London, British Library, Cotton Cleopatra B. xiii, fols 1-58

Present Location

Cleopatra B. xiii, fols 1-58

Medieval Provenance

General Information






A collection of homilies and other pieces, that used to be in the same manuscript as, Lambeth 489, and possibly CCCC 421. It includes items from Ælfric's first series of Catholic Homilies (fols 7v-12, 13-31), sermons and dedications and a version of the Paternoster and Creed: '[Ð]u ure fæ hit swa. Ic gelyfe on god fæder almihtigne...' (fol. 58r-v).

Now bound with the revised version of the Vita S. Dunstani by 'B', s. xi1, and a chronicle attributed to Peter of Ickham.

The manuscript, as it now exists, show signs of having been disordered at some point in its history. The sequencing of texts was disrupted when the manuscript came into the hands of sixteenth-century antiquarians, and it is still incorrectly sequenced.

Digital Surrogate

Manuscript Items
  1. Itemfols 2-7v


    • Title (B. Anonymous Homilies [for unspecified occasions, published]: Napier 1883 [1967], no. 40: 'In die iudicii'

      Rubric (initial): In die iudicii

      Incipit: Leofan men utan dó swa us þearf is beon swiðe gemyndige

      Note: A new paragraph begins at 'Eala' (Napier 188/11). Lines 10-18 on fol. 7v are blank.


      Ker 1957, item 144

      Napier 1883, 182 (no. 40)

      Scragg 1992, Vercelli vii


    • Itemfols 7v/19-12


      • Title (B.1.1.19): Ælfric, First Series of Homilies [Catholic Homilies I]: Second Sunday after Easter

        Rubric (initial): Dominicia .II. post pascha.

        Incipit: Dixit iesus discipulis suis. Ego sum pastor bonus . . . Ðis godspell þe nú gerǽd wǽs

        Note: Fol. 12 is blank.


        Ker 1957, item 144

        Clemoes 1997, xvii


      • Itemfols 13-31r


        • Title (B.1.1.2): Ælfric, First Series of Homilies [Catholic Homilies I]: De Initio Creaturae

          Rubric (initial): Incipit liber catholicorum sermonum anglice in anno. primus sermo de initio creature. quando uolueris.

          Incipit: An angin is.


          Ker 1957, item 144

          Clemoes 1997


        • Itemfols 31-38


          • Title (B.2.3.6): Wulfstan, Archiepiscopal Functions: The Dedication of a Church

            Rubric (initial): De dedicatione eclesiae.

            Incipit: Leofan men ic wille (alt. to wylle) eow nu cyðan.

            Note: Fol. 43v is blank.


            Ker 1957, item 144

            Napier 1883, 277 (no. 54)

            Bethurum 1957, xviii


          • Itemfols 38-43


            • Title (B.2.3.5): Wulfstan, Archiepiscopal Functions: The Consecration of a Bishop

              Rubric (initial): Lectio Secundum Lucam. DIxit iesus discipulis suis. Ego mittam promissum . . . Be biscophadum.

              Incipit: Leofan men se halga godspellere lucas. geswuttelode on his godspelle

              Note: fol. 43v is blank.


              Ker 1957, item 144

              Napier 1883, 175 (no. 37)

              Bethurum 1957, xvii


            • Itemfols 44-55v


              • Title (B.3.2.52.EM): Anonymous Homilies, Homilies for Specified Occasions, Temporale: Sunday Before Rogationtide

                Rubric (initial): Dominica ante rogationum.

                Incipit: Men ða leofestan us gedafenað ǽrest þǽt we gemunan. 7 gereccan be gode ǽlmihtigum.

