The Project Gutenberg EBook of Old English Libraries, by Ernest Savage

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Title: Old English Libraries
       The Making, Collection, and Use of Books during the Middle Ages

Author: Ernest Savage

Release Date: December 28, 2014 [EBook #1615]

Language: English

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First Published in 1911


WITH the arrangement and equipment of libraries this essay has little to do: the ground being already covered adequately by Dr. Clark in his admirable monograph on The Care of Books. Herein is described the making, use, and circulation of books considered as a means of literary culture. It seemed possible to throw a useful sidelight on literary history, and to introduce some human interest into the study of bibliography, if the place held by books in the life of the Middle Ages could be indicated. Such, at all events, was my aim, but I am far from sure of my success in carrying it out; and I offer this book merely as a discursive and popular treatment of a subject which seems to me of great interest.

The book has suffered from one unhappy circumstance. It was planned in collaboration with my friend Mr. James Hutt, M.A., but unfortunately, owing to a breakdown of health, Mr. Hutt was only able to help me in the composition of the chapter on the Libraries of Oxford, which is chiefly his work. Had it been possible for Mr. Hutt to share all the labour with me, this book would have been put before the public with more confidence.

More footnote references appear in this volume than in most of the series of “Antiquary’s Books.” One consideration specially urged me to take this course. The subject has been treated briefly, and it seemed essential to cite as many authorities as possible, so that readers who were in the mood might obtain further information by following them up.

In a book covering a long period and touching national and local history at many points, I cannot hope to have escaped errors; and I shall be grateful if readers will bring them to my notice.

I need hardly say I am especially indebted to the splendid work accomplished by Dr. Montague Rhodes James, the Provost of King’s College, in editing The Ancient Libraries of Canterbury and Dover, and in compiling the great series of descriptive catalogues of manuscripts in Cambridge and other colleges. I have long marvelled at Dr. James’ patient research; at his steady perseverance in an aim which, even when attained—as it now has been—could only win him the admiration and esteem of a few scholars and lovers of old books.

I have to thank Mr. Hutt for much general help, and for reading all the proof slips. To Canon C. M. Church, M.A., of Wells, I am indebted for his kindness in answering inquiries, for lending me the illustration of the exterior of Wells Cathedral Library, and for permitting me to reproduce a plan from his book entitled Chapters in the Early History of the Church of Wells. The Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire have kindly allowed me to reproduce a part of their plan of Birkenhead Priory. Illustrations were also kindly lent by the Clarendon Press, the Cambridge University Press, Mr. John Murray, Mr. Fisher Unwin, the Editor of The Connoisseur, and Mr. G. Coffey, of the Royal Irish Academy. A small portion of the first chapter has appeared in The Library, and is reprinted by kind permission of the editors. Mr. C. W. Sutton, M.A., City Librarian of Manchester, has been in every way kind and patient in helping me. So too has Mr. Strickland Gibson, M.A., of the Bodleian Library, especially in connexion with the chapter on Oxford Libraries. Thanks are due also to the Deans of Hereford, Lincoln, and Durham, to Mr. Tapley-Soper, City Librarian of Exeter, and to Mr. W. T. Carter, Public Librarian of Warwick; also to my brother, V. M. Savage, for his drawings. The general editor of this series, the Rev. J. Charles Cox, LL.D., F.S.A., gave me much help by reading the manuscript and proofs; and I am grateful to him for many courtesies and suggestions.



I. The Use of Books in Early Irish Monasteries 1
II. The English Monks and their Books23
III. Libraries of the Great Abbeys—Book-Lovers among the Mendicants—Dispersal of Monkish Libraries45
IV. Book Making and Collecting in the Religious Houses73
V. Cathedral and Church Libraries109
VI. Academic Libraries: Oxford133
VII. Academic Libraries: Cambridge155
VIII. Academic Libraries: their Economy165
IX. The Use of Books towards the End of the Manuscript Period173
X. The Book Trade199
XI. The Character of the Medieval Library, and the Extent of Circulation of Books209
Appendix A. Prices of Books and Materials for Book-Making243
Appendix B. List of certain Classic Authors found in Medieval Catalogues258
Appendix C. List of Medieval Collections of Books263
Appendix D. List of the Principal Reference Works286


Writing in the Book of Kells14
      From Thompson’s Greek and Latin Palæography
Writing in Book of Armagh15
      From Thompson’s Greek and Latin Palæography
Writing in Græco-Latin Acts, probably used by Bede27
      From MS. Bodl. Laud. Gr. 35, f. 63
Writing in Benedictional of St. Ethelwold43
      From Archæologia, xxiv.
Plan of Scriptorium, Birkenhead Priory74
      Redrawn from Trans. of the Lancashire and Cheshire Historic Society
Ancient Stall, or Carrell, in Bishop’s Cannings Church, Wilts77
      From Cox and Harvey’s English Church Furniture
Tablet Case and Waxed Tablet84
      From Coffey’s Celtic Antiquities in the Museum of the R.I.A.
Plan showing Disposition of Books in Cistercian Houses93
      Redrawn from Gasquet’s English Monastic Life
Plan showing probable Situation of Library of Wells Cathedral in the Thirteenth Century122
      Redrawn from Canon Church’s Chapters in the History of Wells Cathedral
Bereblock View of Duke Humfrey’s Library140
      From MS. Bodl. 13
Autograph of Duke Humfrey of Gloucester191
      From MS. Harl. 1705. f. 96a
Record of Sale of Book captured at Poitiers234
      From MS. Reg. 19, D ii. opposite f. 1


Abbot Whethamstede Frontispiece
From MS. Cott. Nero, D vii. f. 27a
I. (a) Ancient Satchel of Irish Missal, Corpus Christi College, Oxford12
By permission of the Governing Body
(b) Cover of Stowe Missal12
Museum of Royal Irish Academy, Dublin (A.D. 1023-1052)
II. Illuminated Page of Book of Kells14
From Westwood’s Facsimiles
III. The Shrine of the Cathach Psalter, Eleventh Century16
From The Connoisseur, by permission of the Editor
IV. Cumdach of St. Molaise’s Gospels: Front and Bottom20
From Coffey’s Celtic Antiquities in Museum of Royal Irish Academy,
by permission of the Council
V. Benedictional of St. Ethelwold: Nativity of St. John the Baptist42
From Archæologia, xxiv.
VI. Benedictional of St. Ethelwold: The Ascension44
From Archæologia, xxiv.
VII. (a) Abbot Roger de Northone with his Books48
From MS. Cott. Nero, D vii. f. 18b
(b) Abbot Garin with his Books48
From MS. Cott. Claud., E iv. pt. i., f. 125a
VIII. Abbot Simon of St. Albans at his Book-Chest50
From MS. Cott. Claud., E iv. pt. i. f. 124
IX. Grey Friars, London (Christ’s Hospital): Old Hall and Whittington’s Library54
From Trollope’s History of Christ’s Hospital
X. Grey Friars Catalogue of Conventual Libraries58
From MS. Bodl. Tanner, 165, f. 119
XI. Twelfth Century Illumination from Bury St. Edmund’s Abbey64
From MS. 2, f. 281b, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge,
by permission of the Master and Fellows
XII. Westminster Illumination, Thirteenth Century68
From MS. Reg. 2 A xii. f. 14, Brit. Mus.
XIII. The Cloisters, Gloucester, showing Carrells76
From Murray’s Cathedrals
XIV. A Scribe and His Tools, From a Very Ancient MS.82
From MS. Harl. 2820, f. 120
XV. Furness Abbey: Cloisters and Chapter House94
XVI. Facsimile of Library Catalogue of Syon Monastery104
From Bateson’s Catalogue of Syon Monastery
XVII. Medieval Binding: Mr. Yates Thompson’s Hegesippus108
From Bateson’s Mediæval England
XVIII. Ancient Book-Box in Exeter Cathedral110
Photo by Heath & Bradnee, Exeter
XIX. Chained Books, Hereford Cathedral Library116
By permission of the Dean of Hereford
XX. Old Library, Lincoln Cathedral118
Photo by G. Hadleigh, Lincoln. By permission of the Dean of Lincoln
XXI. Wells Cathedral: Library Over Cloister122
Photo by T. W. Phillips, Wells
XXII. St. Mary’s Church, Oxford: First Home of University Library132
Photo by H. W. Taunt, Oxford
XXIII. (a) Illuminator of St. Albans134
From MS. Cott. Nero, D iii. f. 105
(b) Document bearing the Names of Members of the Book-Trade, c. 1180134
From Barnard’s Companion to English History
XXIV. (a) Duke Humfrey and Eleanor of Gloucester joining the Confraternity of St. Albans138
From MS. Cott. Nero, D vii. f. 154a
(b) Ancient Roof of Duke Humfrey’s Library138
Photo by Jas. Hutt, M.A.
XXV. Duke Humfrey’s Library, Oxford142
Photo by H. W. Taunt
XXVI. Library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford144
Photo by H. W. Taunt
XXVII. Merton College Library, Oxford152
Photo by H. W. Taunt
XXVIII. Public Schools and Library of the University, Cambridge156
From Loggan’s Cantab. Illus.
XXIX. Library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, from Master’s Garden170
Photo by H. W. Taunt
XXX. Carmelite in his Study184
From MS. Reg. 14 E i. f. 3, Brit. Mus.
XXXI. A Scribe (St. Mark writing his Gospel), from the Bedford Hours196
From Add. MS. 18850, f. 24, Brit. Mus.
XXXII. A Scribe at work, from Eadwine’s Psalter, c. 1150202
From Bateson’s Mediæval England
XXXIII. English Illuminated Work under French Influence, from Tenison Psalter214
From MS. Add. 24686, f. 12, Brit. Mus.
XXXIV. Fresco of the Seven Liberal Arts, by T. Gaddi, Church of S. M. Novella, Florence222
Photo by Alinari
XXXV. Ancient Vellum Book-Marker230
From MS. 49, Corpus Christi College, Camb.,
by permission of the Master and Fellows





“What tyme þat abbeies were first ordeyned
and monkis were first gadered to gydre.”
—Inscribed in MS. of Life of Barlaam and Josaphat,
Peterhouse, Camb.


TO people of modern times early monachism must seem an unbeautiful and even offensive life. True piety was exceptional, fanaticism the rule. Ideals which were surely false impelled men to lead a life of idleness and savage austerity,—to sink very near the level of beasts, as did the Nitrian hermits when they murdered Hypatia in Alexandria. But this view does not give the whole truth. To shut out a wicked and sensual world, with its manifold temptations, seemed the only possible way to live purely. To get far beyond the influence of a barbaric society, utterly antagonistic to peaceful religious observance, was clearly the surest means of achieving personal holiness. Monachism was a system designed for these ends. Throughout the Middle Ages it was the refuge—the only refuge—for the man who desired to flee from sin. Such, at any rate, was the truly religious man’s view. And if monkish retreats sheltered some ignorant fanatics, they also attracted many{2} representatives of the culture and learning of the time. This was bound to be so. At all times solitude has been pleasant to the student and thinker, or to the moody lover of books.

By great good fortune, then, the studious occupations which did so much to soften monkish austerities in the Middle Ages, were recognised early as needful to the system. Even the ascetics by the Red Sea and in Nitria did not deprive themselves of all literary solace, although the more fanatical would abjure it, and many would be too poor to have it. The Rule of Pachomius, founder of the settlements of Tabenna, required the brethren’s books to be kept in a cupboard and regulated lending them. These libraries are referred to in Benedict’s own Rule. We hear of St. Pachomius destroying a copy of Origen, because the teaching in it was obnoxious; of Abba Bischoi writing an ascetic work, a copy of which is extant; of anchorites under St. Macarius of Alexandria transcribing books; and of St. Jerome collecting a library summo studio et labore, copying manuscripts and studying Hebrew at his hermitage even after a formal renunciation of the classics, and then again, at the end of his life, bringing together another library at Bethlehem monastery, and instructing boys in grammar and in classic authors. Basil the Great, when founding eremitical settlements on the river Iris in Pontus, spent some time in making selections from Origen. St. Melania the younger wrote books which were noted for their beauty and accuracy. And when Athanasius introduced Eastern monachism into Italy, and St. Martin of Tours and John Cassian carried it farther afield into Gaul, the same work went on. In the cells and caves of Martin’s community at Marmoutier the younger monks occupied their time in writing and sacred study, and the older monks in prayer.[1] Sulpicius Severus{3} (c. 353-425), the ecclesiastical historian, preferred retirement, literary study, and the friendship and teaching of St. Martin to worldly pursuits. At the famous island community of Lérins, in South Gaul, were instructed some of the most celebrated scholars of the West, among them St. Hilary. “Such were their piety and learning that all the cities round about strove emulously to have monks from Lérins for their bishops.”[2] Another centre of studious occupation was the monastery of Germanus of Auxerre; while near Vienne was a community where St. Avitus (c. 525) could earn the high reputation for holiness and learning which won him a metropolitan see. Many other facts and incidents prove the literary pursuits of the Gallic ascetics; as, for example, the reputation the nuns of Arles in the sixth century won for their writing; and the curious story of Apollinaris Sidonius driving after a monk who was carrying a manuscript to Britain, stopping him, and there and then dictating to secretaries a copy of the precious book which had so nearly escaped him.[3]

§ II

Monachism of this Eastern type came from Gaul to Ireland.[4] St. Patrick received his sacred education at Marmoutier; under Germanus at Auxerre; and possibly at Lérins. His companions on his mission to Ireland, and the missionaries who followed him, nearly all came from the same centres. Naturally, therefore, the same practices would be observed, not only in regard to religious discipline and organisation, but in regard to instruction and study. Even the mysterious Palladius, Patrick’s forerunner, is said{4} to have left books in Ireland.[5] But the earliest important references to that use of books which distinguishes the educated missionary from the mere fanatical recluse are in connexion with Patrick. Pope Sixtus is said to have given him books in plenty to take with him to Ireland. Later he is supposed to have visited Rome, whence he brought books home to Armagh.[6] He gave copies of parts of the Scriptures to Irish chieftains. To one Fiacc he gave a case containing a bell, a crosier, tablets, and a meinister, which, according to Dr. Lanigan, may have been a cumdach enclosing the Gospels and the vessels for the sacred ministry, or, according to Dr. Whitley Stokes, simply a credence-table.[7] He sometimes gave a missal (lebar nuird). He had books at Tara. On one occasion his books were dropped into the water and were “drowned.” Presumably the books he distributed came from the Gallic schools, although his followers no doubt began transcribing as opportunity offered and as material came to hand. Patrick himself wrote alphabets, sometimes called the “elements”; most likely the elements or the A B C of the Christian doctrine, corresponding with the “primer.”[8]

This was the dawn of letters for Ireland. By disseminating the Scriptures and these primers, Patrick and his followers, and the train of missionaries who came afterwards,[9] secured the knowledge and use of the Roman alphabet. The way was clear for the free introduction of schools and books and learning. “St. Patrick did not do for the Scots what Wulfilas did for the Goths, and the Slavonic apostles for the Slavs; he did not translate the{5} sacred books of his religion into Irish and found a national church literature.... What Patrick, on the other hand, and his fellow-workers did was to diffuse a knowledge of Latin in Ireland. To the circumstance that he adopted this line of policy, and did not attempt to create a national ecclesiastical language, must be ascribed the rise of the schools of learning which distinguished Ireland in the sixth and seventh centuries.”[10]

Mainly owing to the labours of Dr. John Healy, we now know a good deal about the somewhat slow growth of the Irish schools to fame; but for our purpose it will do to learn something of them in their heyday, when at last we hear certainly of that free use of books which must have been common for some time. From the sixth to the eighth century Ireland enjoyed an eminent place in the world of learning; and the lives and works of her scholars imply book-culture of good character. St. Columba was famed for his studious occupations. Educated first by Finnian of Moville, then by another tutor of the same name at the famous school of Clonard, he journeyed to other centres for further instruction after his ordination. From youth he loved books and studies. He is represented as reading out of doors at the moment when the murderer of a young girl is struck dead. In later life he realized the importance of monastic records. He had annals compiled, and bards preserved and arranged them in the monastic chests. At Iona the brethren of his settlement passed their time in reading and transcribing, as well as in manual labour. Very careful were they to copy correctly. Baithen, a monk on Iona, got one of his fellows to look over a Psalter which he had just finished writing, but only a single error was discovered.[11] Columba himself became proficient in copying and illuminating. He could{6} not spend an hour without study, or prayer, or writing, or some other holy occupation.[12] He transcribed, we are told, over three hundred copies of the Gospels or the Psalter—a magnification of a saint’s powers by a devout biographer, but significant as it testifies to Columba’s love of studious labours, and shows how highly these ascetics thought of work of this kind. On two occasions, being a man as well as a saint, he broke into violence when crossed in his love of books. One story tells how he visited a holy and learned recluse named Longarad, whose much-prized books he wished to see. Being denied, he became wroth and cursed Longarad. “May the books be of no use to you,” he cried, “nor to any one after you, since you withhold them.” So far the tale is not improbable, but a little embroidery completes a legend. The books became unintelligible, so the story continues, the moment Longarad died. At the same instant the satchels in all the Irish schools and in Columba’s cell slipped off their hooks on to the ground.

A quarrel about a book, we are told, changed his career. He borrowed a Psalter from Finnian of Moville, and made a copy of it, working secretly at night. Finnian heard of the piracy, and, as owner of the original, claimed the copy. Columba refused to let him have it. Then Diarmid, King of Meath, was asked to arbitrate. Arguing that as every calf belonged to its cow, so every copy of a book belonged to the owner of the original, he decided in Finnian’s favour. Columba thought the award unjust, and said so. A little later, after another dispute with Diarmid on a question of monastic immunity, he called together his tribesmen and partisans, and offered battle. Diarmid was defeated. For some reason, not quite clear, these quarrels led to Columba’s voluntary exile (c. 563). He sailed from Ireland,{7} and landed upon the silver strand of Iona, and to the end of his days his work lay almost entirely amid the heather-covered uplands and plains of this little island home.[13] Iona became a renowned centre of missionary work, quite over-shadowing in importance the earlier “Scottish” settlement of Whitherne or Candida Casa. Pilgrims went thither from Ireland and England to receive instruction, and returned to carry on pioneer work in their own homeland. Thence went forth missionaries to carry the Christian message throughout Scotland and northern England. Perhaps, too, here was planned the expedition to far-off Iceland. “Before Iceland was peopled by the Northmen there were in the country those men whom the Northmen called Papar. They were Christian men, and the people believed that they came from the West, because Irish books and bells and crosiers were found after them, and still more things by which one might know that they were west-men, i.e. Irish.”[14]

Not only to the far north, but to the Continent, did the Irish press their energetic way. In Gaul their chief missionary was Columban (c. 543-615), who had been educated at Bangor, then famous for the learning of its brethren. His works display an extensive acquaintance with Christian and Latin literature. Both the Greek and Hebrew languages may have been known to him, though this seems improbable and inconceivable.[15] In his Rule he provides for teaching in schools, copying manuscripts, and for daily reading.[16]


The monasteries of Luxeuil, Bobio, and St. Gall, founded by him and his companions on their mission in Gaul and Italy, became the homes of the most famous conventual libraries in the world—a result surely traceable to the example set by the Irish ascetics, and to the tradition they established.[17]

Other Irish monks are better known for their literary attainments than for missionary enterprise. St. Cummian, in a letter written about 634, displays much knowledge of theological literature, and a good deal of knowledge of a general kind.[18] Another monk named Augustine (c. 650) quotes from Eusebius and Jerome in a work affording many other evidences of learning.[19] Aileran (c. 660), abbot of Clonard, wrote a religious work which proves his acquaintance with Jerome, Philo, Cassian, Origen, and Augustine.[20]

An Englishman supplies valuable evidence of the state of Irish learning. Aldhelm’s (c. 656-709) works prove him to have had access in England to a good library; while in one learned letter he compares English schools favourably with the Irish, and declares Theodore and Hadrian would put Irish scholars in the shade. Yet he is on his mettle when communicating with Irish friends or pupils; he clearly reserves for them the flowers of his eloquence.[21] The Irish schools were indeed successful rivals of the English schools, and Irish scholars could use libraries as good, or nearly as good, as that at Aldhelm’s disposal. At this time the attraction which Ireland and Iona had for English students was extraordinary.{9} English crowded the Irish schools, although the Canterbury school was not full.[22] The city of Armagh was divided into three sections, one being called Trian-Saxon, the Saxon’s third, from the great number of Saxon students living there.[23]

In 664 many English, both high and low in rank, left their native land for Ireland, where they sought instruction in sacred studies, or an opportunity to lead a more ascetic life. Some devoted themselves faithfully to a monkish career. Others applied themselves to study only, and for that purpose journeyed from one master’s cell to another. The Irish welcomed all comers. All received without charge daily food: barley or oaten bread and water, or sometimes milk—cibus sit vilis et vespertinus—a plain meal, once a day, in the afternoon. Books were supplied, or what is more likely, waxed tablets folded in book form. Teaching was as free as the open air in which it was carried on.[24]

Among the English at one time or another taking advantage of Irish hospitality were Gildas (c. 540), first native historian of England;[25] Ecgberht, presbyter, a Northumbrian of noble birth; Ethelhun, brother of Ethelwin, bishop of Lindsay; Oswald, king of Northumbria; Aldfrith, another Northumbrian king, who was educated either in Ireland or Iona; Alcuin, who received instruction at Clonmacnoise;[26] one named Wictberht, “notable ... for his learning and knowledge, for he had lived many years as a stranger and pilgrim in Ireland”; and St. Willibrord, who at the age of twenty journeyed to Ireland for purposes of study, because he had heard that learning flourished in that country.[27]



Most of the references we have made above belong to the sixth and seventh centuries, usually regarded as the best age of Irish monachism. But the Irish enjoyed their reputation unimpaired for a long time. Just before and after the Northmen descended on their land in 795, we find them making their mark abroad, not so much as missionaries but as scholars and teachers.[28]

A few instances will suffice. “The Acts of Charles, written by a monk of St. Gallen late in the ninth century, tells us of ‘two Scots from Ireland,’ who ‘lighted with the British merchants on the coast of Gaul,’ and cried to the crowd, ‘If any man desireth wisdom, let him come unto us and receive it, for we have it for sale.’ They were soon invited to the court of Charles. One of them, Clement, partly filled the place of Alcuin as head of the palace school.”[29] His reputation soon became widespread, and the abbot of Fulda sent several of his most capable monks to him to learn grammar.[30] His companion, Dungal, went on to Italy. He enjoyed a full share of the learning of his time; was a student of Cicero and Macrobius; knew Virgil well; and had some Greek.[31] A few fine books were bequeathed by him to the Irish monastery of Bobio, where copies were written and distributed through Italy. According to the learned Muratori, in one of these manuscripts is an inscription proving Dungal’s ownership.[32] One{11} of the books so bequeathed was the famous Antiphonary of Bangor, now in the Ambrosian library at Milan.

Clement and Dungal were not the only Irishmen of note on the Continent. One, Dicuil, was an exponent of geography. He founded his treatise (c. 825) on Cæsar, Pliny, and Solinus; he quotes and names many other writers, including fourteen Greek; and generally impresses us with his earnest studentship. An Irish monk named Donatus wandered to Italy and became bishop of Fiesole (c. 829); he, too, was a scholar acquainted with Virgil, a teacher of grammar and prosody, and a lecturer on the saints.[33] Sedulius, the commentator, an Irish monk of Liége, copied Greek psalters, wrote Latin verses, knew Cicero’s letters, the works of Valerius Maximus, Vegetius, Origen, and Jerome; was well acquainted with mythology and history, and perhaps had some Hebrew.[34] Another Irishman, John the Scot (Joannes Scotus Erigena), became the most eminent scholar of his time: he alone, among all the learned men Charles the Bald had about him, was able to translate from Greek (c. 858-860). Well might Eric of Auxerre, writing to Charles, express his astonishment at this train of philosophers from Ireland, that barbarous land on the confines of the world.[35] All these wanderers, and many more, must have been responsible for the dissemination of the books produced by Irish hands; and, in fact, many manuscripts of Celtic origin and early in date, are still on the Continent, or have been found there and brought to Ireland.[36]


In some respects the evidence of book-culture in Ireland in these early centuries is inconsistent. The jealous guard Longarad kept over his books, the quarrel over Columba’s Psalter, and the great esteem in which scribes were held,[37] suggest a scarcity of books. The practice of enshrining them in cumdachs, or book-covers, points to a like conclusion. On the other hand, Bede tells us the Irish could lend foreign students books, so plentiful were they. His statement is corroborated by the number of scribes whose deaths have been recorded by the annalists; the Four Masters, for example, note sixty-one eminent scribes before the year 900, forty of whom belong to the eighth century.[38] In some of the monasteries a special room for books was provided. The Annals of Tigernach refer to the house of manuscripts.[39] An apartment of this kind is particularly mentioned as being saved from the flames when Armagh monastery was burned (1020). Another fact suggesting an abundance of books was the appointment of a librarian, which sometimes took place.[40] Although a special book-room and officer are only to be met with much later than the best age of Irish monachism, yet we may reasonably assume them to be the natural culmination of an old and established practice of making and using books.

Such statements, however, are not necessarily contradictory. Manuscripts over which the cleverest scribes and illuminators had spent much time and pains would be jealously preserved in cases or shrines; still, when we remember how many precious fruits of the past must have{13}





perished, the number of beautiful Irish manuscripts extant goes to prove that books even of this character could not have been extraordinarily rare. “Workaday” copies of books would be made as well, in comparatively large numbers, and would no doubt be used very freely. Besides books properly so called, the religious used waxed tablets of wood, which were sometimes called books. St. Ciaran, for example, wrote on staves, which are called in one place his tablets, and in two other places the whole collection of his staves is called a book.[41] Such tablets were indeed books in which the fugitive pieces of the time were written.[42] Considering all things, Bede was without doubt quite correct in saying the Irish had enough books to lend to foreign students.

§ IV

Our account of the work accomplished by the Irish monks would be incomplete without reference to their writing, illuminating, and book-economy, the relics of which are so finely rare.

The old Irish runes gave place slowly to the Roman alphabet, which came into use, as we have already observed, after St. Patrick’s mission. This new writing was in two forms—round and pointed—but both were derived from the Roman half-uncial style. The clear and beautifully-shaped{14} Irish round hand is closely akin to the half-uncial character of fifth and sixth century Latin writings found on the Continent. The Book of Kells, written probably at the end of the seventh century, is the finest example of the ornamental Irish round hand. St. Chad’s Gospels, now at Lichfield, written about the same time, is a manuscript of like character, but not so good. A later manuscript, the Gospels of MacRegol, which dates from the beginning of the ninth century, shows marked deterioration in the writing.



The Irish pointed style, used for quicker writing, is but a modified, pointed variety of the round hand, the letters being laterally compressed. This hand appears in some pages of the Book of Kells, but the best example is in the Book of Armagh.[43]

Although the Roman alphabet was introduced by Augustine at the Canterbury school, it wholly failed to have any effect on the native hand from that source. On the other hand, when, in the seventh century, Northumbria{15}




was converted by Irish missionaries, the new Christians copied the Irish writing, so well, indeed, that the earliest specimens extant can hardly be distinguished from the beautiful penmanship of the Irish. The Book of Durham, generally called the Lindisfarne Gospels, of about 700, is an exquisite Northumbrian example of the Irish round hand, in the characteristic broad, heavy-stroke letters. Another good specimen of this style is the eighth century manuscript of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, in Cambridge University Library.



Irish illumination is as characteristic as the writing. Pictures and drawings of the human figure are not so common as in the work of other schools, and when they do appear are not often good. Still, some of them, as the scenes from the life of Christ in the Book of Kells, are quite unlike the illuminations of any other school; while the portraits of the Evangelists in the same book, in the Book of MacRegol, and in the Lindisfarne Gospels, are singularly interesting. Floral work is also rare. But in geometrical ornament, beautifully symmetrical—diagonal patterns, zigzags, waves, lozenges, divergent spirals, intertwisted and interwoven ribbon and cord work—and in grotesque zoological forms,—lizards, snakes, hounds, birds, and dragons’ heads,—the Irish school attained their highest artistic development. Their art is striking, not for originality, not for its beauty, which is nevertheless great, but for painstaking. Knowing but one style of making a book beautiful, they lavished much time and loving care to achieve their end. The detail is extraordinarily minute and complicated.{16} “I have counted,” writes Professor Westwood, “[with a magnifying glass] in a small space scarcely three-quarters of an inch in length by less than half an inch in width, in the Book of Armagh, no less than 158 interlacements of a slender ribbon pattern formed of white lines edged with black ones.” But, this intricacy notwithstanding, the designs as a whole are usually bold and effective. In the best kind of Irish illumination gold and silver are not used, but the colours are varied and brilliant, and are employed with taste and discretion; while the occasional staining of a leaf of vellum with a fine purple sometimes adds beauty and much distinction to an excellent design.

Of intricate geometrical ornament and grotesque figures, the illumination representing the symbols of the Four Evangelists (fo. 290) of the Book of Kells is perhaps the best example. Of divergent spirals and interlaced ribbon work the frontispiece of St. Jerome’s Epistle in the Book of Durrow affords notable examples. Two of the peculiar features of Irish decoration—the rows of red dots round a design and the dragon’s head—appear in the earliest, or nearly the earliest, Irish manuscript extant, namely, the Cathach Psalter, now in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy. Whether the essential and peculiar features of this ornamentation are purely indigenous, as Professor Westwood contends, or whether they are of Gallo-Roman origin, as Fleury argues, is a moot point, calling for complicated discussion which would be out of place here.

The amount of illumination in the existing manuscripts varies, but the pages chosen for illuminating are nearly always the same. In the Book of Kells the illuminations consist of three portraits of the Evangelists, three scenes from the life of Christ, three combined symbols of the four Evangelists, eight pages of the Eusebian canons, and many{17}





initials. The Book of Durham contains four portraits of the Evangelists, six initial pages, one ornamental page before each Gospel, and before St. Jerome’s Epistle, and eight pages of the Eusebian canons. The Book of Durrow has sixteen illuminated pages: four of the symbols of the Evangelists, six pages of initials, one ornamental page at the frontispiece, one before the letter of St. Jerome, and one before each Gospel.

