Durham University Library MS. Cosin V.ii.13Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde
Held by: Durham University Library: Cosin Manuscripts

Manuscript codex written in England in the mid 15th century, containing Geoffrey Chaucer's next hit Troilus and Criseyde to which a final quire was added shortly afterwards containing , Thomas Hoccleve's Letter of Cupid. The manuscript appears to have been in London before being owned by William Browne of Tavistock in the earlier 17th century. It was owned by George Davenport, by whom it was given to Bishop Cosin's Library around 1670.

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t2m7s75dc82n.html

Physical description of manuscript

Parchment, stiff; small natural flaws, f.44, 108; quires with flesh-side outermost.

Extent: iv+111+iii f
Size: 275 mm x 175 mm


foliated 1-115, with 20 repeated

Secundo folio: Through which

18 wants 4-5 with text, 2-128, 1310 wants 10 (blank?) after f.105, 148. The 3 front inner and 2 back inner flyleaves are medieval.

Catchwords: Catchwords on quires 1-12, centred save on quires 7-8, decorative on quire 11 (f.88v).
Signatures: Signatures on quires 1-11: a-l; and 14: a; using “prima” for the first leaf in quires 1-3 and 8-10.

Condition of manuscriptUpper and outer edges cropped. Hole in f.44; outer edge flaw repaired f.77; uneven lower corner f.103. Ink blots on f.56-57 and 78v-79.

Quires 1-13: prickings survive in the outer margins of f.29-67, with a second row on f.43-46, starting 5-6 lines down from the first text-line. Written space 189 x 99 mm.; ruling in ink for 38-39 long lines. No spaces between stanzas. f.105v rubbed and somewhat soiled, as if it had been an end leaf, perhaps unbound, before quire 14 was added.
Quire 14: written space 192 x 103 mm, faint grey ruling for 39 long lines; or, f.108-11, 190 x 105 mm, ruling in soft brown, 37-39 lines, with a line of text written below the bottom rule on f.109r, 110v, 111r, 111v. A line left blank between the stanzas, which are five to a page; last stanza on f.108 crammed into ruling.


Quires 1-13 written in a set secretary, expertly, with the simple w, or, f.83v/1-4 and 34-38, by a second hand, in anglicana formata of similar slant and with secretary long s; the first letter on each page engrossed and elaborated, often with strap work and some banderoles, also many ascenders in the top lines and descenders in bottom lines. The Latin Explicit/Incipit of each book is in enlarged bastard secretary, with elaborated initials and ascenders, or, Book I/II, textura quadrata; Book II proheme explicit and the beginning of the book itself also in textura quadrata. First lines of books in enlarged bastard secretary, or, Book I, textura. The 9 lines (f.83v) in the second hand could be explained either as very short spells of assistance to the main scribe or (as not much later) filling of gaps in the main exemplar from another source. The ink and the slant of the supplier are not unlike those of the main copyist, although having the generically different proportions of anglicana, and the change back (after “And” or “and” ?) in the penultimate line (?) seems to be deliberately phased in the secretary (with looped w and d), suggestive of collaboration. Blackish ink, rubbed off or faded on some flesh sides, e.g. f.24v (38), 42v, 59v, 62r, 71r; also by damp at the top of e.g. f.66v-67r.

Quire 14 written in set secretary, less fluently and somewhat variable in size, with first lines and explicits of both items in enlarged bastard secretary, the first initial of each page elaborated with strap work etc. and some exaggerated top line ascenders, many of each cropped.


Explicits underlined and touched in red. Paraphs to stanzas, in red or blue alternately, or, f.97v-105v, all in red; and to original side notes, which are also underlined in blue or red. Initials: (i) to items (3) and (4), and to item (2) prohemes and books, 3 or 4 line or, Book IV proheme, 5 line, in blue, with red infilling and flourishing; (ii) to opening, 4 line, a “J-border” of blue decorated with red, with red infilling and flourishing. The red paraphs match the underlining and decoration of the explicits and incipits, but are throughout of a deeper shade than the flourishing, which in places is overlaid by paraphs.

