The noses and fingers of medieval manuscripts

One of the manuscripts I looked at this month in Oxford (Magdalen Lat 36, 13th c. English chronicle) had these very nice marginal scribblings that I thought would look nice in a post. They all point to a passage in the text that their author(s) considered noteworthy. The “ha ha” in the first image was jotted down by no-one other than John Foxe, the famous 16th-century historian and martyrologist. Long noses, fingers and other anthropomorphic elements have always something to tell us about the usage and reception of manuscripts. The vertical “symbol” in the last image is a NOTA BENE abbreviation, the ancestor of our typographical N.B.

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