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VERCELLI BOOK (CODEX VERCELLENSIS)

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Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 1017 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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VERCELLI BOOK (CODEX VERCELLENSIS), an Early English MS. containing, besides homilies, a number of poetical and imaginative pieces: Andreas, The Fates of the Apostles, Address of the Soul to the Body, Falseness of Men, Dream of the Rood, Elene and a prose Life of Guthlac. It was found in the cathedral library of Vercelli, Piedmont, by a German jurist Friedrich Blume, in 1822, and was first described in his Iter Italicum (Berlin and Stettin, 4 vols., 1824-36). An untenable explanation of the presence of the MS. at Vercelli suggested that it had been brought there by Johannes Scotus Erigena. But the hand-writing dates from the beginning of the 11th century, long after his death. According to Dr Walker the MS. probably belonged to the hospice for English pilgrims, founded, together with the monastery of St Andrew, by Cardinal Jacopo Guala-Bicchieri (d. 1227), a native of Vercelli and bishop of the city, in 1219, on his return from England, where he had been papal legate from 1216 to 1218. The cardinal, a man of wide learning, possessed a large library, which he left to the monastery; and the Vercelli codex may well have been included in it. Its contents were partially printed (by Benjamin Thorpe from Blume's transcript) in Appendix B to C. P. Cooper's Report of Rynceri Foedera for 1836; by J. M. Kemble, The Poetry of the Codex Vercellensis, with an English translation (Aelfric Soc., 1843-56), and in a better text based directly on the MS. by Walker in his edition of C. W. M. Grein's Bibliothek der A.S. Poesie (Leipzig, 1894), vol. ii. Codex Vercellensis, by Dr Richard Walker (Leipzig, 1894), is a facsimile of the MS. For the description and history of the MS. see also Walker's Grundriss . . . der A.S. Litteratur (1885), pp. 237-42, and A. Napier in Zeitschrift fur deutsches Altertum (Berlin, 1889, vol. 21, new series; old series, vol. 33, p. 66), for a collation of Walker's text with the MS. For the individual poems see also CYNEWULF.
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