Breudwd Welsh Prose 1300-1425

TEI Header for Oxford Jesus College MS. 111 (The Red Book of Hergest)

: 'Oxford Jesus College 111 (The Red Book of Hergest): An Electronic Edition' TEI header

: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Whitefriars, Lewins Mead, Bristol BS1 2AE 0117 987 6500

Principal Investigator: Peter Wynn Thomas

Transcribed and encoded by D. Mark Smith

Transcribed and encoded by Diana Luft

School of Welsh, Cardiff University Cardiff 2013

  • : Oxford
  • : Jesus College
  • : 111
  • : Oxford, Jesus College 1
  • : The Red Book of Hergest

The manuscript is a compendium of Welsh prose and poetry dating from around the year 1400. It has been referred to as 'the richest single manuscript compilation of medieval Welsh literature' (Lewis 1971: 481), a 'one-volume library', and 'by far the heaviest of the medieval books in Welsh, the largest in its dimensions... and the thickest' Huws (2000: 82).

Jesus 111 is the work of three scribes and contains a wide variety of texts including narrative and romance material such as all eleven tales of the Mabinogion corpus, the Charlemagne material, Ystoria Bown de Hamtwn, Amlyn ac Amig and Saith Doethion Rhufain. It also contains the historical texts Ystoria Dared, Brut y Brenhinoedd, Brut y Tywysogion, and Brut y Saeson, a collection of medical texts attributed to the Physicians of Myddfai, the instructional text on Hwsmonaeth, the geographical text Delw'r Byd, a grammar, and prophecies, triads, and proverbs.

Daniel Huws (2000: 82) suggests that the reasoning behind the selection of texts was 'to gather into one book the classics of Welsh literature', and that legal and religious material was deliberately passed over in the collection because the patron already possessed manuscripts containing these texts. D. Simon Evans (1959: xxxvii) proposed that Llyfr Coch Talgarth (Llanstephan 27), a collection of religious texts in the same hands as this manuscript, may be the companion manuscript that supplied the religious material. Images of this manuscript are availale online at the 'Early Manuscripts at Oxford University' website at

