Ryan” The Clopton Manuscript and the Beauchamp Affinity: Patronage and Reception Issues in a West Midlands Reading Community,The Clopton Manuscript and the Beauchamp Affinity: Patronage and Reception Issues in a West Midlands Reading Community
Discusses the ‘Beauchamp affinity’, a powerbase of gentry retainers orbiting the households of Richard, Earl of Warwick, in respect of its sponsorship of book patronage. Examines the now-dismembered Clopton MS (Folger Library, Washington, MS V.b.236, Princeton University Library, R. H. Taylor MS 10 and London University, Sterling Library V. 17) as a single strand in this socio-literary complex and suggests that the contents of the book (Handlyng Synne, Meditations on the Supper, Mandeville’s Travels, PPl, Estorie del Evangelie, and Assumption of Our Lady) situate its patron at the heart of the affinity, with the ability to borrow exemplars from the noble household. One of these exemplars was a C version of PPl, an imperfect text that ended abruptly in passus 22 with the line ‘Largelyche a legyoun lees þe lyf sone’. The Clopton PPl is genetically twinned with TCD 212, the MS with the famous memorandum naming Langland as the son of ‘Stacy de Rokayle’, a tenant of the Despenser family. On the basis of LALME’s dialectal mapping of the Clopton MS to a reference point in the immediate vicinity of Hanley Castle, the seat of the Despenser family, Perry suggests that the dialectally passive scribe copied from an exemplar owned by the Despensers, a copy that had also been used by the scribe of TCD 212. It is likely that the PPl exemplar came into the possession of the Beauchamp household with the Earl’s marriage to Isabel Despenser in 1423.
Essays in Manuscript Geography: Vernacular Manuscripts of the English West Midlands from the Conquest to the Sixteenth Century, ed. by Wendy Scase, Medieval Texts and Cultures of Northern Europe, 10 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), pp. 131–59.