                Note: According to Ker 1957, the borrowings from Ælfric's homily are as follows: (a) Th. 246/27-29 amplified at fol. 49v/3-12 after 'hǽbbe' (cf. Vercelli, fol. 108/12);-(b) Th. 246/1, 'swa-lifes', at fol. 51/15, 16 after 'sǽ' (V fol. 108v/ 10); -(c) Th. 246/5-8, '7 axodon - fleon', at fol. 51v/12-18 after 'eall' (V fol. 108v/18);-(d) Th. 246/8-10, 'Hi-dydon', at fol. 52/1-5 after 'mihte' (V fol. 108v/20);-(e) Th. 246/10, 11, '7 seo-forð', at fol. 52/6-9 after 'gebǽdon' (V fol.108v/20);-(f) Th 246 /12, 13, '7 se forswealh þone witegan', at fol. 52/10, 11 after 'hwǽl' (V fol. 108v/20);-(g) Th. 246/13, 14, '7 abǽr - aspau', at fol. 52/13-15 after niht (V fol. 108v-21); -(h) Th. 246/14-18, 'þa com-noldon', at fol. 52/16-52v/5 after 'staðe' (V fol. 108v/24) ;-(i) Th. 246/19, 20, 'to his lice-sceolde', at fol. 52v/18-53/2 after 'ymbscrydde' (V fol. 108v/31);-(j) Th. 246/21, 'ge ða sucendan cild', at fol. 53/5, 6 after 'menn' (V fol. 109/1);-(k) Th. 246/23, 24, 'þurh þǽt strange fǽsten', at fol. 52/11, 12, after 'forgeaf' (V fol. 109/3);-(l) Th. 244/17-20, 'Eac wearð-forbǽrned', at fol. 54/6-12 after 'com' (V fol. 109/18);-(m) Th. 244/21-22, '7 seo-gesomnunge', at fol. 54v/15-18 after 'afyrrednysse' (V fol 109/28);-(n) Th. 244/11-14, 'Hi synd-forgyfennysse', at fol. 55/2-9 after 'gehealdene' (V fol. 109/29). Fol. 55v/14-19 and recto and verso of fol. 55* are blank.

                Also in the Vercelli manuscript at fol. 106v, and elsewhere, but conflated here by combining the story of the earthquake at Vienne and of Jonah and the Whale given in Vercelli with the account of the same events given by Ǽlfric in his Rogationtide homily.


                Ker 1957, item 144

                Szarmach 1981, pp. 183-92

                Thorpe 1844-46, i. 244


              • Itemfols 56-57


                • Title (B.14.19): Promissio Regis

                  Rubric (initial): Promissio regis

                  Incipit: Ðis gewrit is gwriten stǽf be stǽfe. be þam gewrite þe dunstan arcebiscop sealde urum hlaforde ǽt cingestune.

                  Note: Lines 18-23 on fol. 57v are blank.


                  Ker 1957, item 144

                  Treharne 2009


                • Itemfol. 57v


                  • Title (B.1.4.8): Ælfric, Homilies of Ælfric: Dominica V Post Pascha

                    Incipit: Sume menn niton gewiss for heora nytenysse.

                    Note: A homily assigned in other copies to the 5th or 6th Sunday after Easter. Ends abruptly 'to Weorcum him þearfe' (Belfour 12/18). Lines 22, 23 on fol. 57 are blank.


                    Belfour 1909, 12

                    Ker 1957, item 144


                  • Itemfol. 58r


                    • Title (B.3.4.25): Anonymous Homilies [for unspecified occasions, published]: Napier 1883 [1967], no. 27: 'To eallum folce'

                      Incipit: 7 þurh mǽgslihtas. þurh hlafordswicas.

                      Note: Part of a line above the present top line has been cut away and replaced by a strip of paper bearing the words '7 þurh fǽla mysdǽda. Ðurh manslihtas' (s. xvi).


                      Ker 1957, item 144

                      Napier 1883, 130 (end of no. 27)


                    • Itemfols 58r-v


                      • Title (B.12.4.1): Pater Noster

                        Rubric (initial): Her is se geleafa 7 gebéd. 7 bletsung lǽwedum mannum þe þǽt leden ne cunnon. [P]ater noster on englisc.

                        Incipit: [Ð]u ure fǽder ... sy hit swa. Ic gelyfe on god fǽder almihtigne ...

                        Note: Paternoster and Creed. Lines 12-23 on fol. 58v are blank.


                        Ker 1957, item 144

                        Thorpe 1844-46, ii. 59/1-23

                      Object Description


                      Form: Codex

                      Support: Parchment

                      Extent: i + 58

                      • 184 mm x 125 mm (dimensions of all - size of leaves)
                      • 170 mm x 80 mm (dimensions of all - size of written space)

                      Foliation and/or Pagination:

                      • foliated in ink 1-55*, 56-58.
                      • Formerly paginated in Parkerian red pencil on rectos of fols 2-58, marking 1-115.


                      • Quires: Collation of fols 2-58:
                        • 1-68,
                        • 78 wants one leaf after fol. 55; fol. 56 is a singleton now bound with this quire,
                        • 82 (two singletons, fols 57 and 58, now bound into the beginning of the next quire).
                      • Signatures: There are traces of quire signatures at fols 26r, 34r and 42r, now almost totally trimmed from the top margin.


                      The leaves have been cropped by the binder.


                      • Ruling in drypoint for 19 lines per page, except fol. 57 with 23 lines and fol. 58 with 28 lines. Double bounding lines on both sides scored to the edge of the page, as are the first and last two lines. The quality of the parchment makes hair and flesh sides hard to distinguish, but it appears to be HFHF. A wormhole on fols 56-57, larger on fol. 57 than on fol. 56, does not appear on fol. 58, so it is unlikely to be in its original position. Leaves have been mended with pieces of a document, s. xvi.