The oldest Irish manuscript in existence is probably the Domnach Airgrid, or manuscript of the Silver Shrine, also called St. Patrick’s Gospels. Dr. Petrie believed the Domnach to be the identical reliquary given by St. Patrick to St. Mac Cairthinn, when the latter was put in charge of the see of Clogher, in the fifth century. “As a manuscript copy of the Gospels apparently of that early age is found with it, there is every reason to believe it to be that identical one for which the box was originally made.”[44] But both case and manuscript are now held to be somewhat later in date. Another very early manuscript is the sixth century fragment of fifty-eight leaves of a Latin Psalter, styled the Cathach or “Battler.” For centuries this fragment has been preserved in a beautiful case as a relic of Columba; as, indeed, the actual cause of the dispute between Columba and Finnian of Moville.

§ V

Two features of book-economy, although not peculiar to Ireland, are rarely met with outside that country. The religious used satchels or wallets to carry their books about with them. We are told Patrick once met a party of clerics and gillies with books in their girdles; and he gave them the hide he had sat and slept on for twenty years to{18} make a wallet.[45] Columba is said to have made satchels, and to have blessed them. When these satchels were not carried they were hung upon pegs set in the wall of the cell or the church or the tower where they were preserved.[46] We have already noted the legend which tells how all the satchels in Ireland slipped off their pegs when Longarad died. A modern writer visiting the Abyssinian convent of Souriani has seen a room which, when we remember the connection between Egyptian and Celtic monachism, we cannot help thinking must closely resemble an ancient Irish cell.[47] In the room the disposition of the manuscripts was very original. “A wooden shelf was carried in the Egyptian style round the walls, at the height of the top of the door.... Underneath the shelf various long wooden pegs projected from the wall; they were each about a foot and a half long, and on them hung the Abyssinian manuscripts, of which this curious library was entirely composed. The books of Abyssinia are ... enclosed in a case tied up with leathern thongs; to this case is attached a strap for the convenience of carrying the volume over the shoulders, and by these straps the books were hung to the wooden pegs, three or four on a peg, or more if the books were small; their usual size was that of a small, very thick quarto. The appearance of the room, fitted up in this style, together with the presence of long staves, such as the{19} monks of all the Oriental churches lean upon at the time of prayer, resembled less a library than a barrack or guardroom, where the soldiers had hung their knapsacks and cartridge boxes against the wall.” The few old Irish satchels remaining are black with age, and the characteristic decoration of diagonal lines and interlaced markings is nearly worn away. Two of them are preserved in England and Ireland: those of the Book of Armagh, in Trinity College, Dublin, and of the Irish Missal in Corpus Christi College, Oxford. The wallet at Oxford looks much like a modern schoolboy’s satchel; leather straps are fixed to it, by which it was slung round the neck. The Armagh wallet is made of one piece of leather, folded to form a case a foot long, a little more than a foot broad, and two and a half inches thick. The Book of Armagh does not fit it properly. Interlaced work and zoömorphs decorate the leather. Remains of rough straps are still attached to the sides.

The second special feature of Irish book-economy was the preservation of manuscripts in cumdachs or rectangular boxes, made just large enough for the books they were intended to enshrine. As in the case of the wallet, the cumdach was not peculiar to Ireland, although the finest examples which have come down to us were made in that country.[48] They are referred to several times in{20} early Irish annals. Bishop Assicus is said to have made quadrangular book-covers in honour of Patrick.[49] In the Annals of the Four Masters is recorded, under the year 937, a reference to the cumdach of the Book of Armagh, or the Canon of Patrick. “Canoin Phadraig was covered by Donchadh, son of Flann, king of Ireland.” In 1006 the Annals note that the Book of Kells—“the Great Gospel of Columb Cille was stolen at night from the western erdomh of the Great Church of Ceannanus. This was the principal relic of the western world, on account of its singular cover; and it was found after twenty nights and two months, its gold having been stolen off it, and a sod over it.”[50] These cumdachs are now lost; so also is the jewelled case of the Gospels of St. Arnoul at Metz, and that belonging to the Book of Durrow.

By good hap, several cumdachs of the greatest interest are still preserved for our inspection. One of them, the Silver Shrine of the so-called St. Patrick’s Gospels, is a very peculiar case. It consists of three covers. The first, or inner, is of yew, and was perhaps made in the sixth or seventh century. The second, of copper, silver-plated, is of later make. The third, or outermost, is of silver, and was probably made in the fourteenth century. The cumdach of the Stowe Missal (1023) is a much more beautiful example. It is of oak, covered with plates of silver. The lower or more ancient side bears a cross within a rectangular frame. In the centre of the cross is a crystal set in an oval mount. The decoration of the four panels consists of metal plates, the ornament being a chequer-work of squares and triangles. The lid has a similar cross and frame, but the cross is set with pearls and{21}









metal bosses, a crystal in the centre, and a large jewel at the end of each arm. The panels consist of silver-gilt plates embellished with figures of saints. The sides, which are decorated with enamelled bosses and open-work designs, are imperfect. On the box are inscriptions in Irish, such as the following: “Pray for Dunchad, descendant of Taccan, of the family of Cluain, who made this”; “A blessing of God on every soul according to its merit”; “Pray for Donchadh, son of Brian, for the king of Ireland”; “And for Macc Raith, descendant of Donnchad, for the king of Cashel.”[51] Other cumdachs are those in the Royal Irish Academy for Molaise’s Gospels (c. 1001-25), for Columba’s Psalter (1084), and those in Trinity College, Dublin, for Dimma’s book (1150) and for the Book of St. Moling. There are also the cumdachs for Cairnech’s Calendar and that of Caillen; both of late date. The library of St. Gall possesses still another silver cumdach, which is probably Irish.

These are the earliest relics we have of what was undoubtedly an old and established method of enshrining books, going back as far as Patrick’s time, if it be correct that Bishop Assicus made them, or if the first case of the Silver Shrine is as old as it is believed to be. The beautiful lower cover of the Gospels of Lindau, now in Mr. Pierpont Morgan’s treasure-house, proves that at least as early as the seventh century the Irish lavished as much art on the outside of their manuscripts as upon the inside.[52] It is natural to make a beautiful covering for a book which is both beautiful and sacred. All the volumes upon which the Irish artist exercised his talent were invested with sacred attributes. Chroniclers would have us believe they were sometimes miraculously produced. In the life of Cronan[53] is a story telling how an expert scribe named{22} Dimma copied the four Gospels. Dimma could only devote a day to the task, whereupon Cronan bade him begin at once and continue until sunset. But the sun did not set for forty days, and by that time the copy was finished. The manuscript written for Cronan is possibly the book of Dimma, which bears the inscription: “It is finished. A prayer for Dimma, who wrote it for God, and a blessing.”[54]

It was believed such books could not be injured. St. Ciaran’s copy of the Gospels fell into a lake, but was uninjured. St. Cronan’s copy fell into Loch Cre, and remained under water forty days without injury. Even fire could not harm St. Cainnech’s case of books.[55] Nor is it surprising they should be looked upon as sacred. The scribes and illuminators who took such loving care to make their work perfect, and the craftsmen who wrought beautiful shrines for the books so made, were animated with the feeling and spirit which impels men to erect beautiful churches to testify to the glory of their Creator. As Dimma says, they “wrote them for God.”{23}



“There are delightful libraries, more aromatic than stores of spicery; there are luxuriant parks of all manner of volumes; there are Academic meads shaken by the tramp of scholars; there are lounges of Athens; walks of the Peripatetics; peaks of Parnassus; and porches of the Stoics. There is seen the surveyor of all arts and sciences Aristotle, to whom belongs all that is most excellent in doctrine, so far as relates to this passing sublunary world; there Ptolemy measures epicycles and eccentric apogees and the nodes of the planets by figures and numbers....”

Richard De Bury, Philobiblon, Thomas’ ed. 200


THE Benedictine order established monastic study on a regular plan. Benedict’s forty-eighth rule is clear in its directions. “Idleness is hurtful to the soul. At certain times, therefore, the brethren must work with their hands, and at others give themselves up to holy reading.” From Easter to the first of October the monks were required to work at manual labour from prime until the fourth hour. From the fourth hour until nearly the sixth hour they were to read. After their meal at the sixth hour they were to lie on their beds, and those who cared to do so might read, but not aloud. After nones work must be resumed until evening. From October the first until the beginning of Lent they were to read until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour they were to take their meal and then read spiritual works or the Psalms. Throughout Lent they were required to read until the{24} third hour, then work until the tenth. Every monk was to have a book from the library, and to read it through during Lent. On Sundays reading was their duty throughout the day, except in the case of those having special tasks. During reading hours two senior brethren were expected to go the rounds to see that the monks were actually reading, and not lounging nor gossiping. But the brethren were not allowed to have a book or tablets or a pen of their own.

Benedict’s inclusion of these directions was of capital importance in the advance of monkish learning. Being milder and more flexible, communal instead of eremitical, and so altogether more humane and attractive, his Rule gradually took the place of existing orders. And as the change came about, ill-regulated theological study gave way to superior methods of learning, solely due to the better organisation and greater liberality of the Benedictine order.

Benedictinism came to England with Augustine (597). The Rule, however, does not seem to have been strictly or consistently observed for a long time. But the studious labours of the monks remained just as important a part of their lives as they would have been had the monasteries closely followed Benedict’s directions. Especially would this be the case in the seventh century, and afterwards, during the time continental monachism was in rivalry with the Celtic missionaries.

§ II

From the first we hear of books in connexion with Canterbury. Gregory the Great gave to Augustine, either just before his English mission, or sent to him soon afterward, nine volumes, which were put in St. Augustine’s monastery{25}—the monastery of SS. Peter and Paul, beyond the walls. Being for church purposes, the books were very beautiful and valuable. There was the Gregorian Bible in two volumes, with some of its leaves coloured rose and purple, which gave a wonderful reflection when held to the light; the Psalter of Augustine; a copy of the Gospels called the Text of St. Mildred, upon which a countryman in Thanet swore falsely and, it is said, lost his sight; as well as another copy of the Gospels; a Psalter, with plain silver images of Christ and the four Evangelists on the cover; two martyrologies, one adorned with a silver figure of Christ, the other enriched with silver-gilt and precious stones; and an Exposition of the Gospels and Epistles, also enriched with gems.[56] Some of these books were kept above the altar. Bede also records the gift by Gregory to Augustine of “many manuscripts,” and his authority is unimpeachable, as he derived his knowledge of Canterbury affairs from written records and information supplied by Albinus, first English abbot of Augustine’s house.[57] This monastery “was thus the mother-school, the mother-university of England, ... at a time when Cambridge was a desolate fen, and Oxford a tangled forest in a wide waste of waters. They remind us that English power and English religion have, as from the very first, so ever since, gone along with knowledge, with learning, and especially with that learning and that knowledge which those old manuscripts give—the knowledge and learning of the Gospel.”[58] Few books would be treasured more carefully and treated with greater reverence by English churchmen and book lovers than these “first books of the English church,” if any of them could be found. They are{26} referred to as existing when William Thorne wrote his chronicle (c. 1397),[59] and Leland tells us he saw and admired them; but after his time nearly all trace of them is lost.[60]

No further hint of books occurs until Theodore became Archbishop more than seventy years later. Theodore, who had been educated both at Tarsus and Athens, where he became a good Greek and Latin scholar, well versed in secular and divine literature, began a school at Canterbury for the study of Greek, and provided it with some Greek books. None of these books has been traced with certainty. Some may have existed in Archbishop Parker’s time. “The Rev. Father Matthew,” says Lambarde, in his Perambulation of Kent, ... “showed me, not long since, the Psalter of David, and sundry homilies in Greek, Homer also, and some other Greek authors, beautifully written on thick paper with the name of this Theodore prefixed in the front, to whose library he reasonably thought (being led thereto by show of great antiquity) that they sometime belonged.” The manuscript of Homer, now in Corpus Christi Library, Cambridge, did not belong to Theodore, but to Prior Selling, of whom we shall hear later. But possibly the famous Graeco-Latin copy of the Acts, now in the Bodleian Library, belonged either to Theodore or to his companion, Hadrian.[61]





Theodore, with Hadrian’s help, not only started the Canterbury School, but encouraged similar foundations in other English monasteries. In southern England, however, Canterbury remained the centre of learning, and many ecclesiastics were attracted to it in consequence. Bede amply proves its efficiency as a school. And forasmuch as both Theodore and Hadrian were “fully instructed both in sacred and in secular letters, they gathered a crowd of disciples, and rivers of wholesome knowledge daily flowed from them to water the hearts of their hearers; and, together with the books of Holy Scripture, they also taught them the metrical art, astronomy, and ecclesiastical arithmetic. A testimony whereof is, that there are still living at this day some of their scholars, who are as well versed in the Greek and Latin tongues as in their own, in which they were born.”[62] Elsewhere he mentions some of these scholars by name. Albinus, already referred to as the first English abbot of St. Augustine’s, “was so well instructed in literary studies, that he had no small knowledge of the Greek tongue, and knew the Latin as well as the English, which was his native language.”[63] “A most learned man” was another disciple, Tobias, bishop of Rochester, who, besides having a great knowledge of letters, both ecclesiastical and general, learned the Greek and Latin tongues “to such perfection, that they were as well known and familiar to him as his native language.”[64]

Canterbury’s most notable scholar was Aldhelm, the first bishop of Sherborne. In him were united the learning of the Canterbury and the Irish monks, for he studied first under Maildulf, the Irish monk and scholar{29} who founded and gave his name to Malmesbury, and then under Hadrian. When he went to be consecrated an incident befell him which at once shows his zeal for learning, and casts a welcome ray of light on the importation of books. While at Canterbury he heard of the arrival of ships at Dover, and thither he journeyed to see whether they had brought anything in his way. He found on board plenty of books, among them one containing the complete Testaments. He offered to buy it, but his price was too low; although, afterwards, when it was believed his prayers had delivered the owner from a storm, he secured it on his own terms.[65]

Aldhelm at length became abbot of Malmesbury (c. 675), and under him it grew to much greater eminence, and attracted a large number of students. Here, in the solitude of the forest tract, he passed his time in singing merry ballads to win the ear of the people for his more serious words, playing the harp, in teaching, and in reading the considerable library he had at hand. Bede describes him as a man “of marvellous learning both in liberal and ecclesiastical studies.” Judging by his writings he was in these respects in the forefront of his contemporaries, although his learning was heavy and pretentious. From them also it is perfectly evident he could make use not only of the Bible, but of lives of the saints, of Isidore, of the Recognitions of Clement, of the Acts of Sylvester, of writings by Sulpicius Severus, Athanasius, Gregory, Eusebius, and Jerome, as well as of Terence, Virgil, Horace, Juvenal, Persius, and Prosper, and some other authors.[66]



Meanwhile Northumbria had become one of the leading centres of learning in Europe, almost entirely through the labours and influence of Irish missionaries. St. Aidan, an ascetic of Iona who journeyed to Northumbria at King Oswald’s request, founded Lindisfarne, which became the monastic and episcopal capital of that kingdom. Aidan required all his pupils, whether religious or laymen, to read the Scriptures, or to learn the Psalms. The education of boys was a part of his system. Wherever a monastery was founded it became a school wherein taught the monks who had followed him from Scotland. Cedd, the founder and abbot of Lastingham, was Aidan’s pupil, so was his brother, the great bishop Ceadda (Chad), who succeeded him in his abbacy. At Lindisfarne was wrought by Eadfrith (d. 721) the beautiful manuscript of the Gospels now preserved in the British Museum, and a little later the fine cover for it. Lastingham, founded on the desolate moorland of North Yorkshire, “among steep and distant mountains, which looked more like lurking-places for robbers and dens of wild beasts, than dwellings of men,” upheld the traditions of the Columban houses for piety, asceticism, and studious occupations. Thither repaired one Owini, not to live idle, but to labour, and as he was less capable of studying, he applied himself earnestly to manual work, the while better-instructed monks were indoors reading.

In many directions do we observe traces of Aidan’s good work. Hild, the foundress of Whitby Abbey, was for a short time his pupil. Her monastery was famous for having educated five bishops, among them John of Beverley, and for giving birth, in Caedmon, to the father of English poetry. “Religious poetry, sung to the harp as it passed from hand{31} to hand, must have flourished in the monastery of the abbess Hild, and the kernel of Bede’s story concerning the birth of our earliest poet must be that the brethren and sisters on that bleak northern shore spoke ‘to each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.’ ”[67] Of Melrose, an offshoot of Aidan’s foundation, the sainted Cuthbert was an inmate. At Lindisfarne, where “he speedily learned the Psalms and some other books,” the great Wilfrid was a novice. Of his studies, indeed, we know little: he seems to have sought prelatical power rather than learning. But he and his followers were responsible for the conversion of the Northumbrian church from Columban to Roman usages, and the introduction of Benedictinism into the monasteries; and consequently for bringing the studies of the monks into line with the rules of Benedict’s order.

Such progress would have been impossible had not the rulers of Northumbria from Oswald to Aldfrith been friendly to Christianity. Aldfrith had been educated at Iona, and was a man of studious disposition. His predecessor had advanced Northumbria’s reputation enormously by giving Benedict Biscop (629-90) sites for his monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow.[68] We know enough of this Benedict to wish we knew very much more. He suggests to us enthusiasm for his cause, and energy and foresight in labouring for it. Naturally, Aldhelm’s writings have gained him far more attention in literary histories than the Northumbrian has received. But the influence of Benedict, a man of much learning, wide-travelled, was at least as great and as far-reaching. Lérins, the great centre of monachism in Gaul, and Canterbury under Theodore, had been his schools. On six occasions he flitted back and forth to Rome, and to go{32} to Rome, in those days, was a liberal education, both in worldly and spiritual affairs. Not a little of his influence was the direct outcome of his book-collecting. From all his journeys to Rome he is said to have returned laden with books. He certainly came back from his fourth journey with a great number of books of all kinds.[69] He also obtained books at Vienne. His sixth and last journey to Rome was wholly devoted to collecting books, classical as well as theological. When he died he left instructions for the preservation of the most noble and rich library he had gathered together.[70] “If we consider how difficult, fatiguing, ... even dangerous a journey between the British Islands and Italy must have been in those days of anarchy and barbarism, we can appreciate the intensity of Benedict’s passion for beautiful and costly volumes.”[71] The library he formed was worthy of the labour, we cannot doubt: possibly was the best then in Britain. It served as the model for the still more famous collection at York. The scholarship of Bede, who used it in writing his works, proclaims its value for literary purposes.[72] Bede tells us he always applied himself to Scriptural study, and in the intervals of observing monastic discipline and singing daily in the church, he took pleasure in learning, or teaching, or writing.[73] The picture of Bede in his solitary monastery, leading a{33} placid life among Benedict’s books, poring over the beautifully-wrought pages with the scholar’s tense calm to find the material in the Fathers and the historians, and to seek the apt quotation from the classics, must always flash to the mind at the mere mention of his name.[74] Every fact in connexion with his work testifies to the excellent equipment of his monastery for writing ecclesiastical history, and to the cordial way in which the religious co-operated for the advancement of learning and research.

§ IV

Canterbury, Malmesbury, Lindisfarne, Wearmouth and Jarrow, and York were like mountain-peaks tipped with gold by the first rays of the rising sun, while all below remains dark. Yet while not indicative of widespread means of instruction, the existence of these centres, and the character of the work done in them, suggests that at other places the same sort of work, on a smaller and less influential scale, soon began. At Lichfield, on the moorland at Ripon, in “the dwelling-place in the meadows” at Peterborough, in the desolate fenland at Crowland and at Ely, on the banks of the Thames at Abingdon, and of the Avon at Evesham, in the nunneries of Barking and Wimborne, at Chertsey,{34} Glastonbury, Gloucester, in the far north at Melrose, and even perhaps at Coldingham, Christianity was speeding its message, and learning—such as it was, primitive and pretentious—caught pale reflections from more famous places. Now and again definite facts are met with hinting at a spreading enlightenment. Acca, abbot and bishop of Hexham, for example “gave all diligence, as he does to this day,” wrote Bede, “to procure relics of the blessed Apostles and martyrs of Christ.... Besides which, he industriously gathered the histories of their martyrdom, together with other ecclesiastical writings, and erected there a large and noble library.” Of this library, unfortunately, there is not a wrack left behind. A tiny school was carried on at a monastery near Exeter, where Boniface was first instructed. At the monastery of Nursling he was taught grammar, history, poetry, rhetoric, and the Scriptures; there also manuscripts were copied. Books were produced under Abbess Eadburh of Minster, a learned woman who corresponded with Boniface and taught the metric art. Boniface’s letters throw interesting light on our subject. Eadburh sent him books, money, and other gifts. He also wrote home asking his old friend Bishop Daniel of Winchester for a fine manuscript of the six major prophets, which had been written in a large and clear hand by Winbert: no such book, he explains, can be had abroad, and his eyes are no longer strong enough to read with ease the small character of ordinary manuscripts. In another letter written to Ecgberht of York is recorded an exchange of books, and a request for a copy of the commentaries of Bede.

A decree of the Council held at Cloveshoe in 747, pointing out the want of instruction among the religious, and ordering all bishops, abbots, and abbesses to promote and encourage learning, whether it means that monkish education was on the wane or that it was not making such{35} quick progress as was desired, at any rate does not mean that England was in a bad way in this respect, or that she lagged behind the Continent. On the contrary, England and Ireland were renowned homes of learning in Western Europe. Perhaps a few centres on the mainland could show libraries as good as those here; but certainly no country had such scholars. England’s pre-eminence was recognized by Charles the Great when he invited Alcuin to his court (781).

Alcuin was brought up at York from childhood. In company with Albert, who taught the arts and grammar at this northern school, Alcuin visited Gaul and Rome to scrape together a few more books. On returning later he was entrusted with the care of the library: a task for which he was well fitted, if enthusiasm, breaking into rime, be a qualification:—

“Small is the space which contains the gifts of heavenly Wisdom
Which you, reader, rejoice piously here to receive;
Better than richest gifts of the Kings, this treasure of Wisdom,
Light, for the seeker of this, shines on the road to the Day.”[75]

York could not retain Alcuin long. Fortunately, just when dissensions among the English kings, and the Danish raids began to harass England, and to threaten the coming decline of her learning, he was invited to take charge of a school established by Charles the Great. Charles had undertaken the task of reviving literary study, well-nigh extinguished through the neglect of his ancestors; and he bade all his subjects to cultivate the arts. As far as he could he accomplished the task, principally owing to the aid of the English scholar and of willing helpers from Ireland.

Alcuin was soon at the head of St. Martin’s of Tours{36} where he was responsible for the great activity of the scribes in his day. He persuaded Charles to send a number of copyists to York. “I, your Flavius,” he writes, “according to your exhortation and wise desire, have been busy under the roof of St. Martin, in dispensing to some the honey of the Holy Scriptures. Others I strive to inebriate with the old wine of ancient studies; these I nourish with the fruit of grammatical knowledge; in the eyes of these again I seek to make bright the courses of the stars.... But I have need of the most excellent books of scholastic learning, which I had procured in my own country, either by the devoted care of my master, or by my own labours. I therefore beseech your majesty ... to permit me to send certain of our household to bring over into France the flowers of Britain, that the garden of Paradise may not be confined to York, but may send some of its scions to Tours.” What the “flowers of Britain” were at this time Alcuin has told us in Latin verse. At York, “where he sowed the seeds of knowledge in the morning of his life,” thou shall find, he rimes:—

“The volumes that contain
All the ancient fathers who remain;
There all the Latin writers make their home
With those that glorious Greece transferred to Rome,—
The Hebrews draw from their celestial stream,
And Africa is bright with learning’s beam.”

Then, after including in his metrical catalogue the names of forty writers, he proceeds:—

“There shalt thou find, O reader, many more
Famed for their style, the masters of old lore,
Whose many volumes singly to rehearse
Were far too tedious for our present verse.”[76]

A goodly store indeed in such an age.{37}

§ V

Sunlight and shadow follow one another rapidly across England’s early history. The migration of York’s renowned scholar took place six years before the Viking irruptions began, and about twelve years before a heavy blow was struck at Northumbrian learning by the ravaging and destruction of the monasteries of Lindisfarne, and Wearmouth and Jarrow. After this there was but little peace for England. Kent was often attacked. In 838 the marauders fell upon East Anglia. Between 837 and 845 they made various fierce attacks upon Wessex. In 851 the pillage of Canterbury and London was a severe blow to the English. About fifteen years later, at the hands of the Danes, Melrose, Tynemouth, Whitby, and Lastingham shared Wearmouth’s fate. Of York and its library we hear no more. Peterborough and its large collection of sacred books perished at the hands of the same raiders as those who burnt Crowland (870). So bad grew affairs that Alfred the Great, writing to Bishop Werfrith, bewailed the small number of people south of the Humber who understood the English of their service, or could translate from Latin into English. Even beyond the Humber there were not many; not one could he remember south of the Thames when he began to reign. And he bethought himself of the wise men, both church and lay folk, formerly living in England, and how zealous they were in teaching and learning, and how men came from abroad in search of wisdom and instruction. Apparently some decline from this standard had been noticeable before ruin completely overtook the monasteries. He remembered how, before the land had been ravaged and burnt, “its churches stood filled with treasures and books,{38} and with a multitude of His servants, but they had very little knowledge of the books, and could not understand them, for they were not written in their own language.... When I remembered all this, I much marvelled that the good and wise men who were formerly all over England, and had perfectly learnt all these books, did not wish to translate them into their own tongues.” By way of remedying this omission, he translated Cura Pastoralis into English. “I will send a copy to every bishopric in my kingdom; and on each there is a clasp worth 50 mancus. And I command in God’s name that no man take the clasp from the book or the book from the minster; it is uncertain how long there may be such learned bishops as now are, thanks be to God, nearly everywhere.”[77]

This letter, written in 890, marks the revival of interest in letters under Alfred. In adding to his own knowledge, and in promoting education among his people, he was assiduous and determined. During the leisure of one period of eight months, Asser seems to have read to him all the congenial books at hand, Alfred’s custom being to read aloud or to listen to others reading. Asser was a Welsh bishop, brought to Wessex to help the king in his work. For the same purpose Archbishop Plegmund[78] and Bishop Werfrith were brought from Mercia. Other scholars came from abroad. One named Grimbald, a monk from St. Bertin, came to take charge of the abbey of Hyde, Winchester, which Alfred had planned. John, of Old-Saxony, a learned monk of the flourishing Westphalian Abbey of{39} Corvey—where a library existed in this century,[79]—was made by Alfred abbot of Athelney monastery and school. Perhaps John, called the Scot or Erigena, also came, but we do not know certainly. Alfred also introduced teachers, both English and foreign, into his monasteries, his aim being to provide the means of educating every freeborn and well-to-do youth. During the whole of the latter part of his reign the copying of manuscripts went on, though with only moderate activity.

That Alfred, amid the cares of a troublesome kingship, could find time to devote to this work, and realised the importance of vernacular literature, is one of the chief signs of his greatness. What he did had a lasting influence upon our literature. He tapped the wellspring of English prose. Mainly owing to his initiative, from his day till the Conquest all the literature of importance was in the vernacular, and the impulse so given to the language as a literary vehicle was strong enough to preserve it from extinction during the Norman domination, when it was superseded as the court and official language. But, so far as the making and circulation of books is concerned, the “revival” under Alfred did not prosper. The necessary machinery was almost entirely wanting. The monastic schools, the great—the only—means of disseminating the learning of the time, were few in number and not very influential. For Athelney, a small monastery, Alfred had difficulty in finding monks at all: he had to get them from abroad; while the rule in this house does not seem to have been wholly satisfactory. At the time of his death (c. 901) monachism was in a bad way. Fifty years later its plight would seem to have been worse. Only two houses, Abingdon and Glastonbury, could be really called monastic. “In the middle of the tenth century the Rule of St.{40} Benedict, the standard of monasticism in Western Christendom, was, according to virtually contemporary authority, completely unknown in England. This will not appear strange if we consider that it was never very generally or strictly carried out here, that the Danish invasions had broken the continuity of monastic life, and that not many years earlier the very existence of the Rule had been forgotten in not a few continental monasteries.”[80] Although England always responded to the slightest effort to affect her culture, as the long deer grass waves an answer to every breath of the wind, yet the surprising eminence of some of the churchmen in the latter half of the century and the excellence of their work cannot be accounted for if the influence of Alfred’s reign had utterly died out. But it had not. Only the machinery was defective. The driving power remained, latent but ready for action. One indication of a surviving interest in these matters at this time is the gift of some nine books to St. Augustine’s Abbey by King Athelstan—an interesting little collection including Isidore de Natura Rerum, Persius, Donatus, Alcuin, Sedulius, and possibly a work by Bede. The machinery, however, was soon to be improved. Dunstan, Oswald, Edgar, and Ethelwold set matters right by reforming and extending the monastic system, and by making it the means of encouraging education and learning.

The leaders were Dunstan and Ethelwold. In youth the former was renowned for his eagerness in studying, and for the wealth and knowledge he acquired. He was a “lover of ballads and music,” “a hard student, an indefatigable worker, busy at books”; spending his leisure in reading sacred authors, and in correcting manuscripts, sometimes at daybreak. He was also very skilful at working in metal{41} and at drawing and illuminating. Maybe the picture of him kneeling before the Saviour which is preserved in the Bodleian Library is by his own hand; this, however, is not certain.[81] But some relics of his literary work were preserved at Glastonbury until the Reformation—passages transcribed from Frank and Roman law books, a pamphlet on grammar, a mass of Biblical quotations, a collection of canons drawn from Dunstan’s Irish teachers, a book on the Apocalypse, and other works.[82] He entirely reformed Glastonbury and made it a flourishing school, where the Scriptures, ecclesiastical writings, and grammar were taught.

