Methodology for the new edition of the Declaration of Arbroath
The Dynamic Edition of the Declaration of Arbroath
- A Guide to using the Dynamic Edition of the Declaration
- Methodology for the new edition of the Declaration of Arbroath
- The manuscripts of the Declaration
- Translating the Declaration of Arbroath
- 'Dynamic' Symbols: An Aide-Memoire
- How to cite
Dauvit Broun introduces his methodology, developed with Joanna Tucker, applying the principles of the dynamic edition, for his dynamic edition of the Declaration of Arbroath.
The objective of the new edition is to show the 'Declaration of Arbroath' that was available to be read in medieval Scotland, insofar as this is revealed by the surviving manuscripts. The text is well known as a contemporary duplicate original single sheet. It also survives in copies of a dossier of documents relating to Scottish independence found in for MSS containing Fordun’s canonical telling of Scottish history, and in works derived from Fordun. The earliest of these later MSS dates to the 1440s; in the following century or so there are 19 MSS altogether (five of them each contain two different versions of the text). The most recent edition (in 1970) aimed at reconstructing the ‘original’ text that was sent to the pope in 1320: this was based on a study of the duplicate original and five of the later copies. The new edition, by contrast, is exclusively concerned with making available the text as it was available to be read in medieval Scotland. This means editing the text in a way which gives equal weight to each scribe’s work—a task which requires new principles and procedures in editorial practice.
The methodology that follows aims to be tight and consistent so that it can be applied effectively to the work of collating texts in the MSS, and so that its results can be quickly understood. At the heart of the methodology is an approach to editing which focuses on communicating one primary aspect at a time, rather than attempting to provide for a range of information (as is typically the goal of a scholarly edition). In short, the methodology involves a different relationship between the editor and the MSS and the editor and the edition’s readers than is normally associated with a scholarly edition. The editor, rather than recording the text, aims to communicate its meaning as directly as possible. Perhaps a term like ‘translation-edition’ might help to differentiate this from the norm.
The core concept in this methodology is 'settled text'. Text in manuscripts is about handwriting as well as words. It is important therefore to recognise that everything is unsettled if a holistic view is taken, because no scribe exactly imitates their exemplar as if they are creating a facsimile (e.g., the proportions, handwriting, look and disposition of text on the page naturally differs).
'Settled text' and 'unsettled text' therefore depends on being selective about which dimensions of 'text' to focus on. The text is ‘abstracted’. For example, text can be treated simply as words, or as words spelt in various ways, and there are other dimensions of scribal activity, such as punctuation and text-divisions, and any alterations made during the course of writing or subsequently. Selectivity depends on whether the focus is on the text as it appears in each manuscript-witness, taking each in isolation, or on the text as it is found in all manuscript-witnesses taken together or in groups. What follows is chiefly a methodology for editing the text as it is found in groups of manuscript-witnesses (and potentially all manuscript-witnesses). It will be useful, however, at the end to note what ‘settled’ and ‘unsettled’ means in the different context of a manuscript-witness taken in isolation.
Manuscripts taken together or in groups
Instead of thinking of the relationship between the MSS in a 'genealogical' sense by constructing a stemma (particularly with a view to recreating an 'original' text), a different kind of relationship between the MSS is envisaged. Here the variations in readings between the manuscripts is central. In this context 'settled text' is where there is no variation between what is found in each MS, and 'unsettled text' is where at least one MS varies from what is found in the others. ‘Settled text’ is not, therefore, another way of referring to the ‘original’ text: indeed, the issue of what the ‘original’ text may have been does not arise. In the context of manuscripts taken together or in groups, it refers primarily to words as units of meaning, rather than as sequences of letters: i.e., the words in a standardised form, rather than the way words are spelt in each manuscript. The availability of standard spellings differs between Latin and the vernacular, and can be more arbitrary for the latter. In the case of a text that includes Latin and vernacular words (e.g., vernacular proper nouns), therefore, this difference can be communicated by rendering standardised vernacular words in italics. A standard framework of sentence-division is also required.
This focus on standardised words is a radical narrowing of what is normally communicated to the reader. Anyone who is used to scholarly editions might find it disconcerting that the manuscript-spellings are not recorded. It might be explained that the edition could be read alongside an edition of each individual manuscript, as described below. An alternative is to provide the spelling and sentence-division of the text as it appears in each manuscript as a supplement.
Identifying 'settled' and 'unsettled' text in the main edition
The identification of what is ‘settled’ and ‘unsettled’ text in this context depends on which words are standardised. A standard form of a word is used if the variation in spelling a vowel or consonant found in the MSS does not alter the meaning or intelligibility of a word. For example, whether sollicita is spelt with one or two ls might alter the syllable that is stressed, but does not alter its intelligibility as that particular word. The third syllable in barbaricis might be spelt with an a (barbaracis), but it is still obviously the same word. Sometimes a more idiosyncratic spelling is still readily intelligible because of the context. For example, Furgusius in a list of names is obviously Fergusius, and beatri Petri can readily be read as beati Petri. Some of these (like beatri) might be likened to a modern misprint which a reader would have little difficulty in understanding.
Text is therefore regarded as ‘unsettled’ if the difference between what is found in one manuscript and another would be likely to alter the way a word is read or understood. This includes a tiny change if it alters the grammar, or a probable miscopying if this results in a different word (e.g., pericula becoming picula). It also includes changes in word order. There is no guarantee that anyone reading the manuscript in the Middle Ages would not have made changes themselves in their mind or reading aloud: they might think that pericula is more likely than picula, and they might also change the word order. All of this is beyond our reach. What we can show is where scribes, as readers themselves, have (at some stage in the text’s transmission) made changes that could have altered the way the text was read, and to show where each ‘unsettled’ area occurs when the extant corpus of MSS is viewed as a whole (or in groups).
Supplementary view of the text in each manuscript
The prime objective here is to provide an opportunity for users to see how words are rendered in each manuscript. This, however, has to take into account that there are more Latin letter-forms (‘graphs’) than letters in a modern English font. In these cases, some standardisation is necessary.
Where Latin writing routinely has more than one graph for the same consonant (e.g., long s and rounded s, ‘v’ and ‘u’), these are standardised to one of them ('v' and 'u' = Latin 'u'). There may be a difference between upper and lowercase, however (‘uu’ and ‘W’). Note that the use of ‘y’ in the MS is retained, because it is not routinely an alternative to ‘i’. Note also that variation between ‘n’ and ‘m’ is not noted before ‘q’, chiefly because the abbreviation-stroke is ambiguous (usage follows whatever is the standard for the component before the ‘q’, e.g., ‘tamquam’ rather than ‘tanquam’). (In all other instances of ambiguity an apostrophe is used.)
Manuscripts in isolation
In the context of an individual manuscript taken in isolation, all detectable changes to the text (such as crossings out and insertions) are 'unsettled' text. As far as understanding the text ‘as it was available to be read’ is concerned, this approach gives greater emphasis to reading as a visible activity—the MS text-scribe as a reader (of both their exemplar and their own work), and later readers as annotators and correctors. This is essentially the same as a ‘document edition’. There is a potentially fundamental difference, however, in how the text is rendered if the goal is to make the scribe’s response to the text immediately intelligible to a modern reader (for example, by using modern rather than medieval punctuation). This approach has not yet been fully worked out!