Surviving MSS of "The King Who Will Win the Holy Cross," a Popular Fifteenth-Century Political Prophecy

Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Hatton 56; c. 1453, also includes Arthurian return prophecies in the form of “The Holy Oil of St. Thomas,” “Baltszar Cador,” “Prophecia Merlini,” and the oldest known version of “Holy Cross.”

Cambridge, University Library, MS Gg.iv.25; after 1460, “a miscellany, probably clerical” (Coote 223). Includes Arthurian return prophecies of the types “The Holy Oil of St. Thomas,” and that contained in the Brut, which is continued in this MS to Edward IV’s coronation (Coote 247).

London, British Library , MS Cotton Domitian, IX; after 1461, “a miscellany which appears to have had a clerical owner because of the presence of Easter tables and other theological material, which also contains ‘Bridlington’ with Erghome’s commentary, along with a Latin version of ‘The King Who Will Find The Holy Cross.’ This is followed by a note of the hour and minute of Edward IV’s birth—information  . . . necessary to construct the king’s horoscope” (Coote 222).

Dublin, Trinity College, MS 516; John Benet, vicar of Harlingdon, Bedfordshire from 1443-71: MS dated thrice: 1461, 1468 (comet year), and 1471 (comet year). Includes Arthurian return prophecies of the type “Merlin to Arthur” and “The Cock in the North,” as well as extracts from Higden’s Polichronicon.

Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College, MS 249/277; Dr. John Herryson of Gonville Halle, Cambridge, c. 1464-1469-70 (year Malory finished his manuscript). Includes Arthurian return prophecies of the types “The Holy Oil of St. Thomas,” “The Cock in the North,” and astrological observations for 1469-70, some in Herryson’s hand.

Cambridge, Trinity College, MS R.3.21; Roger Thorney, London mercer and patron of Caxton and de Worde, 1471 (comet year) to 1483 (two years before Caxton publishes Malory). Includes Thorney’s autograph fleur-de-lis annotation beside “Holy Cross” but the MS itself appears constructed “on spec” as a compilation of religious literature augmented with with a blank coat of arms (85r) and attempts at decorative pen-and-ink illustration to attract a potential noble buyer (Coote 233).

Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Lyell 35; Reginald Andrew, gentleman, Winchester, Hampshire; c. 1475-91. Also contains Arthurian return prophecies in the form of “Prophecia Merlini,” “When Rome is Removyd,” and “The Cock in the North.”

London, British Library, MS Harley 1337; mid- to late-fifteenth-century; includes a version of the Brut which includes Merlin’s prophecies of the returned king

London, College of Arms, MS Arundel XXIX;.various dates in the fifteenth century; includes historical material about the deposition of Richard II, prophecies of Henry IV and Henry V (Coote 267).

Oxford, University College, MS XCVII. Fifteenth century. Also contains Arthurian return prophecies of the types “The Holy Oil of St. Thomas” and “Prophecia Merlini.”

Printed Editions of the English Brut containing Merlin’s prophecies of Arthur’s return:

Caxton, Chronicles of England, 1480 (1st edition)

Caxton, Chronicles of England, 1482 (2nd edition)

Printed Editions recommending interpretation of astronomical phenomena like comets as foretelling political events:

Caxton, Mirror of the World, 1481 (1st edition)

Caxton, Mirror of the World, 1489 (2nd edition)

Work Cited

Coote, Lesley.  Prophecy and Public Affairs in Later Medieval England.  Rochester, NY: York Medieval Press / Boydell Press, 2000.  820.9 C779p