Teachable Features 1: Binding Error, MS. Bodl. 565

Dr Mary Boyle describes a binding error in MS. Bodl. 565 (c. 1470).

I originally described this binding error (amongst other issues relating to the manuscript) in an article for the Bodleian Library Record (April 2015, pp. 22-36), and it is by kind permission of the editor, Dr Alan Coates, that I am able to outline the issue here for Teaching the Codex. Images of the manuscript are reproduced by permission of the Bodleian Library.

First, some brief context. MS. Bodl. 565 was written at Edington Priory around 1470. It contains the pilgrimages of an elderly monk, one Master William Wey, bursar of Eton and fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, who had retired to Edington around 1467. At Edington, Wey had a replica of the Holy Sepulchre constructed, and compiled the accounts of his travels. The texts in the manuscript are a combination of English and Latin, verse and prose, personal and impersonal, recollection and suggestion.

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MS. Bodl. 565. Photo Mary Boyle, courtesy Bodleian Libraries.

The Problem
The binding error occurs in the second quire, and affects a Middle English verse on the Holy Places and a set of Latin mnemonics. The mnemonics, which begin on fol. 14r, are interrupted by the final few lines of the Middle English verse, and so it’s immediately clear that fol. 16 is in the wrong place. You can see that this has caused various headaches for people attempting to foliate the manuscript:

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MS. Bodl. 565, fols. 15v-16r. Photo Mary Boyle, courtesy Bodleian Libraries.

But fol. 16 is half of a bifolium – so if fol. 16 is in the wrong place, then something else must be too! When I was trying to find the culprit, I found it helpful to make myself a model quire from scrap paper, and mark it up with the manuscript’s foliation. The other half of the bifolium is currently masquerading as fol. 11!

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MS. Bodl. 565, fols. 10v-11r. Photo Mary Boyle, courtesy Bodleian Libraries.
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MS. Bodl. 565, fols. 11v-12r. Photo Mary Boyle, courtesy Bodleian Libraries.

The original central bifolium (i.e. fol. 11 and fol. 16) has been bound as the outside bifolium. Fols. 13 and 14 thus become the central bifolium (interrupting the verse):

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MS. Bodl. 565, fols. 13v-14r. Photo Mary Boyle, courtesy Bodleian Libraries.

It might be easier to visualise with this diagram, showing you the originally-intended layout of the quire, but with the current folio numbering (a similar diagram appears in the BLR article):

Quire diagram

Further Information
If you’re interested in finding out more about MS. Bodl. 565, its contents have been published twice (most recently in translation):

Bulkeley Bandinel, The Itineraries of William Wey (London, 1857)
Francis Davey, ed., The Itineraries of William Wey (Oxford, 2010)

The verse does not appear in the correct order in either edition.

If you’re interested in reading in more detail about the palaeographical and codicological issues raised by the manuscript, you can read my article listed above.

If you’re interested in learning more about William Wey himself, there is an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. I also strongly recommend that you have a look at Professor Anthony Bale’s blog.

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