Provenance of CCCC MS 173

“HISTORIANS, paleographers, and archaeologists, will all agree that it is very important to determine the places in which ancient books were written or preserved.” – M. R. James (1899) [2, p.1]

“The earliest known reference to [The Parker Chronicle] after the dissolution of the monasteries is when it was already the property of Dr. Nicholas Wotton…, whence it came to be known to Parker and his circle, especially Joscelyn, who compiled a list of sources for the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, whilst the book was still in Wotton’s possession.” – N. A. Sparks (2014) [1, p.110-111]

M. R. James was the first to conduct an investigation into the provenance for the Parker MSS, including the Parker Chronicle. Parkes [6] claims MS 173 was brought to Canterbury around 1005 when Bishop Ælfheah was translated to there from Winchester. However, I don’t believe there is any evidence for this. I think this is based on rationalizations on how it may have gotten from Winchester to Canterbury. Another idea comes from Prof. Earle, who suggested monks from Canterbury took it from Winchester to restock their own library in Canterbury after a fire in 1067 [7].

CCCC MS 173 is supposedly listed in a 14th-century Christ Church catalog according to James (1899) [2]. He also says that it can be considered a Christ Church book based on the strength of internal evidence. What is the internal evidence? Parkes (1976) [6] says that this catalog lists it as ‘cronica uetustissima anglice’ and notes the issues that accompany such a brief mention. The catalog doesn’t mention the Sedulius text or the laws booklet, and it doesn’t appear to mention them elsewhere in the catalog either.

“I have not argued for the ownership or provenance of this manuscript, merely for its origin. The reason for this is that I am unable to find sufficient evidence for ownership in the tenth century.” – M. B. Parkes (1976, p.170)

Wright (1958, p.219) tells us that Parker received a good number of MSS through Dean Nicholas Wotton (c.1497-1567), including CCCC MS. 173.

“Through what sources or from whom did the Archbishop obtain the MSS. for his collection? On this we have unfortunately much less information than we would wish.” – Wright (1958, p.220)

Here is the part from James (1899) that shows the information about MS. 173:

Edwards is Edward Edward’s Memoirs of Libraries, London, 2 vols, 1859.

There is confusion as to how it arrived in Canterbury. Prof. Earle suggested monks from Canterbury took it from Winchester to restock their own library in Canterbury after a fire in 1067. Another person argues that possibly “AElfheah, bishop of Winchester, may have brought it with him when he became archbishop in 1006.” It is commonly believed to have traveled from Winchester to Canterbury. [p.396]

Timeline of MS 173’s provenance:

16th century – Nicholas Wotton possesses the manuscript. When exactly is it gifted to Parker?

1575 – Parker bequeaths MS 173 to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

1593 – John Parker, Matthew Parker’s son, brings MS 173 to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

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[1] – Sparks, Nicholas A. “Finding Matthew Parker in Manuscripts of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 108, no. 1, 2014, pp. 107–111. Accessed 11 June 2020.

[2] –

[6] – PARKES, M. B. “The Palaeography of the Parker Manuscript of the ‘Chronicle’, Laws and Sedulius, and Historiography at Winchester in the Late Ninth and Tenth Centuries.” Anglo-Saxon England, vol. 5, 1976, pp. 149–171. JSTOR, Accessed 11 June 2020.

[7] –

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