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Walters Ms. W.81, History of the Destruction of Troy

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History of the Destruction of Troy

Text title
History of the Destruction of Troy with a Latin Poem on Drunkenness


Authority name: Colonne, Guido delle, 13th cent.

As-written name: Guido de Coluna

Supplied name: Guido delle Colonne

Known as: Guido de Columnis

Known as: Guido de Columna


This manuscript, probably made in the second half of the fourteenth century, bears witness to a long and lively history of use and collection. It contains a prose Latin history of the fall of Troy written in 1287 by Guido delle Colonne, whose account was enormously popular for several centuries after its composition and influenced, directly or in translation, the works of Chaucer and Shakespeare. This particular manuscript was likely made at a university for scholarly use, and its margins are filled with erudite notes from the fifteenth century. Many different individuals owned and signed the manuscript in its first centuries; one even wrote a Latin poem on drunkenness in one of its blank final pages. The manuscript eventually found its way into the hands of the notorious manuscript collector, Sir Thomas Phillipps.


Second half of 14th century CE








The primary language in this manuscript is Latin.

Support material


Medium to heavy weight; well selected and prepared


Foliation: ii+109+ii

Modern pencil foliation, upper right corners, rectos


Formula: 1-13(8), 14(6, -6)

Catchwords: Catchwords in lower right corners of the last verso of each quire, written in text-hand with brown ink

Signatures: First four folios of each quire numbered (1-4) at bottom center of recto in brown ink; also marked below, in black ink, with a combination of Greek and Roman letters

Comments: Quire 14 appears to be a gathering of four with an extra folio glued in at the front; quires begin on fols. 1(1), 9(2), 17(3), 25(4), 33(5), 41(6), 49(7), 57(8), 65(9), 73(10), 81(11), 89(12), 97(13), 105(14)


17.5 cm wide by 24.0 cm high

Written surface

12.25 cm wide by 17.5 cm high

fols. 1r - 109v:
  1. Columns: 2
  2. Ruled lines: 37
  3. Ruling in very thin ink visible around columns; prickings often visible at top and bottom
fols. 108v - 108v:
  1. Columns: 1

fols. 1r - 109v:
  1. Title: History of the Destruction of Troy with a Latin Poem on Drunkenness
  2. Hand note: Highly compressed gothic script known as "textura," with many abbreviations
  3. Decoration note: Navy blue decorated initials within red squares, with red flourishes (2-7 lines); paragraph marks in red and blue; rubrics in red; text in medium-brown ink
fols. 1r - 106v:
  1. Title: History of the Destruction of Troy
  2. Author: Colonne, Guido delle, 13th cent.
  3. Incipit: Licet cotidie vetera recentibus obruant
  4. Contents: Text divided into prologue and 34 books, concluding with two verse epitaphs and a colophon by Guido de Colonne
fols. 108v - 108v:
  1. Title: Latin Poem on Drunkenness
  2. Incipit: Ebrietas fovet
  3. Contents: A short anonymous poem on drunkenness
  4. Hand note: An English cursive hand, probably fifteenth-century


fol. 1r:

  1. W.81, fol. 1r
  2. Title: Decorated initial "L"
  3. Form: Text page with decorated initial "L," 5 lines
  4. Text: Prologue


The binding is not original.

Nineteenth-century binding, English; light brown calf with narrow decorative roll around edges and on spine; title stamped and gilt on spine; multicolored, comb-marbled pastedowns


Created in England, second half of fourteenth century; perhaps made in a university scriptorium (e.g. Oxford or Cambridge)

Waler dei Klerla (?), fourteenth and fifteenth century (?); identified by very faint inscription on fol. 109r

No. 38 in a fifteenth-century (?) English library; numbered in top margin of fol. 1r

Homofredus Taylor, sixteenth century(?); inscribed twice on fol. 108v, along with the name "Atwodde"

Robertus Nebbus, sixteenth century (?); inscription on 109r: "Robertus Nebbus me possidet" (Robert Nebbus owns me)

Tailerus, sixteenth century (?); above inscription by Nebbus is written, "liber loquitur;" below is written, "veritas loquitur: Nequequam Nebbus te possidet, sed Tailerus" (The truth speaks: It is not Nebbus that owns you, but Tailerus)

Edward Conway (d. 1631), ownership signature on fol. 109v

Thomas Thorpe, bookseller, London, early nineteenth century; Thorpe's notation on upper right verso of first flyleaf; marked "Thorpe 1836" in pencil on center of the page (by Phillipps); his catalog no. 293 on verso of second flyleaf

Sir Thomas Phillipps, bought in 1836 from Thorpe; cat. no. 9409; bookplate removed, but number remains on spine; "Phillipps Ms." written in pencil at the center of the verso of the first flyleaf, with number erased

Sold at auction (Sothebys) by Thomas Fenwick (grandson of Phillipps) between 1893 and 1919; his inspection mark in interior upper corner of the verso of the first flyleaf after the manuscript with date 1893

Henry Walters, Baltimore, acquired before 1931


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


Thorpe, Thomas. Catalogue of upwards of fourteen hundred manuscripts, upon vellum and paper, collected in this and other countries, forming, it is presumed, the most important and interesting collection ever offered for sale, particularly rich in English, Irish and Scotish history, from the conquest to the present time. London, 1836. no. 293.

De Ricci, Seymour. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935, p. 841, no. 484.

Griffin, Nathaniel E., ed. Historia Destructionis Troiae. Cambridge, MA: Medieval Academy of America, 1936. A critical edition of Guido's Latin text, with brief discussion of manuscripts (not W.81) in introduction.

Phillipps, Thomas. Catalogus Manuscriptorum in Bibliotheca D. Thomae Phillipps, Bart. Middle Hill, 1837. Facsimile edition published as The Phillipps Manuscripts by The Holland Press, London, 1968. no. 9409.


Catalogers: Kauffman, Nicholas; Walters Art Museum curatorial staff and researchers since 1934

Editors: Herbert, Lynley; Noel, William

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Conservators: Evers, Jennifer; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Bockrath, Diane; Emery, Doug; Noel, William; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.