. The pseudo-Nennius Recension – Historia Brittonum

This text is known only from interpolations to Cambridge Corpus Christi College MS 139, originally an early twelfth-century text of the fourth variant attributed to Gildas. The interpolations date from after 1166; it is copied in British Library MS Royal 13 B VII (Sixteenth century) and Cambridge Corpus Christi College MS 101 (seventeenth century), where the interpolations are inserted into the body of the text. A second group is represented by Cambridge University Library MS Ff.I.27 (ff 7-20) of the early thirteenth century, itself copied from Cambridge Corpus Christi College MS 139 with additions, and its copies in Oxford College of St John the Baptist MS 99.3 (early thirteenth century), British Library MS Harley 624 (seventeenth century) and Glasgow University Library MS Hunter 318 (seventeenth century). Another interpolated version is found in Durham Cathedral MS B II 35 and its copy in British Library MS Burney 310; again, these derive from Cambridge Corpus Christi College MS 139, which is the sole authority for the pseudo-Nennian additions.

There is thus no surviving manuscript of this recension and the available readings of all but the interpolations in Cambridge Corpus Christi MS 139 are derived from a pseudo-Gildas text; the statement of the interpolator that he has omitted the Saxon genealogies as inutiles shows that the original pseudo-Nennian recension was a derivative of the Harleian. However, Mommsen’s device of printing what he termed the Additamenta Nennii as additions to a Harleian recension text masks the relationships and differences between these three versions and misleadingly implies that we can be certain that the pseudo-Nennian recension differed from the Harleian in no ways other than those recorded by the interpolator of Cambridge Corpus Christi College MS 139.

It is unclear when the pseudo-Nennius recension was created. A terminus ante quem is provided by its use in the Irish translation known as Lebor Bretnach, associated with Gilla-Cóemáin, whose death date of 1072 is supported by the internal evidence of the text. Dumville thought it dated from the eleventh century and was from North Wales, although Thomas Clancy has suggested a Scottish origin in the second half of the eleventh century.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.