                      Hand Description

                      • Number of hands: 3?
                      • Summary: The scribes of Cleopatra B. xiii are those seen also in a number of other Exeter manuscripts, including Lambeth 489. These scribes are often very difficult to distinguish, since they seem to be practising matched hands, and doing so very effectively. See Treharne 2009 for more on this, including the bibliography on scribal practices at Exeter in the pontificate of Leofric; and Kato 2012. What appear to be five or more scribes in the descriptions of Ker 1957 and Drage 1978 are judged to be three or fewer in Treharne's analysis. Scholars of these manuscripts are urged to analyse the scribal stints independently.
                      • Hand: main text
                        • Scope: major
                        • Scribe: Ker 144 SC1
                        • Script: Late eleventh century
                        • Description: Fols 2r/1-31r; 57v/1-21.
                        • Summary of the characteristics of the hand:
                        • ascenders are tall and split.
                        • descenders are long, and curve to the left.
                        • a is generally round but occasionally Caroline.
                        • The first element of æ dominates with the second element only slightly higher.
                        • d has a very large bowl but tiny ascender.
                        • e is tall with a relatively small head.
                        • The right leg of h turns in slightly 'but not sufficiently to be called caroline' (C11 project) .
                        • s is usually low but occasionally long initially.
                        • ð has a large bowl and a finishing stroke on the ascender.
                        • H is very distinctive. The foot of the second leg curves in slightly but barely drops below the line.
                        • descenders turn to the left.
                        • Other manuscripts:
                      • Hand: main text
                        • Scope: major
                        • Scribe: Ker 144 SC3
                        • Script: Late eleventh century
                        • Description: Fols 31r/1-38r/3.
                        • Summary of the characteristics of the hand:
                        • descenders curve gently to the left.
                        • The ascender of d is quite short with a slight downward curve.
                        • g has an unusually large bowl.
                        • Litterae Notabiliores:
                        • The descender for ˥ has a slight curve to the left.
                        • Other manuscripts: Probably the same as Scribe 1 above (Ker 1957, p. 184: this is Ker's scribe 2)


                      • Hand: main text
                        • Scope: major
                        • Scribe: Ker 144 SC8
                        • Script: Late eleventh century
                        • Description: Fol. 58r/12- 58v/11.
                        • 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, though this is hardly a distinguishing characteristic, since it is part of all these Exeter scribes' repertoire.
                        • ascenders are split at the top.
                        • descenders curve to the left.
                        • 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 (p. 345), long s followed by low s is used in the combination ss, and this distinguishes the scribe at fols 1-20r. This feature occurs in this manuscript at fols. 25-31, and again, in Cleopatra B. xiii. It is thus a distinguishing characteristic of this scribe in the revised sequence of stints attributed to him by Bishop 1955 (and agreed by Treharne 2009).
                        • ð is the single most distinctive letter-form, and the graph which changes most dramatically between stints of this single scribe (or, in fact, identifies for Ker 1957and Drage 1978 a different scribe). In the earlier folios, the cross-bar bisects the up-stroke, tagged to the left at the top end; the up-stroke itself finishes with a marked movement of the pen to the left. In the later folios, the cross-bar does not pierce the up-stroke, though the graph is otherwise the same.
                        • Straight-limbed y is used but it curves in a relatively shallow fashion, often ending with a tick upwards to the right.
                        • accents are sometimes used with long vowels.
                        • Abbreviations:
                        • Nota The headstroke of the ˥ nota is straight, and the descender curves round slightly to the left.
                        • that The abbreviation for 'þæt' is distinctive: the ascender of thorn is crossed by a horizonal bar which is quite distinctive since the left tag of the split ascender often almost touches the bar.
                        • 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.
                        • Other manuscripts: Almost certainly identical to the main scribe of Lambeth 489; that is, the scribe who writes all of Lambeth 489 except fols 20v-24v. This is not the view of Ker 1957 (p. 345), or of Drage 1978; it is the view of Bishop 1955 and Treharne 2009.
                      Decoration Description

                      Rubrics are written in red ink and enlarged initial letters are written in green or red, with some other prominent initials in green or red. Capital letters are touched in red (fading to black) inconsistently, fols 34r- 38r, 41v-44r and 57r. Blank space has been left in between the main items.

                      The rubrics on fols 56r-58v are not in coloured ink. The initial 'S' of fol. 57v/1 is written in red ink, and on fol. 58r there are spaces left for two enlarged coloured initials and one regular coloured initial which were never entered.  