Gathering Page Columns Contents Hand
1 1r-8r 1-29.39 Ystoria Dared Red Book hand A
1 8r 29.39-30 Ystoria Dared Hywel Fychan
2-3 8v-26v 31-104 Brut y Brenhinoedd Red Book hand A
folios missing
3-6 27r-58r 105-230.11 Brut y Brenhinoedd Red Book hand AI
6-8 58r-89v 230.20-319, 340-376.8 Brut y Tywysogion Red Book hand A
8 89v-90r 376.9-377.18 Gildas Hen Broffwyd Hywel Fychan
8 90r-90v 377.23-380 Cantrefi a Chymydau Cymru Hywel Fychan
9 91r-98r 381-409 Ystoria Carolo Magno: Chronicl Turpin Red Book hand A
9-10 98r-111r 409-460 Ystoria Carolo Magno: Rhamant Otfel Red Book hand A
10 111r-114v 460-475 Ystoria Carolo Magno: Cân Rolant Red Book hand A
A note in YCM states that a leaf is missing here. According to Gifford Charles Edwards's collation of the manuscript, however, there is no leaf missing; rather, the catchword at the bottom of 114v does not correspond to the first word of 115r.
11 115r-117r 476-484 Ystoria Carolo Magno: Cân Rolant Red Book hand A
11 117r-121v 484-502 Ystoria Carolo Magno: Chronicl Turpin Red Book hand A
11 121v-125r 502-516 Delw'r Byd Hywel Fychan
single 125r-125v 516-518 Chronicle Hywel Fychan
12 126r-127v 520-527 Hwsmonaeth Hywel Fychan
12 127v-134v 527-555 Saith Doethion Rhufain Hywel Fychan
12-13 134v-138v 555-571 Breuddwyd Rhonabwy Hywel Fychan
13 139r-141r 571a-577 Proffwydoliaeth Sibli Ddoeth Hywel Fychan
13 141r-142v 577-583 Kyvoessi myrdin a gwendyd y chwaer, not transcribed Hywel Fychan
13 143r 584-585 Gwasgardgerd vyrdin yn y bed, not transcribed Hywel Fychan
13 143r 585 Sant Awstin am dewder y ddaear Hywel Fychan
13 143r 585 Hyn a ddywedodd yr Enaid Hywel Fychan
13 143r-144r 585-588 Yr Eryr yng Nghaer Septon Hywel Fychan
13 144r 588 Trioedd Ynys Prydain Hywel Fychan
13 144r 588-589 Pan aeth llu i Lychlyn Hywel Fychan
13 144r-147r 589-600 Trioedd Ynys Prydain Hywel Fychan
13 147r 600 Cas Bethau Hywel Fychan
13-14 147r-148r 600-604 Enwau ac Anrhyfeddodau Ynys Prydain Hywel Fychan
14 148v blank
14-15 149r-154r 605-626 Ystoria Carolo Magno: Pererindod Siarlymaen Red Book hand A
15-16 154v-161v 627-655 Owain Hywel Fychan
16-17 161v-172r 655-697 Peredur Hywel Fychan
17 172r-174r 697-705 Breuddwyd Macsen Hywel Fychan
17 174r-175r 705-710 Cyfranc Lludd a Llefelys Hywel Fychan
17 175r-179v 710-726 Y gainc gyntaf Hywel Fychan
17-18 179v-182v 726-739 Yr ail gainc Hywel Fychan
18 182v-185v 739-751 Y drydedd gainc Hywel Fychan
18 185v-190r 751-769 Y bedwaredd gainc Hywel Fychan
18-19 190r-200r 769-809 Geraint Hywel Fychan
19-20 200v-210r 810-844 Culhwch ac Olwen Hywel Fychan
20-22 210r-231r 845-928 Ystoria Bown de Hamtwn Hywel Fychan
22 231r-233v 928-939 Meddyginiaethau Hywel Fychan
22 233v 939 Y Misoedd Hywel Fychan
22 234r 940 Gollwng Gwaed Hywel Fychan
22 234r 940-941 Argoelion y Flwyddyn Hywel Fychan
22 234r-235r 941-945 Meddyginiaethau Hywel Fychan
22 235r-235v 945-947 Campau'r Cennin Hywel Fychan
22 235v-236v 947-950 Ansoddau'r Trwnc Hywel Fychan
22 236v 950-951 Meddyginiaethau Hywel Fychan
22 236v-237r 951-955 Latin medical text, not transcribed Hywel Fychan
22 237v-238r 955-956 Meddyginiaethau Hywel Fychan
22 238r-238v 956-959 Llythyr Aristotlys at Alecsander: Rheolau Iechyd Hywel Fychan
22 239r-242v 960-974 Diarhebion Hywel Fychan
22 242v 974-975 Mabiaith Hengyrys o Iâl Hywel Fychan
22-23 242v-248v 975-998 Delw'r Byd Hywel Fychan
23 248v 998-999 O'r Ddaear hyd at y Lloer Hywel Fychan
23 248v-253v 999-1019 Brut y Saeson Hywel Fychan
23 254r-254v 1020-1022 O Oes Gwrtheyrn Gwrthenau Hywel Fychan
23 254v 1023 blank
23 255r blank
23, 24, 25 255v-263v 1024-1057 Poetry, not transcribed Hywel Fychan
25 264r-270v 1057-1083 Diarhebion Hywel Fychan
25-26 271r-278v 1085-1115 Amlyn ac Amig Hywel Fychan
26 278v 1116 blank
27 279r-285r 1117-1142 Gramadeg y Penceirddiaid Hywel Fychan
27-28 285v-302v 1142-1212 Poetry, not transcribed Hywel Fychan and X91

The following texts were consulted during the transcription:

