Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Thomas J. Heffernan

Committee Members

Elizabeth Jane Bellamy, Mary C. Dzon, Jay C. Rubenstein


The Auchinleck Manuscript (National Library of Scotland Advocates 19.2.1) was written in London by six scribes and contains 44 extant texts. This manuscript is an early 14th century English manuscript (c. 1331) best known for its many unique and first versions of texts, such as the first version of the Breton lay Sir Orfeo, a Breton adaptation of the Orpheus legend. It is also the first literary manuscript we have that is written almost entirely in English after the Norman Conquest. My research provides answers to some of the perennial questions raised by scholars concerning this manuscript: the identities of the master artist, the patron, and the scribes as well as the date and provenance. I have identified that the master artist for the Auchinleck was the Subsidiary Queen Mary Artist although his contribution is mostly indirect, that the wealthy patron commissioning the manuscript was tied to the Warwick title and most likely was Thomas de Beauchamp, and that the scribes were Chancery clerks who created this manuscript in London c. 1331. I demonstrate that the physical evidence, the mise-en-page, the work of the artists, the scribal agency in decision-making, and the unique content of the texts establish that the scribes and artists were working collaboratively to create this important literary English manuscript and were very likely conscious of its political impact. My analysis also demonstrates for the first time that there were two different scribal teams, a senior team and a junior team, with the senior scribes having agency and supervision over the junior scribes. My new presentation of their scribal collaboration helps not only to further clarify the identity of these scribes but also to make sense of many decisions made in the mise-en-page. Lastly, I also discuss the impact the contents of the Auchinleck literature appears to have had on its powerful patron, Thomas de Beauchamp, as he, his brother John, and their friend King Edward III prepared their countrymen for the Hundred Years War.

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