                      Binding Description

                      A binding of September 1875 was replaced by a new binding in 1970, recorded in a pencilled note on the inside back cover dated to 24th April 1970.

                      There is much evidence that the manuscript was used by Archbishop Matthew Parker: on fol. 1v is a table of contents by one of his scribes; there is a note by his secretary, John Joscelyn on fol. 13r and the signature of his son, John Parker is written in red pencil on fol. 2r.

                      Additional Information

                      Administration Information

                      Manuscript described by Elaine Treharne with the assistance of Molly Hogan, Hollie Morgan, Owen Roberson and Takako Kato (2010; 2013).


                      Digital surrogate: (accessed 18 July 2018)

                      Wilcox, Jonathan, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile, Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2000), vol. 8


                      • Origin: This manuscript is from Exeter.

                        According to Ker 1957, 'the script, the use of c-shaped accents, the format and the number of lines to the page associate this manuscript with CCCC 419 + 421 and Lambeth 489: like them it is almost certainly from Exeter' (p. 184).

                      • Provenance:

                        A provenance was recorded to Richard James in s. xvii1, in his note in Oxford, Bodleian Library, James 27 (Sum. Cat. 3864), p. 91: 'Here is se geleafa ˥ gebed ˥ bletsung lǽwedum mannum. ðe þǽt leden ne cunnnon in codice Exon. bibliothecǽ' refers to this manuscript. It cannot have been at Exeter as late as this, since it was used by Archbishop Parker. Presumably James was copying from a sixteenth-century transcript; perhaps one of Joscelyn's. Belonged to Robert Cotton in 1621 (Wanley 1705, p. 201)

                      • Acquisition:

                        Acquired by the British Museum along with the rest of the Cottoncollection.




                      Bazire, J., and J. E. Cross, eds., Eleven Old English Rogationtide Homilies, Toronto Old English Series (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982)

                      Belfour, A. O., ed., Twelfth-Century Homilies in MS. Bodley 343, EETS, OS 118 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1909)

                      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

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

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

                      Drage, Elaine M., 'Bishop Leofric and the Exeter Cathedral Chapter, 1050–1072: A Reassessment of the Manuscript Evidence”(unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Oxford, 1978)

                      Hardy, Thomas Duffus, Descriptive Catalogue of Materials Relating to the History of Great Britain and Ireland to the End of the Reign of Henry VII, Rolls Series, 26 (London: Longman, 1871), vol. 3

                      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 144

                      Lapidge, Michael '"B. and the Vita S. Dunstani" ', in St Dunstan: His Life, Times and Cult, ed. by Margaret Sparks and Tim Tatton-Brown Nigel Ramsay (Woodbridge The Boydell Press, 1992), pp. 247-59

                      Liebemann, F., ed., Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen , 3 vols (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1903), vol. 1: Text und Übersetzung

                      Luiselli Fadda, Anna Maria, ed., Nuove omelie anglosassoni della rinascenza benedettina, Filologia germanica. Testi e studi, 1 (BL. Cleo. B. xii; Firenze: F. Le Monnier, 1977)

                      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)

                      ----, 'A Sign used in Old English MSS. to Indicate Vowel- shortness', Academy, 909 (1889)

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

                      Scragg, Donald, Alexander Rumble, and Kathryn Powell, C11 Database Project (Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies,; accessed in 2009)

                      Scragg, D. G., ed., The Vercelli Homilies and Related Texts, EETS, OS 300 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992)

                      Strongman, Sheila, ed., John Parker's Manuscripts: An Edition of the Lists in Lambeth Palace MS 737 (Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society 1977-80), vol. 7

                      Stubbs, William, Memorials of Saint Dunstan: Archbishop of Canterbury, Rolls Series 63 (London: Longman, 1874)

                      Szarmach, Paul E., Vercelli Homilies IX-XXIII, Toronto Old English Series 5 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1981)

                      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 Stephen Baxter, Catherine Karkov, Janet Nelson, David Pelteret, eds., Early Medieval Studies in Memory of Patrick Wormald (Ashgate, 2009), pp. 521-37

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

                      Wanley, Humfrey, Antique literature septentrionalis liber alter(Oxford: Sheldonian Theatre, 1705)

                      Watson, Andrew George, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts, c. 700-1600 in the Department of Manuscripts, the British Library, 2 vols (London: British Museum, 1979)

                      Wilcox, Jonathan, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2000), vol. 8

                      Winterbottom, M. and M. Lapidge, ed., The Early Lives of St. Dunstan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Forthcoming)

                        Wright, T., and J. O. Halliwell, Reliquiæ Antiquæ, 2 vols (1841-43)