  • Bromwich, Rachel. ed. 1979. Trioedd Ynys Prydein, 2nd edition. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
  • Bromwich, Rachel and Evans, D. Simon. eds. 1992. Culhwch and Olwen: An Edition and Study of the Oldest Arthurian Tale. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
  • Diverres, Pol. ed. 1913. Le plus ancien texte des Meddygon Myddveu. Paris: Maurice le Dault.
  • Evans, J. Gwenogvryn. ed. 1909. Kymdeithas Amlyn ac Amic. Llanbedrog: J.G. Evans.
  • Evans, J. Gwenogvryn and Rhŷs, John. eds. 1890. The Text of the Bruts from the Red Book of Hergest. Oxford: J.G. Evans.
  • Evans, J. Gwenogvryn and Rhŷs, John. eds. 1887. The Text of the Mabinogion and other Welsh tales from the Red Book of Hergest. Oxford: J.G. Evans.
  • Evans, R. Wallace. ed. 1984. Proffwydoliaeth Sibli Ddoeth. Llên Cymru 14. 216-223.
  • Hay, William. ed. 1955. Diarhebion Cymru. Liverpool: Gwasg y Brython.
  • Lewis, Henry. ed. 1925. Chwedleu Seith Doethon Rufein. Wrexham: Hughes a'i Fab.
  • Lewis, Henry. ed. 1938. Proffwydolyaeth yr eryr. BBCS 9. 112-115.
  • Lewis, Henry and Diverres, Pol. eds. 1928. Delw y Byd (Imago Mundi). Cardiff: University of Wales Press
  • Jones, Thomas. ed. 1955. Brut y Tywysogyon or The Chronicle of the Princes: Red Book of Hergest Version. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
  • Richards, Melville. ed. 1948. Breudwyt Ronabwy. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
  • Roberts, Brynley. ed. 1975. Cyfranc Llud a Llefelys. Dublin: DIAS.
  • Roberts, Brynley. ed. 2006. Breudwyt Maxen Wledic. Dublin: DIAS.
  • Thomas, Peter Wynn. ed. 2000. Peredur: golygiad lleiafol. Cardiff: School of Welsh.
  • Thomson, R. L. ed. 1986. Owein or Chwedyl Iarlles y Ffynnawn. Dublin: DIAS.
  • Thomson, R. L. ed. 1997. Ystorya Gereint uab Erbin. Dublin: DIAS.
  • Williams, Ifor. ed. 1908. Breuddwyd Maxen. Bangor: Jarvis a Foster.
  • Williams, Ifor. ed. 1923. Hen draethawd ar Hwsmonaeth. BBCS 2. 8-16.
  • Williams, Ifor. ed. 1929. Enwau ac Anryfeddodau Ynys Prydain. BBCS 5. 19-24.
  • Williams, Ifor. ed. 1978. Pedeir Keinc y Mabinogi. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
  • Williams, Patricia. ed. 1982. Kedymdeithyas Amlyn ac Amic. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
  • Williams, Stephen J. ed. 1968. Ystorya de Carolo Magno. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
  • Williams, Robert. ed. 1892. Campeu Charlymaen. Selections from the Hengwrt Manuscripts. London: T. Richards. 1-118

There are two systems of foliation in the manuscript. The apparently earlier system (?16th century) is in blank and can be found in the top left corner of each page. An apparently more modern system can be found in pencil in the top right corner of each recto page. The editors have followed the second system for the purposes of this transcription.

Two columns are numbered 268 on page 67v. These have been labelled 268a and 268b in the transcription.

On page 80r the column numbering skips from 319 to 340.

Two columns are numbered 405 on folio 97r. These have been labelled 405a and 405b in the transcription.

Four columns are numbered 571 on folio 139. These have been labelled 571a to 571d in the transcription.

Two columns are numbered 723 on folio 178v. These have been labelled 723 and 723a in the transcription.

Five columns are numbered 837 on folio 207 and folio 208r. These have been labelled 837a to 837e in the transcription.

Catchwords are occasionally found in the bottom right hand corner of the page; others may have been cut out later as a result of the process of binding. All catchwords are in the hand of the main scribe unless otherwise noted. Examples may be seen on folios 10v: en yr eỽic, 22v: y teruynỽys lles, 30v: y rei a ỽnant, 42v: o tebygu, 54v: ỽynteu, 66v: a gỽedy, 78v: a e wyr, 102v: wanei, 114v: Sef a oruc, 137v: helym, 147v: vyd idaỽ, 157v: benn, 169v: ae loneit (unclear), 181v: doeth, 193v: hynny, 205v: Oed well, 217v: a luyda, 229v: heb y boỽn, 245v: y gorỻewin

The manuscript is generally in good condition and easy to read. The first few pages have suffered damage making them more difficult to read.

Several folios have gone missing between folio 26 and folio 27.

There is one page missing between folio 114 and folio 115; page and column numbering continue unaffected.

The text is written in two columns of between 36 and 52 lines to each page.

