A study of Oxford, Trinity College, MS 86, with editions of selected texts, and with special reference to late Middle English prose forms of confession
The thesis consists of a detailed examination of the contents of Oxford, Trinity College, MS 86, (Trinity), with particular attention being given to several lengthy English confessional items which it contains. This is complemented by a more general consideration of late Middle English prose forms of confession and the manuscripts in which they occur. Part One consists of a survey of all surviving independent prose forms of confession preserved in late Middle English manuscripts. I divide the texts into groups according to their probable audience and readership, assessed from both internal and external evidence. This is preceded by a brief introductory section on the background to late Middle English guides to preparation for confession. In three appendices, I provide: a full description of London, British Library, MS Sloane 1584, with transcriptions of three confessional texts; a transcription of a form of confession from London, British Library, MS Harley 2383, with variants from all known manuscripts; a transcription of a form of confession from Yale, University Library, MS Beinecke 317. Part Two consists of a close study of Trinity: a full description of the manuscript, supplementing existing catalogues; editions of four confessional texts from the manuscript, accompanied by detailed discussions of their form and probable function; an analysis of a series of short devotional texts which, taken together, constitute an elementary manual of religious instruction. I include full critical editions, with variants from all known manuscripts, of two of these texts, The Sixteen Conditions of Charity and The Eight Blessings of God, both of which originate in passages extracted from the Wycliffite Bible, and which survive, in varying versions, in thirty-four and nine manuscripts respectively. The thesis concludes with a summary of the probable origin and function of this manuscript collection.