Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, 421

Present Location


Medieval Provenance

General Information






A bipartite collection of homilies, mostly by Ælfric: Part I was written in the first half of the eleventh century; later additions, with which we are concerned here, were written at Exeter in the third quarter of the eleventh century. These later pages, pp. 3-96, 209-24, are closely related to the homiletic collections in Cleopatra B. xiii and Lambeth 489. Altogether, these contemporary texts were created for the pastoral work of Leofric, Bishop of Exeter, 1050-1072.

Digital Surrogate

Manuscript Items


  1. Itempp. 3-25


    • Title (B.1.1.24): Ælfric, First Series of Homilies [Catholic Homilies I]: Pentecost

      Incipit(p. 3) FRAM ÐAM HALGAN EASTERLICAN DÆGE | synd getealde fiftig daga to þysum | dæge.

      Text Language: English

  2. Itempp. 25-36


    • Title (B.1.2.44): Ælfric, Second Series of Homilies [Catholic Homilies II]: Apostle

      Incipit(p. 25) ÐES APOSTOLICA FREOLS DÆG MANAÐ US | to sprecenne ˥ sum þing eoƿ to secg |

      Text Language: English

  3. Itempp. 36-54


    • Title (B.1.2.46): Ælfric, Second Series of Homilies [Catholic Homilies II]: Martyrs

      Incipit (Latin): (p. 36) Cum audieritis prelia & seditiones | nolite terreri. & reliqua.

      Incipit(p. 36) SE HÆLEND FORESÆDE HIS LEOR- | ning

      Text Language: English

  4. Itempp. 54-76


    • Title (B.1.2.47): Ælfric, Second Series of Homilies [Catholic Homilies II]: Confessor

      Incipit (Latin): (foi. 54) homo quidam pergere proficisc..s | uocauit seruos suos & tradidit illis | bona sua.

      Incipit(p. 54) VRE DRIHTEN SÆDE ÞIS BIG SPELL | his leorning cnihtum.

      Text Language: English

  5. Itempp. 76-96


    • Title (B.1.2.48): Ælfric, Second Series of Homilies [Catholic Homilies II]: Virgins


      Title (B.1.4.29): Ælfric, Homilies of Ælfric: Addition to Catholic Homilies II no. 44: In Natale Sanctarum Virginum

      Incipit (Latin): (p. 76) Simile est regnum celorum decem| uirginibus que accipientes [.]ampade.

      Incipit(p. 76) Se hælend sæde gelomlice bigspell be gehƿilcum þingum his leorningcnihtum

      Text Language: English

  6. Itempp. 209-221


    • Title (B.3.4.37): Anonymous Homilies [for unspecified occasions, published]: Napier 1883 [1967], no. 46: 'Larspell'

      Incipit(p. 209) We secgeað urum cynehlaforde

      Text Language: English

  7. Itempp. 221-224


    • Title (B.2.1.3): Wulfstan, Eschatalogical Homilies: Luke on the Last Days

      Incipit(p. 221) CRIST cwæð on his halgan godpelle

      Text Language: English

Object Description


Form: Codex

Support: Parchment. Arranged HFHF, the membrane is well-prepared and in good condition.

Extent: fols 1r/1-177v/19 iv + 177 + ii. The opening flyleaves are two paper and two sixteenth-century membrane; the end flyleaves are paper only; the manuscript is incomplete. According to Wilcox 2000, 'the frontispiece from CCCC 419 has been inserted, reversed, in place of a cancelled opening folio' (p. 10). This frontispiece is a crucifixion drawn with reds and greens.

175 mm x 85 mm (dimensions of pp. 3-354 - size of written)

Foliation/Pagination: Paginated [i-viii], 1-353, [355-56] at the top right of recto leaves by Parker.


Quires: 'Part 1: 18, 1 cancelled and replaced at beginning; 28; 34; 4-68; 76, 5 cancelled; 158. Part 2: 8-1010; 118, 3 and 6 singletons; 12-138; 148, 8 cancelled; 168, 3 and 6 singletons; 178, 3 and 6 singletons; 188, 3 and 6 singletons; 198; 208, 3 and 6 singletons; 218, 3 and 6 singletons; 226, 236, +2 after 1; 246, wants 4, 5, 6' (Wilcox 2000, p. 10).

