Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Ralph de Coggeshall in Arundel Manuscript Collection

Rare unpublished book to be reaccessioned to Society’s Library.

A book once owned by P G Laver and kept on shelf 13C of the Society’s former Library at Hollytrees is set to be returned to its rightful place after more than a decade.  Titled ‘Catalogue of the Arundel Manuscripts in the Library of the College of Arms’ and dated 1829, the work was never published and it is understood only 35 copies were ever produced.

The book is of Essex interest because it was owned by a Colcestrian and lead member of the then Essex Archaeological Society, Philip Laver, and must have been a purchase for his own personal Library.  The book probably came to the Society after Laver’s death in 1941.  The copy is inscribed “From Mr Young”, probably C.G.Y. who wrote the Preface. Three pages are devoted to Ralph de Coggeshall. 

So prior to re-accession to the Library of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History at the University of Essex we produce a transcript of the most relevant pages.

Page 17 & 18

This is a parchment MS. of the XIIIth century.  Small folio. In it are contained –

1    Cronicon Terrae Sanctae, et de captis a Saladino Hierosolymis, auctore Radulpho Abbate de Coggeshale in Com. Essex. ordinis Cistertiensis. Inc. “Quantis pressuris.” f.1.  In fine habetur “Epistola Sahaladini ad Fredericum imperatorem,” etc.

2    Tractatulos “De Ducibus normannie et Regibus anglie.” Inc. “Primus normannie dux.” f15.

3    Chronicon Magistri Radulphi Nigri, cum additamentis Radulphi Coggeshalenis Abbatis. Praefatio sic inc. “Et si succensere sibi.” f17.

Towards the end, the author giving vent to his own feelings, breaks out into a most bitter invective against Henry the Second, by whom he had been banished, together with his master and friend, Archbishop Becket.  The Abbot of Coggeshall, before he proceeds in continuation of the Chronicle from 1102 to 1168, partly excuses, and partly refutes the excesses of this author.

4    Chronicon breve Radulphi Abb. Cog. quod inc. “Anno gracie millesimo centesimo xiiij Rex Henricus senior.” f40

It extends to the year 1158. Then begin,

5    Some tales about the Emperor Justinian. f44

6    Chronicon succinctum, sive Epitome alterius quod sequitur, codem auctore. Inc. “M. lxv. Bentus Edwardus Rex anglorum obdormivit in domino.”

It goes on to 1225.  Then immediately, without any title, f51 begins,

7    Radulphi Abb. Coggeshalenis Chronicon majus: quod a Conquestu Angliae per Willielmum Norm. ducem, inchoatum. It terminates abruptly in the year 1223, with these words, “elegit ut terram relinqueret et transma … .”

Many circumstances render to more than probable that this MS. is a duplicate autograph copy of the author, with the Cottonian, Vespas. D.x.  On a collation of these MSS together with the Royal MS 13 A xii (in which are Rad. Niger’s and Rad. Coggeshale’s greater chronicle,) the variations were found to be considerable. This first tract in the present volume is not known to exist elsewhere.
The last and largest work of the Abbot of Coggeshale is full of curiosities, and contains many narrations taken from the mouths of eye-witnesses, whose names are given. (See MS XXIV.) It begins with these words: “Anno ab incarnatione domini, Mo. Lxvio.”

8    On the last leaf, besides a note of the voyage of Edw. III in 1337, and a short French note on the London weights and monies, is a very curious Latin poem on the GAME OF CHESS, of twenty-eight lines, written in the thirteenth century, which begins,
“Hic fit formosa sine sanguine pugna jocose.”
Which was printed by Hyde, Hist Shahiludii, Pt I p181, 8vo, Oxon. 1694, from a copy in the Library of Daventer, in Holland. A third is in MS. Bodl. No. 487.
Besides Lord Howard, this MS has found a diligent scrutinizer in Bishop Tanner. A short account of its contents are described on a paper within the cover.

Page 34

A small volume, neatly written in the middle of the XIIIth century, on 76 leaves of parchment.

3    “De quodam puero et puella de terra emergentibus”.

Extracted from Ralph Coggeshale’s Chronicle, (see MS XI f83, whence this title has been taken,) who had learned this very strange tale from Richard de Calne, dwelling “in Sudfolke apud S’cam Mariam de Wlpectes,” in the reign of Hen. II.

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