Collection of manuscript texts on a range of secular topics, predominantly copied circa 1450 by John Porter, Member of Parliament for the city of Worcester. It includes important early manuscript texts on hunting, heraldry, and chess, along with interesting texts on miscellaneous historical, biblical, and culinary subjects.
Pages 1r-36v, titled Tractatus de armis, comprise a treatise on heraldry, in Latin, by Johannes de Bado Aureo (i.e. John Trevor?), with blazons in French and nearly 200 colored shields. This is one of the earliest writings on heraldry to be composed in England, of which this is one of two surviving manuscripts. According to the other known copy (British Library, Additional MS 28791), the work was compiled in 1449, being derived partly from a similar work written at the instance of Queen Anne (1366-1394). To view a detailed catalog record for this portion of the manuscript, follow the link to Johannes de Bado Aureo's Tractatus de armis, offered herewith.
Pages 37r-40r, titled The craft of venery, comprise a treatise on hunting. This short text is one of two known Middle English translations (with alterations) of William Twiti's L'art de vénerie. As huntsman for King Edward II, Twiti wrote his treatise originally in Anglo-Norman French in the early 14th century. It is considered the first work on hunting to be written in England and an important source for later writers (parts of it appear in The boke of St. Albans, 1486). To view a detailed catalog record for this portion of the manuscript, follow the link to William Twiti's The craft of venery, offered herewith.
Pages 40v-43v are blank, except for William Dethick's brief notes on the rise and fall of families (41r).
Pages 44r-55v comprise very miscellaneous texts. These include, on pages 44r-45v, tables titled De vino deficientibus in vasis, showing the amount of liquid lacking in and contained in a tun (dolium) and a pipe of half-tun (pipa) when the liquid is so many inches below the top. Pages 46r and 46v contain two menus of city banquets, the first a Lenten breakfast (jantaculum) given by Richard Lee, one of the sheriffs of London, on 14 March 1453; the second "the sergeauntes feast" for the term of St. John Baptist in the same year. In addition to the two menus, this portion of the manuscript includes cooking recipes on pages 47r, 53r, and 54v. Pages 51r-52v contains notes in Latin of moral aphorisms from the Bible, from Proverbs to the Apocalypse. Pages 53v-54v contain a brief treatise on the preservation of health, of the Regimen Sanitatis type.
Pages 56r-60v comprise an untitled collection of forty chess problems, with a diagram for each problem and text (in English or Latin) for most. It is one of two known problem manuscripts with texts in Middle English and is believed to derive from an earlier collection with texts in Anglo-Norman. To view a detailed catalog record for the chess manuscript, follow the link offered herewith.
Pages 61r-68r comprise a brief chronicle of the history of England from 1066 to 1447, in Latin, beginning with a list of the kings of England since the Norman conquest. The entries are sparse until the final years (1431 to 1447). There are references to an insurrection of the Lollards at Ficatty Field near Tyburn in 1412, to the defeat of the Burgundian army besieging Calais in 1435, to the destruction by lightning of the bell-tower of Waltham Abbey in 1443 and of St. Paul's cathedral in 1444, and to a storm in 1446 which gave rise to the saying "wynter thonder bred muche wonder".
Pages 68r-70v consist again of very miscellaneous texts, probably in the hand of John Porter. These include a list of the counties of England (68r); a note of the number of parish churches in England (68r); lists of the ten commandments, five senses, seven mortal sins, etc. (68v); explanations of ecclesiastical ceremonies (69r-69v); and a text explaining the significance of the various parts of a church and of church furnishings (70r-70v).
The final text (pages 71r-72r) consists of a treatise on the plague, in English, ascribed to John of Bordeaux. It appears to be a summary of a longer work.