Archbishop Wulfstan, his manuscripts, and the texts within: A study of codicologically independent booklets in eleventh-century episcopal manuscripts

Holmes, Samuel (2022) Archbishop Wulfstan, his manuscripts, and the texts within: A study of codicologically independent booklets in eleventh-century episcopal manuscripts. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis is a codicological study of three manuscripts assembled by scribes working with Archbishop Wulfstan of York (d. 1023). Previous scholarship has shown that each manuscript was created out of a series of codicologically independent units, which are referred to in this study as booklets. However, the implications of Wulfstan’s use of this method of manuscript construction have never been fully explored. As this thesis demonstrates, Wulfstan used booklets to great effect to create thematic groupings of texts by himself and other authors which he assembled into manuscripts or used as individual unbound compilations.

All three manuscripts are, to varying degrees, considered copies of Wulfstan’s Commonplace Book, an episcopal miscellany containing a mix of administrative, legal, homiletic, and regulatory texts used by Archbishop Wulfstan in the execution of his archiepiscopal duties.

Chapter 1 examines Copenhagen, Kongelige Bibliotek G.K.S 1595 (4°), an assemblage of pre-existing and newly created booklets likely created as a gift for Bishop Gerbrand of Roskilde in 1022. The manuscript contains Latin texts arranged into thematic groupings using booklets, which would have been essential for a reformist bishop. The texts covered many of the themes shown to be important to Wulfstan through his own work and suggests the manuscripts was an ideological collection as well as a functional one. London, British Library, Cotton Vespasian A. xiv, ff. 114-179, which is the subject of chapter 2, is a source compilation of primarily epistolary material personally used by Wulfstan. The manuscript was augmented more than once with additional booklets as Wulfstan expanded his source collection and demonstrates how booklets could be used to create fluid compositions that contradict modern perceptions of the book as a discrete and unchanging object.

Chapters 3 and 4 both examine London, British Library. Cotton Nero A. i., ff. 70-177. The third chapter demonstrates how the manuscript was likely never used by Wulfstan as a single compilation but instead as unbound booklets. The fourth chapter then examines its three Old English booklets to show how Wulfstan compiled vernacular texts into concise ideological pamphlets containing a mix of homiletic, political, and legal material aimed at different areas of late Anglo-Saxon society.

The conclusion of this thesis draws together the themes of the various chapters to propose other avenues for future research relating to modern editing practices of Wulfstan’s texts, the prevalence of booklets in other episcopal manuscripts, the presence of trained scribes operating in Wulfstan’s administrative entourage, and the implications booklets have for the problematic Commonplace Book theory attached to so many Wulfstanian manuscripts.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2023 13:18
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2023 01:38


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