The Manuscript Evidence
This chapter examines the provenance and production of manuscripts containing gentry romances, arguing that both the intended and actual audience of these texts was the same: late medieval England’s minor landowners. The author identifies two bodies of evidence signaling that non-commercial scribes produced these collections of romances—almost always working in the vicinity of their gentry owners, quite often in their households. First, the confluence of scribal dialect and provenance demonstrates that the scribes of the romances hailed from the immediate vicinity of the romances’ earliest owners, suggesting that the gentry commissioned such books from scribes who lived and worked near them. Second, the irregular and ad-hoc nature of these manuscripts similarly indicates that non-commercial scribes were responsible for their production.
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