Condition: The manuscript is in generally good condition, with a few stains and holes.

Layout Description:

  • Columns: 1
  • Written Lines: 19
  • Overview: Double vertical bounding lines are ruled with drypoint. The first and last horizontal lines extend across the page.

Hand Description

  • Summary: According to Wilcox 2000, Part 1 was written by three scribes at Exeter. In relation to the additions made at Exeter, Ker 1957 detects three hands:
    • the first copied pp. 3–93;
    • the second wrote pp. 94–96;
    • and the third wrote pp. 209–24.
    Drage 1978 proposes that the scribe writing pp. 3–93 is the same as the scribe at fols 25r–31r/2 of Lambeth 489, while Bishop 1955 asserts that the scribe writing CCCC 421, pp. 3–93 is the same as the scribe at fols 1r–20r and 25r–58v of Lambeth 489Drage 1978 proposes that the second scribe in CCCC 421, at pp. 94–96, is the same scribe as appears in part of the Leofric Missal and a second Old English manuscript. She further proposes that the third scribe in CCCC 421, writing pp. 209–24, also wrote the whole of CUL Ii. 2. 11 (the Old English Gospels), and Cleopatra B. xiii, fols 58r/12–58v and Lambeth 489, fols 20v–24v. As argued in the description of Lambeth 489, however, the scribe who wrote the latter two stints is not the same scribe; there are far too many contrasting features in the hands for this to be the case. Bishop 1955 thought one hand to be responsible for most of the additions in CCCC 421 (pp. 3–93, 209–24), and that this hand was also that of all of Lambeth 489, with the exception of fols 20v–24v. It is fairly certain that this one hand is responsible for pp. 3-96 and 209-24. A change of quill, or sharpening of the nib, is responsible for the differing aspects of pp. 94-96, where the broader edge provides greater chiaroscuro and the illusion of a different had. A reappraisal of Exeter manuscripts is likely to show that there are fewer scribes at Leofric’s writing office than Drage 1978 or Ker 1957 imply. This description of the scribe of CCCC 421, therefore, represents Treharne's view that Bishop's analysis is correct, and the scribe is that shared with most of Lambeth 489. Additional evidence for this view is presented in Treharne 2003.
  • Hand: Main text
    • Scope: Sole
    • Script: English Vernacular Minuscule I
    • Description: pp. 3-96, and 209-24.
    • Summary of the characteristics of the hand: The general aspect of this hand is rounded and upright, with a tendency to use the full height and depth of the interlinear space.
    • The second element is occasionally high in the combination æ, especially before g and t, when a ligature is formed, and particularly when æ is in initial position.
    • The ascender of d is very short but frequently turns up to the right.
    • The tail of g swoops round to the right before curving to the left; the tail is usually closed.
    • Long s and low s are used, though the long form tends not to be used finally. According to Ker (1957), long s followed by low s is used in the combination ss (p. 345).
    • ð has an angular bowl, a high upstroke that occasionally flicks to the left, and a crossbar with an upward turn at the upper end.
    • Straight-limbed y is used but it curves in a relatively shallow fashion, often ending with a tick upwards to the right.
    • ascenders are split at the top.
    • descenders curve to the left.
    • accents are sometimes used with long vowels.
  • Abbreviations:
    • The onset stroke of the ˥ causes a small flick to the right, and the descender curves round slightly to the left.
    • The abbreviation for 'þæt' is very distinctive: the ascender of þ is crossed by a horizonal bar, which is often almost touched by the left tag of the split ascender.
  • Punctuation:
    • hyphens are level with the base-line and occur both at the end of one line and the beginning of the next.
  • Ligatures:
    • There are very few ligatures.
Binding Description

Last rebound in November 1954, at which point Quire 19 'was misbound' (Wilcox 2000, p. 8).

Additional Information

Administration Information

Manuscript described by William Green and by Elaine Treharne with the assistance of Hollie Morgan (2010; 2013).


