INSPEXIMUS OF A CHARTER OF KING ÆTHELRED THE UNREADY FOR ABBESS HEANFLÆD AND WHERWELL ABBEY, HAMPSHIRE,

Lot Number 38
Author HENRY III,
Title INSPEXIMUS OF A CHARTER OF KING ÆTHELRED THE UNREADY FOR ABBESS HEANFLÆD AND WHERWELL ABBEY, HAMPSHIRE,
Year Published 1259
Place Printed WESTMINSTER,
Printed By
Description IN LATIN AND ANGLO-SAXON, SINGLE-SHEET DOCUMENT ON VELLUM [WESTMINSTER, DATED 26 OCTOBER 1259] a single vast sheet, 556mm. by 415mm., with 50 long lines in brown ink in a fine English court documentary hand (cursiva anglicana), with penstrokes across ascenders and cadels along top line, large initial 'H' (opening "Henricus dei gratia ...") with ornamental penwork, five 1-line initials in same opening various sections of text, vellum folded over at base (flap 55mm. high) with original silk tags stitched through (once red, now faded), holding a substantial remnant of the great seal of Henry III in green wax (that here 40mm. in diameter), eighteenth century archival endorsements on dorse, some folds and slight discolouration, else in excellent and legible condition, in a green quarter morocco fitted case, accompanied by a copy of an export licence (for permanent export) dated 1 May 1991
Comments text This is the finest and earliest manuscript of Æthelred the Unready's grant of privileges and lands once owned by his mother Queen Ælfthryth, to Abbess Heanflæd and Wherwell Abbey (Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Charters, 1968, no.904). The original grant was made in 1002, and at its base a note was appended in 1008 confirming in Anglo-Saxon a further unit of land (29 messuages) in the town of Winchester: "wintaceastre". The prefactory text here records that the original charter had become damaged and unreadable by 1259, and thus this copy was made and reissued by King Henry III (1207-72). It contains the most accurate text of any surviving manuscript of the charter and was evidently the exemplar of the fourteenth-century Wherwell Cartulary (British Library, Egerton MS.2104 A, fols.15r-16r). The Abbey of Wherwell, near Andover, was founded as a community of nuns c.986 by Queen Ælfthryth, widow of King Edgar and mother of Æthelred the Unready. In the charter Æthelred acknowledges his mother's longstanding interest in the community, "which she possessed while she lived and strove with constant diligence to build up". She was the focus of allegations about the murder of Æthelred's half-brother and rival to the throne, King Edward the Martyr, in 978, and traditionally her grants to monasteries have been seen as attempts to atone for this crime. Despite this, she was an energetic reformer, and according to the Liber Eliensis both she and her husband King Edgar commissioned the Anglo-Saxon translation of the Rule of St. Benedict, and the preface to the Regularis Concordia names her as the "protectress and fearless guardian of the communities of nuns" (cf. Keynes, The Diplomas of King Æthelred the Unready, 1980, pp.167-74). The Anglo-Saxon line here is: "Nygan and xx hagena syndon on wintaceastre þe hyrað into þan [ie. þæm] menstre [mynstre] mid eallon þam grihton [gerihtum] and þam witan þe þar of [þærof] arisað" ('nine and twenty pastures lie in Winchester which are subject to the minster with all the rights, and [are subject] to the leaders who arise thereof [ie. from the minster]). It offers an insight into the slow disintegration of that language after the Norman Conquest. In 1259 the text of this was clearly thought important enough to include in the original language, but a number of words were misunderstood and abbreviations were wrongly expanded. The scribe was certainly English, but clearly was no longer speaking Old English. In the thirteenth century the scholar known as the 'Tremulous Hand of Worcester' began to try and remedy this deficit, studying the cache of bilingual texts at Worcester in order to re-learn Anglo-Saxon (cf. C. Franzen, The Tremulous Hand of Worcester, 1991). literature W.P. Stoneman, '"Writ in Anglo-Saxon Character and of No Further Use": Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in American Collections', in The Preservation and Transmission of Anglo-Saxon Culture, 1997, p.133 The History of Script: Sixty Important Manuscript Leaves from the Schøyen Collection
References
Provenance Bought from Quaritch in 1991; Schøyen MS 1354.
Estimated Price GBP 60,000.00 - 80,000.00
( USD 100,800.00 - 134,400.00 )
Actual Price GBP 51,650.00 ( USD 79,541.00 )

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AUCTION DETAILS

Auction House Sothebys
Website http://www.sothebys.com/
Auction Name The History of Script: Sixty Important Manuscript Leaves from the Schøyen Collection
Sale Number #L12242
Auction Date July 10, 2012 - July 10, 2012
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