One of the means of obtaining a more comprehensive picture of the interests and concerns of the Tiburtina’s audience between the mid-eleventh and fifteenth centuries is the analysis of texts brought together in the surviving manuscripts. In a recent study Pamela Gehrke analysed the content of manuscripts that contain at least one saint’s life for the purpose of reconstructing the principles of inclusion observed for each combination of texts. Gehrke concluded that:

in the absence of generic distinctions then, manuscripts can be characterised by reference to the audiences and the implied problems they address. Rather than collecting specific texts or types of texts, it appears that the scribe sought materials to serve a particular function and included whatever he found suitable to that function regardless of genre. 1

Gehrke’s study is a rare one. Currently only a handful of scholars conduct research directed specifically at disclosing the considerations that resulted in the inclusion of texts found in one medieval volume. Perhaps scholars worry that such research will only state the obvious. There is already a long tradition among literary historians of analysing the content with which a text is associated in manuscripts to obtain ‘some indication of the milieu in which a particular collection was assembled and also of how a text was categorised’. 2 This tradition is founded, first, on the awareness that a single text may give rise to many possible responses and, second, on the presumption that compilations are not random or casual but purposeful. Consequently all the texts in a compilation must (in the compiler’s view) be linked in some way. A compilation therefore preserves not only the texts themselves but also implicitly the compiler’s understanding of his material which is reflected in the focus or central theme of a compilation. Modern historians can access this central theme by analysing the network of ideas which connects the associated content of a collection. Thus the associated content of Tiburtina manuscripts provides a tool with which we can gauge how medieval readers read the prophecy. 3