Digital surrogate: (accessed 18 July 2018)

EM Project facsimile

Wilcox, Jonathan, 'Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 421: Homilies', in Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2000), vol. 8: Wulfstan Texts and Other Homiletic Materials, pp. 7-13  



Origin Part I was written by three scribes known to have been active at Exeter in the first half of the eleventh century. Part II was taken from CCCC 419(Wilcox 2000, p. 8). Acquisition Acquired by Parker, bequeathed to Corpus Christi College in 1575 (Wilcox 2000, p. 8).




Bethurum, Dorothy, The Homilies of Wulfstan (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957)

Bishop, T. A. M., 'Notes on Cambridge Manuscripts; Part III: MSS. Connected with Exeter', Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 2.2 (1955), 192-99

Clemoes, Peter, ed., Ælfric's Catholic Homilies: The First Series. Text, EETS, SS 17 (London: Oxford University Press, 1997)

Corradini, Erika, 'The Composite Nature of Eleventh-Century Homiliaries: Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 421', in Textual Cultures: Cultural Texts, Essays and Studies, ed. by Orietta Da Rold and Elaine Treharne (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer for the English Association, 2010), pp. 5-19

---, 'Leofric of Exeter and his Lotharingian Connections: A Bishop's Books, C 1050-72' (unpublished Ph.D, University of Leicester, 2008)

Drage, E., 'Bishop Leofric and the Exeter Cathedral Chapter, 1050-1072: A Reassessment of the Manuscript Evidence' (unpublished D. Phil. thesis, University of Oxford, 1978)

Förster, Max, 'Zur Liturgik der angelsächsischen Kirche: III. Ein ae. Apostelgebet', Anglia, 66 (1942), 48-49

Gneuss, Helmut, Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts: A List of Manuscripts and Manuscript Fragments Written or Owned in England up to 1100 (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieavl and Renaissance Studies, 2001), item 109

Godden, Malcolm, ed., Ælfric's Catholic Homilies: The Second Series; Text, EETS, OS 5 (London: Oxford University Press, 1979)

Graham, Timothy, 'Changing the Context of Medieval Manuscript Art: The Case of Matthew Parker', in Medieval Art: Recent Perspectives, ed. by Gale R. Owen- Crocker and Timothy Graham (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998)

James, Montague Rhodes, Matthew Parker, and A. Rogers, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 2 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1912)

Kato, Takako, 'Exeter Scribes in Cambridge University Library Ii.2.11 + Exeter Book fols 0, 1–7', New Medieval Literatures, 13 (2012 for 2011), 5-21

Ker, N. R., Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957; repr. 1990), item 69

Lapidge, Michael, 'A Tenth-Century Metrical Calendar from Ramsey', Revue Bénédictine, 94 (1984), 326-69

Napier, Arthur Sampson, ed., Wulfstan: Sammlung der ihm zugeschriebenen Homilien nebst Untersuchungen uber ihre Echtheit, Sammlung englischer Denkmaeler in Kritischen Ausgaben, 4 (Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1883)

Pope, John C., ed., Homilies of Ælfric: A Supplementary Collection, EETS, OS, 259, 260 (London: Oxford University Press, 1967-68)

Raw, Barbara C., Anglo-Saxon Crucifixion Iconography and the Art of the Monastic Revival, Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England, 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990)

Thorpe, B., ed., The Sermones Catholici or Homilies of Ælfric, Ælfric Society, 2 vols (London: Ælfric Society, 1844- 46)

Treharne, Elaine M., 'The Bishop’s Book: Leofric’s Homiliary and Eleventh-Century Exeter', in Early Medieval Studies in Memory of Patrick Wormald, ed. by Stephen Baxter, and others (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009), pp. 521-37

---, 'Producing a Library in Late Anglo-Saxon England: Exeter, 1050-1072', Review of English Studies, 54 (2003), 155-72

Wilcox, Jonathan, 'Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 421: Homilies', in Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile(Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2000), vol. 8: Wulfstan Texts and Other Homiletic Materials, pp. 7-13

    ---, 'The Compilation of Old English Homilies in MSS Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, 419 and 421' (unpublished PhD dissertation, Cambridge University, 1988)