The manuscript is written in the late-fourteenth-century or rounded textura hands of three contemporary scribes. Red Book hand A is responsible for penning folios 1-89, 91-121, 149-154 and parts of 285-302. Folios 8r, 89-90, 212-148, 154-253, 255-285 and parts of 285-302 are written in the hand of Hywel Fychan. This scribe is also responsible for penning Peniarth 11 which contains a copy of Ystoriau Seint Greal, Philadelphia 8680 which contains a copy of Ystoria Dared and Brut y Brenhinoedd, Oxford Jesus College 57 which contains a copy of Llyfr Blegywryd, and most of the Red Book of Talgarth (Llanstephan 27, Peniarth 12, and pages 101-112 of Cardiff 3.242), a compendium of religious texts. The third scribe, who was responsible for penning folio 254 and parts of folios 285-302, is known as the scribe of the Llyfr Teg (Peniarth 32), so called for the regularity and legibility of his writing, or 'X91' following Daniel Huw's designation. Peniarth 32 contains a copy of the legal text Llyfr Iorwerth and a collection of shorter texts in Welsh and Latin. He also wrote Peniarth 19 which contains a copy of the historical texts Ystoria Dared, Brut y Brenhinoedd, Brut y Tywysogion, and Brut y Saeson; Peniarth 190, which contains a copy of the religious texts Ystoria Lucidar, Ymborth yr Enaid, and Penityas; and Llanstephan 4 which contains a collection of short texts including Buchedd Dewi, Buchedd Beuno, Breuddwyd Pawl, Purdan Padrig, Claddedigaeth Arthur, and Chwedlau Odo.
‘Red Book hand A’

Hand A uses both regular and medial <a>. The medial <a> often serves almost as a capital, and is commonly found at the beginning of names and clauses.

The orthography of this scribe does not differ substantially from expected forms.

‘Hywel Fychan’

Hywel Fychan uses both regular and medial <a>. The medial <a> often serves almost as a capital, and is commonly found at the beginning of names and clauses.

The orthography of this scribe does not differ substantially from expected forms.

The text contains a number of common abbreviations. These have been expanded in the transcription to the forms that are given elsewhere in the text itself rather than to standard or dictionary forms.

  • macron for <n>: aetha[n]t 7.16; agamemno[n] 14.44, 15.45, 22.45, etc.; alexa[n]der 24.47; amge[n] 23.35; arnu[n]t 27.49 etc.; attu[n]t 22.14 etc.
  • macron for <in>: brenh[in] 134.41, 164.5, 222.22, 224.5, 240.46, 250.11, 255.7, 268b.27, 361.9, 410.28, 411.21, 425.20 etc.
  • macron for <m>: agame[m]non 14.52, 19.7, 21.41 etc.; a[m]heraỽdyr 21.7; a[m]ser 182.46; ka[m]meu 4.5; ke[m]meis 377.34; ky[m]erth 77.33 etc.
  • <’> for <er>: alexand[er] 7.13, 7.41, 7.45 etc., amh[er]aỽdyr 528.41, 528.44, 529.8 etc.; amh[er]odres 529.25, 531.14, 532.6 etc.; amh[er]otraeth 532.42 etc.
  • <’> for <yr>: amheraỽd[yr] 508.8, 528.27, 528.37 etc.; catwallaỽd[yr] 280.12; ffenest[yr] 627.7, 869.30; lled[yr] 543.46 etc.
  • <’> for <ry>: p[ry]dein 590.43, 591.23, 592.7, 842.25 etc.
  • <’> for <r>: b[r]ytanyeit 190.24
  • <a> above a letter for <ra>: casand[ra] 8.24; kymhed[ra]ỽl 957.29, 959.3; d[ra] 19.40; d[ra]chevyn 694.16, 958.30; hymad[ra]ỽd 641.20 etc.
  • <e> above a letter for <re> b[re]nhin 173.6; d[re]ulaỽ 959.17; g[re]adur 958.40; p[re]ssỽylaỽ 384.2, 405b.32, 503.26 etc.
  • <i> above a letter for <ri>: ap[ri]lis 502.15; eb[ri]ll 941.7; g[ri]st 461.45, 498.27; g[ri]stonogaeth 859.24; g[ri]stonogaỽl 609.25; p[ri]af 8.26, 11.15, 11.18 etc.
  • <o> above a letter for <ro>: g[ro]ec 9.8, 9.18, 11.20 etc.; t[ro]ea: 28.39
  • <9> for <ur>: arth[ur] 159.44, 167.30, 171.26 etc.; gỽneuth[ur] 1.40, 3.42, 4.31, etc.; phered[ur] 591.36, 655.17, 656.18 etc.; ruth[ur] 453.32 etc.
  • <9> for <us>: anlyed[us] 854.20; anryded[us] 442.32, 497.20, 560.18 etc.; brut[us] 38.2; carent[us] 573.14; karol[us] 383.40; keỽilyd[us] 447.44 etc.
  • <p> with a tail for <pro>: p[ro]uedic 947.15; p[ro]pt[er] 377.17; p[ro]phỽydi 571c.11; p[ro]phỽytolyaỽl 570.15
  • <p> with a crossed tail for <per>: p[ar]hau 957.20; p[er]ued 503.25, 510.19; p[er]ffeith: 1125.22; p[er]siden 573.18