Corrections and annotation

Gloss by the main copyist: “somere” over “Vere”, f.6r; also a few side notes, e.g. f.59v, 89v, 98r, 102r, 102v. Corrections usually cancellations by through lining followed by the preferred words, or some unobtrusive rewriting over erasures of errors detected after completion of the lines. Some lines and part lines cancelled because of duplication; on f.24r four are through lined in blue (the only spelling variants here are “mater”/“matere” and “escheue”/“eschewe”). On f.96v another pair of lines duplicated have been cancelled in another and possibly later ink (“loughe”/“lough” the sole variant). Omitted lines written into or in the adjacent margins by the main hand, except for one on f.23v by a contemporaneous anglicana (with simple a), cropped in binding. There are a few contemporary additions by another set secretary hand near the beginning, in paler ink, e.g. two words at the top of f.4r (Book I line 74, “stroyde.Loo” over erasure, of “ordo” ?) and the side note “Canticus Troylus” on f.7r alongside a blank line left presumably for such an insertion; the same hand perhaps also inserted points, for sense, on f.5r, 7r-8v only. Numbers of corrections and supplementations of the text, also side notes, in the hand of William Browne, some probably derived from one of the editions following that of William Thynne in 1532, e.g. f.24r, 25r, 28v (2 lines), 29r, 99r (2 lines) and individual words elsewhere.
Omissions of short words and syllables from (4)-(5) supplied interlineally by the main scribe; other probable instances uncorrected. Item (4) stanza 25 rewritten over erasure.


Standard Tuckett binding, mid 19th century full brown calf over thick wooden boards (Charles Tuckett, binder to the British Museum, rebound many Durham manuscripts in the 19th century). Staining from turn-ins of previous binding on f.1r and 115v.

Manuscript history

Written in England, mid 15th century.


Inscriptions: “angnes | Robert peppyrsmith”, 15th/16th century, f.115r; “R(?) kinge his booke”, f.1r; “By me Robert Kinge”, f.1v, 3v, 113v, 114v; “Thes is master keynge is boke of the weres of key premes of troy”, f.113v; “thes boke is Mr kynges boke”, f.114r; “thes is Robart keinge of wencer (?)”, f.114v; “Paule keyne and Lewce thes Keyne”, f.1v; “Pawle keyne of London Frutrer ...”, f.114v: the King and Keyne inscriptions probably by different mid - late 16th century hands. “s./.r.”, a 16th/17th century bookseller's cipher, as in other Cosin manuscripts which had belonged to William Browne, f.1v. “WBrowne”, f.4r, is in the poet's italic hand, which also appears in side notes on f.6r, 6v, 27r, 28v (lines supplied), 29r, 54r, 62v, 69r, 85r, 99r (lines supplied). “G.Davenport. 1664.” f.3v and on piece of paper (from former flyleaf) stuck on front pastedown; his note of content, f.4r. Ex-libris, shelf and item number in Thomas Rud's hand f.4r.

Manuscript contents
(1)     f.2r
Modern title: Verse stanza
Date: Added 16th century
Incipit: Whan euery woo hathe easse
Explicit: May tourne my payne to sporte
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)

Short poem, in two versions. (a) 6 lines, rhyming ababcc; (b) 7 lines, rhyming ababbcc (extra line ending “Be eased of his Smarte”, and repeated in the same hand, with a few spelling variants as item (6).

Cited:NIMEV, 3941.5
(2)     f.3r-2v
Modern title: Nonsense verse
Date: Added mid 16th century
Incipit: The bakarse boy is vere Craynke
Explicit: My Good Boye
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)

40 verses in an eccentrically spelled improvisatory style, mainly in octosyllabic quatrains rhyming aaab, the last line of each being a shorter tail. Westminster Hall is mentioned (as law court ?) in this low life (London ?) one sided flyting. The second page written upside down. f.1r-v and 3v blank, save for later names, etc.

Cited:NIMEV, 3306.3
(3)     f.4r-105v
Original title: Troilus and Criseyde
Author: previous hitChaucer next hit, Geoffrey, -1400
Incipit: The double sorow of troilus to telle
Explicit: For loue of maid and moder þine benigne. Explicit liber Troili et Criseid
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)

Lacks Book I, 231-384 due to a lost bifolium between f.6 and 7. Classed by Root as aƔ manuscript related to but textually more corrupt than BL Add MS 12044. “Dialectally it has no very marked peculiarities. We find however awne for owne ... and ar for er. Shoulde is regularly written for sholde. The character þ is used interchangeably with th; but ʒ is not employed” (Root 1916). Top 4 lines at beginning left blank, f.4r, possibly for a heading and ascription, supplied above first rule in George Davenport's hand: "previous hitChaucer's next hit five books of Troilus & Chreseide".