Ethelwold was a Glastonbury scholar and assistant to Dunstan. Glastonbury, and Abingdon, where he became Abbot, and Winchester, to which see he was consecrated, were the centres whence, during the sixty years succeeding Edgar’s accession, some forty monasteries were founded or restored. Winchester became pre-eminent. Ethelwold himself was a teacher of grammar. It was his delight to teach boys and young men, and to help them in their translations; hence it came to pass that many of his pupils became abbots and bishops.[83] A curious story is told in illustration of his studious disposition. One night, when reading after prolonged watching, sleep overcame him, and as he slept the candle fell on the page and remained burning there until a brother came along and snatched it up, when the book by a miracle was found to be uninjured.[84] A vignette of pure and true medievalism: the long and solitary watching, the saintly pursuit of divine wisdom, the wide-open book, with the bold and beautiful text, and the{42} quaint decoration, wrought by loving hands, and the inevitable miracle,—the suggestion of a Divine Providence watching over and protecting all that is sacred.

Some beautiful examples of work of this period have been preserved. “Winchester” work is a familiar and expressive term in illumination, and nobody will ask why this is so if they have seen a manuscript executed there towards the end of the tenth century. The Benedictional and Missal of Archbishop Robert, which is certainly English, and most likely an example of New Minster work, is illuminated with miniatures, foliated and architectural borders, and capitals and letters of gold, in virile workmanship. A still finer example—the finest example of Old Minster craft—is the Benedictional of Ethelwold, now in the Duke of Devonshire’s library. The versified dedication, inscribed in letters of gold, tells us, in substance—“The Great Æthelwold ... illustrious, venerable and mild ... commanded a certain monk subject to him to write the present book: he ordered also to be made in it many arches elegantly decorated and filled up with various ornamented pictures expressed in divers beautiful colours, and gold.”[85] Godeman, abbot of Thorney, was the scribe, but the illuminator is unknown. Each full page has nineteen lines of writing, with letters nearly a quarter of an inch long. Alternate lines in gold, red, and black occur once or twice in the same page. There are thirty miniatures and thirteen fully illuminated pages, some of these having framed borders, foliated, others columns and arches. The figures are remarkably well drawn, the drapery being especially good. The whole is in a fine state of preservation, especially the gold ornaments; the gold used was leaf upon size, afterwards well burnished. Of the rival craftsmanship at New Minster we have a splendid example in the Golden Book of Edgar, so called{43}







on account of its raised gold text.[86] Work of this grand character is the best testimony to the noble spirit of monachism in the days of Ethelwold.

One of Ethelwold’s pupils was Ælfric, who became Archbishop of Canterbury in 995. He was responsible for the canon requiring every priest, before ordination, to have the Psalter, the Epistles, the Gospels, a Missal, the Book of Hymns, the Manual, the Calendar, the Passional, the Penitential, and the Lectionary. On his death he bequeathed all his books to St. Albans.[87]

Another pupil of the same name is still more famous. This scholar’s grammar, with its translated passages, his glossary—the oldest Latin-English dictionary—and his conversation-manual of questions and answers, with interlinear translations, suggest that he must have done much to make the study of Latin easier and more congenial; while his homilies display his art in making knowledge popular, and prove him to be the greatest master of English prose before the Conquest.

Several other interesting and suggestive facts belonging to this period have been preserved for us. Abbot Ælfward, for example, gave to his abbey of Evesham many sacred books and books on grammar (c. 1035): here, at any rate, progress was real.[88] At a manor of the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds were thirty volumes, exclusive of church books (1044-65).[89] Bishop Leofric also obtained over sixty books for Exeter Cathedral about sixteen years before the Conquest, a collection to which we must refer later.{45}







THE Conquest wrought both good and evil to literature—evil because the Normans thought books written in the vernacular unworthy of preservation;[90] good because the change brought to the country settled government, and to the church an opportunity for reformation. Lanfranc was the moving spirit of reform, both in church administration and in the learning of its members. While still in Normandy he had built up a reputation for the monastic school at Bec, and probably had a share in collecting the excellent library that we know the monastery possessed in the twelfth century.[91] When he was appointed to the see of Canterbury he continued to work for the same{46} ends, although his primacy can have left him little leisure. A fresh beginning had to be made in Canterbury. In 1067 a fire destroyed the city, including the cathedral and almost the whole of the monastic buildings; and in this disaster many “sacred and profane books” were burned. It was Lanfranc’s task to repair this loss. He brought books with him,[92] and introduced some changes and more method in the making and use of them. In the customary of the Benedictine order which he drew up to correspond with the best monastic practice, he included minute instructions about lending and reading books. He was also responsible in the main for the substitution of the continental Roman handwriting for the beautiful Hiberno-Saxon hand. In another respect his influence was more beneficial. Both at Bec and in England he aimed to turn out accurate texts of patristic books, and the better to achieve this end he himself corrected manuscripts. In the abbey of St. Martin de Sécz at one time there was a copy of the first ten Conferences of Cassian with his corrections; and in the library of Mans is a St. Ambrose which was overlooked by him.[93] Happily he was in a position to lend texts to monks for transcribing, and his help in this direction was sought by Abbot Paul of St. Albans. Recent research by Dr. Montagu James suggests that Lanfranc’s work for the Canterbury library was a good deal more practical and influential than has been usually believed. Among the survivors of the Canterbury collections at Trinity College, Cambridge, and elsewhere, “are some scores of volumes undoubtedly from Christ Church, all of one epoch,” the{47} eleventh and twelfth centuries, and all written in hands modelled on an Italian style. “Another distinguishing mark,” writes Dr. James, “in these volumes is the employment of a peculiar purple in the decorative initials and headings.... The nearest approaches I find to it in England are in certain manuscripts which were once at St. Augustine’s Abbey, and in others which belonged to Rochester. It can be shown that books did occasionally pass from Christ Church to St. Augustine’s, and it can also be shown that certain of the Rochester books were written at Christ Church.” All these books, therefore, Dr. James believes, were given by Lanfranc or produced under his direction.[94]

Lanfranc also encouraged original composition, for Osbern, monk of Canterbury, compiled his lives of St. Dunstan, St. Alphege, and St. Odo under his eye.

In this work of bookmaking and collecting Lanfranc was supported or his example was followed by other monks from Normandy: by Abbot Walter of Evesham, who made many books;[95] by Ernulf of Rochester, who compiled the Textus Roffensis; and by many others. At this time grew up the practice of using English houses to supply books for Norman abbeys; this partly explains the number of manuscripts of English workmanship now abroad. A manuscript preserved in Paris contains a note by a canon of Ste-Barbe-en-Auge referring to Beckford in Gloucestershire, an English cell of his house, whence books were sent to Normandy.[96]

From Lanfranc to the close of the thirteenth century, was the summer-time of the English religious houses. The{48} Cluniac or reformed Benedictines settled here about 1077. In 1105 the Austin Canons first planted a house in this country. The White Monks, another reformed Benedictine order, entered England in 1128, and in the course of four and twenty years founded fifty houses. Soon after, in 1139, the English Gilbertines were established, then came the White Canons, and in 1180 the Carthusian monks. The land was peppered with houses. In less than a century and a half, from the Conquest to about 1200, it is estimated that no fewer than 430 houses were founded, making, with 130 founded before the Conquest, 560 in all.[97] Many were wealthy: some were powerful, because they owned much property, and popular because, like Malmesbury, they were “distinguished for their ‘delightful hospitality’ to guests who, arriving every hour, consume more than the inmates themselves.”[98] The Cluniacs could almost be called a fashionable order.

During this prosperous age some of the great houses did their best work in writing and study. Thus to pick out one or two facts from a string of them. In 1104 Abbot Peter of Gloucester gave many books to the abbey library. In 1180 the refounded abbey of Whitby owned a fair library of theological, historical, and classical books.[99] About the same time Abbot Benedict ordered the transcription of sixty volumes, containing one hundred titles, for his library at Peterborough.[100] By 1244, in spite of losses in the fire of 1184, Glastonbury had a library of some four hundred volumes, historical books consorting with romances, Bibles and patristical works almost crowding out some forlorn classics.[101] Nearly half a century later{49}









Abbot John of Taunton added to Glastonbury forty volumes, a notable gift in those days of costly books, while Adam of Domerham tells us he also made a fine, handsome, and spacious library.[102] In 1277 a general chapter of the Benedictines ordered the monks, according to their capabilities, to study, write, correct, illuminate, and bind books, rather than to labour in the field.[103]

To such facts as these should be added the record of the Canterbury, Dover, and Bury libraries, the histories of which have been so admirably written by Dr. M. R. James.[104] Of the library of St. Albans Abbey we have not such a fine series of catalogues. Yet no abbey could have a nobler record. From Paul (1077) to Whethamstede (d. 1465) nearly all its abbots were book-lovers.[105] Paul built a writing-room, and put in the aumbries twenty-eight fine books (volumina notabilia), and eight Psalters, a Collectarium, books of the Epistles and Gospels for the year, two copies of the Gospels adorned with gold and silver and precious stones, without speaking of ordinals, customaries, missals, troparies, collectaria, and other books. Here, as everywhere, the library began with church books: later, easier circumstances made the stream of knowledge broader, if shallower. The next abbot also added some books. Geoffrey, the sixteenth abbot, was the author of a miracle play, an industrious scribe, and the donor of some books finely illuminated and bound. His successor, at one time the conventual archivist, loved books equally well, and got together a fair collection. Great Abbot Robert had many books written—“too many{50} to be mentioned.”[106] Simon, the next abbot (1167), a learned and good-living man who encouraged others to learn, was especially fond of books, and had many fine manuscripts written for the painted aumbry in the church. He repaired and improved the scriptorium. He also made a provision whereby each succeeding abbot should have at work one special scribe, called the historiographer, an innovation to which we owe the matchless series of chronicles of Roger of Wendover, Matthew Paris, William Rishanger, and John of Trokelowe. In a Cottonian manuscript is a portrait of Abbot Simon at his book-trunk, a picture interesting because it illustrates his predominant taste for books, as well as one method—then the usual method—of storing them.

John, worthy follower of Simon, was a man of learning, who added many noble and useful books to St. Albans’ store. William of Trompington (1214) distinguished himself by giving to the abbey books he had taken from his prior. Abbot Roger was a better man, and gave many books and pieces; but John III and IV and Hugh are barren rocks in our fertile valley, for apparently they did nothing for the library. Richard of Wallingford did worse than nothing. He bribed Richard de Bury with four volumes, and sold to him thirty-two books for fifty pounds of silver, retaining one-half of this sum for himself, and devoting the other moiety to Epicurus—“a deed,” cries the chronicler, “infamous to all who agreed to it, so to make the only nourishment of the soul serve the belly, and upon any account to apply spiritual dainties to the demands of the flesh.”[107] Abbot Michael de Mentmore, who had been educated at Oxford, and became schoolmaster at St. Albans, encouraged the educational work of the abbey by making{51}




studies for the scholars. As he also ordered the morning mass to be celebrated directly after prime, or six o’clock, instead of at tierce, or about nine, to allow the students more time, it is safe to assume he was more zealous than popular. He also gave books which cost him more than £100. His successor, Thomas, enlarged his own study, and bought many books for it; and, with the assistance of Thomas of Walsingham, then precentor and master of the scriptorium, he built a writing-room at his own expense.

But Whethamstede was St. Albans’ greatest book-loving abbot. An ardent book-lover, especially fond of finely-illuminated volumes, he indulged his passion for manuscripts, and for conventual buildings, vestments, and property, until he got the abbey into debt, and was led to resign. After the death of his successor, Whethamstede was re-elected. In his time no fewer than eighty-seven volumes were transcribed.[108] In 1452-53 he built a new library at a cost of more than £150. Another library was erected for the College of the Black Monks at Oxford, for £60.[109] It was described as a “new erection of a library joyning on the south-side of the chapel, containing on each side five or more divisions, as it may be partly seen to this day by the windows thereof, to which he gave good quantity of his own study, and especially those of his own composition, which were not a few, and to deter plagiaries and others from abusing of them, prefixt these verses in the front of every one of the same books, as he did also to those that he gave to the publick library of the University:

“Fratribus Oxoniae datur in munus liber iste
Per patrem pecorum prothomartyris Angligenarum;
Quem, si quis rapiat raptim, titulumve retractet,
Vel Judae laqueum, vel furcas sentiat; Amen


“In other books which he gave to the said library these:

“Discior ut docti fieret nova regia plebi
Culta magisque Deae datur hic liber ara Minervae,
His qui Diis dictis libant holocausta ministris
Et circa bibulam sitiunt prae nectare limpham
Estque librique loci, idem dator, actor et unus.”[110]

This, in brief, is the story of St. Albans’ tribute to learning. In most monasteries the same kind of work went on, in a more circumscribed fashion, and without the same distinction of finish, which could probably only be attained at the big places where expert scribes and illuminators could be well trained.[111]

§ II

Fortunately, just when the great houses had attained the summit of their prosperity, and were beginning the slow decline to dissolution, learning and book-culture were freshly encouraged by the coming of the Friars.

The Black Friars settled at Canterbury and in London, near the Old Temple in Holborn, in 1221. The Grey Friars were at London, Oxford, and Cambridge in 1224, and by 1256 they were in forty-nine different localities.[112] It is strange how the latter order, founded by a man who forbade a novice to own a Psalter, came to be as earnest in buying books as the Benedictines were in copying them. St. Francis’ ideal, however, was impossible. The peripatetic nature of their calling, and their duty of tending the sick, compelled many friars to learn foreign languages, and to acquire some medical knowledge. Books were, therefore,{53} useful to them, if not essential; as indeed St. Francis ultimately recognized. However, they could not own books themselves, but only in common with other members of the convent. If a friar was promoted to a bishopric, he had to renounce the use of the books he had had as a friar; and Clement IV forbade the consecration of a bishop until he had returned the books to his friary. When a book was given to a friar—and this often happened—he was in duty bound to hand it to his Superior. But if the friar was a man of parts the gift was devoted to acquiring books for his studies, or to giving him other necessary assistance; the duty, it was held, which the Superior owed him.[113] But these principles do not seem to have been strictly observed. In little more than thirty years after St. Francis’ death it was found necessary to draw up rules forbidding the brethren to own books except by leave from the chief officer of the order, or to keep any books which were not regarded as the property of the whole order, or to write books, or have them written for sale.[114]

By the end of the thirteenth century the Mendicants of Oxford were fairly well provided with books. Michael Scot came to Oxford, at the time of the greatest literary activity of the brethren, and introduced to them the physical and metaphysical works of Aristotle (1230).[115] Adam de Marisco seems to have been responsible for the first considerable additions to the collection. From his brother, Bishop Richard, he had already received a library; possibly this, with his own books, came into possession of the convent. Then out of love for him, Grosseteste left his writings or his library—it is not clear which—to the Grey Friars.[116]

{54} This gift may have formed part—it is not certain—of the two valuable hoards existing in the fifteenth century in the same friary, one the convent library, open only to graduates, the other the Schools library, for seculars living among the brethren for the sake of the teaching they could get. In these collections were many Hebrew books, which had been bought upon the banishment of the Jews from England (1290).[117] Such books were not often found in the abbeys, although some got to Ramsey, where Grosseteste’s influence may be suspected.

The White Friars also had a library at Oxford, wherein they garnered the works of every famous writer of their order. They are praised for taking more care of their books than the brethren of other colours.[118] In later times, at any rate, some cause for the complaint against the Grey Friars existed. They appear to have sold many manuscripts to Dr. Thomas Gascoigne (c. 1433). He ultimately gave them to the libraries of Lincoln, Durham, Balliol, and Oriel Colleges. As the friars’ mode of life grew easier and the love of learning less keen, they got rid of many more books. In Leland’s time the library had melted away. After much difficulty he was allowed to see the book-room, but he found in it nothing but dust and dirt, cobwebs and moths, and some books not worth a threepenny piece.[119]

Roger de Thoris, afterwards Dean of Exeter, presented a library to the Grey Friars of his city in 1266.[120] What became of it we do not know. About the same time, in 1253 to be exact, the will of Richard de Wyche, Bishop of Chichester, is notable for its bequests to the friars; thus he left books to various friaries of the Grey Brethren—at{55}




Chichester his glossed Psalter, at Lewes the Gospels of St. Luke and St. John, at Winchelsea the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark, at Canterbury Isaiah glossed, at London the Epistles of St. Paul glossed, and at Winchester the twelve Prophets glossed; as well as some volumes to the Black Friars—at Arundel the Book of Sentences, at Canterbury Hosea glossed, at London the Books of Job, the Acts, the Apocalypse, with the canonical epistles, and at Winchester the Summa of William of Auxerre.[121] Such friendliness for the Mendicants was far from common among the secular clergy. Besides the southern places mentioned in this bequest, friaries in the east, at Norwich and Ipswich, and in the west, at Hereford and Bristol, had goodly libraries.

The friary collections in London seem to have been important, especially that given to the Grey Friars in 1225,[122] just when they had settled near Newgate. The Austin Friars may have owned a library before 1364, when two of their number left the London house, taking with them books and other goods.[123] Early in the fifteenth century a library was built and a large addition was made to the books of this house by Prior Lowe, a friar afterwards occupying the sees of St. Asaph and of Rochester.[124] At this time the friars of London were specially fortunate. The White Friars enjoyed a good library, to which Thomas Walden, a learned brother of the order, presented many foreign manuscripts of some age and rarity.[125] The Grey Friars’ library was founded or refounded by Dick Whittington (1421).[126] The room “was in length one hundred twentie nine foote, and in breadth{56} thirtie one: all seeled with Wainscot, having twentie eight desks, and eight double setles of Wainscot. Which in the next yeare following was altogither finished in building, and within three yeares after, furnished with Bookes, to the charges of” over £556, “whereof Richard Whittington bare foure hundred pound, the rest was borne by Doctor Thomas Winchelsey, a Frier there.”[127] On this occasion one hundred marks were paid for transcribing the works of Nicholas de Lyra, a Grey Friar highly esteemed for his knowledge of Hebrew, and “the greatest exponent of the literal sense of Scripture whom the medieval world can show.”[128]

Of few of the friary libraries have we definite knowledge of their size and character. But in the case of the Austin Friars of York, a catalogue of their library is extant. The collection was a notable one. The inventory was made in 1372, and the items in it, forming the bulk of the whole, with some later additions, amounted to 646. One member of the society named John Erghome was a remarkable man. He was a doctor of Oxford, where he had studied logic, natural philosophy, and theology. More than 220 books were his contribution to this splendid library, and he it was who added the Psalter and Canticles in Greek and a Hebrew book,—rarities indeed at that date. Classical literature is fairly well represented in the collection as a whole, but theology, and especially logic and philosophy, make up the bulk.[129]

In Scotland, too, the Grey Friars were busy library-making. We find the convent at Stirling buying five dozen parchments (1502). Fifty pounds were paid for books sent to them this year by the Cistercians of Culross,{57} and to the Austin Canons of Cambuskenneth in the following year about half as much was paid; and similar records appear in the accounts.[130]

Other interesting testimony to the bookcraft and collecting habits of the friars is not wanting. Adam de Marisco writes to the Friar Warden of Cambridge asking for vellum for scribes.[131] Or he expresses the hope that Richard of Cornwall may be prevailed upon to stay in England, but if he goes he will be supplied with books and everything necessary for his departure.[132] From this letter, it was evidently usual for friars to seek and obtain permission to carry away books with them when going abroad, or going from one custody to another.[133] Then again Adam writes asking Grosseteste to send Aristotle’s Ethics to the Grey Friars’ convent in London.[134] In getting books the friars were sometimes unscrupulous. A royal writ was issued commanding the Warden of the Grey Friars at Oxford and another friar, Walter de Chatton, to return two books worth forty shillings which they were keeping from the rightful owner (1330).[135] More striking testimony to the book-collecting habits of the friars is the complaint to the Pope of their buying so many books that the monks and clergy had difficulty in obtaining them. In every convent, it was urged, was a grand and noble library, and every friar of eminence in the University had a fine collection of books.[136] Archbishop Fitzralph, who made this statement, detested the friars, and was besides prone to exaggerate; but he was not wholly wrong in this{58} instance, as De Bury tells a similar tale. “Whenever it happened,” he says, “that we turned aside to the cities and places where the mendicants ... had their convents, we did not disdain to visit their libraries ...; there we found heaped up amid the utmost poverty the utmost riches of wisdom. These men are as ants.... They have added more in this brief [eleventh] hour to the stock of the sacred books than all the other vine-dressers.”[137] Instead of declaiming against the hawks, De Bury trained them to prey for him, and was well rewarded for his pains. Nor is it beyond the bounds of probability that he enriched his own collection at the expense of the Grey Friars’ library at Oxford.[138]

The friars were not merely collectors. The scholarship of Bacon and other brethren does not concern us. But their correction of the texts of Scripture, and their bibliographical work, are germane to our subject. In mid-thirteenth century some Black Friars of Paris laboured to correct the text of the Latin Bible; and to enable copyists to restore the true text when transcribing, they drew up manuals, called Correctoria. One such manual, now known as the Correctorium Vaticanum, was prepared by William de la Mare, a Grey brother of Oxford, in the course of forty years’ labour; and it is “a work which before all others laid down sound principles of true scientific criticism upon which to base a correction of the Vulgate text.”[139]

Another special work of the Grey brethren, the Registrum Librorum Angliae[140] was less important, although it more clearly illustrates their high regard for books. Some time in the fourteenth century, by seeking information from about one hundred and sixty monasteries, some friars drew{59}



BODL. MS. TANNER 165, F. 119

BODL. MS. TANNER 165, F. 119

up a list of libraries under the heads of the seven custodies or wardenships of their order in England, and catalogued the writings of some eighty-five authors represented in these collections. In this way was formed a combined bibliography and co-operative catalogue. Of this catalogue we are able to reproduce a page on which are indexed five authors, with numerical references to the libraries containing each work. Early in the fifteenth century a monk of Bury St. Edmunds, John Boston by name—possibly the librarian of that house—expanded the register by increasing to nearly seven hundred the number of authors, and by adding a score of names to the list of libraries. He also provided a short biographical sketch of each author “drawn from the best sources at his disposal; so that the book in its completed form might claim to be called a dictionary of literature.”[141]


We would fain fill in the outline we have given, for the friars and their book-loving ways are interesting. But enough has been written to show the origin and growth of libraries among the religious both of the abbeys and the friaries. Of the later days of monachism it is not so pleasant to write. The story has been well told many times, but no two writers, even in a broad and general way, let alone in detail, have read the facts alike. On the one hand it is urged that monachism became degenerate, both in reverence for spiritual affairs and in love of learning. Many monks, we are told, came to find more enjoyment in easy living than in ascetic and religious observances. Apart from the savage onslaughts in Piers Plowman, and the yarns of Layton and Legh, now quite discredited, we{60} have the most credible evidence in Chaucer’s gentle satire:—

“A monk ther was, a fair for the maistrye,
An out-rydere, that lovede venerye; [hunting]
A manly man, to been an abbot able,
Ful many a deyntee hors hadde he in stable:
. . . . . . . . . .
He was a lord ful fat and in good point [well-equipped]
His eyen stepe, and rollinge in his heed.” [eyes bright]

The friars, too, were sometimes “merye and wantoun,” and

“knew the tavernes wel in every toun,
And everich hostiler or gay tappestere.”

And an indictment of some force might be based on the fact that the general chapter of the Benedictine order at Coventry in 1516 found it necessary to make regulations against immoderate and illicit eating and drinking, and against hunting and hawking.[142]

No doubt also many a monk would argue with himself:—

“What sholde he studie, and make him-selven wood [mad]
Upon a book in cloistre alwey to poure
Or swinken with his handes, and laboure [toil]
As Austin bit?” [As St. Augustine bids]

De Bury declaimed against the monks’ neglect of books. “Now slothful Thersites,” he cries, “handles the arms of Achilles and the choice trappings of war-horses are spread upon lazy asses, winking owls lord it in the eagle’s nest, and the cowardly kite sits upon the perch of the hawk.

“Liber Bacchus is ever loved,
And is into their bellies shoved,
By day and by night.
Liber Codex is neglected,
And with scornful hand rejected
Far out of their sight.”


“And as if the simple monastic folk of modern times were deceived by a confusion of names, while Liber Pater is preferred to Liber Patrum, the study of the monks nowadays is in the emptying of cups and not the emending of books; to which they do not hesitate to add the wanton music of Timotheus, jealous of chastity, and thus the song of the merrymaker and not the chant of the mourner is become the office of the monks. Flocks and fleeces, crops and granaries, leeks and potherbs, drink and goblets, are nowadays the reading and study of the monks, except a few elect ones, in whom lingers not the image but some slight vestige of the fathers that preceded them.”[143] Specific instances of neglect and worse are recorded. We have already mentioned the giving and selling of books by the monks of St. Albans to Richard de Bury. From the account books of Bolton Abbey it would appear that three books only were bought during forty years of the fourteenth century.[144] At St. Werburgh’s, Chester, discipline was very lax. Two monks robbed the abbot of a book valued at £20, and of property valued at £100 or more, and stole from two of their brethren books and money (1409). About four years later one of the thieves was elected abbot, and his respect for learning may be gauged from the fact that in 1422 he was charged with not having maintained a scholar at Oxford or Cambridge for twelve years, although it was his duty to do so by the rules of his order.[145]

At Bury books were going astray in the first half of the fifteenth century. Abbot William Curteys (1429-45) issued an ordinance in which he declares books given out{62} by the precentor to the brethren for purposes of study had been lent, pledged, and even stolen by them. Some of them he had recovered, and he hoped to secure more, but the process of recovery had been expensive and troublesome, both to himself and the people he found in possession of the books. He therefore sternly forbade the brethren to alienate books, and decrees certain punishments if his order was disobeyed. Brethren studying at the University seem to have been not immune from such faults.[146] The prior of Michelham sold books, papers, horses, and timber for his own personal profit (1478). A visitation of Wigmore showed that books were not “studied in the cloister because the seats were uncomfortable.”[147] Bishop Goldwell’s visitation of his diocese of Norwich in 1492 showed that at Norwich Priory no scholars were sent to study at Oxford, and at Wymondham Abbey the monks “refused to apply themselves to their books.” At Battle Abbey, in 1530, the one time fine library was in a sad state of neglect; no doubt books had been parted with. And as the last years of the monasteries coincided with a renewed interest among seculars in learning and with a revival of book-collecting, the monks of all houses must have been sorely tempted to sell books which laymen coveted, as the monks of Mount Athos have been bartering away their libraries ever since the seventeenth century.

But among so many houses some were bound to be ill-conducted. And it is important to remember that irregularities would be recorded oftener than more favourable facts. What had been usual would go unnoted; what was strange, and a departure from the highest standard of monachism, would be observed with regret by friends and dwelt on with spite by enemies. Although human{63} memory is apt to register evil acts with more assiduity and fidelity than good, yet a contrary view of the last state of monachism may be argued with as much reason and with the support of equally reliable evidence. The great majority of the houses were not under lax control. The general organisation was not defective; nor was every monk a “lorel, a loller, and a ‘spille-tyme.’ ” Setting aside the question of general conduct, with which we have little to do, plenty of evidence may be collected to show that the work of the earlier periods was not only continued in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but that some of the monks enjoyed special distinction among their contemporaries. Writing was encouraged by directions of chapters in 1343, 1388, and 1444.[148] The early part of the fifteenth century was an age of library building, in the monasteries, as at the Universities. Special rooms for books were put up at Gloucester, Christ Church (Canterbury), Durham, Bury St. Edmunds, and other houses. Large and growing monastic libraries were in existence—at St. Albans and Peterborough, two at Canterbury of nearly two thousand volumes each, two thousand volumes at Bury, a thousand and more at Durham, six hundred at Ramsey, three hundred and fifty at Meaux. When John Leland crossed the threshold of the library at Glastonbury he stood stock still for a moment, awestruck and bewildered at the sight of books of the greatest antiquity. In 1482, the abbess of Syon monastery, Isleworth, entered into a regular contract for writing and binding books.[149] Some forty years later this abbey had at least fourteen hundred and twenty-one printed and manuscript volumes in its library.[150] More facts of similar character will be noted in the next chapter. Here we will content ourselves with noting a few of the most conspicuous instances of monkish{64} scholarship in these later days. At Glastonbury, Abbot John Selwood was familiar with John Free’s work; indeed, presents a monk with one of that scholar’s translations from the Greek.[151] His successor, Bere, was a pilgrim to Italy, and was in correspondence with Erasmus, who desired him to examine his translation of the New Testament from the Greek. A monk of Westminster, who became abbot of his house in 1465, was a diligent student, noted for his knowledge of Greek.[152] At Christ Church, Canterbury, Prior Selling was particularly zealous on behalf of the library, and was one of the first to import Greek books into England in any considerable quantity.[153] Two manuscripts now in the library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and one in New College, were transcribed by a Greek living at Reading Abbey (1497-1500).[154] These few references to the study of Greek are especially significant, as the revival of Greek studies had only just begun.

§ IV

The whole truth about the later days of the monasteries will never be known. Many of the original sources of our knowledge are tainted with partisanship and religious rancour and flagrant dishonesty. What does seem to be true is that in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries monastic influence grew slowly weaker, although the system may not have been degenerate in itself. The cause is to be found in the very prosperity of monachism, which brought to the religious houses wealth and all its responsibilities. Wealth always imposes fetters, as every rich man, from Seneca downwards, has declared with unctuous lamentation. But{65}





what first strikes the student who compares early English monachism with the later is, that whereas the monks of the first period were most concerned with their monastic duties, their religious observances, and their scribing and illuminating, the monks of the later period, and especially during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, were immersed in business, in the management of their wealth, the control of large estates. The possession of wealth led in one direction to excessive display, and to purchasing land and building beyond their means; a course which monks might easily persuade themselves was progressive and exemplary of true religious fervour, but which attracted to them envious eyes. Heavy subsidies to the Crown and the Pope oppressed them. Then again, many houses indulged in unwise and excessive almsgiving, which the monks might well believe to be right, but which brought them only the interested friendship of the needy. And in the management of their estates much litigation obstinately pursued caused internal dissension, was costly, and gained them only bitter enemies. Had the monasteries been allowed to exist, probably these evils would have cured themselves. But, owing to these evils,—to the decline of monastic influence of which they were the cause,—the Dissolution, once decided upon, could be carried out with terrible swiftness and completeness; no influence nor power which the religious could wield was able to delay or avert the blow struck by the king. Within a few years over one thousand houses were closed and their lands and property confiscated.

