Manuscripts

Before it was printed in 1603, The Whole Prophesie was circulated at the Scottish court in manuscript.

Two manuscripts survive in the British Library. The oldest, Cotton Vespassian E.VIII, dates from the reign of James V of Scotland. It is a deluxe heraldic manuscript intended for the eyes of the king, and can be dated between 1532-1542.

The second, Sloane MS 1802, is an expanded version of Cotton Vespassian E.VIII written in Scots, dated to the reign of James VI of Scotland, and was probably copied before his accession to the English throne as James I. The surviving print edition of 1603 is a translation of this text.

The diary of the Edinburgh burgess, Robert Birel, refers to a third, printed Scots text, which has not survived, but which circulated in Edinburgh in 1603. 

We can summarise the relationship between the two manuscript, and two printed texts, as follows:

British Library Cotton Vespasian E.VIII (Scots) expanded into British Library Sloane MS 1802 (Scots) expanded into a conjectural Edinburgh edition, which was translated into English as the London Waldegrave edition
Texts of the Whole Prophesie

More information on these texts and their transmission will be found in M.B. Riordan, ‘Scottish Political Prophecies and the Crowns of Britain, 1500-1840’, in Julian Goodare and Martha McGill (eds),¬†The Supernatural in Early Modern Scotland¬†(Manchester: Manchester University Press, forthcoming).

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