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Current Issue Article Abstracts

Fall 2017 Vol. 2.2

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Statim Prosequi: An Index as a Product, Instrument, and Medium of the Medieval Franciscan Inquisition in Tuscany

Geoffrey W. Clement 

Codex Casanatensis Ms. 1730 is a compendious work containing a wide assortment of texts related to the medieval inquisition. This codex was conceived and executed as an unitary whole, and produced in the early fourteenth century for Franciscan inquisitors in Tuscany. While many texts in Casanatensis 1730 appear in other inquisitors’ codices, there are also texts that are unique to Ms. 1730. Among these is an index at the start (fol. 1-37) that not only covers Casanatensis 1730 in its entirety, but also contains features that render it especially utilitarian.

Through an exploration of these unique features in the index of Casanatensis 1730, it appears that in the index alone, an inquisitor had at hand an alphabetically-arranged mini-libellus that comprised thirty-seven folios of a work that ultimately contains 297 folios, and that set forth his duties, powers, procedures, possible penalties et al. The index was composed in a form that was not only a summary of authoritative lengthy legal texts in the codex, but one that was easily accessible, consultable, and portable.

Casanatensis 1730 was never intended to be read from beginning to end. It was an early inquisitorial legal reference work with encyclopedic contents, but those very same contents were reduced to index entries, which are brief summaries, to which inquisitors could quickly and easily refer. The index of Codex Casanatensis 1730 was the medium by which a complex body of legal texts was reduced to its essentials, and re-arranged into a form that could be accessed quickly and easily by anyone in need of such a handy reference guide; thereby expediting the inqusitorial process and better enabling an inquisitopr to “Statim prosequi…immediately prosecute”.


 A Tool for Exemplary Pastoral Care: Three Booklets of the Edwardes Manuscript in Context

Hannah Weaver

As the recent bloom of literary scholarship around manuscripts shows, the longstanding desire to correct and emend their lessons has ceded to an appreciation of what we can learn about medieval reading and writing practices from them. This paper addresses the question of genre through three apparently disparate manuscripts associated with the Augustinian canons at Oxford in the early thirteenth century. United by 1300 into a single codex that was later bound into the larger Edwardes manuscript, Gui de Warewic, La Chanson de Guillaume, and the Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle share a scribe, a lettrine artist, and a concern with acceptable Christian conduct that leads to the suggestion that the manuscript functioned as a reference codex of exemplary history. While a baronial household could have used such a manuscript, library evidence points to the possibility of Augustinian ownership of the completed codex. In addition, the Oxford houses of regular canons, Oseney Abbey and St. Frideswide’s Priory, were unusually involved in the care of their dependent churches; additional testimony from a fourth contemporary, related manuscript, Brother Angier’s Dialogues, reveals the importance of caring for sinners. Though at first glance Gui de Warewic, La Chanson de Guillaume, and the Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle seem firmly rooted in the secular, lay sphere, putting their codex in context hints at an unexpected destination: as a tool for Augustinian pastoral care. 

Conversational Lollardy: Reading the Margins of MS Bodley 978

Elizabeth Schirmer 

Considers an unusual set of “key-object” annotations, pictorial as well as verbal, that appear in the margins of the Middle English gospel harmony Oon of Foure in Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 978. Argues that the margins of Bodley 978 record a variety of conversations shaped by lollardy. After briefly locating the Bodley manuscript in relation to the larger Oon of Foure tradition, the article proceeds by tracing a set of often-repeated annotative objects across the Bodley margins—key, sword, cross, lantern, heart. Taking these messy and amateurish finding aids seriously as intellectual work, it finds the primary Bodley annotator(s) developing a nuanced response to lollard hermeneutics and ecclesiology. Rather than defending scriptural translation or asserting scriptural authority, the Bodley key-object annotator(s) explore the nature of scriptural signs and track shifting modes of divine communication across the gospel narrative. And rather than directly attack the abuses of the clergy, they explore the nature of works and the uses of power—clerical and lay, human and divine—as they evolve across the unfolding arc of salvation history. Other hands respond variously to this annotative project, sometimes developing and other times critiquing the readings developed by main hand(s)’ key-objects. Lollardy itself emerges from this study, les as a coherent set of doctrines identified by a “sect vocabulary,” and more as a scripturally-grounded language for thinking with, a set of discursive and conceptual resources for entering into conversation on reformist topics in the vernacular. 