In the hastiness of the overthrow some conventual books were destroyed, or stolen, or sold off at low prices. In a few places damage was done even before the actual dissolution. At Christ Church, Canterbury, for example, the drunken servants of a royal commission carelessly brought about a fire, almost entirely destroying the{66} library of Prior Selling,[155] which he probably designed to add to the collection of his monastery. But when the houses were suppressed, we are told, “whole libraries were destroyed, or made waste paper of, or consumed for the vilest uses. The splendid and magnificent Abbey of Malmesbury, which possessed some of the finest manuscripts in the kingdom, was ransacked, and its treasures either sold or burnt to serve the commonest purposes of life. An antiquary who travelled through that town, many years after the Dissolution, relates that he saw broken windows patched up with remnants of the most valuable manuscripts on vellum, and that the bakers had not even then consumed the stores they had accumulated, in heating their ovens.”[156] John Bale tells us the loss of the libraries had not mattered so much, “beynge so many in nombre, and in so desolate places for the more parte, yf the chiefe monumentes and most notable workes of our excellent wryters had been reserved. If there had been in every shyre of Englande but one solempne lybrary to the preservacyon of those noble workes, and preferrement of good lernynges in oure posteryte, it had bene yet sumwhat. But to destroye all without consyderacyon, is and wyll be unto Englande for ever, a most horryble infamy amonge the grave senyours of other nacyons. A great nombre of them whych purchased these superstycyouse mansyons reserved of those lybrary bokes, some to serve theyr jakes, some to scoure theyr candlestycks, and some to rubbe theyr bootes. Some they sold to the grossers and sopesellers, and some they sent over see to the bokebynders, not in small nombre, but at{67} tymes whole shyppes full, to the wonderynge of the foren nacyons. Yea, the unyversytees of this realme are not all clere in this detestable fact.... I know a merchant man which shall at thys tyme be namelesse, that boughte the contentes of two noble lybraryes for xl shyllynges pryce, a shame it is to be spoken. Thys stuffe hath he occupyed in the stede of graye paper by the space of more than these x years, and yet he hath store ynough for many yeares to come.”[157] To some extent Bale’s account of the contemptuous treatment of books is confirmed by records of sales: as, for example, the following:—

Item, sold to Robert Doryngton, old boke, and a cofer in the libraryijs.
Item, old bokes in the vestry, sold to the same Robertviiid.
Item, sold to Robert Whytgreve, a missaleviijd.
Fyrst, sold to Mr. Whytgreve, a masse bokexijd.
Item, old bokes in the quyervjd.
Item, a fryers masse boke, solde to Marke Wyrleyiiijd.[158]

Bale’s statement is sadly borne out by the fate of the library of the Austin Friars of York. At one time this friary owned between six and seven hundred books. Now but five are known to remain.[159] “It is hardly open to doubt,” writes Dr. James, “that nine-tenths of the books have ceased to exist. To be sure, it is no news to us that thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of manuscripts were destroyed in the first half of the sixteenth century; but the truth comes heavily home when we are confronted with the actual figures of the loss sustained in one small corner of the field. We may fairly reckon that what{68} happened in the case of the Austin Friars at York happened to many another house situated like it, in a populous centre, and thus enjoying good opportunities for acquiring books.”[160]

But the loss may be—and has been—exaggerated. In some instances a good part of a library was preserved. The Prior of Lanthony, a house in the outskirts of Gloucester, saved the books of his little community. From him they passed into the hands of one Theyer; later, possibly through Archbishop Bancroft, they found an ultimate resting-place in Lambeth Palace. During this interval many of them were perhaps lost or sold, but to-day some one hundred and thirty are known certainly to have come from Lanthony, or may be credited to that place on reasonably safe evidence.[161]

Then again Henry’s myrmidons—to use the classic word—would be unlikely to carry their vandalism too far. To do so, in view of the great value of books, would bring them no profit. Knowing their character, may we not reasonably assume that they sold as many books as they could to make illicit gains?[162] Sometimes they fell in love with their finds, as was natural. “Please it you to understand,” writes Thomas Bedyll, one of Henry VIII’s commissioners, “that in the reding of the muniments and charters of the house of Ramesey, I found a charter of King Edgar, writen in a very antiq Romane hand, hard to be red at the first sight, and light inowghe after that a man found out vj or vij words and after compar letter to letter. I am suer ye wold delight to see the same for the straingnes and antiquite thereof.... I have seen also there a chartor of King Edward writen affor the Conquest.”[163]






John Leland was one of those who saved books. Already he had been commissioned to examine the libraries of cathedrals, abbeys, priories, colleges, and other places wherein the records of antiquity were kept, when, observing with dismay the threatened loss of monastic treasures, he asked Cromwell to extend the commission to collecting books for the king’s library. The Germans, he says, perceiving our “desidiousness” and negligence, were daily sending young scholars hither, who spoiled the books, and cut them out of libraries, and returned home and put them abroad as monuments of their own country.[164]

His request was granted in part, and he tells us he sent to London for the royal library the choicest volumes in St. Augustine’s Abbey; but very few of these books now remain.[165] He had, he said, “conservid many good autors, the which otherwise had beene like to have perischid to no smaul incommodite of good letters, of the whiche parte remayne yn the moste magnificent libraries of yowr royal Palacis. Parte also remayne yn my custodye. Wherby I truste right shortely so to describe your most noble reaulme, and to publische the Majeste and the excellent actes of yowr progenitors.”[166]

Robert Talbot, rector of Haversham, Berkshire (d. 1558), collected monastic manuscripts: the choicest of them he left to New College. A portreeve of Ipswich, named William Smart, came into possession of some hundred volumes from Bury Abbey library. In 1599 he gave them to Pembroke College, where they are now.[167] John Twyne, (d. 1581), schoolmaster and mayor of Canterbury, certainly once owned the fifteenth-century catalogue of the St. Augustine’s Abbey library, and seems to have possessed many manuscripts. Both catalogue and manuscripts were{70} transferred to Dr. John Dee, the famous alchemist. The catalogue, with some other books belonging to the doctor, got to the library of Trinity College, Dublin. But the manuscripts passed into the hands of Brian Twyne, John’s grandson, who bequeathed them to Corpus Christi College, Oxford; they are still there.[168] John Stow, whose gatherings form part of the Harleian collection, saved some books which once reposed in claustral aumbries, mainly owing to the protection and help of Archbishop Parker.

Archbishop Parker himself was assiduous in garnering books. “I have within my house, in wages,” he writes to Lord Burleigh, in 1573, “drawers and cutters, painters, limners, writers and bookbinders.” Again, “I toy out my time, partly with copying of books.” He made a strenuous endeavour to recover as many of the monks’ books as possible, using money and influence to this end; and accumulated an unusually large library, quite priceless in character.[169] Most of his choice books were presented to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and twenty-five of them to Cambridge University Library (1574). Dr. Montagu James, the leading authority on the provenance of Western manuscripts, has discovered or made suggestions as to the origin of nearly two hundred out of about three hundred and eighty.[170] Forty-seven are traced to Christ Church, Canterbury; twenty-six to St. Augustine’s Abbey. Later Dr. James extended his work to identifying the manuscripts which were once in the Canterbury abbeys and in the priory of St. Martin at Dover. From the fragmentary Christ Church catalogue of 1170, Dr. James has identified two, and possibly six, manuscripts; from Henry Eastry’s catalogue (14 cent.) of Christ Church books, he has identified{71} either certainly or with much probability about one hundred and eighty; from the catalogue of St. Augustine’s Abbey library (c. 1497) over one hundred and seventy-five; as well as twenty from the Dover catalogue (1389). In addition, Dr. James has identified about one hundred and fifty manuscripts still extant which are certainly or probably attributable to Christ Church monastic library, but which are not in the catalogues handed down to us; and over sixty which are likewise attributable to St. Augustine’s monastery.[171] There are therefore about five hundred and seventy Canterbury manuscripts now remaining to us.

By making a similarly thorough investigation Dr. James has traced about three hundred and twenty-two manuscripts from Bury St. Edmunds.[172] Of the Westminster Abbey manuscripts it is difficult to say how many are extant, as the common medieval press marks are absent from the books of this house. But the presence of eleven manuscripts in the British Museum; two in Lambeth Palace; one at Sion College; three at the Bodleian, and five more in Oxford colleges; two at the Cambridge University Library, and two more in the colleges there; one at the Chetham Library, Manchester; and two at Trinity College, Dublin, well illustrate how the monastic books have been scattered since the Dissolution.[173] To these special examinations Dr. James has gradually added vastly to our knowledge of the provenance of manuscripts by his masterly series of catalogues of the ancient treasures of the Cambridge colleges, and he has proved to us that a considerable number of monastic books still survive.[174] Much more work of the same kind remains to be done; other labourers are{72} needed; but the men of parts who are able and content to labour at a task without remuneration and with small thanks are few and far between; while fewer still are the publishers who can be persuaded to produce the results of these researches.{73}



“For if hevene be on this erthe . and ese to any soule,
It is in cloistere or in scole . be many skilles I fynde;
For in cloistre cometh no man . to chide ne to fighte,
But alle is buxomnesse there and bokes . to rede and to lerne.”
Piers Plowman, B. x. 300


BEFORE leaving the subject of monastic libraries, it is desirable to say something about their economy.

They were built up partly by importing books, partly by bequests from wealthy ecclesiastics, but largely—and in some cases wholly—by the labours of scribes. The scene of the scribe’s craft was the scriptorium or writing-room, which was usually a screened-off portion of the cloister, or a room beside the church and below the library, as at St. Gall, or a chamber over the chapter-house, as at St. Albans under Abbot Paul, at Cockersand Abbey and Birkenhead Priory. As a rule the monk was not allowed to write outside the scriptorium, although in some houses he could read elsewhere—as at Durham, where a desk to support books was fitted in the window of each dormitory cubicle. But brothers whose work was highly valued were allowed a small writing-room or scriptoriolum. Nicholas, Bernard’s secretary, had a room on the right of the cloister with its{74}




door opening into the novices’ room—a cell, he says, “not to be despised; for it is ... pleasant to look upon, and comfortable for retirement. It is filled with most choice and divine books ... is assigned to me for reading, and writing, and composing, and meditating, and praying, and adoring the Lord of Majesty.”[175] Perhaps Nicholas’s room was like that shown in one manuscript, where we see a monk seated on a stool before a reading-stand of odd shape. The table, which is the top of a hexagonal receptacle for parchment and writing materials, or books, can be moved up and down on the screw. Above the screw is a bookrest; at the foot a pedestal, with the ink-bottle upon it. Apparently the room also contains cupboards for storing books. Nicholas, however, was favoured, for in the same passage he refers to the older monks reading the “books of divine eloquence in the cloister.” In Cistercian monasteries certain monks were so favoured, although they were not allowed to use their studies during the time the monks were supposed to be in the cloister.[176] At Oxford, after mid-fourteenth century, every student friar had set apart for him a place fitted with a combined desk and bookcase, or studium, of the kind commonly depicted in medieval illuminations. Grants of timber for making these studia are recorded: to the Black Friars of Oxford, for example, of seven oaks to repair their studies.[177]

The arrangements in the cloister are carefully described in the Durham Rites. At Durham “in the north syde of the cloister, from the corner over against the church dour to the corner over againste the Dortor dour, was all fynely glased, from the hight to the sole within a litle{76} of the grownd into the cloister garth. And in every wyndowe iij pewes or carrells, where every one of the old Monks had his carrell, severall by himselfe, that, when they had dyned, they dyd resorte to that place of Cloister and there studyed upon there books, every one in his carrell, all the after nonne, unto evensong time. This was there exercise every daie. All there pewes or carrells was all fynely wainscotted and verie close, all but the forepart, which had carved wourke that gave light in at ther carrell doures of wainscott. And in every carrell was a deske to lye there books on. And the carrells was no greater then from one stanchell of the wyndowe to another.”[178] There were carrells at Evesham in the fourteenth century.[179] In 1485 Prior Selling constructed in the south walk at Christ Church, Canterbury, “the new framed contrivances called carrells” for the comfort of the monks at study.[180] Such recesses are to be found at Worcester and Gloucester; remains of some exist at the south end of the west walk of the cloisters at Chester, and others were in the destroyed south walk.[181] At Gloucester Cathedral, which was formerly the Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter, are twenty beautiful carrells in the south cloister. They project below the ten main windows, two in each, and are arched, with battlemented tops or cornices. Except for the small double window which lights them, they look like recesses for statuary.

The Carthusian Rule records that few monks of the order could not write.[182] But this was by no means invariably the case. In early monastic times writing was usually the occupation of the weaker brethren: for example,{77}







Ferreolus, in his rules (c. 550), deems reading and copying fit occupations for monks too weak for severer work.[183] Later, in some monasteries, less labour in the field and more writing was done. At Tours, Alcuin took the monks away from field labour, telling them study and writing were far nobler pursuits.[184] But it was not commonly the case to find in monasteries “ech man a scriveyn able.”

When books were not otherwise obtainable, or not obtainable quickly enough, it was the practice to hire scribes from outside the house. Abbot Gerbert, in a letter to the abbot of Tours, mentions that he had been paying scribes in Rome and various parts of Italy, in Belgium, and Germany, to make copies of books for his library “at great expense.”[185] At Abingdon hired scribes were sometimes employed, and the rule was for the abbot to find the food, and the armarius, or librarian, to pay for the labour.[186] This was commonly done when libraries were first formed. When Abbot Paul began to collect a library at St. Albans none of his brethren could write well enough to suit him, and he was obliged to fill his writing-room with hired scribes. He supplied them with daily rations out of the brethren’s and cellarer’s alms-food; such provision was always handy, and the scribes were not retarded by leaving their work.[187] Sometimes scribes were employed merely to save the monks trouble. At Corbie, in the fourteenth century, the religious neglected to work in the writing-room themselves, but allowed benefactors to engage professional scribes in Paris to swell the number of books. The Gilbertine order forbade hired scribes altogether, perhaps wisely.{79}

The scribe’s method of work was simple. First he took a metal stylus or a pencil and drew perpendicular lines in the side margins of his parchment, and horizontal lines at equal distances from top to bottom of the page. Then the task of copying was straightforward. If the book was to be embellished he left spaces for the illuminator to fill in. When the illuminator took the book over, he carefully sketched in his designs for the capitals and miniatures, and then worked over them in colour, applying one colour to a number of sketches at a time. Anybody who is curious as to medieval methods of illuminating should read a little fifteenth-century treatise which describes “the crafte of lymnynge of bokys.” “Who so kane wyesly considere the nature of his colours, and kyndely make his commixtions with naturalle proporcions, and mentalle indagacions connectynge fro dyvers recepcions by resone of theyre naturys, he schalle make curius colourys.” Thereafter follow recipes to “temper vermelone to wryte therewith”; “to temper asure, roset, ceruse, rede lede,” and other pigments; “to make asure to schyne bryȝt,” “to make letterys of gold,” “blewe lethyre,” and “whyte lethyre”; with other curious information.[188]

In monasteries where the rule was strict the scribe wrought at his task for six hours daily.[189] All work was done by daylight, artificial light not being allowed. Lewis, a monk of Wessobrunn in Bavaria, in a copy of Jerome’s Commentary on Daniel, speaks of writing when he was stiff with cold, and of finishing by the light of night what he could not copy by day.[190] Such diligence was not usual.

In summer-time work in the cloister may well have{80} been pleasant; in winter quite the contrary, even when the cloister and carrells were screened, as at Durham and Christ Church, Canterbury. Imagine the poor scribe rubbing his hands to restore the sluggish circulation, and being at last compelled to forgo his labour because they were too numbed to write. Cuthbert, the eighth-century abbot of Wearmouth and Jarrow, writes to a correspondent telling him he had not been able to send all Bede’s works which were required, because the cold weather of the preceding winter had paralysed the scribes’ hands.[191] Again, Ordericus Vitalis winds up the fourth book of his ecclesiastical history by saying—nunc hyemali frigore rigens—he must break his narrative here, and take up other occupations for the winter.[192] Jacob, abbot of Brabant (1276), built scriptoria, or possibly carrells, round the calefactory, or warming-room, where the common fire was kept burning, and the lot of the scribe was made somewhat easier to bear.

A scribe could only write what the abbot or precentor set him. When his portion had been given out he could not change it for another.[193] If he were set to copy Virgil or Ovid or some lives of the saints the task would conceivably be pleasant. But such was seldom the scribe’s fortune. The continual transcription of Psalters and Missals and other service books must have been infinitely wearisome, at any rate, to the less devout members of the community. In some large and enterprising houses a scribe copied only a fragment of a book. Several brethren worked upon the same book at once, each beginning upon a skin at the point where another scribe was to leave off.[194] Or the book to be transcribed was dictated to the scribes, as at Tours under Alcuin. Both methods had the advantage of “publishing” a book quickly, but the work was as{81} mechanical as is that of the compositor to-day. Under Abbot Trithemius of Sponheim, subdivision of labour was carried to its extreme limit. One monk cut the parchment, another polished it, the third ruled the lines to guide the scribe. After the scribe had finished his copying, another monk corrected, still another punctuated. In decorating, one artist rubricated, another painted the miniatures. Then the bookbinder collated the leaves and bound them in wooden covers. Even in the case of waxed tablets, one monk prepared the boards, another spread the wax. The whole process was designed to expedite production.

When a manuscript was fully written the scribe wrote his colophon or “explicit,” a short form of the phrase “explicitus est liber.” Sometimes the scribe plays upon words, thus: “Explicit iste liber; sit scriptor crimine liber”; or he exultantly praises: “Deo gratias. Ego, in Dei nomine, Warembertus scripsi. Deo gratias”; or he is modest: “Nomen scriptoris non pono, quia ipsum laudare nolo”;[195] or he feels querulous: “Be careful with your fingers; don’t put them on my writing. You do not know what it is to write. It is excessive drudgery: it crooks your back, dims your sight, twists your stomach and sides. Pray then, my brother, you who read this book, pray for poor Raoul, God’s servant, who has copied it entirely with his own hand in the cloister of St. Aignan.” Another inscription, in a manuscript at Worcester Cathedral, suggests that books were not read: why, argues this monk, write them?—nobody is profited; books are for the edification of readers, not of scribes. Note also the following:—

Finito libro sit laus et gloria Christo
Vinum scriptori debetur de meliori
Hic liber est scriptus qui scripsit sit benedictus. Amen.[196]


And this:—

Here endþ þe firste boke of all maner sores þe
whyche fallen moste commune and withe þe grace of gode I
will writte þe ij Boke þe whyche ys cleped the Antitodarie
Explicit quod scripcit Thomas Rosse.[197]

To a poor Raoul of mechanical ability the rule of silence must have been very irksome; the student would be grateful for it. Alcuin forbade gossip to prevent mistakes in copying. Among the Cluniacs the rule was strictly enforced in the church, refectory, cloister, and dormitory. A chapter of the Cistercian order (1134) enjoined silence in all rooms where the brethren were in the habit of writing.[198] The better to maintain silence nobody was permitted to enter the scriptorium save the abbot, the prior and sub-prior, and the precentor. When necessary it was permissible to speak in a low voice in the ear. But among the Cluniacs whispering was avoided as far as possible. Watch the monks communicating with the librarian. One wants a Missal, and he pretends, as the children say, to turn over leaves, thereby making the general sign for a book; then he makes the sign of the Cross to indicate that he wants a Missal book. Another wants the Gospels, and he makes the sign of the Cross on the forehead. This brother wants a pagan book, and, after making the general sign, he scratches his ear with his finger as an itching dog would with his feet; infidel writers were not unfairly compared with such creatures.[199] If such sign-language were really maintained, it must have been extensively supplemented as the library grew in size, for although striking the thumb and little{83}




finger together would describe an Antiphonary, or making the sign of the Cross and kissing the finger would indicate a Gradual, yet some additions to the signs for a pagan book and a tract were necessary to signify what particular tract or book was wanted. But probably if this rule was observed at all—and we do not think it likely—the signs were used only for church books, and most often in church. In nearly every monastery the rule of silence was made. In the Brigittine house of Syon “silence after some convenience is to be kepte in the lybrary, whyls any suster is there alone in recordyng of her redynge.”[200] But it was at all times difficult to enforce, as the monks, in experience and habits, were but children.

For notes, exercises, brief letters, bills, first drafts, daily services of the church, the names of officiating brethren,—for all temporary purposes waxed tablets were used. They were in common use from classic times: some Greek and many Latin tablets are still preserved;[201] they were much used in ancient Ireland, as we have seen; and they continued to be of service until the late Middle Ages. Anselm habitually wrote his first drafts upon them. At St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, the monks were supplied with tablets, for a novice’s outfit included, after profession, a stylus, tablets, and a knife.[202] The writing was scratched on the wax with a stylus, a sharp instrument of bone or metal. The other end of it was usually flattened for pressing out an incorrect letter; among the Romans the term “vetere stylum” became common in the sense of correcting a work.{84}



For all permanent purposes “bōc-fel,” or book-skin, was used; either vellum or “parchëmyn smothe, whyte and scribable.” Vellum and parchment were interchangeable terms in medieval times; but parchment was commonly used. In early monastic days it was prepared by the monks themselves, being rubbed smooth with pumice-stone; later it was bought from manufacturers ready-made. It was not so expensive as vellum: the average price being two shillings per dozen skins as compared with eight shillings per dozen skins of vellum. For a Bible presented to Bury St. Edmunds Abbey, finest Irish (or Scottish) vellum was procured (c. 1121-48). This special material was{85} used for the paintings, which seem to have been pasted down on the leaves of inferior vellum. This manuscript is now in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.[203]

The pens used for writing were either made of reeds (calami) or of quills (pennae). The quill was introduced after the reed, and largely, though not entirely, superseded it. Other implements of the expert scribe were a pencil, compasses, scissors, an awl, a knife for erasures, a ruler, and a weight to keep down the vellum.

Numerous passages might be dug out of old records warning scribes against errors in transcribing. Ælfric, in the preface to his homilies, adjures the copyist, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by His glorious coming, to transcribe correctly. Chaucer, in a well-known verse, expresses his wish that Adam the scrivener shall copy Boëthius and Troilus “trewe” and not write it “newe.”[204] In copying, however, especially when it is mechanically done, it is almost as difficult to write “trewe” as it is to write “newe”: the imp of the perverse makes his home at the elbow of the scribe, ever ready to profit by drowsiness or trifling inattention. But, as a rule, monkish scribes were exceedingly careful, and their work was invariably corrected by another hand. More than this: they endeavoured to get accurate texts to copy. Lanfranc’s care in this respect, and the Grey Friars’ work in compiling correctoria, have already been noted. Reculfus expected his clergy to have books corrected and pointed by those in the “holy mother church”; Adam de Marisco sent a manuscript to be corrected in Paris, begging to have it back as soon as done;[205] and Servatus Lupus, the great abbot of Ferrières, frequently borrowed from his friends books which he might collate with his own copies, and rectify errors and insert omissions.[206]


Before work could be started in the writing-room, books for copying had to be obtained. Usually a few books were bought or borrowed; then several copies were made of each, the superfluous volumes being sold or exchanged for fresh manuscripts to transcribe. Benedict Biscop, as we have seen, obtained his books from Rome and Vienne. Cuthwin, bishop of the East Angles (c. 750) was of those who went to Rome, and brought back with him a life of St. Paul, “full of pictures.” Herbert “Losinga,” abbot of Ramsey and afterwards bishop of Norwich, was a zealous book-collector;—asks for a Josephus on loan from a brother abbot, a request not granted because the binding needed repair; and sends abroad for a copy of Suetonius. Robert Grosseteste got a rare book, Basil’s Hexaemeron, from Bury St. Edmunds in exchange for a MS. of Postillae.[207] At Ely, in the fourteenth century, when the scribes there were very active, the precentor was always on the look-out for “copy.” On one occasion he was paid 6s. 7d. for going to Balsham to inquire for books (1329).[208] Abbot Henry of Hyde Abbey exchanged a volume containing Terence, Boëthius, Suetonius, and Claudian for four Missals, the Legend of St. Christopher, and Gregory’s Pastoral Care.[209] On one occasion Adam de Marisco tries to get from a brother of Nottingham the Moralia of St. Gregory, and Rabanus Maurus. He sends from Oxford to an abbot at Vercelli an exposition of the Angelic Salutation, and begs for the abbot’s writings in exchange.[210] Adam had studied at Vercelli,[211]—a new Italian centre with a close English connexion. About 1217 Cardinal Guala Bicchieri, afterwards bishop of Vercelli, was granted the church of{87} Chesterton, near Cambridge, and when he died ten years later he left all his estate, including the church, and a number of books which had been collected at Chesterton or in England, to Vercelli Abbey. Among the gifts were two service books in English, and the famous Codex Vercellensis, which is only less valuable than the Exeter Book as a first source of Anglo-Saxon poetry. The Vercelli Book is in Italy to this day.[212]

In some abbeys the purchase of books, and the copying of them for sale, became just as much a business as the manufacture of Chartreuse. In 1446 Exeter College, Oxford, paid ten shillings and a penny for twelve quires and two skins of parchment bought at Abingdon to send to the monastery of Plympton in Devonshire, where a book was being written for the College.[213] A part—and by no means a negligible part—of the income of Carthusian houses came from copying books. Two continental abbots, Abbot Gerbert of Bobio and Servatus Lupus of Ferrières, were book-makers and sellers on a commercial scale. Lupus, in particular, betrays the commercial spirit by refusing to give more than he was obliged in return for what he received. He will not send a book to a monk at Sens because his messenger must go afoot and the way was perilous: let us hope he thought more of the messenger than of the manuscript. On another occasion he refuses to lend a book because it is too large to be hidden in the vest or wallet, and, besides, its beauty might tempt robbers to steal it. These were good excuses to cover his general unwillingness to lend. For the loan of one manuscript he{88} was so bothered that he thought of putting it away in a secure place, lest he should lose it altogether.[214]

As a rule the expenses of the writing-room formed a part of the general expenses of the house, but sometimes particular portions of the monastic income and endowments were available to meet them. To St. Albans certain tithes were assigned by a Norman leader for making books (c. 1080).[215] The precentor of Abingdon obtained tithes worth thirty shillings for buying parchment.[216] St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, got three marks from the rentals of Milton Church for making books (1144).[217] The monks of Ely (1160), of Westminster (c. 1159), of the cathedral convent of St. Swithin’s, Winchester (1171), of Bury St. Edmunds, and of Whitby, received tithes and rents for a like purpose.[218] The prior of Evesham received the tithes of Bengworth to pay for parchment and for the maintenance of scribes; while the precentor was to receive five shillings annually from the manor of Hampton, and ten shillings and eightpence from the tithes of Stoke and Alcester for buying ink, colours for illuminating, and what was necessary for binding books and the necessaries for the organ.[219]

In some houses a rate was levied for the support of the scriptorium, but we have not met with any instance of this practice in English monasteries. At the great Benedictine Abbey of Fleury a rate was levied in 1103 on the officers and dependent priories for the support of the library; forty-three years later it was extended, and it remained in force{89} until 1562.[220] Besides this impost every student in the abbey was bound to give two books to the library. At Corbie, in Picardy, a rate was levied to pay the salary of the librarian, and to cover part of the cost of bookbinding. Here also each novice, on the day of his profession, had to present a book to the library; at Corvey, in Northern Germany, the same rule was observed at the end of the eleventh century. As all the monasteries of an order were conducted much on the same lines, it is difficult to believe that similar rates were not levied by some of the larger houses in England.

The libraries were also augmented by gifts and bequests, as well as by purchase and by transcription in the scriptorium. In most abbeys it was customary for the brethren to give or bequeath their books to their house. A long list of such benefactors to Ramsey Abbey is extant, and one of the brothers, Walter de Lilleford, prior of St. Ives, gave what was in those days a considerable library in itself.[221] Much longer still are the lists of presents given to Christ Church and St. Augustine’s, Canterbury. Dr. James has indexed nearly two hundred donors to Christ Church alone. In most cases the gifts are of one or a few books, but occasionally collections of respectable size were received, as when T. Sturey, senior, enriched the library with nearly sixty books, when Thomas à Becket left over seventy, and when Prior Henry Eastry left eighty volumes at his death. As many or more donors to St. Augustine’s are indexed. Here also some of the donations were fairly large: for example, Henry Belham and Henry Cokeryng gave nineteen books each, a prior twenty-seven, a certain John of London eighty-two, J. Mankael thirty-nine, Abbot Nicholaus sixteen, Michael de Northgate twenty-four, Abbot Poucyn sixteen,{90} J. Preston twenty-three, a certain Abbot Thomas over a hundred, and T. Wyvelesberghe thirty-one. Some sixty persons are also indexed as donors to St. Martin’s Priory, Dover.[222]

William de Carilef, bishop of Durham, endowed his church with books and bequeathed some more at his death (1095). John, bishop of Bath, bequeathed to the abbey church his whole library and his decorated copies of the Gospels (1160). Another bishop of Durham, Hugh Pudsey, bequeathed many books to his church (1195). Thomas de Marleberge (d. 1236), when he became prior of Evesham, gave a large collection of books in law, medicine, philosophy, poetry, theology, and grammar.[223] Simon Langham bequeathed seven chests of books to Westminster Abbey (1376).[224] William Slade (d. 1384) left to the Abbey of Buckfast, of which he was abbot, thirteen books of his own writing.[225] Cardinal Adam Easton (d. 1397) sent from Rome “six barrells of books” to his convent of Norwich, where he had been a monk.[226] One of these books, a fourteenth-century manuscript in an Italian hand, is now preserved in the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge: the inscription attesting this reads—“Liber ecclesie norwycen per magistrum Adam de Eston monachum dicti loci.” Nor did the poor priest forget to add his mite to the general hoard: “I beqweth to the monastery of Seynt Edmund forseid,” willed a priest named Place, “my book of the dowtes of Holy Scryptur, to ly and remayn in the cloister of the seid monastery as long as yt wyll ther indure.”[227] Such gifts were always highly valued, and in Lent the librarian was{91} expected to remind the brethren of those who had given books, and to request that a mass should be said for them.[228]

§ II

Some miniatures in early manuscripts give us a good idea of the way books were stored in the Middle Ages. They are shown lying flat on sloping shelves which extend part-way round the room. Curtains are occasionally shown hanging in front of the shelves to protect the books from dust. Or a sloping shelf was fitted to serve as a readingdesk, and a second flat shelf ran beneath it to take books lying on their sides one above the other. In several miniatures lecterns of very curious design are often depicted; some of them stood on a cupboard or cupboards wherein books were stowed away.