The scribes also abbreviate commonly occurring names and words:

  • <anti[christus]>: 575.30
  • <arb[et]>: 957.30
  • <b[e]red[ur]>: 670.31
  • <c[etera]>: 829.3, 829.9, 829.12 etc.
  • <k[affel]>: 828.44
  • <kan[ys]>: 959.4, 959.13, 959.32 etc.
  • <k[effych]>: 828.20, 828.32, 828.39 etc.
  • <keff[ych]>: 829.5, 829.7, 829.39 etc.
  • <kyg[or]>: 754.40
  • <k[ymwt]>: 379.30
  • <K[yt]>: 829.20
  • <d[auy]d>: 361.2, 983.30, 1021.31 etc.
  • <[dece]m>: 572.16
  • <d[omini]>: 497.39
  • <Ecc[lesiasticus]>: 377.16
  • <g[ennyf]>: 829.7, 829.20, 829.39 etc.
  • <gof[yn]>: 556.31
  • <gr[uffud]>: 280.12, 355.40
  • <gruff[u]d>: 290.31, 296.11, 296.39, 300.35 etc.
  • <gruff[ud]>: 281.21, 302.38
  • <gru[fud]>: 370.24
  • <gỽalch[mei]>: 691.10
  • <gỽrag[ed]>: 681.44
  • <gwrag[ed]>: 947.19
  • <h[awd]>: 828.44, 829.3, 829.7 etc.
  • <ha[wd]>: 828.32
  • <Je[ua]n>: 509.17, 1021.34
  • <ih[esu]>: 497.41
  • <llywel[yn]>: 317.10, 353.44, 367.23 etc.
  • <ll[ywelyn]>: 239.20, 240.28, 347.18 etc.
  • <mared[u]d>: 296.42, 366.46
  • <Mared[ud]>: 279.20, 280.2, 281.24 etc.
  • <mlyn[ed]>: 703.26, 1021.3
  • <or[uc]>: 837d.30, 1093.8, 1097.34 etc.
  • <r[egnum]>: 377.16
  • <rod[af]>: 442.1
  • <M[ab]>: 570.2, 570.3, 570.5 etc.
  • <m[ul]ieru[m]>: 502.12
  • <O[mega]>: 486.14
  • <p[eredur]>: 661.44, 662.6, 662.8 etc.
  • <p[ul]cherima>: 502.11
  • <Rod[ri]>: 1020.19
  • <spe[cie]s>: 502.11

Punctuation consists of the punctus and the punctus elevatus.

In the main decoration consists of large initial letters in red ink. In some places there are line-drawings in the margins. An example of a winged beast in red ink may be seen at the bottom margin of 130r.

In some cases there are line-drawings in the bottom margin associated with catchwords. Examples may be seen at:

  • 10v: ?horse's head
  • 102v: beast with man's head on one end and horse's head on the other
  • 205v: beast with human head in red ink, beast with animal head in brown ink
  • 217v: beast in red ink
  • 229v: beast in red ink

In some places the scribe or decorator has drawn pictures – often of fish or human faces – into the decorated letters found at the tops of lines. Examples may be seen at:

  • <b>: 475.1, 479.1, 480.1, 483.1, 487.1 (face)
  • <d>: 470.1, 469.1, 471.1, 472.1, 479.1, 480.1, 483.1, 484.1, 485.1, 488.1 (fish)
  • <d>: 468.1, 474.1, 482.1, 483.1 (face)
  • <h>: 468.1, 469.1, 470.1, 471.1, 473.1, 474.1, 475.1, 476.1, 477.1, 478.1, 480.1, 481.1, 484.1, 486.1, 487.1, 488.1, 489.1 (face)
  • <j>: 469.1 (face)
  • <l>: 469.1, 470.1, 476.1, 477.1, 478.1, 484.1, 485.1 (face)
  • <l>: 483.1 (two faces)

In some cases the person responsible for filling in the decorated initials has missed one and only a space indicates where the letter should be. Examples may be seen at:

  • <A>: 480.11
  • <C>: 486.25
  • <G>: 470.41

At 497.19, the person responsible for filling in the decorated initials has filled in the wrong letter: here we have <Aan> instead of the expected <Pan>.