“My Written Books of Surgery in the Englishe Tonge”: The London Company of Barber-Surgeons and the Lylye of Medicynes

Erin Connelly 

The Middle English Lylye of Medicynes is an early fifteenth-century translation of Bernard of Gordon’s Latin Lilium medicinae (completed in 1305). The Lylye is contained in Oxford Bodleian Library MS. Ashmole 1505 as a sole text. Although there are many extant witnesses in Latin, there are no other known Middle English copies. The Lylye contains thousands of medicinal ingredients, including 360 individual recipes identified with Rx, with accompanying guidelines for diagnosis and prognosis. Although the text does contain some medical theory and etiology (based on thought from Arabic medicine, specifically Ibn Sīnā, and Antiquity, predominantly Galen and Hippocrates), its main feature is the large volume of medicinal recipes. It is thought to have been commissioned by Robert Broke, ‘master of the king’s stillatories,’ in the early fifteenth century during the reign of Henry VI. This article explores the later provenance of the Lylye amongst the Gale family of barber-surgeons in sixteenth-century London.


 The Two Yoḥannәses of Santo Stefano degli Abissini, Rome: Reconstructing Biography and Cross-Cultural Encounter Through Manuscript Evidence

Samantha Kelly and Denis Nosnitsin


The Ethiopian Orthodox monastery of Santo Stefano degli Abissini in Rome was one of four diasporic Ethiopian communities around the Mediterranean and played a central role in disseminating knowledge about Ethiopian language, culture, and religion in sixteenth-century Europe. Yet apart from its most famous member, Täsfa Ṣǝyon, very little is known about the identities and careers of its monks. This article draws on the surviving Geez manuscripts of Santo Stefano’s own library, as well as European correspondence and archival documents, to reconstruct the biographies of two influential denizens of Santo Stefano. Hitherto believed to be a single person, Yoḥannǝs of Qänṭorare and Giovanni Battista “the Indian” (whom we identify instead as Yoḥannǝs of Cyprus) in fact followed quite different career trajectories, and illustrate the variety of ways in which Ethiopian Orthodox identity could be negotiated in a Catholic European setting.


Textual Contents of Pāli Samut Khois: In Connection with the Buddha’s Abhidhamma Teaching in Tāvatiṃsa Heaven

Toshiya Unebe

This article provides an overview of the collections of Thai manuscripts in Japan, especially the Royal Manuscripts presented to the Kakuozan Nittaiji temple and other palm-leaf collections kept at Japanese universities and libraries. It also briefly discusses collec­tions of samut khoi (illustrated folding paper manuscripts) of the Phra Malai dating from the nineteenth to the early twentieth century preserved in museums and libraries in Japan.

 The Western Manuscript Collection of Alfred Chester Beatty (ca. 1915–1930)

Laura Cleaver

This article demonstrates the importance of the Chester Beatty Library's collection of Thai manuscripts and more broadly highlights the importance of including the study of Ireland in the history of the study of Asia. I hope it also encourages future scholars to look to Ireland when writing the intellectual history of exchange between Asia and Europe. Even though Ireland was not a colonizing power, indeed, it was colonized for most of its pre-modern history, its libraries and museums attest to a people that spread far and wide across the globe sometimes as a point of necessity and sometimes in the spirit of exploration.


The St. Chad Gospels: Diachronic Manuscript Registration and Visualization

Stephen Parsons, C. Seth Parker, W. Brent Seales

This paper presents a software framework for the registration and visualization of layered image sets. To demonstrate the utility of these tools, we apply them to the St. Chad Gospels manuscript, relying on images of each page of the document as it appeared over time. An automated pipeline is used to perform non-rigid registration on each series of images. To visualize the differences between copies of the same page, a registered image viewer is constructed that enables direct comparisons of registered images. The registration pipeline and viewer for the resulting aligned images are generalized for use with other data sets.