In the monasteries books were stored in various places,—in chests, cupboards, or recesses in the wall. When the collection was small, a chest served; a receptacle of this kind is illustrated at p. 50. Cassiodorus had the books of his monastery stored in presses, or armaria. The manuscripts of Abbot Simon of St. Albans were preserved in “the painted aumbry in the church.” An aumbry was a recess in the wall well lined inside with wood so that the damp of the masonry should not spoil the books. It was divided vertically and horizontally by shelves in such a way that it was possible to arrange the books separately one from another, and so to avoid injury from close packing, and delay in consulting them.[229] The same term was applied to a detached closet or cupboard. At Durham the monks distributed their books—keeping some in the spendimentum or cancellary, some near the refectory, and{92} the bulk in the cloister. Two classes of books were in the cancellary: one stored in a large closet with folding doors, called an armariolum, and used by all the monks; the other kept in an inner room, and apparently reserved for special uses. The books assigned to the reader in the refectory were stored by the doorway leading to the infirmary, and not in the refectory itself, as we should expect: maybe this arrangement was exceptional, and was adopted for special reasons of convenience. Probably two places were reserved for books in the cloister. One case or chest contained the books of the novices, whose place of study was in that part of the cloister facing the treasury. The main store was on the north side of the cloister. “And over against the carrells against the church wall did stande sertaine great almeries of waynscott all full of bookes, wherein dyd lye as well the old auncyent written Doctors of the church as other prophane authors, with dyverse other holie mens wourks, so that every one dyd studye what Doctor pleased them best, havinge the librarie at all tymes to goe studie in besydes there carrells.”[230] Dr. J. W. Clark, the leading authority on early library fittings, has tried to show, from evidences of a similar arrangement at Westminster, that this part of the cloister formed a long room, with glazed windows and carrells on the one hand, bookcases on the other, and screens at each end shutting off the library and writing-place from the rest of the cloister.[231]

Along the south wall of the cloister at Chester is a series of recesses which are believed to have been used for bookcases. Two recesses for aumbries are still to be seen in the cloister at Worcester: it is recorded that one book,{93} the Speculum Spiritualium, was to be delivered “to ye cloyster awmery.” At Beaulieu the arched recesses in the south wall of the church may have been put to a similar use. These recesses are shown on the plan here reproduced; so also is the common aumbry in the wall of the south transept.



In large continental houses a bookroom was sometimes needed very early. One of the monasteries of Cassiodorus included a special room for the library, with at least nine{94} presses in it.[232] At St. Gall, a special bookroom was planned, if not actually built, as early as the ninth century. According to the old drawing still preserved at St. Gall, this room was to be on the north side of the presbytery, symmetrically with the sacristy on the south side. It was in two stories. The ground floor was to be arranged as a writing-room,—infra sedes scribentium,—the furniture being a large table in the centre, and seven writing-desks against the walls. The upper story was the library.[233] In England we hear of bookrooms oftenest in the fifteenth century, They were a usual feature in later Cistercian houses. The plan just given shows the position of this room between the church and the chapter-house, and not far from the common claustral aumbry. At Whalley Abbey, also a Cistercian house, there was evidently a separate library room, because an inventory of the house’s goods taken in 1537 refers to the “litle Revestry next unto the lebrary.”[234] Kirkstall and Furness also had bookrooms. On each side of the massive arch of the Chapter House at Furness Abbey is a similar arch leading to a small square room, most likely used for books. The illustrations facing this show the position of these rooms on either side of the Chapter House doorway. An extant catalogue of another Cistercian house, that of Meaux in Yorkshire, clearly indicates the whereabouts of the conventual books. Some church books were before the great altar, others were in the choir, a few in the infirmary chapel, and in the common press and other presses of the church. The bulk of them was in the common aumbry, not apparently in the open cloister, but in a room off the cloister. Over the door, on a shelf or in a cupboard, were four Psalters; thirty-six books were on{95}









the top shelf on the other side of the room; the remainder, to the number of about 270, were on other shelves marked by letters of the alphabet.[235]

At the Premonstratensian Abbey of Titchfield the books were stored in a small room, in four cases, each having eight shelves. We do not positively know that a separate room existed at the Benedictine house of Christ Church, Canterbury, before the fifteenth century, “yet,” as Dr. James says, “the form of Prior Eastry’s catalogue, with its division into Demonstrations and Distinctions, irresistibly suggests that the collection must in his time [1284-1331] have occupied a special room, of which the two Demonstrations represent the two sides. The Distinctions would be narrow vertical divisions of these, and each of them would have its numerous subdivisions into Gradus. As the best English equivalent of Demonstratio I would suggest the word ‘Display,’ which fairly gives the idea of a wall-surface covered with books; and I figure the building to myself as an enlarged example of those Cistercian bookrooms with which Dr. J. W. Clark’s researches have familiarized us. It would thus be no place for study, such as the later libraries were, but merely a storeroom whence books were fetched to be read at leisure in the cloister.”[236] Between 1414 and 1443 a library was built over the Prior’s Chapel by Archbishop Chichele: it was about sixty-two feet long on the north side, fifty-four on the south side, and twenty-two feet broad. This was the room which Prior Selling fitted up with wainscot, and put books in for the benefit of the studious.[237] At St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, there was a bookroom in 1340, for the manuscript of the Ayenbite of Inwyt contains a note that it belongs to the{96} “bochouse.”[238] The form of the catalogue of c. 1497 also suggests that a bookroom was then in use.

At Gloucester a special room was built, probably in the fourteenth century. Durham apparently did without a room until early in the fifteenth century. “There ys a lybrarie in the south angle of the lantren, whiche is nowe above the clocke, standinge betwixt the Chapter-House and the Te Deum wyndowe, being well replenished with ould written Docters and other histories and ecclesiasticall writers.”[239] To this room the books were transferred gradually from the cloister and chancellary: the words “in libraria,” or “Ponitur in libraria,” being written in the margin of the catalogue opposite to the book upon its removal.

The Benedictine houses of Winchester, Worcester, Bury St. Edmunds,[240] and St. Albans also had special bookrooms.

For the safe keeping of the conventual books the precentor was responsible.[241] As he had charge of the armarium or press for storing books, he was also sometimes styled “armarius.” He was required to keep clean all the boys’ and novices’ presses and other receptacles for books; when necessary he was to have these fittings repaired. To provide coverings for the books; to see that they were marked with their proper titles; to arrange them on the shelves in suitable order, so that they might be quickly found, were all duties within his province.[242] He had to keep them in repair: in some houses he was expected to{97} examine all of them carefully several times a year, and to check, if possible, the ravages of bookworms and damp. If necessary, he could call in skilled labour to keep his library and books in order; but usually several brethren were trained in the necessary arts, as at Sponheim. The Abingdon regulations, which are in the usual form, forbade him to sell, give away, or pledge books. All the materials for the use of the scribes and the manuscripts for copying were to be provided by him.[243] He made the ink, and could dole it out not only to the brethren but to lay folk if they asked for it civilly.[244] He also controlled the work in the scriptorium: setting the scribes their tasks, preventing them from idling or talking; walking round the cloister when the bell sounded to collect the books which had been forgotten by careless monks.

As a rule the monks so highly prized their books—saving them first, for example, in time of danger, as when the Lombards attacked Monte Cassino and the Huns St. Gall—that rules for the care of them would seem almost superfluous. Still, such rules were made. When reading, the monks of some houses were required to wrap handkerchiefs round the books, or to hold them with the sleeve of their robe. Coverings, perhaps washable, were put upon books much in use.[245] The Carthusian brethren were exhorted in their statutes to take all possible care to keep the books they were reading clean and free from dust.[246] Elsewhere we have referred to an “explicit” urging readers to have a care for the scribe’s writing: in another manuscript once belonging to Corbie, the kind reader is bidden to keep his fingers off the pages lest he should mar the{98} writing on them—a man who knows nothing of the scribe’s business cannot realize how heavy it is, for though only three fingers hold the pen, the whole body toils.[247]


One of the precentor’s chief duties was to regulate lending books. At Abingdon he could only lend to outsiders upon a pledge of equal or greater value than the book required, and even so could only lend to churches near by and to persons of good standing. It was deemed preferable to confiscate the pledge than to proceed against a defaulting borrower. In some houses more than a pledge was demanded if the book were lent for transcription, the borrower being required to send a copy when he returned the manuscript. “Make haste to copy these quickly,” wrote St. Bernard’s secretary, “and send them to me; and, according to my bargain, cause a copy to be made for me. And both these which I have sent you, and the copies, as I have said, return them to me, and take care that I do not lose a single tittle.”[248] The extra copy was demanded, not so much for purposes of gain as to put a check upon borrowing, a practice which many abbots did not encourage, on account of the danger of loss. Books, like gloves, are soon lost. We can well understand how uncommonly easy it was to forget to return a coveted manuscript. To help borrowers to overcome the insidious temptation, the scribe sometimes wrote upon the manuscript the name of the monastery it belonged to, and threatened a defaulter with anathema. In some of the St. Albans’ books is the following note in Latin: “This book is St. Alban’s book: he who takes it from him or destroys the title be anathema.”[249]

{99} The prior and convent of Rochester threatened to pronounce sentence of damnation on anyone who stole or hid the Latin translation of Aristotle’s Physics, or even obliterated the title.[250] Apparently no fate was too bad for the thief who took the Vulgate Bible: let him die the death; let him be frizzled in a pan; the falling sickness and fever should rage in him; he should be broken on the wheel and hanged; Amen.[251] Two curious notes are to be found in a manuscript of the works of Augustine and Ambrose in the Bodleian Library. “This book belongs to St. Mary of Robert’s Bridge: whoever steals it, or sells it, or takes it away from this house in any way, or injures it, let him be anathema-maranatha.” Underneath, another hand has written: “I, John, bishop of Exeter, do not know where the said house is: I did not steal this book, but got it lawfully.”[252] In a beautiful manuscript of Chaucer’s Troilus, not perhaps a conventual book, occurs the following:—

“he that thys Boke rentt or stelle
God send hym sekenysse swart (?) of helle.”[253]

All the same, losses were common. About 1290 William of Pershore, once a Benedictine monk, and at the time a Grey Friar, returned to his old order at Westminster, and took with him some books. A big dispute arose over this apostate, and one of the items of the subsequent settlement was that the Westminster monks should return the books.[254]

A similar thing took place in Scotland (1331). A friar of Roxburgh forsook his grey habit for the Cistercian white by entering Kelso Abbey. He made his new associates{100} envious with an account of the goods of the friaries at Roxburgh and Berwick. They persuaded him and two other apostate friars to rob these convents of the “Bibles, chalices, and other sacred books,” and, with the aid of night, the enterprise met with more success than they deserved.[255]

The prior and convent of Ely traced some of their books to Paris. They wrote to Edward III (1332): “Because a robber has taken out of our church four books of great value, viz.—The Decretum, Decretals, the Bible and Concordance, of which the first three are now at Paris, arrested and detained under sequestration by the officer of the Bishop of Paris, whom our proctor has often prayed in form of law to deliver them, but he behaves so strangely that we shall find in him neither right, grace, nor favour:—We ask you to write to the Bishop of Paris to intermeddle favourably and tell his official to do right, so that we may get our things back.”[256] In 1396-7 William, prior of Newstead, and a brother canon, proceeded against John Ravensfield for the return of a book by Richard of Hampole, entitled Pricke of Conscience, “and now the parties aforesaid are agreed by the licence of the court, and the said John is in ‘misericordia’; he paid the amercement in the hall.”[257] Another record tells us of two monks of Christ Church, Canterbury, being sent into Cambridgeshire to recover a book.

The risk of loss owing to the practice of lending books was great—how great may be judged from the fact that of the equal portions of the Peterhouse College library of 1418, 199 volumes of the chained portion remain, but only ten of all those assigned to the Fellows are left.[258] In spite of the risk, lending was extensively carried on.{101} In one year (1343), for example, the unimportant priory of Hinton lent no fewer than twenty books to another monastery.[259] Then again, it was thought to be only common charity to lend books to poor students, and in 1212 a council at Paris actually forbade monks to refuse to lend books to the poor, and requested them to divide their libraries into two divisions—one for the use of the brothers, the other for lending.[260] Whether this ever became a practice in England is more than doubtful. But seculars of position or influence appear to have been able to borrow monastic books. For example, in 1320, the prior and convent of Ely acknowledge receiving ten books from the executors of a rector of Balsham, who had borrowed them.[261] Some years later, at an audit of books of Christ Church, Canterbury, seventeen manuscripts—thirteen of them on law—were noted as in the hands of seculars, among whom was Edward II.[262]

Lending books to brethren in the monastery was conducted according to strict rules, of which those of Lanfranc, based on the Cluniac observances, afford a good example. Before the brethren went into chapter on the Monday after the first Sunday in Lent, the librarian laid out on a carpet in the chapter-house all the books which were not on loan. After the assembly of the brethren, the librarian read his register of the books lent to the monks. Each brother, on hearing his name, returned the book which had been entrusted to him. If he had not made good use of the book, he was expected to prostrate himself, confess his neglect, and beg forgiveness. When all books were returned, others were issued, and a new record made. In some monasteries the abbot would question the monks on{102} the books they had read, to test their knowledge of them, and whenever the answers were unsatisfactory would lend the same books again instead of fresh ones. As a rule only one book was issued at a time, so that the monk had plenty of time to digest its contents. In Carthusian houses two books were lent at a time. Sick brethren were freely permitted to borrow books for their solace, but such books were returned to the library nightly, at lighting-up time.

Among the Cluniacs it was the custom to take stock of the books given out to the monks once a year; while the Franciscans kept a register of their books, and every year it was read and corrected before the convent in assembly.[263]

An excellent example of a stocktaking record made at Christ Church, Canterbury, has been preserved. The inspection took place in 1337. First are recorded the books missing from the two “demonstrations,” as recorded “in magnis tabulis,” e.g.,

Primo: deficit liber Transfiguratus in Crucifixum, ad quem est in nota Frater W. de Coventre.

Nineteen books were missing from the two “demonstrations,” or displays. Nineteen service books were missing “in parvis tabulis.” No less than thirty-eight books, twenty-eight of them for service, either of the large or the small tables, were wanting: for these deceased brethren had been responsible.[264]

The “large tables” are believed to be boards whereon the borrowers of books had their names and borrowings noted. “I find,” writes Dr. James, “in a St. Augustine’s manuscript a note written on the fly-leaf by a monk, of the books ‘pro quibus scribor in tabula’—‘for which I am down on the board.’ ”[265] Large tables were in use at{103} Pembroke College, Cambridge; probably they were of a similar kind. “And let the said keeper,”—so the statute runs—“have ready large pieces of board (tabulas magnas), covered with wax and parchment, that the titles of the books may be written on the parchment, and the names of the Fellows who hold them on the wax beside it.”[266] Monastic catalogues were sometimes written on such boards. At Cluni, Mabillon and Martène found the catalogue inscribed on parchment-covered boards three feet and a half long and a foot and a half wide—great tablets which closed together like a book.

Besides the example of an audit at Canterbury we have one belonging to Durham, a little later in date (1416). The list of books assigned to the Spendement was evidently read over, and a tick or point was put against every volume found in its place. On a second check certain books were accounted for, and notes of their whereabouts were added to the inventory. Some were found in the cloister, others were in the library; the prior of Finchale had a number; many had been sent to Oxford. In one case a book is noted as given to Bishop Kempe of London.[267]

The catalogue was usually a simple inventory. Sometimes the entries were classified, as in the case of a catalogue of the York library of the Friars Eremites of the Augustinian order. The fifteenth-century catalogue of St. Augustine’s, Canterbury, is classified under sixteen headings, but it is probably incomplete.[268] As a rule the entries were only just sufficient to identify the books: all the treatises in a volume were not often recorded, but only the title of the first. This is an entry from a Durham catalogue:—

F. Legenda Sanctorum, sive Passionarum pro mensibus
Februaria et Marcii. II. fo., non surrexerunt.


The letter F was employed as a distinctive mark. The note “II. fo., non surrexerunt” signifies that the second folio began with these words, and was used as the most convenient method of distinguishing two copies of the same book, for it would rarely happen that one scribe would begin the second sheet with the same word as another. In some houses the practice was extended to printed books in the sixteenth century; and consequently no fewer that nearly four hundred editions have been named in the catalogue of Syon monastery.[269] In some other catalogues the information given was fuller. The catalogue of Syon notes first the press-mark in a bold hand; then on the left side the donor’s name, and on the opposite side the words of the second folio; and beneath the description of the book.

GraunteP 1mindutum est

Biblia perpulcra et completa cum interpretacionibus.
¶ Tabula sentencialis super eandem per totum. ¶ Item
alia tabula expositoria vocabulorum difficilium eiusdem

WoodeP 2osce 2º

Concordancie cum textu expresso.

The catalogue of St. Augustine’s, already referred to, recorded the general title of the volume, or of the first treatise in it; the name of the donor; the other contents of the volume; the first words of the second leaf, and the press-mark. Where necessary, cross-references were supplied. The press-marks used for monastic books are generally of two kinds: press-marks properly so called, or class-marks. At St. Augustine’s, Canterbury, the distinctions or tiers were numbered, as D 3; and the {105}gradus or shelves of each distinction were numbered, as




G 4. A similar method seems to have been adopted for St. Albans; in one book from that abbey is this mark: “de armariolo 4/A et quarto gradu liber quartus.”[270] But such a mark assigned a book to one particular place and fixed its relation to other books. Consequently, if any large accession were made to the library, the classification of the books in broad subject-divisions could only be maintained by the alteration of many press-marks, both on the books and in the catalogue. At Titchfield each class was marked with a letter of the alphabet, and the shelves bearing it were numbered: thus a book might be assigned to G 2, or class G, shelf 2.[271] This method of marking was more flexible. But at Syon Monastery the books were arranged quite independently of the presses and shelves; each volume receiving a different number, as well as a class-letter.

The most elaborate example of monkish cataloguing comes from Dover Priory, a cell belonging to Canterbury. One John Whytefield compiled it in 1389. The note preceding the catalogue tells of unbounded enthusiasm for the library and a meticulous regard for order. No better proof of the care taken of books by most monks could be found. The catalogue is in three parts. First there is a brief inventory of the books as they are arranged on the shelves. This is a shelf-list designed for the use of the precentor; just the sort of record modern librarians regard as indispensable in the administration of their libraries. Secondly, our industrious monk has provided a catalogue,—a repetition of the shelf-list, but with all the contents of each volume set out. His chief aim in making this compilation is to show up fully the resources of his collection, and to lead studious brethren to read zealously and frequently. Lastly, an analytical index to the{106} catalogue is supplied: it is in alphabetical order, and is intended to point out to the user the whereabouts in a volume of any individual treatise. A similar index, by the way, is appended to the catalogue of Syon monastery.[272] The library seems to have been spread over nine tiers (distinctions) of book-casing, each marked with a letter of the alphabet. A tier had seven shelves (gradus) marked by Roman numeral figures, the numbers beginning from the bottom of the tier. Each book bore a small Arabic figure which fixed its order on the shelf. The full press-mark of a book was therefore A. v. 4. Such marks were written inside the books and on their bindings. On the second, third, or fourth leaf of a book, or thereabouts, the title was written on the bottom margin, with the press-mark and the first words of that leaf. All these marks were copied in the inventory or shelf-list: first the tier letter, then the shelf number, afterwards the book number; followed by the title, the number of the leaf whence the identifying words were taken, then the identifying words, with the number of leaves in the volume, and finally the number of tracts it contains. Here are some entries:—

 A. v. 
1Psalterium vetus glosatum 6apprehendite disci 105 1
2Prima pars psalterii glosata gallice 4cument que il lait 195 2
3Glose super spalterio 6nullas habebunt veri 104 2


In the second part, or catalogue following the shelf-list, are set out the tier letter, shelf number, book number, short title; then the number of the folio on which each tract in a volume begins, and finally the first words of the tract itself.[273]

Most books were bound by the monks themselves. The commonest materials used for ordinary manuscripts were wooden boards, covered with deerskin and calfskin, either coloured red or used in its natural tint, and parchment usually stained or painted red or purple. Charles the Great authorised the Abbot of St. Bertin to enjoy hunting rights so that the monks could get skins for binding. In mid-ninth century, Geoffroi Martel, Count of Anjou, commanded that the tithe of the roeskins captured in the island of Oléron should be used to bind the books in an abbey of his foundation. Few monastic bindings have been preserved, because many great collectors have had their manuscripts rebound. Several examples of Winchester work remain. Mr. Yates Thompson has a mid-twelfth century manuscript bound in the monastic style, the leather being stamped with cold irons of many curious rectangular shapes. The manuscript of the Winton Domesday has a binding with stamps exactly like those on Mr. Thompson’s book. “At Durham in the last half of the twelfth century there was an equally important school of binding, with some one hundred and fourteen different stamps. The binding for Hugh Pudsey’s Bible has nearly five hundred impressions.”[274] In Pembroke College library an excellent specimen of twelfth century stamped binding remains on MS. 147. Such stamps were small, and frequently of geometrical or floral design, always rudimentary; but{108} animals of the quaintest form—grotesque birds and dragons—were also introduced. A hammer or mallet was employed to obtain an impression from the stamp. Sometimes the oak boards were not covered with skin but were painted.

If a book was specially prized the binding was often rich. The covers of the Gospels of Lindau, a superb example of Carolingian art, bear nearly five hundred gems encrusted in gold.[275] Abbot Paul of St. Albans gave to his church two books adorned with gold and silver and gems. Abbot Godfrey of Malmesbury, partly to meet a heavy tax imposed by William Rufus, stripped twelve Gospels of their decorations. “Books are clothed with precious stones,” cried St. Jerome, “whilst Christ’s poor die in nakedness at the door.”[276] In spite of the many references to jewelled monastic bindings in medieval records, very few are extant.{109}







TO the books of the monastery some human interest clings: we can at once conjure up a picture of the cloister and the scribe at his work; the handling of an old manuscript, the turning over of finely-written and quaintly-illuminated yellow pages, throws the mind flashing back centuries to the silent writer in his carrell. But the church library is not rich in associations. It was a small “working” collection: one part for the use of the clergy, the other part—consisting of a few chained books—for the use of the people. These chained books, which now suggest a scarcely conceivable restriction upon the circulation of literature—even theological literature—were, in fact, the sign of a glimmer of liberal thought in the church. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, not only were monastic books issued to lay people more freely, but many more books were chained in places of worship than in the sixteenth century, when the proclamation for the “setting-up” of Bibles in churches was granted unwillingly.

Some collections which later were distinctively church libraries were at first claustral. For convenience’ sake we shall treat all of them as church libraries. The amount of information on medieval church libraries is surprisingly extensive, albeit a great deal more must remain hidden{110} still, for all our cathedral libraries have not been subjects of such loving scholarship as Canon Church has bestowed upon the ancient treasure-house at Wells. Still the material is extensive, and our difficulty in making a selection for such a compendious book as the present is complicated, because we often do not find it possible to say whether the books referred to in the available records are merely service books, or books of an ordinary character. To evade this difficulty we must ignore all material relating to unnamed books, which we cannot reasonably suppose to have been the nucleus of a more general collection, or an addition to it.

Exeter Cathedral Library was a monastic hoard. It originated with Bishop Leofric, who got together over sixty books about sixteen years before the Conquest. His books were a curious collection: among copies of the classics and ecclesiastical works were books of night songs, summer and winter reading books, a precious book of blessings, and a “Mycel Englisc boc”—a large English book, on all sorts of things, wrought in verse. The last is the famous Exeter book, still preserved in the library. A small folio of 130 leaves of vellum, it is remarkable to the student of manuscripts for its bold, clear, and graceful calligraphy, and priceless to the student of literature as the only source of much of our small store of Anglo-Saxon poetry. Some other Leofrican books remain. In the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, is an eleventh century copy of Bede’s history in Anglo-Saxon, which was given to Exeter by Leofric, although it is not mentioned in the list of his gifts in the Bodleian manuscript. The inscription in it reads: Hunc librum dat leofricus episcopus ecclesie sancti petri apostoli in exonia ubi sedes episcopalis est ad utilitatem successorum suorum. Si quis illum abstulerit inde, subiaceat maledictioni. Fiat. Fiat. Fiat.[277] A manuscript of Bede on{111}




the Apocalypse, now at Lambeth Palace, seems almost certainly to have come from St. Mary’s Church, Crediton, and it bears the inscription:—“A: in nomine domini. Amen. Leofricus Pater.”[278] Another book given by Leofric, a missal dating from 969, is preserved in the Bodleian Library.[279]

Although the age of these books suggests that the collection has existed continuously since the eleventh century, after Leofric’s time no important reference to the library occurs until 1327, when an inventory of the books was drawn up. Then about 230 volumes (excluding service books) were in the possession of the Chapter.[280] In this same year a breviary and a missal were chained up in the choir for the use of the people.[281] Twelve months later John Grandisson arrived at Exeter to take charge of his diocese. A book-loving bishop, he was a benefactor to the library, maybe to a very praiseworthy extent; but a few words will record what is definitely known about this part of his work. In 1366 he gave two folio volumes, still extant. One contains Lessons from the Bible, and the homilies appointed to be read, and the other is the Legends of the Saints.[282] In his will he gave two other books, perhaps Pontificals of his own compilation, to his successors.[283] He himself owned an extensive library, which he divided principally between his chapter and the collegiate churches of Ottery, Crediton, and Boseham, and Exeter{112} College, Oxford.[284] All St. Thomas Aquinas’ works he bequeathed to the Black Friars’ convent at Exeter. To Simon Islip, Archbishop of Canterbury, he gave a fine copy of St. Anselm’s letters, now by good fortune in the British Museum. A Hebrew Pentateuch once belonging to him is in the capitular library of Westminster: is it possible that the bishop was a Hebrew scholar?[285] Among the books of Windsor College was a volume, De Legendis et Missis de B. V. Mariâ, which had been given by him.

A library room was built over the east cloister in 1412-13.[286] Probably the building was found necessary on account of a considerable accession of books, and we hazard a guess that Grandisson’s bequest, received in 1370, formed the bulk of the accretion. At all events, among the accounts for the building are charges for 191 chains for books not secured before. No fewer than 67 books were also sewed or bound on this same occasion, the master binder being paid £6 and his man 36s. 8d. Thus at the beginning of the fifteenth century—the age of library building—the capitular hoard at Exeter was furbished up, newly housed, and arranged. But the interest in the collection seems to have waned. Another chain was bought for sixteenpence in 1430-31 for a copy of Rationale Divinorum, which was given by one Rolder; but such gifts were few and far between. In 1506 the Chapter owned{113} 363 volumes, but 133 more than in 1327,[287] so that few additions besides Grandisson’s were made in nearly two centuries, or many books were lost.[288] According to this second inventory the books were arranged in eleven desks; eight books were chained opposite the west door; twenty-eight were not chained; seven were chained behind the treasurer’s stall (a Bible in three volumes, Lyra also in three, and a Concordance); and fourteen volumes of canon and civil law behind the succentor’s stall.[289] The Dean and Chapter were in a strangely generous mood at the end of this century. In 1566 they gave one of Leofric’s books to Archbishop Parker: it is now in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. The collection was despoiled of eighty-one of its finest books to enrich Bodley’s foundation at Oxford, 1602.[290] Although the book-lover does not like to see treasures torn from their associations, yet in this instance the alienation was fortunate. By 1752 only twenty volumes noted in the inventory of 1506 were left at Exeter.[291]

Besides the Exeter Book, one other very ancient and valuable manuscript is preserved in the Cathedral: this is the part of the Domesday Book referring to Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset, which is probably not much later in date than the Exchequer record. Two ancient book-boxes are also to be found there. These are fixed in a sloping position by means of iron supports embedded in the pillars. The late Dr. J. W. Clark was led to believe them to be intended for books by finding a wooden bookboard nailed to the inside bottom of one of the boxes. For the protection{114} of the book each box has a cover, which does not seem ever to have been fastened: a reader would raise the lid when he wanted to use the manuscript, and close it before he went away.[292] Erasmus seems to have seen similar boxes fixed to the pillars in the nave at Canterbury.[293]

§ II

When gifts or bequests were received by a church or monastery, it was a beautiful custom to lay them, or something to represent them, upon the altar: “a book, or turf, or, in fact, almost any portable object, was offered for property such as land; or a bough or twig of a tree, if the gift were a forest.” King Offa’s gift of churches to Worcester monastery in 780 was accompanied by a great book with golden clasps, with every probability a Bible.[294] A gift was made under similar circumstances in c. 1057, about the time Bishop Leofric was founding the library at Exeter, when Lady Godiva, the wife of another Leofric, restored some manors to Worcester, and with them gave a Bible in two parts. Before this, Bishop Werfrith, to whom we have referred before as a helper of King Alfred, had sent to Worcester the Anglo-Saxon version of Gregory’s Cura Pastoralis; the very copy of it is now in the Bodleian Library.