There are some marginalia in later hands in the manuscript which have not been included in the transcription:

  • 32 RM.9
  • 33 LM.8
  • 33 IL.17-18, 28-9
  • 34 RM.36, 44-6
  • 36 RM.47, 50
  • 38 RM.39
  • 42 RM.9
  • 47 RM.13, 30
  • 47 LM.22-32
  • 47 IL.29-30
  • 49-50 TM
  • 50 RM.1-5
  • 59 LM.23-9
  • 64 RM.31
  • 65 LM.36-8
  • 66 RM.4-8
  • 75 LM.16
  • 76 IL.19-20
  • 94 RM.29
  • 96 RM.24: RM
  • 102 RM.25-6
  • 103 LM.18-22, 24
  • 106 RM.30-1, 39-41
  • 484 LM.22: 'Rolant' (unclear, later hand)
  • 502 IL.17:' Delw yr [...] Byd' (later hand)
  • 502 IL.18: 'imago mundi.' (unclear, later hand)
  • 537 RM.33: 'Quaedam' (later hand)
  • 550 LM.42: 'ar ffỽrỽr y sỽr.' (later hand)
  • 550 LM.44: 'ysclyfyeit' (later hand)
  • 554-555 TM: 'chwedleu y Seith [...]' (later hand)
  • 555 IL.9: 'Llywelyn offeiriat' (unclear, later hand)
  • 555 BM: 'nillystwn trefan' (later hand)
  • 558 LM.17: 'Jdawc cord prydein' (later hand)
  • 561 RM.24: 'gwaith badon' (later hand)
  • 561 RM.33: 'karadawg' (later hand)
  • 571d BM: 'Cystennin' (later hand)
  • 590 LM.7: 'Constantinus in agnus Arthur [...] Avus fuit. viz Arthur ab Uthur ab Cystennin' (later hand)
  • 592.7 SL: 'Balfawt' (later hand)
  • 609 TM: 'ystoria Charlys' (later hand)
  • 625 TM: 'ystoria Charlys' (later hand)
  • 633 BM: illegible (later hand)
  • 650 BM: 'athristeu' (later hand)
  • 652 BM: 'athyieu' (modern hand)
  • 654 BM: 'a vynnei drigiaỽ yn llys arthur' (modern hand)
  • 687-688 BM: illegible (later hands)
  • 730 LM.18, 40
  • 730 BM
  • 734 RM.40
  • 734 BM
  • 738 LM.30
  • 738 BM
  • 741 RM.2, 19, 25
  • 765 RM.40
  • 765 BM
  • 770 LM.34
  • 781 BM
  • 837d LM.25
  • 849 LM.40
  • 841 BM
  • 888 IL.19-20
  • 957.1 TM: 'vwyta' (later hand)
  • 1012 TM: 'Brut y Normanied' (later hand)
  • 1015 TM: 'Brut y Normanied' (later hand)
  • 1016 TM: 'Brut y Normanied' (later hand)
  • 1018 TM: 'Brut y Normanied' (later hand)
  • 1019 BM: '1382' (later hand)
  • 1020-1021 TM: 'Rif y vlyneddci rwng vn venydys oe gilyd a cewvo laeth [...] er amser a weitheieu hyt John brenhin.' (later hand)
  • 1022 BM: illegible (later hand)

Notes in a number of modern hands precede the manuscript and are bound with it:

  • i:
  • ii:
  • iii r-iv v: The beginning of Darius Phrygius in a late hand
  • v: blank
  • vi: A brief index in a late hand
  • vii r-xi v: blank

The manuscript was produced at the end of the fourteenth century in Wales, and is named after Hergest Court in Herefordshire, where it was kept from about 1465 until perhaps the mid sixteenth century.

