Gower Bibliography

More Light on Ricardus Franciscus: Looking Again at Morgan M. 126

Driver, Martha W. "More Light on Ricardus Franciscus: Looking Again at Morgan M. 126." South Atlantic Review 79.3-4 (2015), pp. 20-35. ISSN 0277-335X


Driver returns to the scribe Ricardus Franciscus, and to a deluxe manuscript of John Gower's CA written ca. 1470 by this prolific and mysterious scribe. The manuscript is also known for its unique large-scale decorative program, including over one hundred miniatures, examined elsewhere by Driver. The main point of discussion here is evidence from textual editing in Morgan M.126 by Ricardus, in part to examine the theory that Ricardus was a French émigré, and in part to consider reception of the CA in this period. Ricardus is known for his banderoles and elaborately decorated ascenders (in which his name is sometimes inserted); his preferred script, the French "lettre bâtarde," has led some to assume this scribe was himself originally French. Although Ricardus was a remarkably accurate copyist, he has consistent habits in spelling ("Jubiter;" avoidance of thorn entirely and yogh only as the initial letter), preferences for overwriting dialect forms, and a small portfolio of inevitable errors. None of these features, however, has anything notably French about it. Ricardus worked with major English miniaturists such as William Abell, but also copied in French the "Epistre Othea" by Cristine de Pizan in a manuscript decorated luxuriously by the Fastolf Master, undoubtedly a French artist. However, this artist might well have come to England ca. 1450. During this period not only were literary patrons such as John Fastolf travelling to France, but artists from France were also crossing over to England to work on manuscripts with local producers. So Englishness itself is a tricky concept in the book trade during the time of Ricardus: a man who, like John Gower, must include fluency in French as a matter of course. Driver includes a comprehensive list of fifteen manuscripts attributed to Ricardus and a useful overview of the artists associated with these manuscripts. Very little ends up being said about reception of the Ca in the later fifteenth century, an interesting time politically and culturally for the creation of the most lavishly decorated manuscript of the poem that survives. Ricardus, though, remains a key figure in literary book production at the cusp of William Caxton's epochal appearance. [JF. Copyright. The John Gower Society. eJGN 35.1.]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Manuscripts and Textual Studies
Confessio Amantis

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