14 (ff. 1-4)

Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Ott. lat. 1474

unit 1, ff. 1-4
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  • Latin
  • Cornish language
  • Brittonic language
  • s. xii3/3 / s. xiiiin
  • distinct manuscript
  • Continental manuscripts
  • parchment

Manuscript booklet (4 ff) containing the only known copy of John of Cornwall’s Prophetia Merlini.

Provenance and related aspects
Latin Secondary: Cornish, Brittonic
s. xii3/3 / s. xiiiin
Beginning of the 13th century (Delisle); “perhaps as early as the last third of the twelfth century and probably not later than the first quarter of the thirteenth” (Curley); likewise, “sometime between 1166 and 1225” (Gilbert and Harris).
Hands, scribes
Hands indexed:

According to Curley (1982), the anonymous scribe writes in a hand which is transitional between Caroline and Gothic, retaining “use of both the ampersand et (sometimes as a verbal inflection) and the uncrossed tironian et (7), his correct use of the e-cedilla (Brentigiq, 108), the presence of open g and separated pp, and the total absence of fused de, do, bo, hoc”. Other features singled out include “the use of the gibbet form of the paragraph mark, the borrowing of the chancery practice of attaching an e to the ascender of the uncial d, the presence of both upright and uncial d and of final straight and round s, and the high frequency of school abbreviations”. The marginal and interlinear commentary is written in the same hand in smaller script. Errors in the spelling of Brittonic items suggest that the scribe “evidently knew no Cornish or Welsh”. Jane Gilbert and Sara Harris (2020) have remarked on the presentation of prophecy and commentary, saying that it “creates a mise-en-page reminiscent of glossed Latin manuscripts for the academic study of the Bible and the Liberal Arts”.

Codicological information
UnitCodicological unit. Indicates whether the entry describes a single leaf, a distinct or composite manuscript, etc.
distinct manuscript
16.6 cm × 12.2 cm
14 (ff. 1-4)
Palaeographical information
The list below has been collated from the table of contents, if available on this page,Progress in this area is being made piecemeal. Full and partial tables of contents are available for a small number of manuscripts. and incoming annotations for individual texts (again, if available).Whenever catalogue entries about texts are annotated with information about particular manuscript witnesses, these manuscripts can be queried for the texts that are linked to them.


See also the parent manuscript for further references.

Primary sources This section typically includes references to diplomatic editions, facsimiles and photographic reproductions, notably digital image archives, of at least a major portion of the manuscript. For editions of individual texts, see their separate entries.

Digitisation wanted.
[ed.] Curley, Michael J., “A new edition of John of Cornwall’s Prophetia Merlini”, Speculum 57 (1982): 217–249.
Incl. plate of f. 3r (p. 230, fig. 1).
[ed.] Fleuriot, Léon, “Les fragments du texte brittonique de la Prophetia Merlini”, Études Celtiques 14 (1974): 43–56.
Offers a new edition of Brittonic items, examines the nature of this vocabulary and concludes that it is written in a Brittonic language which is ancestral to both Cornish and Breton.
[ed.] Flobert, Pierre, “La Prophetia Merlini de Jean de Cornwall”, Études Celtiques 14:1 (1974, 1974–1975): 31–41.
Journal volume:  Persée – fasc. 1: <link> Persée – fasc. 2: <link>
Transcription of the prefatory letter.
[ed.] Greith, Carl Johann, Spicilegium Vaticanum: Beiträge zur nähern Kenntniss der Vatikanischen Bibliothek für deutsche Poesie des Mittelalters, Frauenfeld: C. Beyel, 1838.
Digitale-sammlungen.de: <link> Digitale-sammlungen.de: <link>
99–106 (transcription); 92–99 (discussion) An early, unsatisfactory edition, now superseded by Curley’s text.

Secondary sources (select)

Gilbert, Jane, and Sara Harris, “The written word: literacy across languages”, in: Da Rold, Orietta, and Elaine Treharne (eds), The Cambridge companion to medieval British manuscripts, Cambridge Companions to Literature, Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2020. 149–178.
163–165 Incl. plate of f. 2r.
Stokes, Whitley, “Mélanges: Cornica [1–3]”, Revue Celtique 3 (1876–1878): 85–86, 512.
Internet Archive: <link>
85–86 [‘Cornish in the Vatican’] “Cornish and Welsh” phrases in the commentary, whose text is taken from Greith’s edition (pp. 100-101, 103, 104-105), along with an analysis.
Delisle, Léopold, “Notice sur vingt manuscrits du Vatican”, Bibliothèque de l'École des chartes 37 (1876): 471–527.
Persée: <link>
547–549 Notes on the manuscript and its contents.
Dennis Groenewegen