This article proposes that Manchester, John Rylands Library, Latin MS 165 was an
‘accessory text’ produced and gifted within the Tudor court and
passed down by matrilineal transmission within the influential Fortescue family.
It proposes that from the text’s conception, the book of devotions
participated in various projects of self-definition, including Henry
VII’s campaign for the canonisation of his Lancastrian ancestor, Henry
VI. By analysing visual and textual evidence, it posits that later female owners
imitated the use of marginal spaces by the book’s original scribe and
illuminator. Finally, it traces the book’s ownership back from its
acquisition by the John Rylands Library to the viscounts Gage, in whose custody
the book underwent a transformation from potentially subversive tool of female
devotion to obscure historical artefact.