London, British Library, Royal 20 B VIII

[Part 1]

» Full parent manuscript detail

General information

Folio notes:Two folios have been added at the front from a 14th-c. missal and one at the back from a contemporary breviary. Folio 89, which is displaced, should follow f. 87. The text ends f. 108ra. Micha 1963, 57 notes that this probably indicates that the exemplar was incomplete.
LanguageLanguage object (47)
Approx. datec. 1250 to 1300
Date notesThe BL Catalogue of Illuminated MSS has 2nd quarter of the 13th c. The Lancelot-Graal project suggests second half of the 13th c. Arthurian Fiction dates the MS c. 1275 to 1300. The text is copied above top line, which supports a date in the second quarter of the 13th c. or earlier. The writing,, a cursiva antiquior with insular traits (long-stem 'r', looped 'd', tall 'a'), may point towards a slightly later date (straight and round 's' in final position, two-compartment 'a' with open upper compartment and double-lobe 'a', looped l's).
Place(s) of productionEngland
The Lancelot-Graal project suggests England without great certainty. The BL Catalogue of Illuminated MSS suggests England or France, and points towards Western linguistic features, perhaps Anglo-Norman (particularly in ff. 62-78). Together with the script (cf. above) may provide additional evidence for insular provenance. Middleton 2003, 223 states that the manuscript was probably produced in France, but was brought to England probably soon after. The corrections are in an insular hand (e.g. f. 60r), their linguistic colouring is Anglo-Norman (e.g. f. 5 'ceo').
First words of second recto folio[f. 4ra] si a tant dengoisse q(ui)l sest .iii. foiz pasmez /
First words of last recto folio[f. 108ra] a en lui bon ch(eualie)r (et) beles proeces li on ia ueu /
Incipit[f. 3ra] O R dit li cuntes que qua(n)t ag(ra)ueins fu partiz / de ses (com)pain(on)s ausi cu(m) v(ous) auez oi Quil erra .ii. / ans enters (et) plus sanz aue(n)ture truuer q(ui) face / a amie(n)tener en uile (et) en tuz lex v il ueneit . /
Explicit[f. 108va] (et) plus quil  ne (con)troit ho(m). / ne fame .  a qui il ne se preist . si fist amai(n) / tes ieirz ennui si fu merueilles q(ue) il ne fu ocis / aucune foiz . mes atant lesse li (con)tes apar / ler de lui (et) re torne auroi arturs (et) acex / que o lui estoient . //


Material:Material object (4)
Condition:Folios are discoloured and worn. Medium to lower grade vellum with many substantial irregularities (ff. 23, 24, 26) Irregularities in the writing space (e.g. f. 50). The edge of the skin coincides with the edge of the folio, holes and stitches disturb the written area. After restoration, the folios have been attached separately to the modern binding.



1-28 (ff. 3-18) 39 (ff. 19-27) 4-58 (ff. 28-43) 69 (ff. 52-60) 8-108 (ff. 61-84) 115 (ff. 85-89) 127 (ff. 90-96) 138 (ff. 97-104) 144 (ff. 105-108)

Quire structure:Most of the gatherings are quaternions. Irregular quires of five (quire 11), seven (quire 12, the first folio is wanting) and nine (quires 3 and 9) folios. The MS ends with a bifolium. One half folio: f. 89.
Quire marks:MSQuiremarkDisposition object (81)
Catchword disposition:MSCatchwordDisposition object (10)

Physical description

General illustration:Not illustrated.
General decoration:Large subdivisions are marked by large puzzle initials (height: 4 lines), in red and green with flourishings in red ink. Further subdivisions indicated with smaller initials (height: 2 lines), in red and green, some with flourishings in the other colour. Guide letters in the margins.
Evidence of readership:Crosses in the margin.
Foliations description:Modern foliation in arabic numerals in the upper right corner of the recto.

Mise en page

Description 1Line holes in the outer and inner margins (folio ruling).
Page sampledf. 76r
LayoutMSLayout object (3)
Page dimensions260x180 (mm)
Justification203x152 (mm)
12mm between columns
Column ruling present in Colours object (6)
Line ruling present in Colours object (6)
Writing above top line?True
Sample page layout:


Level of Execution:Execution object (4)
ScriptScript object (15)
Folio rangeFrom f. 3ra to f. 108vb
Datec. 1250 to 1300
Scribe description:The hand in ff. 62ra to 78ra is a cursiva antiquior (Anglicana) with two-compartment 'a' with closed upper compartment as well as tall, double-lobe 'a', 'b', 'h', 'l' with looped ascenders, looped 'd', 'f' and straight 's' descend below the baseline, 'g' with exceptionally large lower lobe, diacritic on 'i' in minim group, long-stem 'r', sometimes straight 's' in final position, but mostly round (trailing) 's', vertical stroke of 't' does not extend above the headstroke, 3-like 'z'. Ligatures: 'st'. Fusion of 'de' Abbreviations include nasal bar, apostrophe, superscript vowels. Noted in the lower margin of f. 77r this hand notes 'adiutorium meum a d(omi)no'. This hand may also be the corrector, since there are no interventions in this section of the text. Other hands in ff. 3r-59v, f. 60r, ff. 78ra-108v.
NotesMany interlinear corrections. Corrections in the margin by a contemporary, English hand.


DescriptionMentioned in 1666 in the catalogue of the Old Royal Library (f. 11v) (BL, Catalogue of Illuminated MSS).
PlacePlace object (8)
OwnershipPerson object (121)