"The King who will win the Holy Cross": Malory, Caxton, and Political Prophecy in the Morte Darthur

Quiz "How many kings of England were alive when Malory died on 14 March 1471?"

Sir Thomas Malory / William Caxton: Parallel Lives

The "Eight-Book" Malory Product

The "Three-Stage" Malory Process

Becoming "the Frensche booke"

Two manuscript versions of the "Holy Cross" prophecy: MS Hatton 56 (c. 1453) and Trinity MS R 3 19, owned by Caxton's contemporary, Richard Thorney (c. 1471-83)

Surviving MSS of the "Holy Cross" prophecy

Rubrication of f. 349r ("Sankgreal")   

Chart of W. Marginalia from C15

Marginal note at f. 23r, and scribal index for important events 

Malory on Trystram and the Hunt II (f. 280v. "Amen") (Deleted in Caxton's ed. prin.)

The Rotherly Poem, Ellesmere MS, f. iv r "O thow Roiall Bore" and "Amen" (?1462-4 or 1471-84)

Tom "The Freynsshe Booke" Malory Speaks (chart)

Malory's rejection of the "Holy Cross" prophecy on f. 482v  (Included in Caxton's ed. prin.)

Edward IV geneological roll tracing his descent from Adam and Eve through Arthur and Cadwallader to the Throne of England (Free Library of Philadelphia MS Lewis E201, c. 1461-64)

Edward IV geneological roll closeup: his descent through Arthur to Cadwallader and unifying the seven Saxon kingdoms  (Free Library of Philadelphia MS Lewis E201, c. 1461-64)

Caxton's printed edition of f. 482v with capital (Rubric in Table: "Of thoppynyon of somme men of the deth of kynge Arthur and how quene Guenever made hir a nonne in Almesburye.")














Note: all images were captured using a low-resolution digital camera from facsimiles and are not intended to infringe upon the copyright of either edition.  They are for scholarly use only, and they should be properly cited if used in any other way.  The sources are N.R. Ker, ed., The Winchester Malory: A Facsimile.  London: EETS, 1976, and Sir Thomas Malory,  Le Morte D'Arthur  Printed by William Caxton 1485,  Reproduced in facsimile from the copy in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, with an introduction by Paul Needham.  London: Scolar Press, 1976.

Additional Information:

Spreadsheet of W. Marginalia from C15

The pointing hand or index 

Marginal phrase with "shield"

The Rotherly Poem, Ellesmere MS, f. iii v "the Bore of grace" (?1462-4 or 1471-84?)

A-B-C practice in the margins. (Lancelot and Gwenyvere exchange letters with Trystram at Tyntagel, 254v)

Scribal marginal note (last) at Gawayne's death-bed letter to Lancelot absolving him of all responsibility for his death.  

Possible Reader Responses in W. to the "Holy Cross" prophecy:

Richard Followell,  folio 438r

Richard Followell, folio 438v

Edward IV as the "Rose of Rouen" in the Towton Victory Poem (1461)

"Wimser Casell," folio 166v


John Audley's Poem of Henry V and Henry VI as the King ře hole cros wyn or he dye (c. 1429)

Malory's First Explicit (f. 180v)  (Deleted in Caxton's ed. prin.)