Such were perhaps the beginnings of the library of Worcester Cathedral. We cannot but think that a collection of books was formed slowly and steadily here, as in{115} other foundations of the same kind, although actual records are scanty and meagre. In over forty of the manuscripts now at Worcester are inscriptions on fly-leaves stating where they were procured: sometimes the price is given. The dates of these inscriptions run from about 1283 to 1462, or later.[295] “In 1464,” writes the Rev. J. K. Floyer, in his article entitled A Thousand Years of a Cathedral Library, “we first hear of a regular endowment for the acquisition of books. Bishop Carpenter made a library in the charnel house chantry, and endowed it with £10 for a librarian. The charnel house was near the north porch of the Cathedral, and stood on or near the site of the present Precentor’s house. It was a separate institution from the monastery, and had its own endowments and priests. Bishop Carpenter’s foundation was probably entirely separate from the collection of books kept for the use of the monks in the cloister.”[296] At the same time, the bishop made regulations for the use of the library. The keeper was to be a graduate in theology, and a good preacher. He was to live in the chantry, where a dwelling had been erected for him at the end of the library. Among other duties he had to take care of the books. The library was to be open to the public every week day for two hours before Nones (or nine), and for two hours after Nones. This alone was a most liberal regulation, for making which Bishop Carpenter deserves all honour. But he went still further. When asked to do so the keeper was to explain difficult passages of Scripture, and once a week was to deliver a public lecture in the library. The Bishop’s idea of a library is precisely that embodied in the modern town library: a collection of good books, for the free use of the public, with some personal help to the proper use of them when{116} necessary. Three lists of the books were to be drawn up, one to be kept by the Bishop, the second by the sacrist, and the third by the keeper. Once a year stock was taken, and if a book were missing through the keeper’s neglect, he was to forfeit its value within a month, or in default was to pay forty-shillings more than the value of it, one half of the sum to go to the Bishop, the other half to the sacrist. Unfortunately these and other regulations were not observed with care, and within forty years the Bishop’s work was completely neglected and forgotten.

At the Dissolution the Priory was deprived of much of its church plate, service books and vestments, and probably of many of its books. But the library there suffered a good deal less than those of other houses, and the Cathedral now has in its possession some respectable remains of its ancient collection of books.[297]


The history of an old library can only be traced intermittently, the facts playing hide and seek like a distant lantern carried over broken ground. Little is known of the early history of Hereford’s cathedral library. An ancient copy of the Gospels, said to have been bequeathed by the last Saxon bishop, Athelstan (1012), is one of the earliest gifts. In 1186 Bishop Robert Folliott gave “multa bona in terris et libris.” Bishop Hugh Folliott also left ornaments and books. Another bishop, R. de Maidstone, although “vir magnae literaturae, et in theologia nominatissimus,” only seems to have given the church two antiphonaries, some psalters, and a Legenda. Bishop Charleton (1369) left a Bible, a concordance, a glossary, Nicholas de Lyra, and five Books of Moses, all to be chained in the cathedral. Very shortly{117}




afterwards we hear of fittings, for in 1395 Walter of Ramsbury gave £10 for making the desks. Probably a book-room, which was over the west cloister, was then put up. A long interval elapsed, during which little seems to have been done for the library. But between c. 1516-35 Bishop Booth and Dean Frowcester left many fine volumes. In 1589 the book-room was abandoned and the contents shifted to the Lady Chapel.

A new library was built in 1897. Herein are to be seen what are almost certainly the original bookcases, albeit they have been taken to pieces and somewhat altered before being fitted together again. One of the bookcases still has all the old chains and fittings for the books, and it presents a very curious appearance. Every chain is from three to four feet long, with a ring at each end, and a swivel in the middle. One ring is strung on to an iron rod, which is secured at one end of the bookcase by metal work, with lock and key. For convenience in using the book on the reading slope which was attached to the case, the ring at the other end of the chain was fixed to the fore edge of the book-cover instead of to the back; when standing on the shelves the books therefore present their fore edges to the reader. The cases are roughly finished, but very solid in make.[298]

§ IV

At Old Sarum Church, Bishop Osmund (1078-99) collected, wrote, and bound books.[299] In his time, too, the chancellor used to superintend the schools and correct books: either books used in the school or service books.[300] The income from a virgate of land was assigned to correcting{118} books towards the end of the twelfth century (1175-80).[301] The new Salisbury Cathedral was erected in the thirteenth century; but apparently a special library room was not used until shortly after 1444, when it was put up to cover the whole eastern cloister. This room was altered and reduced in size in 1758. About the time the room was completed one of the canons gave some books, on the inside covers of two of which is a note in a fifteenth century hand bidding they should be chained in the new library.[302] Nearly two hundred manuscripts, of various date from the ninth to the fourteenth century, are now in the library. Among them several notable volumes are to be found: a Psalter with curious illuminations; another Psalter, with the Gallican and Hebrew of Jerome’s translation in parallel columns, also illuminated; Chaucer’s translation of Boëthius; Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain of the twelfth century; a thirteenth century Lectionary, with golden and coloured initials; a Tonale according to Sarum use, bound with a fourteenth century Ordinal; and a fifteenth century Processional containing some notes on local customs.

§ V

Books were given to Lincoln Cathedral about 1150 by Hugh of Leicester; one of them bears the inscription, Ex dono Hugonis Archidiaconi Leycestriae. They may still be seen at Lincoln. Forty-two volumes and a map came into the charge of Hamo when he became chancellor in 1150.[303] During his chancellorship thirty-one volumes were added by gift, so making the total seventy-three volumes: Bishops Alexander and Chesney were among the benefactors. But here, as at{119}




Salisbury, not until the fifteenth century was a separate library room built. Two gifts “to the new library” by Bishop Repyngton—who also befriended Oxford University Library—and Chancellor Duffield in 1419 and 1426, fix the date. It was put up over the north half of the eastern cloisters, relatively the same position as at Salisbury and Wells. Originally it had five bays, but in 1789 the two southernmost bays were pulled down: In this room the fine fifteenth century oaken roof, with its carved ornaments, has been preserved, but at Salisbury the roof is modern, with a plaster ceiling. Lincoln’s new library, designed by Wren and erected in 1674, is next to this old room. According to a 1450 catalogue now preserved at Lincoln the library contained one hundred and seven works, more than seventy of which now remain. Among the most important manuscripts are a mid-fifteenth century copy of old English romances of great literary value, collected by Robert de Thornton, archdeacon of Bedford (c. 1430); and a contemporary copy of Magna Carta.

§ VI

In an inventory of St. Paul’s Cathedral, taken in 1245, mention is made of thirty-five volumes.[304] Before this, in Ralph of Diceto’s time, a binder of books was an officer of the church. As at Salisbury, the chancellor’s duties included taking charge of the school books. In 1283 a writer of books was included among the ministers. The two offices were combined in the beginning of the next century. When Dean Ralph Baldock made a visitation of St. Paul’s treasury in 1295, he found thirteen Gospels adorned with precious metals and stones; some other parts of the Scriptures; and a commentary of Thomas{120} Aquinas. In 1313 Baldock, who died Bishop of London, bequeathed fifteen volumes, chiefly theological books.[305] To Baldock’s time probably belongs the reference to twelve scribes, no doubt retained for business purposes as well as for book-making. They were bound by an oath to be faithful to the church and to write without fraud or malice. Æneas Sylvius tells us he saw a Latin translation of Thucydides in the sacristy of the cathedral (1435).[306]

A library room was erected in the fifteenth century. “Ouer the East Quadrant of this Cloyster, was a fayre Librarie, builded at the costes and charges of Waltar Sherington, Chancellor of the Duchie of Lancaster, in the raigne of Henrie the 6 which hath beene well furnished with faire written books in Vellem.”[307] The catalogue of 1458 bears out Stow’s description of the library as well-furnished. Some one hundred and seventy volumes were in the Chapter’s possession; they were of the usual kind, grammatical books, Bibles and commentaries, works of the fathers; books on medicine by Galen, Hippocrates, Avicenna, and Egidius; Ralph de Diceto’s chronicles; and some works of Seneca, Cicero, Suetonius, and Virgil.[308] In 1486, however, only fifty-two volumes were found after the death of John Grimston the sacrist.[309] Leland gives a list of only twenty-one manuscripts, but it was not his habit to make full inventories. In Stow’s time, however, few books remained.[310] Three volumes only can be traced now—(1) a manuscript of Avicenna, (2) the Chronicle of Ralph de Diceto in the Lambeth Palace Library, and (3) the Miracles of the Virgin, in the Aberdeen University Library.[311]



Although neither a monastic nor a collegiate church, Wells was already in the thirteenth century a place with some equipment for educational work. Besides the choristers’ school, a schola grammaticalis of a higher grade was in existence. After 1240 the Chancellor’s duties included lecturing on theology. Not improbably, therefore, a collection of books was formed very early. And indeed the Dean and Chapter in 1291 received from the Dean of Sarum books lent by the Chapter, and some others bequeathed to them. Hugo of St. Victor, Speculum de Sacramentis, and Bede, De Temporibus, were the books returned from Sarum; among those bequeathed were Augustine’s Epistles and De Civitate Dei, Gregory the Great’s Speculum, and John Damascenus. We know nothing of the character and size of the library at this time, although it seems to have been preserved in a special room. In 1297, the Chapter ordered the two side doors of the choir screen in the aisles to be shut at night. One door near the library (versus librarium) and the Chapter was only to be open from the first stroke of matins until the proper choir door was opened at the third bell. At other times during the day it was always to be closed, so that people could not injure the books in the library, or overhear the conferences of the Chapter (secreta capituli). This library was most likely on the north side of the church, with the Chapter House beside it, in the north transept, as shown conjecturally in the plan given in Canon Church’s admirable Chapters in the Early History of the Church of Wells.[312] That so early, in a church neither monastic nor collegiate, a school was at work, and a{122} library had been formed, is a specially significant fact in the study of our subject.



In this position the library remained until the fifteenth century. Two notices occur of it, one in 1340 and another in 1406, in both cases in connection with an image of the Holy Saviour, “near the library.”

But in the fifteenth century a new library was built{123}




over the eastern cloister. Bishop Nicholas of Bubwith, in his will of 1424, bequeathed one thousand marks to be faithfully applied and disposed for the construction and new building of a certain library to be newly erected upon the eastern space of the cloister, situate between the south door of the church next the chamber of the escheator of the church and the gate which leads directly from the church by the cloister into the palace of the bishop.[313] The work was begun by his executors, but certain signs of break in the building suggest some delay in finishing it. This room is probably the only cathedral library built over a cloister which remains in its original completeness. It is 165 feet by 12 feet; now only about two-thirds of it are devoted to the library. When this room was first fitted up as a library no one knows; but tradition fixes the date at 1472. The present fittings were put in during Bishop Creighton’s time (1670-72).

Shortly after the date of Bubwith’s will Bishop Stafford (1425-43) gave ten books—not an inspiriting collection—but he desired to retain possession of them during his lifetime.[314] In 1452 Richard Browne (alias Cordone), Archdeacon of Rochester, left to the library of Wells, Petrus de Crescentiis De Agricultura, and two other books, Jerome’s Epistles, and Lathbury Super librum Trenorum, which were to be kept in the church in wooden cases.[315] Were these cases to resemble the boxes still remaining in Exeter Cathedral? The same will ordered the Decretales of Clement, which had been borrowed for copying, to be restored to this library; two other books were also given back;{124} and the will further notes that there are several books belonging to the library in a certain great bag in the inner room of the treasury at Wells.[316]

Leland only mentions forty-six books in the library in his time. “I went into the library, which whilome had been magnificently furnished with a considerable number of books by its bishops and canons, and I found great treasures of high antiquity.” Among the books he found were sermons by Gregory and Ælfric in Anglo-Saxon, Terence, and “Dantes translatus in carmen Latinum.” Very few books belonging to the old library before the Dissolution have survived. Some are in the British Museum, the Bodleian, and certain collegiate libraries; and several manuscripts remain in the hands of the Dean and Chapter. Among them are three manuscripts known as Liber albus I, Liber ruber II, and Liber albus III, which contain an extremely valuable series of documents.[317]


In the York fabric rolls appear from time to time expenses for writing, illuminating, and binding church books; but we know little or nothing about the Chapter library, if such existed. William de Feriby, a canon, bequeathed his books in 1379. Between 1418 and 1422, a library was built at the south-west corner of the south transept. The building is in two floors, and the upper appears to have been the book-room; it is still in existence. In the rolls are several references to the building.

1419. Et de 26l. 13s. 4d. de elemosina domini Thomae Haxey ad cooperturam novi librarii cum plumbo.


Haxey was a good friend to the cathedral; and he gave handsomely toward the library. His arms were put up in one of the new library windows.

1419. In sarracione iiij arborum datarum novo librario per Abbatem de Selby, 6/8.

1419. Et Johanni Grene, joynor, pro joynacione tabularum pro libraria et planacione et gropyng de waynscott, per annum, 17s. 8d.

In operacione cc ferri in boltes pro nova libraria per Johannem Harpham, fabrum, 8s.[318]

In 1418 John de Newton, the church treasurer, bequeathed to the Chapter a number of books, including Bibles, commentaries, and patristical and historical works, as well as Petrarch’s De remediis utriusque fortunae.[319] They were chained to the library desks, and were guarded with horn and studs, to protect them from the consequences of careless use by readers.

1421. Johanni Upton pro superscriptura librorum nuper magistri Johannis Neuton thesaurarii istius ecclesiae legatorum librario, 2s. Thomae Hornar de Petergate pro hornyng et naillyng superscriptorum librorum, 2s. 6d. Radulpho Lorymar de Conyngstrete pro factura et emendacione xl cathenarum pro eisdem libris annexis in librario predicto, 23s. 1d.[320]

From time to time a few other bequests were made: thus, Archdeacon Stephen Scrope bequeathed some books on canon law, after a beneficiary had had them in use during his life (1418). Robert Ragenhill, advocate of the court of York, enriched the church with a small collection (1430); and Robert Wolveden, treasurer of the church, left to the library his theological books (1432).[321]


§ IX

The Sacrist’s Roll of Lichfield Cathedral, under date 1345, contains an inventory of the books then in possession of the church. All of them were service books, excepting only a De Gestis Anglorum.[322] Thereafter we cannot discover a notice of the library until 1489, when Dean Thomas Heywood gave £40 towards building a home for the books. Dean Yotton assisted in the good work. By 1493 the building was finished. It stood on the north side of the Cathedral, west of the north door, or “ex parte boreali in cimeterio.”[323] The Dean and Chapter had it pulled down in 1758.

Nearly all the books of the early collection perished during the Civil War; but the finest manuscript, known as St. Chad’s Gospels, was saved by the precentor. Among the other manuscripts in the possession of the Chapter are a fine vellum copy of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, with beautiful initials, and the Taxatio Ecclesiastica, a tithe book showing the value of church property in Edward I’s time.[324]

§ X

Many other churches, some of them small and unimportant, owned books, and received them as gifts or bequests. In the time of Richard II the Royal collegiate chapel of Windsor Castle had, besides service books, thirty-four volumes on different subjects chained in the church, among them a Bible and a Concordance, and two books of French romance, one of which was the Liber de Rose.[325]


The library of St. Mary’s Church, Warwick, was first formed by the celebrated antiquary, John Rous. Before his time we hear only of one or two books. In 1407 there was a collection of fifty service books, and a Catholicon, the latter being perhaps the nucleus of a library.[326] “At my lorde’s auter,” that is, at the Earl of Warwick’s altar, were to be found among other goods and books, the Bible, the fourth book of the Sentences, Pupilla Oculi, a work by Reymond de Pennaforte, Isidore, and some canon law.[327] John Rous seems to have inherited the bookish tastes of his relative, William Rous. William had bequeathed his books to the Dean, charging him to allow John to read them when he came of age and had received priest’s orders.

Among the Harleian MSS. in the British Museum is a small volume written on parchment by Humphrey Wanley, which includes a copy of a curious inventory of vestments, plate, books, and other goods made in the time of John Rous, 1464. A portion of this inventory has been printed in Notices of the Churches of Warwickshire, i. 15-16. “It. v bokes beynge in the handes of Maister John Rous now priest whuche were Sir William Rous and bequath hem to the Dean and Chapitre of the forseide Chirche Collegiall under condicōn that the seid maister John beynge priest shulde have hem for his special edificacōn duryng his lief. And after his decees to remayne and to be for ever to the seide Dean and Chapitre as it appereth by endentures thereof made whereof one party leveth with the Dean and Chapitre. That is to say i book quem composuit ffrater Antoninus Rampologus de Janis 2 fo Chorinth 14. It. 1 book cald pars dextera et pars sinistra 2 fo non ð carere. It. 1 bible versefied cald patris in Aurora 2 fo huic opifex. {128}It. 1 book of powles epistoles glosed 2 fo de Jhu qui dr Xtus. It. 1 book cald pharetra 2 fo hora est jam nos de sompno surgere. It. 1 quayer in the whuche is conteyned the exposicōn of the masse 2 fo cois offerim.”

John also seems to have given books as well as a room to house them.[328] An old view of the church, taken before the great fire which destroyed the town in 1694, shows the south porch surmounted with his library, as then standing; but this room was destroyed in the fire, and it seems certain the books were burnt. The present library was founded in 1701, and includes no part of the original collection.[329]

Bequests to churches of service books, such as that to the church of St. Mary, Castle-gate, York (1394), were numerous; they may be set apart with bequests of vestments, plate, and money. Some bequests have a different character. A chancellor of York, Thomas de Farnylaw, leaves books, bound and unbound, to the Vicar of Waghen; a volume of sermons and a “quire” to the church of Embleton; and a Bible and Concordance to be chained in the north porch of St. Nicholas’ Church, Newcastle, “for common use, for the good of the soul of his lord William of Middleton” (1378). A chaplain leaves service books, Speculum Ecclesiae, and the Gospels in English to Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, York (1394). A Bristol merchant bequeaths two books on canon law to St. Mary Redcliffe Church, there to be preserved for the use of the vicar and chaplains (1416). In the same year a Canon of York enriches Beverley Church with all his books of canon{129} and civil law. Books were also chained in the church of St. Mary of Oxford. Bishop Lyndwood of St. David’s bequeaths a copy of his digest of the synodal constitutions of the province of Canterbury for chaining in St. Stephen’s Chapel, “to serve as a standard for future editions” (1443). Richard Browne, or Cordone, who has left books to Wells, reserves for the parish church of Naas in Ireland a Catholicon and other manuscripts (1452). To Boston Church a rector of Kirkby Ravensworth bequeaths several books, but one named John Bosbery was to have the use of them for life: among the gifts was Polichronicon (1457). Canon Nicholas Holme leaves Pupilla Oculi to the parish church of Redmarshall (1458). A chaplain bequeaths one book to St. Mary’s Church, Bolton, another to St. Wilfrid’s Church, Brensall in Craven, and a third to All Saints’ Church, Peseholme, York (1466). Sir Richard Willoughby orders church books and a Crede mihi to be given to Woollaton Parish Church (1469). Robert Est, possibly a chantry-priest in York Minster, enriches the parish church of his native Lincoln village, Brigsley, with a copy of Legends of the Saints, Speculum Christiani, Gesta Romanorum cum aliis fabulis Isopi et multis narrationibus, and a Psalter (1474-75). To the church of St. Mary’s, Nottingham, the vicar leaves a Golden Legend, a Polichronicon, besides Pupilla Oculi, and a portiforium to Wragby Church, and a missal to Snenton Church (1476). Sir Thomas Lyttleton befriends King’s Norton Church by leaving it a Latin-English dictionary, and that of Halesowen in Worcestershire by leaving a Catholicon, the Constitutiones Provinciales (possibly Lyndwood’s digest, the Provinciale), and the Gesta Romanorum (1481). A man of Leicester was sued by the church wardens of the parish church of Welford, in the county of Leicester, on a charge of having taken away certain books belonging to the church and{130} sold them (1490). The vicar of Ruddington bequeaths three books, “ad tenendum et ligandum cum cathena ferrea in quadam sede in capella B. M. de Rodington” (1491). Thomas Rotherham, benefactor of Cambridge University Library, gave to the church of Rochester ten pounds for building a library (1500). To Wetheringsett Church a chaplain of Bury carefully reserves “a book called Fasiculus Mors [Fasciculus morum], to lye in the chauncell, for priests to occupye ther tyme when it shall please them, praying them to have my soule in remembraunce as it shall please them of their charite” (1519).[330]

A very little research would add considerably to our list; while, apart from records of gifts and bequests, are numberless references to books in churches. For example: in the churchwarden’s account book (c. 1525) of All Saints, Derby, occurs an entry beginning: “These be the bokes in our lady Chapell tyed with chenes yt were gyffen to Alhaloes church in Derby—

In primis one Boke called summa summarum.

Item A boke called Summa Raumundi [Summa poenitentia et matrimonio of Reymond de Pennaforte of Barcelona].

Item Anoyer called pupilla occuli [Pupilla oculi, by J. de Burgo].

Item Anoyer called the Sexte [Liber Sextus Decretalium].

Item A boke called Hugucyon [see pp. 223-4].

Item A boke called Vitas Patrum.

Item Anoyer boke called pauls pistols.

Item A boke called Januensis super evangeliis dominicalibus [Sermons of Jacobus de Voragine, Abp. of Genoa, on the Gospels for the Sundays throughout the year].

Item a grette portuose [a large breviary].{131}

Item Anoyer boke called Legenda Aurea [Legenda sanctorum aurea of Jacobus de Voragine].”[331]

This is a respectable list for such a church. Some sixty years before there were apparently only service books (1465).[332]

From 1456 to 1475 charges occur in the accounts of St. Michael’s Church, Cornhill, for chains to fix psalters, and for writing.[333] At St. Peter’s upon Cornhill there would appear to have been a good library. “True it is,” writes Stow, “that a library there was pertaining to this Parrish Church, of olde time builded of stone, and of late repayred with bricke by the executors of Sir John Crosby Alderman, as his Armes on the south end doth witnes. This library hath beene of late time, to wit, within these fifty yeares, well furnished of bookes: John Leyland viewed and commended them, but now those bookes be gone, and the place is occupied by a schoolemaister.”[334] In 1483 the Church of St. Christopher-le-Stocks, London, seems to have had a collection only of service books; but five years later mention is made of “a grete librarie.” “On the south side of the vestrarie standeth a grete librarie with ii longe lecturnalles thereon to lay on the bookes.”[335] About the middle of the sixteenth century certain inhabitants of Rayleigh held a meeting one Sunday, after service, and, without the consent of the churchwardens, sold fifteen service books, and “four other manuscript volumes,” as well as some other church goods, for forty shillings.[336]

But we might continue for a long time to bring together{132} facts of this kind. Enough has been written to suggest the character and extent of the work done by the churches. Many of these small collections were for use in connexion with the schools; they were formed for the benefit of clergy and the increase of clergy. The few books chained up in the churches for the use of the people were displayed for various reasons. The Catholicon, a Latin grammar and a dictionary, was a large book, obtainable only at great cost, yet for reference purposes all students and scholars constantly needed it. Wealthy ecclesiastics and benefactors would therefore naturally leave such a book for chaining up in the church, which was then the real centre of communal life. The Catholicon was chained up for reference in French churches, and the practice was imitated here, possibly in nearly all the large churches.[337] The Medulla grammatice, left to King’s Norton Church by Sir Thomas Lyttleton, was a book of similar character, and would be deposited in church for a like purpose. Books of canon law would also be useful for reference purposes when chained in the church. Some other shackled books were homiletical in character. Should we be accused of excess of imagination if we conjured up a picture of a little cluster of people standing by a clerk who reads to them a sermon or a passage of Holy Writ? The collection of tales, each with a moral, known as the Gesta Romanorum, would make especially attractive reading. Some books often found in churches and frequently mentioned in this book, as the Summa Praedicantium of John de Bromyarde, Pupilla Oculi, by John de Burgo, and the Speculum Christiani, by John Walton, were manuals for the instruction of priests.{133}






“Ingenia hominum rem publicam fecerunt.”


PROBABLY a few scribes plied their craft in Oxford in early days long before the students began to make a settlement, for the town had been a flourishing borough, one of the largest in England. But until the end of the twelfth century we hear nothing about books and their makers or users in Oxford. Then we find illuminators, bookbinders, parchmenters, and a scribe referred to in a document relating to the sale of land in Cat Street. This record is very significant, as it suggests the active employment of book-makers in the centre of Oxford’s student life. St. Mary’s Church was the hub. Cat Street, School Street running parallel with it from High Street to the north boundary, and Schydyard Street, the continuation of School Street on the southern side of High Street, alleys of the usual medieval narrowness and mean appearance, the buildings on either hand almost touching one another, and the way dark—were the haunts of masters and scholars and all those depending on them. Students, old and young, of high station and low, are crowded in lodging-houses, many of which are shabby, dirty, and disreputable. Hence they come forth to play their games or carry on their feuds. Some haunt taverns and worse{134} places. Others eke out their means by begging at street corners. All get their teaching by gathering round masters whose rostrum is the church doorstep or the threshold of the lodging-house. Amid the manifold distractions of this queerly-ordered life the maker and seller of books earns what living he can; his chief patrons being indigent masters, who often must starve themselves to get books, and students so poor that pawning becomes a custom regulated by the University itself.

Not till the University became firmly established as a corporate body could a common library be formed. The beginning was simple. The first books reserved for common use had their home in St. Mary’s Church: some lay in chests, and were lent in exchange for a suitable pledge; others were chained to desks so that students could readily refer to them. These books were almost certainly theological in character, and all were no doubt given by benefactors, now unknown. Such a gift was received early in the thirteenth century from Roger de L’Isle, Dean of York, who gave a Bible, divided into four parts for the convenience of copyists, and the Book of Exodus, glossed, but old and of little value.[338] Possibly some books remained in the church even after an independent library was founded, for as late as 1414 a copy of Nicholas de Lyra was chained in the chancel for public use, where it was inspected by the Chancellor and proctors every year.[339]

To a “good clerk” who had gathered his learning at three Universities—the arts at Paris, canon law at Oxford, and theology at Cambridge—the University library appropriately owes its origin. Bishop Cobham left his books{135}









and three hundred and fifty marks for this purpose in 1327. He had proposed to build a two-storied building, the lower chamber to be the Congregation House, and the upper a library; or perhaps the Congregation House was already standing, and he had the idea of adding another story, for use as an oratory and library. Therein his books would bide when he died.[340] Not till long after his death was the building completed. His books did not come to the University without much trouble. Bequests were elusive in the Middle Ages, for people sometimes dreamed of projects they could not realize while they lived, and sanguinely hoped their executors would win prayers for the dead by successfully stretching poor means to a good end. Cobham died in debt. His books were pawned to settle his estate and pay for his funeral. Adam de Brome redeemed the pledges, and handed them over, not to the University, but to his newly-founded college of Oriel.[341] In peace the books were enjoyed at Oriel until four years after de Brome’s death. The Fellows claimed them, it appears, not only because he redeemed them, but because, as impropriating rectors of the church, both building and library were theirs, they argued, by right. The University was equally persistent in its claim. At last, ten years after Cobham’s death, the Commissary, taking mean advantage of the small number of Fellows in residence in autumn, went to Oriel with “a multitude of others,” and brought the books away by force. Thereafter the University held them, but it took nearly seventy years to settle the dispute about them, and to decide the ownership of the Congregation House (1410).[342]

Long before 1410 the “good clerk’s” books had been made of real service to students. Fittings were put up in{136} the library room (1365). Then regulations for managing the library were drawn up (1367). The books were to be put in the chamber over the Congregation House, marshalled in convenient order and chained. There, at certain times, scholars were to have access to them. Now first appeared upon the scene a University librarian. The University’s means were slender, and £40 worth of the books were sold to provide a stipend for a chaplain-librarian: in place of these books others of less value were bought; probably some of Cobham’s books were finely illuminated, and the intention was to purchase less costly copies in their stead. The chaplain was to pray for the souls of Cobham and of University benefactors; and to have the charge of the bishop’s books, of the books in the chests, and of any books coming to the University afterwards.[343]

We can easily imagine what the library was like. The chamber over the Congregation House is small, scarcely larger than the average class-room of to-day; lighted by seven windows on each side. Between some, if not all, of the windows bookcases would stand at right angles to the wall, forming little alcoves, fit for the quiet pursuit of knowledge. Learning itself was shackled. Chains from a bar running the length of each case secured the books, which could only be read on the slope fixed a few feet above the floor. In each alcove was a bench for readers to sit upon. A large and conspicuous board, with titles and names of benefactors written upon it in a fair hand, hung up in the room.[344] Here then would come the flower of Oxford scholarship to study, any time after eight in the morning. Every student is welcome if he does not enter in wet clothing, or bring in ink, or a knife, or dagger. We like to picture this small room, fitted with solid, rude furniture, monastic in its austerity of appearance; full of{137} students working eagerly in their quest for knowledge—making extracts in pencil, or with styles on their tablets, amid a silence broken only by the crackle of vellum leaves, and the rattle of a chain.

Such a picture would perhaps be overdrawn. Young Oxford was not always quiet, or whole-heartedly studious. The liberal regulations seem to have been liable to abuse. Students soiled and damaged the books. The little room was more than full: it was overcrowded with scholars, and with “throngs of visitors” who disturbed the readers. After 1412 only graduates and religious who had studied philosophy for eight years could enter the library, and while there they must be robed. Even such mature students had to make solemn oath, in the Chancellor’s presence, to use the books properly: make no erasures or blots, or otherwise spoil the precious writing.[345] Under these regulations the library was open from nine to eleven in the morning, and from one to four in the afternoon, Sundays and mass days excepted. Strangers of eminence and the Chancellor could pay a visit at any time by daylight. The chaplain, who was to be a man of parts, of proved morality and uprightness, now received 106s. 8d. a year. The Proctors were bound to pay this stipend half-yearly, with punctuality, or be fined the heavy sum of forty shillings: the chaplain, it is explained, must have no grievance to nurse—no ground for carrying out his duties in a slovenly or perfunctory manner. He, indeed, was an important officer. For health’s sake he must have a month’s holiday during the long vacation. As it was absurd for him to have fewer perquisites than those below him in station, every beneficed graduate, at graduation, was required to give him robes.[346] The finicking character of these regulations suggests that the University {138}statute-maker had as great a dislike for “understandings” as Dr. Newman.