G. J. Williams (1948: 147) was the first to propose that the manuscript might have been commissioned by Hopcyn ap Tomas. This suggestion was made on the grounds that the manuscript contains five poems addressed to Hopcyn and one addressed to his son Tomas ap Hopcyn, as well as a short wisdom text called Casbethau Gwilym Hir Saer Hopkin ap Thomas. The suggestion is borne out by the fact that the scribe Hywel Fychan is known to have produced manuscripts for Hopcyn ap Tomas of Ynystawe, as his colophon in Philadelphia 8680 attests: 'y llyuyr hwnn a yscriuennwys howel vychan uab howel goch o uuellt yn llwyr onys gwnaeth agkof adaw geir neu lythyren. o arch a gorchymun y vaester nyt amgen Hopkyn uab thomas uab einawn'. Prys Morgan (1978: 46-47) has shown that Hopcyn ap Tomas was actually connected to the estate at nearby Ynysforgan rather than to Ynystawe. A full account of Hopcyn ap Tomas may be found in James (1993).

Prys Morgan(1978) traces the reasons behind the transfer of the manuscript from the possession of the descendants of Hopcyn ap Tomas to the Vaughans of Hergest. It appears that the manuscript was amongst the goods belonging to Hopcyn ap Rhys ap Hopcyn forfeited to the Vaughans of Tretŵr in 1465 as a result of Hopcyn's support for the Lancastrian Jasper Tudor's uprising against Edward IV in 1464. Morgan conjectures that the manuscript may have remained with the Vaughans at Tretŵr for a time before being passed to the Hergest branch of the family, because they maintained an interest in bardism and Welsh letters longer than the branch at Tretŵr. This suggestion is based on the presence of two awdlau in the manuscript by Lewis Glyn Cothi which are addressed to Sir Thomas Vaughan of Tretŵr and his three sons.

About 1565-8, William Salesbury stated that he had seen the manuscript in the possession of Sir Henry Sidney (1529-1586) at Ludlow when Sir Henry was president of the council of Wales and the Marches, and that it was borrowed from him by Siancyn Gwyn of Llandiloes. The manuscript appears to have been in the possession of the Mansels of Margam by the early seventeenth century. According to Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt, the Red Book was in the possession of Sir Thomas Mansel (d. 1631) at Margam, and John Davies of Mallwyd borrowed it from his son, Sir Lewis Mansel of Margam (d. 1638) in 1634. Morgan (1978: 54) suggests that the manuscript came into the possession of the Mansels through the agency of Catherine Sidney, grand-daughter to Henry Sidney, who went on to marry Sir Lewis Mansel.

Morgan (1978: 55) conjectures that the manuscript was loaned to Thomas Wilkins the elder, rector of Saint Mary Church, by Sir Edward Mansel (1637-1706), who was the patron of the living at this time, but that it was never returned to the Mansels. Edward Lhuyd claims to have spent two months having a manuscript copied during his visit to Thomas Wilkins in 1697, and scholars have assumed that this must refer to the Red Book.

A note in column 1371 of the manuscript attests that it was given to Jesus College, Oxford on February 17, 1701 by the Reverend Thomas Wilkins the younger of Llanblethian, the son of Thomas Wilkins the elder. A note in the hand of Thomas Wilkins now bound at the beginning of the manuscript states that the manuscript was sent out to be bound by Edward Lhuyd, and not returned to the college for the next 13 years.

The binding of the manuscript dates to 1851 (Evans 1898-1910: 1).

Information on the dating and hand of this manuscript is based on the following authorities:

  • Charles-Edwards, Gifford. 1980. The Scribes of the Red Book of Hergest. The National Library of Wales Journal 21. 246-256.
  • Evans, D. Simon. ed. 1959. Buched Dewi. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
  • Evans, J. Gwenogvryn. 1898-1910. Jesus 1=CXI. Report on Manuscripts in the Welsh Language 2. London: HMSO. 1-29.
  • Huws, Daniel. 2000. Medieval Welsh Manuscripts. Cardiff and Aberystwyth: University of Wales Press and the National Library of Wales.
  • Huws, Daniel. A Repertory of Welsh Manuscripts and Scribes. draft.
  • James, Christine. 1993. 'Llwyr Wybodau, Llên a Llyfrau': Hopcyn ap Tomas a'r Traddodiad Llenyddol Cymraeg. Hywel Teifi Edwards. ed. Cwm Tawe. Llandysul: Gwasg Gomer. 4-44.
  • Jones, Thomas. ed. 1955. Brut y Tywysogyon or The Chronicle of the Princes: Red Book of Hergest Version. Cardiff. University of Wales Press.
  • Lewis, Ceri. 1971. The Literary Tradition of Morgannwg down to the middle of the Sixteenth century. G. Williams. ed. The Glamorgan County History 3: The Middle Ages. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. 449-554.
  • Morgan, Prys. 1978. Glamorgan and the Red Book. Morgannwg 22. 42-60.
  • Roberts, Brynley. 1967. Un o lawysgrifau Hopcyn ab Tomas o Ynys Dawe. BBCS 22. 223-227.
  • Williams, G. J. 1948. Traddodiad Llenyddol Morgannwg. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.

