BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
THE JAMES MARSHALL AND MARIE-LOUISE OSBORN
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPTS
Leycester's Commonwealth. England; ca. 1600.
The work is incomplete. Incipit: gentleman had saide this, the
lawier saide. (1584 ed., p. 19, line 5; 1641 ed., p. 14, line 10).
Explicit: suynge for their friends that are in trouble. (1584 ed., p.
179, line 32; 1641 ed., p. 161, line 33.
Paper, with watermark of pot, Bricquet 12741, St. Pol, 1589. 26 ff. The
manuscript is paginated, beginning with page 7 and ending on 59. 307 x
207 mm.; 1 column, 45-55 lines.
I (26). Catchwords on every page.
Cursive script. Unbound.
Purchased by Dobell from a lot at Sotheby's and then sold to James
M. Osborn. Bequest of Mr. Osborn, 1976.
Comments: Leicester's Commonwealth was first published in 1584,
probably in Antwerp with the full title, "The Copie of a leter, wryten
by a master of arte of Cambrige, to his friend in London, concerning
some talk past of late between two worshipful and grave men, about the
present state, and some procedings of the Erle of Leycester and his
friends in England." This edition was sent to England wrapped in green
paper covers and was thus known as "Father Parson's Green Coat," after
the falsely attributed author. The book, which charges Robert Dudley,
the Earl of Leicester and Queen Elizabeth's favorite, with many crimes
and misdeeds, including the murder of his wife Amy Robsart, was banned
in England, and shipments from Antwerp stopped. Consequently, the
worked was copied and distributed widely in manuscript form, such as
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