Thus was established firmly, in the early years of the fifteenth century, a University Library, an important resort of students; the proper place, as the common rendezvous of members of the University, for publishing the Lollard doctrines condemned at London in 1411. No town in England was better supplied with libraries than Oxford, for besides the collections of the University, the monastic colleges and the convents, libraries were already formed at Merton, University, Oriel and New Colleges. Such progress in providing scholars’ armouries is remarkable, the greater part of it being accomplished during a period of great social and religious unrest—not the unrest of a wind-fretted surface, but of a grim and far-sweeping underswell—a period when pestilence, violent tempests and earthquakes, seemed bodeful of Divine displeasure; not a time surely when the studious life would be attractive, or when much care would be taken to establish libraries, unless indeed controversy made recourse to books more necessary or the signs of the times gave birth to a greater number of benefactors.[347]

But the University library was to become the richest and most considerable in the town. Benefactors were well greeted. Besides praying for their souls—and some of them, like Bishop Reed, were pathetically anxious about the prayers—the University showed every reasonable sign of its gratitude: posted up donors’ names in the library itself; submitted each gift to congregation three days after receiving it, and within twelve days later had it chained{139}









up.[348] Many gifts of books were received, some from the highest in the land: from King Henry the Fourth and his warlike and ambitious sons—Henry V, Clarence, Bedford, and Gloucester; from Edmund, Earl of March; from prelates—Archbishop Arundel, Repyngton of Lincoln, Courtney of Norwich, and Molyneux of Chichester; from great Abbot Whethamstede of St. Albans; from wealthy Archdeacon Browne or Cordone; from rich citizens of London—Thomas Knolles the grocer and T. Grauntt; and from Henry VI’s physician, John Somersett. John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, also promised books worth five hundred marks, but after his death they did not come to hand.[349]

By far the most generous of friends was the Duke of Gloucester, whose first gift was made before 1413,[350] and his last when he died in 1447. His record as the helper and protector of Oxford, his patronage of learning, and of such exponents of it as Titus Livius of Forli, Leonardo Bruni, Lydgate and Capgrave, the fact that, notwithstanding his “staat and dignyte,”

“His courage never doth appall
To study in bokes of antiquitie,”

earned for him the name of the “good” duke—an appellation to which the shady labyrinth of his career as a politician, as a persecutor of the Lollards, and as a licentious man, did not entitle him. But then Oxford—and its library—was most in need of such a friend as this English Gismondo Malatesta; not only on account of his generosity, but because his royal connexions enabled him to exert influence on the University’s behalf, both at home and abroad.

Of the character of the Duke’s gifts in 1413 and in{140}



1430 we know nothing: in 1435 he gave books and money, but how many books or how much money is not recorded. Three years later the University sought another gift from him, and he forthwith sent no fewer than 120 volumes (1439).[351] The University’s gratitude was unbounded. On certain festivals during the Duke’s lifetime prayers were to be said for him, within ten days after he died a funeral service was to be celebrated, and on every anniversary of his death he and his consort were to be commemorated.[352] Their letters were fulsome: as a founder of libraries he was compared with Julius Cæsar—a compliment also paid him{141} about the same time by Pier Candid Decembrio; Parliament was besought to thank him “hertyly, and also prey Godd to thanke hym in tyme commyng, wher goode dedys ben rewarded”;[353] as a prince he was most serene and illustrious, lord of glorious renown, son of a king, brother of a king, uncle of a king, “the very beams of the sun himself”; as a donor, as greatly and munificently liberal as the recipients were lowly and humble.[354]

Congregation further marked its appreciation by decreeing a fresh set of library regulations. A new register, containing a list of the books already given, was to be made, and deposited in the chest “of five keys”; lists were also to be written in the statute books. No volume was to be sold, given away, exchanged, pledged, lent to be copied, or removed from the library—except when it needed repair, or when the Duke himself wanted to borrow it, as he could, though only under indenture.[355] All books for the study of the seven liberal arts—the trivium and the quadrivium—and the three philosophies were to be kept in a chest called the “chest of the three philosophies and the seven sciences”; a name suggesting a talisman, like the golden fleece or the Holy Grail, for which one would exchange the world and all its ways. The librarian had charge of this wonderful chest. From it, by indenture, he could lend books—apparently these books were excepted from the general rule—to masters of arts lecturing in these subjects, or, if there were no lecturers, to principals of halls and masters. And, following older custom, a stationer set upon each book a price greater than its real value, to lead borrowers to take more care of it.[356] From a manuscript preserved in the library of Earl Fitzwilliam at Wentworth{142} Woodhouse are taken the following curious lines indicating the character and arrangement of his books:—

“At Oxenford thys lord his bookis fele [many]
Hath eu’y clerk at werk. They of hem gete
Metaphisic; phisic these rather feele;
They natural, moral they rather trete;
Theologie here ye is with to mete;
Him liketh loke in boke historial.
In deskis XII hym selve as half a strete
Hath boked their librair uniu’al.”[357] [universal]

A year later Gloucester sent 7 more books; then after a while 9 more (1440-41);[358] and a little later still his largest gift, amounting to 135 volumes. These handsome accessions made the collection the finest academic library in England, not excepting the excellent library of 380 volumes then at Peterhouse. It had a character of its own. The usual overwhelming mass of Bibles, of church books, of the Fathers and the Schoolmen does not depress us with its disproportion. The collection was strong in astronomy and medicine: Ptolemy, Albumazar, Rhazes, Serapion, Avicenna, Haly Abenragel, Zaæl, and others were all represented. Besides these, there was a fine selection of the classics—Plato, Aristotle, including the Politica and Ethica, Æschines’ orations, Terence, Varro’s De Originae linguae Latinae, Cicero’s letters, Verrine and other orations, and “opera viginti duo Tullii in magno volumine,” Livy, Ovid, Seneca’s tragedies, Quintilian, Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, the Golden Ass of Apuleius, and Suetonius. But the most interesting items in the list of his books are the new translations of Plato, and of Aristotle, whose Ethica was rendered by Leonardo Bruni; the Greek and Latin dictionary; and the works of Dante, Petrarch (de Vita solitaria, de Rebus memorandis, de Remediis{143}




utriusque fortunae), Boccaccio, and of Coluccio Salutati’s letters.[359]

The library’s character might still further have been freshened had Gloucester’s bequest of his Latin books—the books, we may suppose, he himself prized too highly to part with during his lifetime—been carried into effect.[360]

“Our right special Lord and mighty Prince the Duke of Gloucester, late passed out of this world,—whose soul God assoil for his high mercy,—not long before his decease, being in our said University among all the doctors and masters of the same assembled together, granted unto us all his Latin books, to the loving of God, increase of clergy and cunning men, to the good governance and prosperity of the realm of England without end ... the which gift oftentimes after, by our messengers, and also in his last testament, as we understand, he confirmed.” But alas! Gloucester’s bequest was even more elusive than Cobham’s. These books they could, “by no manner of labours, since he deceased, obtain.”[361] What followed is interesting. Letters asking for the books were sent to the king, to Mr. John Somersett, His Majesty’s physician, “lately come to influence,” to William of Waynflete, provost of the king’s pet project, Eton College, and much in favour; and to the king’s chamberlain (1447). As these appeals were unavailing, another letter was sent to the king in 1450, and several others to influential persons, some being to Gloucester’s executors; then, in the same year, the House of Lords was petitioned. All this wire-pulling failed to serve its end. The University became angry. An outspoken letter was sent to Master John Somersett, “lately come to{144} influence”: “Our proctor, Mr. Luke, tells us of your efforts for us to obtain the books given by the late Duke of Gloucester, and of your intercession with the king in our cause: also that you propose to add, of your own gift, other books to his bequest.” All this is very good of you, the letter proceeds, in effect, “but how is it that, under these circumstances, the Duke’s books, which came into your custody, are not delivered to us, unless it be that some powerful influence is exerted to prevent it; for a steadfast and good man will not be made to swerve from the path of justice by interest or cupidity. Use your endeavours to get these books: so do us a good favour; and clear your character.” Three years later it was discovered the books were scattered and in private hands (1453),[362] or, as seems likely, at King’s College, Cambridge, and Eton.

Now the library over the Congregation House was all too small. A Divinity School seems to have been first projected in 1423; building began about seven years later;[363] but the work proceeded very slowly, owing to want of money, which the authorities tried to raise in various ways, even by granting degrees on easy terms. When Gloucester’s books came to overcrowd the old library—and the books were chained so closely together that a student when reading one prevented the use of three or four books near to it—the idea was apparently first mooted of erecting a bigger room over the new school, where scholars might study far from the hum of men (a strepitu saeculari). The University sent an appeal to the Duke for help to carry out this scheme (1445), but he had then lost power and was in trouble, and does not seem to have responded favourably, albeit they suggested adroitly the new library should bear his name.[364] The building was{145}




finished forty years after his death. This ultimate success was due chiefly to the generosity of Cardinal Beaufort, the Duchess of Suffolk, and Cardinal Kempe—whose own library was magnificent.[365]

By 1488, then, the University was in full enjoyment of the chamber known ever since as Duke Humfrey’s Library, the noblest storehouse of books then existing in England.[366] In the same year an old scholar, not known by name, gave 31 books, and in 1490 Dr. Litchfield, Archdeacon of Middlesex, presented 132 volumes and a sum of £200. These gifts mark the culminating point in the history of the first University library—a collection over a century and a half old, accumulated slowly by the forethought and generosity of the University’s friends, only, alas! in a few years’ time to be almost completely dispersed and destroyed.

§ II

Before speaking of the dispersion of the University collection it will be well to observe what had been done in the colleges, where libraries must have formed an important part of the collegiate economy. Books, indeed, were eagerly sought, carefully guarded and preserved; and wealthy Fellows—even Fellows not to be described as wealthy—often proved their affection for their college by giving manuscripts.

The first house of the University, William of Durham’s Hall or University Hall (now University College), was founded between 1249 and 1292, when its statutes were drawn up. In these statutes are the earliest regulations of the University for dealing with books in its possession.[367] It seems{146} clear that the college enjoyed a library—perhaps of some importance,—with excellent regulations for its use, at the end of the thirteenth century. What is true of University College is true also of nearly all the other colleges. Although most of them were not rich foundations, one of the first efforts of a society was to collect books for common use. A few years after Merton’s inception (1264) the teacher of grammar was supplied with books out of the common purse, and directions were given for the care of books.[368] To Balliol, Bishop Gravesend of London bequeathed books (1336) some fifty years after the statutes were given by the founder’s wife.[369] Four years later Sir William de Felton presented to the college the advowson of the Church of Abboldesley, so that the number of scholars could be raised, each could have sufficient clothing, receive twelvepence a week, and possess in common books relating to the various Faculties.[370] The earliest reference to the library of Exeter College, or Stapledon Hall, occurs also about half a century after its foundation: in 1366 payment was made for copying a book called Domyltone—possibly one of John of Dumbleton’s works. Oriel College either had a library from its foundation, or the regulations of 1329 were drawn up for Bishop Cobham’s books, which Adam de Brome had redeemed. In 1375 Oriel certainly had its own library of nearly one hundred volumes, more than half of them being on theology and philosophy, with some translations of Aristotle, but otherwise not a single classic work; a collection to be fairly considered as representative of the academic libraries of this period.[371] Queen’s College was one of those to which Simon de Bredon, the astronomer, bequeathed books in 1368, nearly thirty{147} years after its foundation.[372] “Seint Marie College of Wynchestr,” or New College, made a better start than any house (1380). The founder, William of Wykeham, endowed it with no fewer than 240 or 243 volumes, of which 135 or 138 were theology, 28 philosophy, 41 canon law, 36 civil law; somebody unnamed, but possibly the founder, presented 37 volumes of medicine and 15 chained books in the library; and Bishop Reed—also the good friend of Merton—gave 58 volumes of theology, 2 of philosophy, and 3 of canon law.[373] Lincoln College had a collection of books at its foundation (1429); Dr. Gascoigne gave 6 manuscripts worth nearly three pounds apiece (1432); and Robert Flemming, a cousin of the founder, renowned for his travels and studies and collections in Italy, left a number of manuscripts, variously estimated at 25 and 38 in number, to his house. In 1474 this college had 135 manuscripts, stored in seven presses. Rules for the use of books were included in the first statutes of All Souls College, founded in 1438. At Magdalen the library had a magnificent start when William of Waynflete brought with him no fewer than 800 volumes on his visit in 1481; many of these were printed books.

To tell the story of each of these early college libraries with continuity is not to our purpose, and is perhaps not feasible. So many details are lacking. We do not know whether all the libraries, once started, were constantly maintained; but it is reasonable to assume they were, as records—a few only—of purchases and donations are preserved. Usually gifts were made only to the college in which the donor felt special interest, but sometimes generous{148} men were more catholic. Four colleges—University, Balliol, Merton, and Oriel—benefited under Bishop Stephen Gravesend’s will (1336); six—University, Balliol, Merton, Exeter, Oriel, and Queen’s—under the will of Simon de Bredon, astronomer and sometime Proctor of the University (1368): in both cases the testators distributed their gifts among all the secular colleges in existence at the time.[374] Dr. Thomas Gascoigne gave many books to Balliol, Oriel, Durham, and Lincoln Colleges (1432).[375] William Reed, Bishop of Chichester, also was the friend of more than one society, for New College, as we have seen, got 63 volumes from him, Exeter some others, and Merton 99.[376] Roger Whelpdale (d. 1423) bequeathed books to Balliol and Queen’s Colleges. Henry VI gave 23 manuscripts to All Souls College (1440). Robert Twaytes gave books to Balliol in 1451: his example was followed by George Nevil, Bishop of Exeter and afterwards Archbishop of York (1455, 1475), Dr. Bole (1478), and John Waltham (1492). An old Fellow showed his gratitude to University College by bestowing 68 books, mostly Scriptural commentaries, on its library (1473). Some of the gifts were smaller.[377] A chancellor of the church of York bequeathed a single volume to Merton. Bishop Skirlaw—a good friend of the college in other ways—gave 6 books to University in 1404: they were to be chained in the library and never lent. Such gifts were received as gratefully as the larger donations; indeed, it was esteemed a feather in the cap of the Master that while he held office Skirlaw’s books were received. Never at any time were books more highly appreciated than in Oxford of the{149} fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Sometimes gifts took the form of money for a curious purpose. For example, Robert Hesyl, a country rector, bequeathed the sum of 6s. 8d. “ad intitulandum nomina librorum in libraria collegii Lincoln: contentorum, supra dorsa eorum coöperienda cornu et clavis.”[378] But the colleges did not depend wholly on gifts, for records are preserved of purchases for Queen’s College in 1366-67;[379] All Souls College between 1449 and 1460; for Magdalen College between 1481 and 1539; for Merton College between 1322 and 1379; and for New College between 1462 and 1481.

The growth of the libraries made the provision of special bookrooms a necessity. A library on the ground floor of University College is referred to in the Bursar’s Roll (1391). At Merton the books were originally kept in a chest under three locks. A room was set apart quite early: books were chained up in it in 1284. In 1354 a carpenter was paid for fittings and “deskis.” Bishop Reed of Chichester erected a library building in 1377-79; Wyllyot and John Wendover contributed towards the cost, which amounted to £462. With the exception of the room thrown into the south library at its eastern end, of two large dormers, and of the glass in the west room, the original structure has been altered very little, and it is therefore one of the best examples of a medieval library in this country. When the old library of Exeter College was first used we do not know: it was possibly one of the tenements originally given to the college by Peter de Skelton and partly repaired by the founder. Money was disbursed for thatching it in 1375.[380] Nearly ten years later a new library was put up. Bishop Brantingham and John More, rector of St. Petrock’s, Exeter, contributed{150} handsomely towards the cost; another Bishop of Exeter, Edmund Stafford,—in whose time the name of the house was changed from Stapledon Hall to Exeter College,—enlarged the building in 1404; and Bishops Grandisson, Brantingham, Stafford, and Lacy gave books.[381] In the library room some of the books were chained to desks, and some were kept in chests.[382] All this points to a flourishing library at Exeter; although, on occasions when their yearly expenses were heavier than usual, the Fellows were obliged to pawn books to one of the loan chests of the University, or even to their barber.[383]

The monastic college of Durham enjoyed a “fayre library, well-desked and well flowred withe a timber Flowre over it,” built in 1417 and fitted in 1431.[384] Another college belonging to the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury, also had a library, which had been replenished with books from the mother-house.[385] In 1431 a library building was begun at Balliol College by Mr. Thomas Chace, after he had resigned the office of Master. Bishop William Grey, besides enriching his college with manuscripts, also completed the home for them (c. 1477), on a window of which are still to be read his name and the name of Robert Abdy, the Master.

“His Deus adjecit; Deus his det gaudia celi;
Abdy perfecit opus hoc Gray presul et Ely.”[386]


In another window, on the north side, was inscribed—

“Conditor ecce novi structus hujus fuit Abdy.
Praesul et huic Œdi Gray libros contulit Ely.”

The first library of Oriel College, on the east side of the quadrangle, was not erected until about 1444; before that the books seem to have been kept in chests, although the collection was large for the time.[387] As early as 1388-89 payments were made for making desks for the library of Queen’s College.[388] In the case of New, Lincoln, All Souls, and Magdalen Colleges, library rooms were included when the college buildings were first erected. Magdalen’s library was copied from All Souls: the windows in it were “to be as good as or better than” those in the earlier foundation.


Towards the end of the fifteenth century the beginning of the sad end of all this good work may be traced. Some part of the collections disappeared gradually. In 1458 books were chained at Exeter College, because some of them had been taken away. When volumes became damaged and worn out, they were not replaced by others. Some were pledged, and although every effort was made to redeem them, as at Exeter College in 1466, 1470, 1472 and 1473, yet it seems certain many were permanently alienated. Others were perhaps sold, or given away, as John Phylypp gave away two Exeter College manuscripts in 1468.[389] The University library was in similar case. When Erasmus saw the scanty remains of{152} this collection he could have wept. “Before it had continued eighty years in its flourishing state,” writes Wood of the library, “[it] was rifled of its precious treasure by unreasonable persons. That several scholars would, upon small pledges given in, borrow books ... that were never restored. Polydore Virgil ... borrowed many after such a way; but at length being denied, did upon petition made to the king obtain his license for the taking out of any MS. for his use (in order, I suppose, for the collecting materials for his English History or Chronicle of England), which being imitated by others, the library thereby suffered very great loss.” Matters became still worse. Owing to the threatened suppression of the religious houses, the number of students at Oxford decreased enormously. In 1535, 108 men graduated, in the next year only 44 did so; until the end of Henry VIII’s reign the average number graduating was 57, and in Edward’s reign the average was 33.[390] Naturally, therefore, some laxity crept into the administration of the University and the colleges. Active enemies of our literary treasures were not behindhand. In 1535 Dr. Layton, visitor of monasteries, descended upon Oxford. “We have sett Dunce [Duns Scotus] in Bocardo, and have utterly banisshede hym Oxforde for ever, with all his blinde glosses, and is nowe made a comon servant to evere man, faste nailede up upon postes in all comon howses of easment: id quod oculis meis vidi. And the seconde tyme we came to New Colege, affter we hade declarede your injunctions, we fownde all the gret quadrant court full of the leiffes of Dunce, the wynde blowyng them into evere corner. And ther we fownde one Mr. Grenefelde, a gentilman of Bukynghamshire, getheryng up part of the saide bowke leiffes (as he saide) therwith to make hym sewelles or blawnsherres to kepe the{153}



dere within the woode, therby to have the better cry with his howndes.”[391] A commission assembled at Oxford in 1550, and met many times at St. Mary’s Church. No documentary evidence of their treatment of libraries remains, but it was certainly most drastic. Any illuminated manuscript, or even a mathematical treatise illustrated with diagrams, was deemed unfit to survive, and was thrown out for sale or destruction. Some of the college libraries did not suffer severely. Most of Grey’s books survived in Balliol, although the miniatures were cut out. Queen’s, All Souls, and Merton came through the ordeal nearly unscathed. But Lincoln lost the books given by Gascoigne and the Italian importations of Flemming; Exeter College was purged. The University library itself was entirely dispersed. One of the commissioners, “by name Richard Coxe, Dean of Christ Church, shewed himself so zealous in purging this place of its rarities ... that ... savoured of superstition, that he left not one of those goodly MSS. given by the before mentioned benefactors. Of all which there were none restored in Q. Mary’s reign, when then an inquisition was made after them, but only one of the parts of Valerius Maximus, illustrated with the Commentaries of Dionysius de Burgo, an Augustine Fryer, and with the Tables of John Whethamsteed, Abbat of St. Alban’s. That some of the books so taken out by the Reformers were burnt, some sold away for Robin Hood’s pennyworths,[392] either to Booksellers, or to Glovers, to press their gloves, or Taylors to make measures, or to bookbinders to cover books bound by them, and some also kept by the Reformers for their own use. That the said library being thus deprived of its furniture was employed, as the schools were, for infamous uses. That in laying waste in that manner, and not in a possibility (as the academians{154} thought) of restoring it to its former estate, they ordered certain persons in a Convocation (Reg. I. fol. 157ª) held Jan. 25, 1555-56 to sell the benches and desks therein; so that being stript stark naked (as I may say) continued so till Bodley restored it.”[393] The only cheerful reference to this period is that by Wood, who tells us some friendly people bought in a number of the manuscripts, and ultimately handed them over to the University after the library’s restoration.[394] But of all the books given by the Duke of Gloucester only three are now in the Bodleian, and only three others in Corpus Christi, Oriel, and Magdalen. The British Museum possesses nine; Cambridge one; private collectors two. Six are in France: two Latin—both Oxford books—and three French manuscripts in the Bibliothèque Nationale, and one manuscript at the Bibliothèque Ste. Geneviève. The Ste. Geneviève book[395] is a magnificent Livy, once belonging to the famous Louvre Library. It bears the inscription: “Cest livre est à moy Homfrey, duc de Gloucestre, du don mon très chier cousin le conte de Warewic.”[396]





AS the libraries of Cambridge were mostly of later foundation than those at Oxford, and as the collections were of the same character, it is less necessary to describe them in detail, especially after having dealt fully with the collections of the sister university. Cambridge University does not seem to have owned books in common until the first quarter of the fifteenth century. Before that, in 1384, the books intended for use in the University were submitted to the Chancellor and Doctors, so that any containing heretical and objectionable opinions could be weeded out and burnt. In 1408-9 it was ordered that books suspected to contain Lollard doctrines should be examined by the authorities of both Universities; if approved by them and by the Archbishop of Canterbury, they could be delivered to the stationers for copying, but not before. And in 1480 keepers of chests were forbidden to receive as a pledge any book written on paper.[397] Certain regulations were also made with regard to the status of stationers and others engaged in book-making in the town. But there seems to have been no common library.

About the time when Gloucester made his first gift of books to Oxford University a public library was possibly{156} “founded” by John Croucher, who gave a copy of Chaucer’s translation of Boëthius’ De Consolatione philosophiae. Richard Holme, Warden of King’s Hall, who died in 1424, gave sixteen volumes. At this time the collection amounted to seventy-six volumes. Robert Fitzhugh, Bishop of London, now left two books, a Textus moralis philosophiae and Codeton Super quatuor libros Sententiarum (1435-6). By 1435 or 1440 it had increased to one hundred and twenty-two books: theology accounting for sixty-nine, natural and moral philosophy for seventeen, canon law for twenty-three, medicine for five, grammar for six, and logic and sophistry for one each. Besides Holme’s books there were in this library eight books given by John Aylemer, six given by Thomas Paxton, ten by James Matissale, five each by John Preston, John Water, Robert Alne (1440),[398] and John Tesdale: other benefactors gave one or two or three.[399]

In 1423 one John Herrys or Harris gave ten pounds for the library, possibly for a building, as books do not seem to have been bought with it.[400] A common library is mentioned in 1438.[401] In the same year a grant was made by the king of the manor of Ruyslip and a place called Northwood for a library. The first room was erected between this year and 1457. After 1454 many entries occur in the University accounts for the roof of the new chapel and the library, for the general repairs of the same buildings, for the chaining and binding of books, and for their custody during a fire in the King’s College in 1457.[402] A sketch of the Schools quadrangle drawn about 1459 shows this library, libraria nova, above the Canon Law schools, on the west side.[403] Between the completion of this library{157}




and 1470 the south side of the quadrangle was built, the school of civil law occupying the ground floor, and the Great Library or Common Library the first floor. The second extant catalogue of books (1473) relates to the books in this room: possibly the west room had been cleared for other purposes. Now the inventory proves the library to have been in possession of three hundred and thirty volumes, stored upon eight stalls or desks on the north side and upon nine stalls on the southern side, facing King’s College Chapel.[404] But in a few years the buildings were extended and the collection augmented munificently by Thomas Rotherham or Scot, then Chancellor of the University and Bishop of Lincoln, afterwards Archbishop of York. Rotherham completed the building begun on the east side of the quadrangle by erecting the library which occupies the whole of the first floor (1470-75). In this libraria domini cancellarii his own books were stored. His generosity was recognised by the University in the fullest possible manner; special care was taken of his books, and his library came to be known as the private library, to which only a few privileged persons were admitted, while the great library remained in use as the public room.[405]

The learned Bishop Tunstall gave some Greek books to the library in 1529, just before he was translated to the see of Durham. Even then, however, the collection was on the down grade. Nine years later, owing to a decline in numbers at the University and a loss of revenue, some of the books, described as “useless,” were sold.[406] Then again, in 1547, occurs a more significant notice. A Grace was passed recommending the conversion of the great or common library into a school for the Regius{158} Professor of Divinity, because “in its present state it is no use to anybody.”[407] Neglect and worse had laid this part of the library as waste as Duke Humfrey’s room at Oxford. Apparently then only the Chancellor’s library remained. More “old” books were removed from the collection in 1572-3. In this same year a catalogue was drawn up. Only one hundred and seventy-seven volumes were left: “moste parte of all theis bookes be of velam and parchment, but very sore cut and mangled for the lymned letters and pictures.”[408] Clearly sad havoc had been played with this library, which had started with so much promise.

§ II

The earliest collegiate libraries were Peterhouse, Pembroke Hall, Clare Hall, Trinity Hall, and Gonville. Peterhouse had the first library in Cambridge. Hugh of Balsham, Bishop of Ely, introduced into an Augustinian Hospital at Cambridge a number of scholars who were to live with the brethren. Before Hugh died the brethren and the scholars quarrelled, and the latter were removed to two hostels on the site of the present college (1281-84). He did not forget to provide his new foundation with books, among other properties. In the statutes of 1344 are stringent provisions for the care of books, which prove that the society had a library worthy of some thought. Clare College was founded by the University as University Hall (1326), then refounded twelve years later by Lady Elizabeth de Clare as Clare Hall. In 1355 she bequeathed a few books. Pembroke College, founded in 1346, received a gift of ten books from the first Master, William Styband. The statutes of Trinity Hall, which was founded by Bishop William Bateman in 1350, partly to{159} repair the losses of scholarly clergy during the Black Death, also contain a special section relating to the college books. It was not drawn up in anticipation of the formation of a library, for the founder himself gave seventy volumes on civil and canon law and theology, besides fourteen books for the chapel; forty-eight, including seven chapel books, were reserved for the Bishop’s own use during his life.[409] To Gonville College, founded as the Hall of the Annunciation in 1348, Archdeacon Stephen Scrope left a Catholicon in 1418.[410] King’s Hall, later absorbed in Trinity College, some sixty years after its foundation, possessed a library of eighty-seven volumes (1394). Gifts of books were made to Corpus Christi College soon after its foundation in 1352, but a library is not referred to in the old statutes. Thomas de Eltisle, the first Master, gave several books, among them a very fine missal, “most excellently annotated throughout all the offices, and bound with a cover of white deer leather, and with red clasps.” At this time (1376) we find an inventory showing that the contents of the library were chiefly theological and law books.

