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UBC Theses and Dissertations

“Nurtur and good maners makeþ man” : the Burgeis in Late-Medieval Household Miscellany British Library MS Cotton Caligula A.ii, part 1 Harrison, Shona Renay


While scholarly attention has focused on many individual texts contained in the BL MS Cotton Caligula A.ii, part 1 (Caligula manuscript), little has been done to examine the texts in relation to one another within the varied content of the manuscript. Yet as the codex circulated as a whole, none of these texts exists in isolation. An exploration of the sustained themes and implicit ideology running through these texts reveals a rich tapestry of interconnected values and concerns that are specific to its readership. “‘Nurtur and good maners makeþ man’: The Burgeis in Late-Medieval Household Miscellany BL MS Cotton Caligula A.ii, part 1” argues that this manuscript is a late-medieval household book and could quite possibly represent a particular familia from the urban burgeis merchant class of late-medieval England. This study compares a wide range of historical artifacts and documents along with textual evidence in the Caligula manuscript, and discovers in this manuscript a mixed readership that includes young and old, male and female, master, apprentice, and servant. The study must first disentangle conflicting terminology to establish the Caligula manuscript as a household miscellany. A further analysis of patterns of inclusion provides a way of understanding the use of the codex within the mercantile household. This study then explores textual positioning across different themes drawn from the three dominant genres in household manuscripts, namely didactic, religious lyric, and romance. The Caligula manuscript reveals consistent social messages and thereby potentially discloses an emergent ethos specific to the burgeis, such as neighbourliness, piety, and moderation. This specificity is particularly visible in this manuscript's unique and, to date, unidentified text Fynd cense. In opposition to certain values and practices of the aristocracy, such as inherent nobility and excessive consumption, this burgeis ethos, and thus the Cotton Caligula A.ii, could very well inform a new understanding and performance of the doctrine of gentillesse.

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