An Encomium on Henry VIII and Elizabeth I by George Etheridge — British Library Royal MS 16 C X

Description of the Manuscript

Royal MS 16 C X (bound with Royal MS 16 C IX)
British Library modern binding.
  <I>, <II>, 1-38 <III>, <IV>.
 208 x 182  (198 x 155) mm, full page.
This autograph codex was presumably written in Oxfordshire, where the author, George Etheridge, lived.
Encomium to Henry VIII in elegiac verse (ff. 7-38v), preceded by a prose dedication to Queen Elizabeth I (ff. 1-4) and by an Argumentum huius opusculi, in Latin (ff. 5-6). Ff. 4v and 6v are blank.
  1. Title of the dedication (f. 1): Τῆ τιμιωτάτη καὶ ἐμφανέστατη Ἐλισάβετ – καὶ εὐδαιμονεῖν, inc. (f. 1):  Ἀμφοτέρων ἕνεκα ..., expl. (f. 4): ... σὲ καὶ τὴν βασιλείαν σου ταύτην φυλασσέτω ἡμῖν. Ἀμήν.
  2. Title of the Argumentum (ff. 5-6): Argumentum huius opusculi, inc. (f. 5): Quandoquidem admonent nos sacrae literae ..., expl. (f. 6): ... et perpetuam ei in posterum conferat felicitatem.
  3. Title of the Encomium (f. 7): Ἐγκώμιον τῶν πράξεων καὶ τῶν στρατηγημάτων τοῦ Ἑνρίκου – βασιλέως, inc. (f. 7): Οὐ κατ᾽ἐμὴν τέχνην βασιλῆος ...,  expl. (f. 38v): ... τὴν βασίλισσαν δὴ, ὦ θεὲ, σῶσον ἀεί.
The two first folios of the first quire <I>, <II>, and the two last folios of the last quire <III>, <IV>, are not numbered and are blank.
1 x 4 (<I>, <II>, 1, 2); 1 x 4 (6); 1 x 4 (10); 1 x 4 (14); 1 x 4 (18); 1 x 4 (22); 1 x 4 (26); 1 x 4 (30); 1 x 4 (34); 1 x 8-2 (38, <III>, <IV>). The codex is formed of ten quires, binions except the last quire, a quaternion lacking the two last folios. There are no signatures. Every quire is usually marked by a short horizontal catchword written by the scribe on the eighth folio verso (10v, 14v, 18v, 22v, 26v).
(ff. 1-30): A type of hand with five open fingers, surmounted by a flower with five petals, measuring ca.100mm in all: ‘Main’ with very similar to Briquet 10745 (Gênes, 1501–1506. Var. sim. Naples, 1507; Castellane, 1509; Gênes, 1515/17. Var. plus grande: Gênes 1575/77). Very similar to Briquet 10746 (Gênes 1522/23, Var. sim. Lucques 1527, Valence (Espagne) 1536, Messine, 1559). The watermark of the Hand, with five open fingers, surmounted by a flower with five petals was popular, so that several paper makers placed their initials in the palm of the hand in order to distinguish their product. In the exemplar used in this codex the letters are clearly ‘M’;  the second letter is probably ‘F’. (Ff. 31-38): A different type of hand, shorter with five fingers not open but one next to the other, surmounted by a five petal flower, vaguely similar to Briquet types ‘Main’ 11089-11091; 11201 (but the lower part of the watermark is different);  11344-11348 (from 1531 to 1546); 11353-11358 [1571] (but the lower part of the watermark is difficult to identify). Briquet (p. 573) notes about types 11341-11398: (‘Class III:  Main généralement lacée au poignet, aux quatre doigts serrés, le pouce très écarté’) that the paper with these watermarks was used in the North of France, in Belgium, Luxembourg and parts of Germany.
The whole codex bears a simple ruling, formed of vertical lines to delimit the written surface and two horizontal lines, one in each of the upper and lower margins (Leroy 12C1).
Written surface:
ca. 125 x 120 mm; 10 lines to the page in the Greek text (except f. 4r with 12 lines), written with double spacing. Large upper (30 mm) and lower (47 mm) margins, while the internal and external margins are smaller.
The codex is indicated as ‘autograph’. George Etheridge's hand shows the typical Renaissance, Western ‘scholarly hand’, influenced by contemporary scribes, as Constantinos Palaiocappa (manuscripts dated in 1539–54), Andreas Darmarios (1540–last quarter of 16th c.), Angelos Bergikios (first quarter of 16th c.–1569). As this was probably meant to be a presentation copy, both the page layout of the codex and his writing are regular and tidy. George Etheridge uses brown ink, with letters inclined to the right, long descending hastes for gamma, mu, rho and long ascending hastes for delta and tau. Majuscules re-inserted in the minuscule are eta (often written as a Latin majuscule ‘h’), theta, lambda and pi. Peculiar, characteristic letters are: gamma, always minuscule, strongly inclined to the right with an elongated descending part; delta, minuscule, upright and pointed at the top; rho, with a hook at the end of the descending leg; tau, in form of a seven. There are some ligatures with inclusions of letters, as in f. 1, omicron-sigma, twice in line 1: βασιλῆος; line 5: ἀντάξιος. For the type of minuscule used in the MS see N. Barker, Aldus Manutius and the Development of Greek Script and Type in the Fifteenth Century (New York, 1992). Breathings and accents are boldly marked. The page layout of the text of the Encomium is carefully planned; the beginnings of the verses are always marked by an enlarged capital letter in ‘epigraphic majuscule’ and an indentation underlines throughout the difference between hexameters and pentameters.


G. F. Warner and J. P. Gilson, British Museum.  Catalogue of Western Manuscripts in the Old Royal and King's Collections, vol. II (London, 1921), p. 183.

Catalogue description of MS Royal 16 C IX (with which MS Royal 16 C X is bound together): “Beati Maximi ASKHTIKOS Summa Christianae Vitae De Graeco conuersus. Greek and Latin translation by John Cheke, tutor to Prince Edward [afterwards Sir John Cheke, Regius Professor of Greek and later Provost of King's College, Cambridge, 1548–1553], of the Liber asceticus of S. Maximus Abbas, PG 90, 912.  Preceded by a Latin dedication to Henry VIII as a new year's gift, dated Hertford, 31 Dec. [1544, 1545 or 1546].  Beg. Ἀδελφὸς ἐρώτησε γέροντα λέγων, παρακαλῶ σε. Not autograph. A few notes on the Greek text are in Patrick Young's hand. Paper. ff. 72. 8 in. x 5. in., A. D. 1544–1546. Old Royal pressmark ‘n° 1414’ and seal (a ship); cat. of 1666, f. 19 b; CMA. 8589”.

Cat. description of MS Royal 16 C X: “Panegyric upon Henry VIII, Ἐγκώμιον τῶν πράξεων καὶ τῶν στρατηγημάτων τοῦ Ἑνρίκου ὀγδόου ἐμφανεστάτου βασιλέως, in Greek elegiac verse (316 couplets) by Γεώργιος Αἰθριγαῖος, sc. George Etherege, M. B., who had been (1547–1550, 1554–1559) Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, but was deprived under Elizabeth.  Preceded by a Greek prose dedication to Queen Elizabeth, on the occasion of her visit to Oxford [1566?], and by a Latin prose argument. Paper, ff. 38. 8 in. x 6 in., A. D. 1566. Not identified in the old catalogues. Bound with 16 C. IX”.

Annaclara Cataldi Palau