The Welsh Prose 1350-1425 website is the product of an AHRC funded research projectundertaken by staff at the School of Welsh, Cardiff University from 2004 through 2007 called Corff Electronig o Ryddiaith Cymraeg Canol. The aim of this project was to produce machine-readable editions of all the medieval Welsh prose texts which have been preserved in manuscripts dating from c.1350 to c.1425.

The project is a continuation and a development of two previous projects funded by the University of Wales which transcribed the Welsh prose in manuscripts dated to c.1250-c.1350.

The intention is to give scholars access not only to texts that have hitherto remained unedited but also to the different versions of texts that have been the subject of critical editions.

Certain decorative features have been encoded: these may trigger further study of the original manuscripts. Primarily, however, the resource provides detail which it is hoped will further the study of the language and literature of the period.

In producing this edition, we have attempted to fulfil two different and often non-complementary if not opposing goals: to present a minimally edited edition of the text, and to represent as many visual features of the manuscript as possible.

Visual features of the text such as layout, and rubrication may prove to be as essential in textual interpretation as features such as punctuation, letter forms, capitalisation and word division, which are more usually invoked by scholars in the field.

The orthography of the original text has been maintained, even where it is idiosyncratic, as the unique characteristics of the scribe's spelling may shed light upon the language of the period as he, his audience, or patron used it. Where the scribe's orthography seems to merit particular attention, an editorial gloss has been added to indicate what we believe to have been the target form.

In some places, especially where the manuscript is damaged, we have supplied text. This serves the two-fold purpose of presenting a complete text and, perhaps more importantly, of indicating the size of the damaged area.

In order to make editorial intervention as transparent as possible, supplied text is clearly marked off from the manuscript text by a different font. Also in the spirit of editorial transparency, we have wherever possible used published editions for supplied text. Text supplied from published editions may suffer from obvious errors or significant differences in orthography from the manuscript text. We have refrained from imposing our own editorial actions on such features.

The transcription of this manuscript, as well as the information in this TEI header is based on the digital reproduction of the manuscript produced by Oxford University and available on their website at: As the editors have not checked the transcription against the original, information on the foliation and accompanying materials should be treated as provisional.

  • 8-Mar-2011 DL: edited TEI header
  • 16-Aug-2007 PWT: edited TEI header
  • 28-Mar-2007 – 11-May-2007 PWT: edited XML encoded files, produced table of corrections and amended where necessary
  • 22-Nov-2006 DL: converted Word files with shortcuts into XML files and corrected them
  • 12-May-2006 – 7-Nov-2006 DL: corrected electronic transcription of folios 1r-8r, 58r-81r, 113r-141r, 143r-148r, 149r-174v, 231r-236v, 237v-254v, 264r-285r
  • 10-May-2006 – 10-Nov-2006 DMS: corrected electronic transcription of folios 8v-57v, 82r-112v, 175r-230v
  • 10-May-2006 – 6-Nov-2006 DMS: checked DL's transcript of folios 1r-8r, 58r-81r, 113r-141r, 143r-148r, 149r-174v, 231r-236v, 237v-254v, 264r-285r against prints
  • 8-May-2006 – 31-Oct-2006 DL: checked DMS's transcript of folios 8v-57v, 82r-112v, 175r-230v against prints
  • 9-May-2006 – 3-Nov-2006 DL: transcribed folios 1r-8r, 58r-81r, 113r-141r, 143r-148r, 149r-174v, 231r-236v, 237v-254v, 264r-285r with shortcuts
  • 5-May-2006 – 20-Oct-2006 DMS: transcribed folios 8v-57v, 82r-112v, 175r-230v with shortcuts

The material has been transcribed separately.