Cited:NIMEV, 3327, no. 14
Cited:Root 1914, 11-12, plate VI
Cited:Root 1916, 9-11, 67-9
Extracts: McCormick & Root, 31-58
(4)     f.106r-112v
Modern title: Letter of Cupid
Author: Hoccleve, Thomas, 1370?-1450?
Incipit: Cupide vnto whos commaundment
Explicit: A thowsand fowr hundreth þe secund. Explicit littera Cupidinis Directa subditis suis Amatoribus.
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)

Based on Cristine de Pisan's Epistre au Dieu d'amours. Substantial disordering of sequences of stanzas: lines 134-203 (10 stanzas, equivalent to one leaf with five per page) come after 413; 204-73 (another ten stanzas) come after 133; 344-413 (another ten) after 273; 274-343 after 203 (another ten); 414-76 (end) after 343; 421-34 (two stanzas only) after 448. According to Furnivall, Bodl. Digby 181 has large dislocations corresponding in part with these, suggestive of a common source where leaves or bifolia had been disturbed in order; with this copy it is lines 134-203, 274-343 and 421-34 that are really dislocated, and it is not possible to explain the relations of the first two by a simple reversal of bifolia in one quire in the exemplar. This copy agrees with Digby in a number of particular readings (119, 120, 129, 155, 187, 303, 307, 309, 385, 407, 417, 455, 469, 472, 476), some also, including the colophon, in Bodl.Tanner 346; collation with Cambridge UL Ff.I.6, not used by Furnivall, shows that (except so far as it is defective towards the end) it has the same dislocations as this copy but does not have the peculiar readings the latter shares with Digby and Tanner; it does however have the same distinct variants, “an” here for “on” in l.2 and “panne” in l.50 (“penne” in Fairfax 16) for “pot”, which suggest they are closely related and that the divergences in Digby could be derived from this copy (in view of the unreliability of its scribe) or from its source. Collation shows that this copy was the work of a careless though practised copyist, with various idiosyncrasies of spelling: in particular “itt” for “it”, “noyn” for “none”, “wase” for “was”, and a tendency to misread or omit single letters.

Cited:NIMEV, 666, no. 9
(5)     f.112v-113r
Modern title: Lyric
Incipit: Not long a goo purposyd I and thought
Explicit: That you wyll s[e]rue as [I ?] suffise and can. Explicit
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)

Five 7 line stanzas, with no space between the second and third, in the same hand and sharing the same pattern of scribal errors as (4).

Cited:NIMEV, 2297
Edited: Boffey, 26-7
(6)     f.115r
Modern title: Verse stanza
Incipit: Whan euery woo hathe ease
Explicit: Be easyd of hys smart.
Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)

The same text in the same hand that appears twice in (1). f.113v-115v blank save for later names, etc.

Cited:NIMEV, 3941.5

Microfilmed in 1985/86 by the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, St John's Abbey and University, Collegeville, Minnesota. Copies held by them and Durham Cathedral Library.

Digitised material for Durham University Library MS. Cosin V.ii.13
Digitised in June 2022. Due to the binding, there may be some images throughout the volume with marginalia and text not visible in the image because they are too far into the gutter. There are two f.20 r and v, the second has been marked with a cross (x).


Boffey, J., "The reputation and circulation of previous hitChaucer's next hit lyrics in the fifteenth century", previous hitChaucer next hit review 28,1 (1993), 23-40

Catalogi veteres librorum Ecclesiae cathedralis dunelm. Catalogues of the library of Durham cathedral, at various periods, from the conquest to the dissolution, including catalogues of the library of the abbey of Hulne, and of the mss.   OCLC citation, Surtees Society 7, (London: J.B. Nichols and Son, [1838]).

Hoccleve's Works. I. The Minor Poems in the Phillipps MS. 8151, Cheltenham, and the Durham MS. III. 9.; II. The Minor Poems in the Ashburnham MS. Addit. 133; III. The Regiment of Princes, A.D. 1411-12, from the Harleian MS. 4866, and fourteen of Hoccleve's minor poems from the Egerton MS. 615   OCLC citation, ed. Furnivall, F.J. and Gollancz, I., Early English Text society es 61, 72, 73 (London: K. Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1892-1925)

A new index of middle English verse   OCLC citation, ed. J. Boffey & A. S. G. Edwards (London: British Library, 2005)

Root, R. K., The manuscripts of Troilus and Criseyde: with collotype facsimiles of the various handwriters   OCLC citation, previous hitChaucer next hit Society, 1st series 98, (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1914)

Root, R. K., The textual tradition of previous hitChaucer's next hit Troilus   OCLC citation (London: Pub. for the previous hitChaucer next hit Society by K. Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1916)

Root, R. K., and McCormick, W. S., Specimen extracts from the nine known unprinted mss. of previous hitChaucer's next hit "Troilus" and from Caxton's and Thynne's first editions   OCLC citation, previous hitChaucer Society, 1st series 89, (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1914)

Index terms