London, British Library, MS Harley 4003

  • Latin
  • s. xiii–xiv
  • composite manuscript
  • Irish manuscripts, English manuscripts
  • vellum
Harley 4003
histories manuscript miscellanies
Provenance and related aspects
s. xiii–xiv
At the time of writing, no detailed analysis of the date of the MS, the scribal hands and its potentially composite character is known. One has to make do with brief statements, not all of them very recent: “in a fourteenth century hand” (Dimock, referring at least to the copies of Gerald’s works); 13th century (Griscom, referring to the copy of HRB, but noting Hardy’s early 14th-century date); “written in Ireland in the early 14th century ... carefully written in more than one neat hand of the period” (Flower); s. xiii (Crick, referring to the HRB); “Last quarter of the 14th century to 1st quarter of the 15th century (after 1384) ... a composite manuscript” (British Library, Catalogue of illuminated MSS). Unfortunately, the latter does not specify which units, except for the 16th-century additions, are originally independent. Difference of opinion appears to be occasioned, in part, by the table of years occurring on ff. 70v-80v. The fact that it runs up to 1384 has been taken to fix a terminus post quem (Catalogue of illuminated MSS), while the fact that the annals end in 1279 (1313 in a later hand) may have encouraged an earlier dating.
Origin, provenance
Origin: EnglandEngland

No description available

See more
See more
England, or Ireland. Flower states that the MS was “written in Ireland” and seems to have based this conclusion chiefly on the series of annalistic entries on events in Ireland, which he believes were written “no doubt in a monastery in the East of Ireland”.
Later provenance: EnglandEngland

No description available

See more
ass. with William Cecil [1st baron Burghley]Cecil (William) ... 1st baron Burghley
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

See more
In the 16th century, the manuscript belonged to William Cecil, lord Burghley (Burleigh). It is also during this century that the diagram of the Heptarchy (f. 1) and John Mair’s De gestis Scotorum (ff. 154r-163v) were added.
Later provenance: EnglandEngland

No description available

See more
ass. with Thomas Grey [2nd earl of Stamford]Grey (Thomas) ... 2nd earl of Stamford
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

See more
In 1678, when Lord Burghley’s collection went on auction, the MS was bought by Thomas Grey, 2nd earl of Stamford.
Later provenance: EnglandEngland

No description available

See more
ass. with Thomas Jett [auditor of the Exchequer]Jett (Thomas) ... auditor of the Exchequer
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

See more
Later provenance: EnglandEngland

No description available

See more
ass. with Edward HarleyHarley (Edward)
Second earl of Oxford and Mortimer in succession to his father Robert Harley.
See more
Hands, scribes
Codicological information
UnitCodicological unit. Indicates whether the entry describes a single leaf, a distinct or composite manuscript, etc.
composite manuscript
21 cm × 15 cm
6 ff. (paper flyleaves: 2 unfoliated, f. 1*, another unfoliated, ff. 1-2) + 161 ff. (3-153, 154-163) + 8 ff. (flyleaves)
Palaeographical information
Category: Gothic textualis (textura)
Gothic cursive
Distinct units
ff. 1, 154-163
London, British Library, …  f. 1, 154-163

Scheme of the heptarchy (f. 1) and John Mair’s De gestis Scotorum (ff. 154r-163v). 16th century.

Table of contents

Links to texts use a standardised title for the catalogue and so may or may not reflect what is in the manuscript itself, hence the square brackets. Their appearance comes in three basic varieties, which are signalled through colour coding and the use of icons, , and :

  1. - If a catalogue entry is both available and accessible, a direct link will be made. Such links are blue-ish green and marked by a bookmark icon.
  2. - When a catalogue entry does not exist yet, a desert brown link with a different icon will take you to a page on which relevant information is aggregated, such as relevant publications and other manuscript witnesses if available.
  3. - When a text has been ‘captured’, that is, a catalogue entry exists but is still awaiting publication, the same behaviour applies and a crossed eye icon is added.

The above method of differentiating between links has not been applied yet to texts or citations from texts which are included in the context of other texts, commonly verses.


While it is not a reality yet, CODECS seeks consistency in formatting references to locations of texts and other items of interest in manuscripts. Our preferences may be best explained with some examples:

  • f. 23ra.34: meaning folio 23 recto, first column, line 34
  • f. 96vb.m: meaning folio 96, verso, second column, middle of the page (s = top, m = middle, i = bottom)
    • Note that marg. = marginalia, while m = middle.
  • p. 67b.23: meaning page 67, second column, line 23
The list below has been collated from the table of contents, if available on this page,Progress in this area is being made piecemeal. Full and partial tables of contents are available for a small number of manuscripts. and incoming annotations for individual texts (again, if available).Whenever catalogue entries about texts are annotated with information about particular manuscript witnesses, these manuscripts can be queried for the texts that are linked to them.


Primary sources This section typically includes references to diplomatic editions, facsimiles and photographic reproductions, notably digital image archives, of at least a major portion of the manuscript. For editions of individual texts, see their separate entries.

Digitisation wanted

Secondary sources (select)

Catalogue of illuminated manuscripts [in the British Library], Online: British Library, ?–present. URL: <>.
Crick, Julia C., The Historia Regum Britannie of Geoffrey of Monmouth, vol. 3: A summary catalogue of the manuscripts, Cambridge, Woodbridge, Suffolk: D. S. Brewer, 1989.
Wright, Cyril Ernest, Fontes Harleiani: a study of the sources of the Harleian collection of manuscripts preserved in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum, London: British Museum, 1972.
99, 205
Flower, Robin, “Manuscripts of Irish interest in the British Museum”, Analecta Hibernica 2 (1931): 292–340.
Ward, H. L. D., Catalogue of romances in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum, 3 vols, vol. 1, London: British Museum, 1883.
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive – originally from Google Books: <link>
Dimock, J. F., Giraldi Cambrensis opera, 8 vols, vol. 5: Topographia Hibernica et Expugnatio Hibernica, London, 1867.
Internet Archive: <link>
British Museum, A catalogue of the Harleian manuscripts in the British Museum, vol. 3, London, 1808.
Internet Archive: <link>
103 [id. 4003.]
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
August 2021