the other letters; d with a looped ascender; f and long-s in which the stem descends below the line of writing, curves to the left at the foot, and is frequently followed by a connecting stroke rising to the head of the letter; '8'-shaped two-compartment g; long-tailed r; and a cursive version of short-s based upon the capital form" (xiv-xv). Each of these characteristics can be easily seen in the adjacent reproduction; note that, besides the "long-tailed r" (in the first line in "Erodes" and "whar"; l. 2: "art," "cristes"; cf. "sterre" at the end of l. 4), Herebert also frequently uses a 2-shaped r (l. 1: "dredinge"; l. 2: "sore"). Other observations could be made: for example, Herebert regularly dots his y, presumably to increase its distinction from, and to avoid confusion with, the thorn; on the other hand, t and c are scarcely distinct from one another, and easily confused; all of the letters are closely spaced, and opposing curves regularly bite into one another (note, for instance, the "oc" combination in "tocominge" at the end of l. 2); there are serif strokes at the top of k, l and h; the second stroke of h regularly continues below the line and curves back below the body of the letter; the w is consistently formed with two downward strokes (sometimes but not always inclined from the vertical) followed by a yogh shape; and so on. Herebert's scribal practice may be somewhat conservative, in that his hand does not reflect the single-stroke e which Parkes identifies as a "reform" introduced to the hand in the early fourteenth century (xv).

Herebert's orthographic practice reflects his dialect: the voicing of initial fricatives (a nearly consistent use of /v/ where Present-Day English would expect /f/: "vrom so verre" for "from so far"; "uordon" for "for-done"), the rounding of vowels ("sunne" for "sin," "lomb" for "lamb"), and the use of -inge (not -inde) for the present participle are all consistent with his origins in the West Midlands (see The Linguistic Atlas of Late Medieval English). Also note his occasional use of {h} for yogh (usually before {t}): "myhte" ("might").

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[ Course Notes: Introduction ] | [ I. Towards a definition of "manuscript studies" ] | [ I.ii. The four branches of bibliographical study ] | [ I.iii. Topics in the social history of texts ] | I.iii.a The "Rescue" of Medieval Manuscripts from Grocers and Fishmongers | [ II. Diplomatics ] | [ III. Codicology ] | [ III.ii. Decoration and Illumination ] | [ IV. Paleography ] | [ IV.ii. Historical Notes ] | [ IV.iii. Writing Implements ] | [ IV.iv. Letter Formation ] | [ IV.v. Special Characters in English Manuscripts ] | [ IV.vi. Scribal Abbreviations ] | [ IV.vii. Punctuation ] | [ IV.viii. Paleographical sample: William Herebert, OFM (early fourteenth-century England) ] | [ Herebert sample, with transcription ] | [ Herebert sample: enlargement of full page reproduced at high resolution ] | [ V. Textual analysis (James E. Thorpe) ] | [ V.ii. Scribal error ] | [ V.iii. Kinds of edition ] | [ V.iv. Examples of over emendation on insufficient grounds ] | [ VI. Linguistic competence (an example): An Outline History of the English Language ] | [ VII. Libraries and archives: ] | [ VII.ii. British Library Manuscript Collections ] | [ VII.iii. Bodleian Library Manuscript Collections ]

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© 1998, 2015 Stephen R. Reimer
English; University of Alberta; Edmonton, Canada
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Created: 2 Dec. 1998; Last revised: 30 May 2015

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