The intention of King Henry VI was to make the library of King’s College and that of Eton very good. In his great plan for the former, which was never carried out, Henry proposed to have in the west side of the court, “atte the ende toward the chirch,” “a librarie, conteynyng in lengthe .cx. fete, and in brede .xxiiij. fete, and under hit a large hous for redyng and disputacions, conteynyng in lengthe .xl. fete, and .ij. chambres under the same librarie, euery conteynyng .xxix. fete in lengthe and in brede .xxiiij. fete.”[411] But an apartment was set aside for books, and, as a charge was incurred for strewing it{160} with rushes in expectation of a visit from the king, it was evidently a repository worth seeing.[412] Early in 1445 the king sent Richard Chester, sometime his envoy at the Papal court, to France and other countries, and to certain parts of England, in search of books and relics for his foundations. Within two years, however, a joint petition came from Eton and King’s College, stating that neither of these colleges “nowe late fownded and newe growyng” “were sufficiently supplied with books for divine service and for their libraries and studies, or with vestments and ornaments, ‘whiche thinges may not be had withoute great and diligente labour be longe processe and right besy inquisicion.’ They therefore begged that the king would order Chester to ‘take to hym suche men as shall be seen to hym expedient and profitable, and in especiall John Pye,’ the King’s ‘stacioner of London, and other suche as ben connyng and have undirstonding in such matiers,’ charging them all ‘to laboure effectually, inquere and diligently inserche in all place that ben under’ the King’s ‘obeysaunce, to gete knowleche where suche bokes, onourmentes, and other necessaries for’ the ‘saide colleges may be founden to selle.’ They were anxious that Richard Chester should have authority ‘to bye, take, and receive alle suche goodes afore eny other man ... satisfying to the owners of suche godes suche pris as thei may resonably accorde and agree. Soo that he may have the ferste choise of alle suche goodes afore eny other man, and in especiall of all maner bokes, ornementes, and other necessaries as nowe late were perteyning to the Duke of Gloucestre.’ ”[413] At King’s College many charges were incurred for books a year later, in 1448. By 1452 this foundation had 174 or 175 books, on philosophy, theology, medicine, astrology, mathematics, canon law, grammar, and{161} in classical literature.[414] The only volume now remaining of this collection once belonged to Duke Humfrey, and as the list contains a fair number of classical books—Aristotle, Liber policie Platonis, Tullius in noua rethorica, Seneca, Sallust, Ovid, Julius Cæsar, Plutarch—besides a book of Poggio Bracciolini, it seems likely that King’s College, and perhaps Eton, received some of the books promised by the Duke to Oxford University and begged for repeatedly and in vain by that University, after his death.[415]

Likewise at Eton—which may be referred to appropriately here—the king desired to have a good library. “Item the Est pane in lengthe within the walles .ccxxx. fete in the myddel whereof directly agayns the entre of the cloistre a librarie conteynyng in lengthe .lij. fete and in brede .xxiiij. fete with .iij. chambres aboue on the oon side and .iiij. on the other side and benethe .ix. chambres euery of them in lengthe .xxvj. fete and in brede .xviij. fete with .v. utter toures and .v. ynner toures.”[416]

A library room is referred to in 1445 or 1446; then “floryshid” glass was bought for the windows of it.[417] In 1484-85 it is again mentioned in connexion with repairs. A year later a lock and twelve keys for the library were paid for.[418] Then in 1517, we are told, “the fyrst stone was layd yn the fundacyon off the weste parte off the College, whereon ys bylded Mr. Provost’s logyn, the Gate, and the Lyberary.”[419] It would seem that these several references are to the vestry of the Chapel, in which the books were first kept, and then to the Election Hall, to which they were subsequently removed.[420] Henry VI seems to have given £200 “for to purvey them books to the pleasure of God.”[421]

{162}St. Catharine’s Hall, founded in 1473-75, in a few years enjoyed the use of 104 volumes, of which 85 were given by the founder, Dr. Robert Wodelarke. At Queens’ College a library was included in the first buildings; and some twenty-five years after the foundation in 1448, no fewer than 224 volumes were on the desks.[422]

As at Oxford, these collections were augmented by the gifts of generous friends and loyal scholars. Peterhouse had many friends. Thomas Lisle, Bishop of Ely, gave a large Bible (1300).[423] In 1418 a welcome gift came from a former Master, John de Newton, who had reserved some theological books, Seneca, Valerius Maximus, and other books for his old house. At this time Peterhouse had 380 volumes: at Oxford the University library was no larger, although it was possibly richer, and in numbers only the library of New College can have beaten it. Sir Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, bequeathed a volume of sermons in 1427.[424] Later Dr. Thomas Lane gave some good books (1450). Then Dr. Roger Marshall presented a large number of volumes, some of which were to be placed in libraria secretiori, and in chains, if the Master and Fellows thought fit, while the remainder were to be chained in apertiori libraria, where they could not be borrowed, but were easily accessible (1472): this benefactor evidently fully appreciated Peterhouse’s division of its library into reference and lending sections. Less than a decade later Dr. John Warkworth, the Master, presented fifty-five manuscripts, among which was his own Chronicle. “Among the gifts made to the library in the fifteenth century are one or two which raise curious questions. One book comes from Bury and has the Bury mark. Another belonged to the canons of Hereford; another to Worcester; another to Durham (it is still identifiable in the Durham catalogue of 1391); and{163} there are other instances of the kind. Such a phenomenon makes one very anxious to know how freely and under what conditions collegiate and monastic bodies were in the habit of parting with their books during the time before the Dissolution. Was there not very probably an extensive system of sale of duplicates? I prefer this notion,” writes Dr. James, “to the idea that they got rid of their books indiscriminately, because the study of monastic catalogues shows quite plainly that the number of duplicates in any considerable library was very large. On the other hand, it is clear that books often got out of the old libraries into the hands of quite unauthorised persons: so that there was probably both fair and foul play in this matter.”[425] To Pembroke College came gifts from successive Masters and from friends between the date of foundation and the year 1484, when the College had received 158 volumes in this way.[426] One of the donors was Rotherham, the great friend of the public library. During the same period a number of books were also purchased. Corpus Christi received a like series of donations. The third Master, John Kynne, gave a Bible, which he had “bought at Northampton at the time (1380) when the Parliament was there, for the purpose of reading therefrom in the Hall at the time of dinner.” The fifth and sixth Masters, Drs. Billingford and Tytleshale, were benefactors to the library; and during the latter’s mastership one of the fellows, Thomas Markaunt the antiquary, bequeathed seventy-six volumes, then valued at over £100 (1439).[427] Later Dr. Cosyn presented books; and Dr. Nobys, the twelfth Master, left a large number of volumes, which were chained in the library.{164}

A vicar of St. Mary’s, Nottingham, named John Hurte, gave books to several colleges—to Clare Hall seven books, including Guido delle Colonne’s Troy book, Ptolemy in Quadripartito; to the College of God’s House, afterwards absorbed in Christ’s College, Egidius and a Doctrinale; to King’s College Isaac de Urinis; to the University Library three books; as well as an astronomical work to Gotham Chest (1476).[428]

At Peterhouse in 1414 special provision was being made for the books in a long room on the first floor. The workman employed on the job was to receive, in addition to his wages, a gown if the College were pleased with his work. By 1431 a new library was necessary, and a contract was entered into for building it. Sixteen years later the work had so progressed that desks were being made. In 1450 the old desks were broken up, and locks and keys were bought for sixteen new cases. This library was on the west side of the quadrangle. A library for Clare Hall was built between 1420 and 1430. A little before this a new library was begun for King’s Hall, probably to replace a smaller room. For the books of Pembroke College a storey was added to the Hall about 1452. The early collection of Gonville Hall was kept in a strong-room; then in 1441 a special room was included in the buildings on the west side of the quadrangle. At Trinity Hall the books were stored in a room over the passage from one court to the other and at the east end of the chapel, and here they remained until after the Reformation. The early library room of Corpus Christi was in the Old Court, on the first floor next to the Master’s lodge. In Queens’, St. Catharine’s, Jesus, Christ’s, St. John’s and Magdalene a library formed a part of the original quadrangle.[429]




HERE it will be convenient to give some account of the regulations for the use of books in colleges, both at Oxford and Cambridge. The University libraries were for reference: the College libraries were for both reference and lending use, and the regulations are therefore different in essentials. By the statutes of University College (1292) one book of every kind that the college had was to be put in some common and safe place, so that the Fellows, and others with the consent of the Fellows, might have the use of it. Sometimes, especially in the colleges of early foundation, this common collection was kept in chests; usually the books were securely chained to desks. The common books were chained at New College (statutes, 1400) and at Lincoln College (1429). At Peterhouse, soon after 1418, some 220 volumes were preserved for reference, and 160 were distributed among the Fellows.[430] At All Souls College a number of books selected by the warden, vice-wardens, and deans, were chained, together with the books given on the express condition that they should be chained (statutes, 1443). This collection, then, was the college reference library; corresponding with the common aumbry of the monastery, but also indicative of the principle of all library organisation that, while it is desirable to lend books, it is also necessary to keep a number of them all together in one fixed place for reference.{166}

The libri distribuendi, or books for lending, were the special feature of the college library. At Merton the books were distributed by the warden and sub-warden under an adequate pledge (1276). Once a year, after the books had been inspected, each Fellow of Oriel could select a book on the subject he was reading up, and could keep it, if he chose, until the next distribution a year later, while if there were more books than Fellows, those over could be selected in the same way (statutes, 1329). At Peterhouse, the Senior Dean distributed the books to scholars in the manner he saw fit; later it was ruled that all the books not chained might be circulated once every two years on a day to be fixed by the Master and Senior Dean (statutes, 1344, 1480). At New College students in civil and canon law could have two books for their special use during the time they devoted themselves to those faculties, if they did not own the books themselves. If books remained over, after this distribution, they were to be distributed annually in the usual way (statutes, 1400). Similarly the books were circulated at All Souls (statutes, 1443), at Magdalen (1459), at Exeter[431] and at Queen’s. At Lincoln College bachelors could only have logical and philosophical books distributed to them, and not theology (statutes, 1429).

The procedure was the same as at the annual claustral distribution. Although these regulations suggest restrictions and little else, the students were as a rule fairly well provided with books. Even if they did not own a single volume of their own, they had the use of the public{167} library of the University, and of the college common library. It is true the distribution or electio librorum took place only once or twice a year, and then a student got only a few volumes. Yet we should not assume that he was obliged to confine his attention to this small dole alone, for it is but reasonable to suppose he could exchange his books with those selected by another student. The electio librorum was a method of securing the safety of the books by distributing the responsibility for making good losses equally over the whole community. In the case of University College an Opponent in theology, a teacher of the Sentences, and a Regent who also taught, had the right to borrow freely any book he wanted if he would restore it, when he had done with it, to the Fellow who had chosen it at the distribution (statutes, 1292).

A register of loans was carefully maintained. The Fellows of All Souls were required to have a small indenture drawn up for each book borrowed, and such indenture was to be left with the warden or the vice-warden (statutes, 1443). At Pembroke College, Cambridge, the librarian or keeper was to prepare large tablets covered with wax and parchment: on the latter were to be written the titles of books, on the former the names of the borrowers; when each book was returned, the borrower’s name was pressed out. This was a monastic practice. Such records, even if trifling, were in turn the subject of an indenture if they were transferred from one person to another.[432]

The rules drawn up to prevent loss were as stringent for college as for monastic libraries. No Fellow of University College could take away, sell, or pawn books belonging to his house without the consent of all the fellows (statutes, 1292). At Peterhouse scholars were{168} bound by oath to similar effect (statutes, 1344). A statute of Magdalen is most insistent—a book could not be alienated, under any excuse whatever, nor lent outside the college, nor could it be lent in quires for copying to a member of the College or a stranger, either in the Hall or out of it, nor could it be taken out of the town, or even out of the Hall, either whole or in sheets, by the Master or any one else, but to the schools it could be taken when necessary and on condition that it was brought back to the college before nightfall (1459). A like injunction was given at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and Brasenose College.

Lending outside a college was unusual, but was sometimes allowed, as in monasteries, under indenture, and upon deposit of a pledge of greater value than the book lent, and with the general consent of Fellows (University College statutes, 1292; All Souls statutes, 1443). Every book belonging to University College had a high value set upon it, so that a borrower should not be careless in his use of it (statutes, 1292); and at Peterhouse the Master and two Deans were expected to set a value upon the books (special statute, 1480). Punishment for default was severe. Any Fellow of Oriel neglecting or refusing to restore his books, or to pay the value set upon them, forfeited his right of selecting for another year, and if he failed to make good the loss before the following Christmas, he was no longer a Fellow—eo facto non socius ibidem existat (1441). If a Fellow of Peterhouse did not produce his book at the fresh selection, or appoint a deputy to bring it, he was liable to be put out of commons until he restored it (statute, 1480).

Equal care was taken of the books which were not circulated. At Merton they were to be kept under three locks (1276). The deeds, books, muniments, and money of Stapeldon Hall or Exeter College were kept in a{169} chest, of which one key was in the hands of the Rector, another of the Senior Scholar, and a third of the Chaplain (statutes, 1316). Three different locks, two large and one small, were used to secure the library door of New College: the Senior Dean and the Senior Bursar had the keys of the large locks, and each Fellow had a key of the small lock; all three locks were to be secured at night (statutes, 1400). An indenture was drawn up of all the books, charters, and muniments of Peterhouse in the presence of the greater number of the scholars: all the books were named and classified according to faculty. One part of the indenture was retained by the Master, the other part by the Deans. All these books and records were preserved in chests, each of which had two keys, one in the care of the Master, the other in the hands of the Senior Dean (statutes, 1344). Books being regarded as an inestimable treasure, which ought to be most religiously guarded, they could not be taken from Peterhouse, if chained up, except with the consent of the Master and all the Fellows in residence, who must be a majority of the whole Society; and books given on condition of being chained were not to be removed under any pretext, excepting only for repair. Even libri distribuendi were not to be without the college at night, except by permission of the Master or a Dean, and then they could not be retained for six months in succession (statute, 1480).

To detect missing books stock was taken, usually once a year: again, as in the monasteries. Once a year on a fixed day the books of Oriel were to be brought out and displayed for inspection before the Provost or his deputy and all the Fellows (statutes, 1329). The same ceremony took place at Trinity Hall twice a year; the books were to be laid out one by one, so that they could be seen by everybody (statutes, 1350); at Peterhouse the inspection{170} was held only once in two years (statute, 1480). At All Souls an inspection was held (statutes, 1443); at the Pembroke College inspection each book was exhibited in order to the Masters and Fellows. At Magdalen, as elsewhere, the inspection was thorough: the books were to be shown realiter, visibiliter, et distincte.

The above rules embody the common practice of the colleges. Certain houses had unusual provisions. Every Fellow of Magdalen College was to close the book he had been reading before he left, and also shut the windows (statutes, 1459). With the beginning of the sixteenth century comes a faint hint of discrimination in selecting books. No book was to be brought into the library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, or chained there, if it were not of sufficient worth and importance (nisi sit competentis pretii aut utilitas) (unless it had been given with specific direction that it should be chained), but it was to go among the books for lending (statutes, 1517).[433]

In certain of the colleges a book was read aloud during meals. It is noted that in 1284 the scholars of Merton were so noisy that the person appointed to read from Gregory’s Moralia could not be properly heard.[434] Reading aloud was also enjoined at University Hall, Oxford.[435] This was, of course, a monastic practice.

This brief description of the practice of the colleges in regard to books may be concluded fittingly with an account of the rules which Richard de Bury proposed to apply for the safety of his library when reposed within the walls of Durham Hall. These provisions are specially interesting as an example of the care with which a fussy bookworm{171}




attempted to safeguard his treasures, and because they permit free lending of books outside the Hall. Five of the scholars sojourning in the Hall were to be appointed by the Master to have charge of the books, “of which five persons three and not fewer” might lend any book or books for inspection and study. No book was to be allowed outside the walls of the house for copying. “Therefore, when any scholar, secular or religious, whom for this purpose we regard with equal favour, shall seek to borrow any book, let the keepers diligently consider if they have a duplicate of the said book, and if so, let them lend him the book, taking such pledge as in their judgment exceeds the value of the book delivered, and let a record be made forthwith of the pledge, and of the book lent, containing the names of the persons delivering the book and of the person who receives it, together with the day and year when the loan is made.” But if the book was not in duplicate, the keepers were forbidden to lend it to anybody not belonging to the Hall, “unless perhaps for inspection within the walls of the aforesaid house or Hall, but not to be carried beyond it.”

A book could be lent to any of the scholars in the Hall by three of the keepers, on condition that the borrower’s name and the date on which he received the book were recorded. This book could not be transferred to another scholar except by permission of three keepers, and then the record must be altered.

“Each keeper shall take an oath to observe all these regulations when they enter upon the charge of the books. And the recipients of any book or books shall thereupon swear that they will not use the book or books for any other purpose but that of inspection or study, and that they will not take or permit to be taken it or them beyond the town and suburbs of Oxford.{172}

“Moreover, every year the aforesaid keepers shall render an account to the Master of the House and two of his scholars whom he shall associate with himself, or if he shall not be at leisure, he shall appoint three inspectors, other than the keepers, who shall peruse the catalogue of books, and see that they have them all, either in the volumes themselves or at least as represented by deposits. And the more fitting season for rendering this account we believe to be from the first of July until the festival of the Translation of the Glorious Martyr S. Thomas next following.

“We add this further provision, that anyone to whom a book has been lent, shall once a year exhibit it to the keepers, and shall, if he wishes it, see his pledge. Moreover, if it chances that a book is lost by death, theft, fraud, or carelessness, he who has lost it or his representative or executor shall pay the value of the book and receive back his deposit. But if in any wise any profit shall accrue to the keepers, it shall not be applied to any purpose but the repair and maintenance of the books.”[436]

It will be seen that had De Bury’s aim been consummated, a small public lending library would have been founded in Oxford, from which at first only a few duplicates would be issued, but which might, in time, have become an important institution.{173}




THE cheapening of books has brought many pleasures, but has been the cause of our losing—or almost losing—one pleasant social custom,—the pastime of reciting tales by the fireside or at festivities, which was popular until the end of the manuscript age.

“Men lykyn jestis for to here
And romans rede in divers manere.”

At their games and feasts and over their ale men were wont to hear tales and verses.[437] The tale-tellers were usually professional wayfaring entertainers: “japers and ‘mynstralles’ that sell ‘glee,’ ” as the scald sang his lays before King Hygelac and roused Beowulf to slay Grendel—

“Gestiours, that tellen tales
Bothe of weping and of game.”[438]

Call hither, cries Sir Thopas, minstrels and gestours, “for to tellen tales”—

“Of romances that been royales,
Of popes and of cardinals,
And eek of love-lykinge.” (ll. 2035-40).


Rhymers and poets had these entertainments in mind when they wrote—

“And red wher-so thou be, or elles songe,
That thou be understonde I god beseche,”

cries Chaucer.[439] Note also the preliminary request for silence and attention at the beginning of Sir Thopas

“Listeth, lordes, in good entent,
And I wol telle verrayment
Of mirthe and of solas [solace];
Al of a knyght was fair and gent [gallant]
In bataille and in tourneyment,
His name was Sir Thopas.”

At the beginning of his metrical chronicle of England Robert Mannyng of Brunne begs the “Lordynges that be now here” to listen to the story of England, as he had found it and Englished it for the solace of those “lewed” men who knew not Latin or French.[440]

References to these minstrels are common—

“I warne you furst at the beginninge,
That I will make no vain carpinge [talk]
Of dedes of armys ne of amours,
As dus mynstrelles and jestours,
That makys carpinge in many a place
Of Octoviane and Isembrase,
And of many other jestes,
And namely, whan they come to festes;
Ne of the life of Bevys of Hampton,
That was a knight of gret renoun,
Ne of Sir Gye of Warwyke.”[441]

The monks of Hyde Abbey or New Minster paid an annuity to a harper (1180). No less a sum than seventy shillings was paid to minstrels hired to sing and play the{175} harp at the feast of the installation of an abbot of St. Augustine’s, Canterbury (1309). When the bishop of Winchester visited the cathedral priory of St. Swithin or Old Minster, a minstrel was hired to sing the song of Colbrond the Danish giant—a legend connected with Winchester—and the tale of Queen Emma delivered from the ploughshares (1338). Payments to minstrels were commonly made by monks: at Bicester Priory, for example (1431), and at Maxstoke, where mimi, joculatores, jocatores, lusores, and citharistae were hired. A curious provision occurs in the statutes of New College, Oxford (1380). The founder gives his permission to the scholars, for their recreation on festival days in the winter, to light a fire in the hall after dinner and supper, where they could amuse themselves with songs and other entertainments of decent sort, and could recite poems, chronicles of kingdoms, the wonders of the world, and such like compositions, provided they befitted the clerical character. At Winchester College—where minstrels were often employed—and Magdalen College the same practice was followed. Commonly minstrels formed a regular part of the household of rich men.[442]

This part of the subject is so interesting that we feel tempted to linger over it, but it is sufficient for our purpose to observe that minstrelsy, before and after the Conquest—indeed, up to nearly the end of the manuscript period—was the chief and almost the only means of circulating literature among seculars. This fact should be borne in mind when any comparison is made between the number of religious and scholastic books in circulation and the number of books of lighter character. Even books of the scholastic class were read aloud to students in class, and often to small audiences of older people; but this method had obvious disadvantages, and the necessity of studying{176} them personally soon came to be recognised as imperative. Hence such books, and especially those which summarised the subject of study, were greatly multiplied. On the other hand, romances were better heard than read, and only enough copies of them were made to supply wealthy households and the minstrels and jesters whose business it was to learn and recite them. Rarely, therefore, did the ordinary layman of medieval England own many books. The large class to whom romances appealed seldom owned books at all, simply because the people of this class, even if wealthy and of noble rank, could not in ninety cases out of one hundred read at all, or could read so poorly that the pastime was irksome. Among the educated classes, the books needed were those with which a reader had made acquaintance at his university, or which were necessary for his special study and occupation. Yet it is uncommon to find private libraries; and with few exceptions they were ridiculously small. The vast majority of the books were owned in common by monastic or collegiate societies.

Let us bring together the meagre records of three centuries, and some exceptions to the general rule which serve only to show up the general poverty of the land. Henry II, an ardent sportsman, a ruler almost completely immersed in affairs of State, made time for private reading and for working out knotty questions,[443] and very probably he had a library to his hand. King John received from the sacristan of Reading a small collection of books of the Bible and severe theology, perhaps as a diplomatic gift, perhaps as a subtle reminder that a little food for the spirit would improve his morals and ameliorate the lot of his subjects. Edward II borrowed at least two books, the Miracles of St. Thomas and the Lives of St. Thomas and St. Anselm, from Christ Church, Canterbury.[444] Great Earl{177} Simon had a Digestum vetus from the same source. Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (d. 1315), had a little hoard of romances, and some other books. Hugh le Despenser the elder enjoyed a “librarie of bookes” (c. 1321), how big or of what character we do not know. Archbishop Meopham (d. 1333) gave some books to Christ Church, Canterbury; and his successor, John Stratford, presented a few to the same house. Lady Elizabeth de Clare, foundress of Clare Hall, bequeathed to her foundation a tiny collection of service books and volumes on canon law (1355). William de Feriby, Archdeacon of Cleveland, left a small theological library (1378). One John Percyhay of Swinton in Rydal (1392), Sir Robert de Roos (1392), John de Clifford, treasurer of York Church (1392), Canon Bragge of York (1396), and Eleanor Bohun, Duchess of Gloucester (1399), all left Bibles; and small collections of books, much alike in character, consisting usually of psalters, books of religious offices, legends of the saints, Peter of Blois, Nicholas Trivet, the Brut chronicle, books of Decretals, and the Corpus Juris Civilis,—most of it sorry stuff, the last achievements of dogmatism on threadbare subjects. “Among all the church dignitaries whose wills are recorded in Bishop Stafford’s register at Exeter (1395-1419), the largest library mentioned is only of fourteen volumes. The sixty testators include a dean, two archdeacons, twenty canons or prebendaries, thirteen rectors, six vicars, and eighteen layfolk, mostly rich people. The whole sixty apparently possessed only two Bibles between them, and only one hundred and thirty-eight books altogether: or, omitting church service-books, only sixty; i.e. exactly one each on an average. Thirteen of the beneficed clergy were altogether bookless, though several of them possessed the baselard or dagger which church councils had forbidden in vain for centuries past;{178} four more had only their breviary. Of the laity fifteen were bookless, while three had service books, one of these being a knight who simply bequeathed them as part of the furniture of his private chapel.”[445]

A few exceptions there were, as we have said. Not till the fifteenth century do we find that a few books were commonly in the possession of well-to-do and cultivated people; suggesting an advance in culture upon the previous age. But before 1400 several book collectors were sharp aberrations from the general rule. Richard de Gravesend, Bishop of London, owned nearly a hundred books, almost all theological, and each worth on an average more than a sovereign a volume, or in all about £1740 of our money. A certain Abbot Thomas of St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, gave to his house over one hundred volumes.[446] To the same monastery a certain John of London, probably a pupil of Friar Bacon, left a specialist’s library of about eighty books, no fewer than forty-six being on mathematics, astronomy, and medicine.[447] Simon Langham, too, bequeathed to Westminister Abbey ninety-one works, some very costly.[448] John de Newton, treasurer of York, left a good library, part of which he bequeathed to York Minster and part to Peterhouse (1418). A canon of York, Thomas Greenwood, died worth more than thirty pounds in books alone (1421). And Henry Bowet, Archbishop of York, left a collection of thirty-three volumes, nearly all of great price,—copies de luxe, finely illuminated and embellished, worth on an average a pound a volume (1423).

But Richard de Bury, Bishop of Durham, is at once the{179} bibliomaniac’s ideal and enigma (1287-1345). All accounts agree in saying he collected a large number of books.

What became of them we do not know. In the Philobiblon, of which he is the reputed author, he expressed his intention of founding a hall at Oxford, and of leaving his books to it. Durham College, however, was not completed until thirty-six years after his death. Among the Durham College documents is a catalogue of the books it owned at the beginning of the fifteenth century, and only the books sent to Oxford in 1315, and as many more are mentioned, so that his large library did not go to the college, but was probably dispersed.[449] De Bury, like Cobham, was a heavy debtor, and as he lay dying his servants stole all his moveable goods and left him naked on his bed save for an undershirt which a lackey had thrown over him.[450] His executors, as we know, were glad to resell to St. Albans Abbey the books he had bought from the monks there.

De Bury has left us an account of his methods of collecting which throws some light upon the trade in books in his time. “Although from our youth upwards we had always delighted in holding social commune with learned men and lovers of books, yet when we prospered in the world, ... we obtained ampler facilities for visiting everywhere as we would, and of hunting as it were certain most choice preserves, libraries private as well as public, and of the regular as well as of the secular clergy.... There was afforded to us, in consideration of the royal favour, easy access for the purpose of freely searching the retreats of books. In fact, the fame of our love of them had been soon winged abroad everywhere, and we were reported to burn with such desire for books, and especially old ones,{180} that it was more easy for any man to gain our favour by means of books than of money. Wherefore, since supported by the goodness of the aforesaid prince of worthy memory, we were able to requite a man well or ill ... there flowed in, instead of presents and guerdons, and instead of gifts and jewels, soiled tracts and battered codices, gladsome alike to our eye and heart. Then the aumbries of the most famous monasteries were thrown open, cases were unlocked and caskets were undone, and volumes that had slumbered through long ages in their tombs wake up and are astonished, and those that had lain hidden in dark places are bathed in the ray of unwonted light. These long lifeless books, once most dainty, but now become corrupt and loathesome, covered with litters of mice and pierced with the gnawings of the worms, and who were once clothed in purple and fine linen, now lying in sackcloth and ashes, given up to oblivion, seemed to have become habitations of the moth.... Thus the sacred vessels of learning came into our control and stewardship; some by gift, others by purchase, and some lent to us for a season.”[451]

If his words are true, monastic and other libraries must have been seriously despoiled to build up his own collection. He was bribed by St. Albans Abbey, and nobody need disbelieve him when he says he got many presents from other houses, for the merit of being open-handed was rewarded with more good mediation and favours than the giver’s cause deserved; indeed, De Bury himself seems to have made judicious use of bribes for his own advancement.[452] Usually gifts were in jewels or plate, but books were given to men known to love them; as when{181} Whethamstede presented Humfrey of Gloucester and the Duke of Bedford with books they coveted.

While acting as emissary for his “illustrious prince,” de Bury hunts his quarry in the narrow ways of Paris, and captures “inestimable books” by freely opening his purse, the coins of which are, to his mind, “mud and sand” compared with the treasures he gets. He blesses the friars and protects them, and they rout out books from the “universities and high schools of various provinces”; but how, whether rightfully or wrongfully, we do not know. He “does not disdain,” he tells us—in truth, he is surely overjoyed—to visit “their libraries and any other repositories of books”; nay, there he finds heaped up amid the utmost poverty the utmost riches of wisdom. He freely employs the booksellers, but the wiles of the collector are as notorious as the wiles of women, and his chief aim is to “captivate the affection of all” who can get him books;—not even forgetting “the rectors of schools and the instructors of rude boys,” although we cannot think he gets much from them. If he cannot buy books, he has copies made: about his person are scribes and correctors, illuminators and binders, and generally all who can usefully labour in the service of books; in large numbers—in no small multitude. And by these means he gets together more books than all the other English bishops put together: more than five waggon loads; a veritable hoard, overflowing into the hall of his house, and into his bedroom, where he steps over them to get to his couch. He was a man “of small learning,” says Murimuth; “passably literate,” writes Chambre; at the best, according to Petrarch, “of ardent temperament, not ignorant of literature, with a natural curiosity for out-of-the-way lore”: an antiquarian, not of the lovable kind, but unscrupulous, pedantic, and vain, indulging an inordinate taste for collecting and hoarding books, perhaps to satisfy a{182} craving for shreds and patches of knowledge, but more likely to earn a reputation as a great clerk.[453] For De Bury was something of a humbug; the Philobiblon, if it is his work, reaches the utmost limit of affectation in the love of books.

§ II

The literature of the later part of the fourteenth century affords us glimpses of other readers who were not merely collectors. The author—or authors—of Piers Plowman seems to have had within his reach a fair library. His reading was carelessly done for the most part, his references are vague and incorrect, and his quotations not always exact. But he was well read in the Scriptures, which he knew far better than any other book. From the Fathers he gathered much, perhaps by means of collections of extracts from their works. He used the Golden Legend, Huon de Meri’s allegorical poem of the fight between Jesus and the Antichrist, Peter Comestor’s Bible History, Rustebeuf’s La Voie de Paradis, Grosseteste’s religious allegory of Le Chastel d’Amour, the paraded learning of Vincent of Beauvais in Speculum Historiale, and other works—numerous and small signs of booklore, which are completely overshadowed by his illuminating comprehension of the popular side in the politics of his day. Gower, too, had at his disposal a little library of some account, including the Scriptures, theological writings and ecclesiastical histories, Aristotle, some of the classics, and a good deal of romance in prose and verse.

But Chaucer was the ideal book-lover: knowing Dante, Boccaccio, and in some degree “Franceys Petrark, the laureat poete,” who “enlumined al Itaille of poetry,” Virgil, Cicero, Seneca, Ovid—his favourite author—and Boëthius;{183} as well as Guido delle Colonne’s prose epic of the story of Troy, the poems of Guillaume de Machaut, the Roman de la Rose, and a work on the astrolabe by Messahala.[454] We have some excellent pictures of Chaucer’s habit of reading. When his day’s work is done he goes home and buries himself with his books—

“Domb as any stoon,
Thou sittest at another boke,
Til fully daswed is thy loke.”[455]

In the Parliament of Fowls he tells us that he read books often for instruction and pleasure, and the coming on of night alone would force him to put away his book. He would not have been a true reader had he not developed the habit of reading in bed.

“...Whan I saw I might not slepe,
Til now late, this other night,
Upon my bedde I sat upright
And bad oon reche me a book,
A romance, and he hit me took
To rede and dryve the night away;
. . . . . . . . . .
And in this boke were writen fables
That clerkes hadde, in olde tyme,
And other poets, put in ryme....”[456]

So he found solace and delight, as countless thousands have done, in his Ovid. The world of books and of reading is apt to seem stuffy, the favoured home of the moody spirit, a lair to which a dirty and ragged Magliabechi retreats, a palace where a Beckford gloats solitary over his treasures—a world whence we often desire to escape, since we know we can return to it when we will. For if good books shelter us from the realities of life, life{184} itself refreshes the student like cool rain upon the fevered brow. Chaucer was the bright spirit who let his books fill their proper place in his life. In books, he says—

“I me delyte,
And to hem give I feyth and ful credence,
And in myn heart have hem in reverence
So hertely that ther is game noon
That fro my bokes maketh me to goon.”

Yet books are something much less than life: there is the open air,—the meadows bright with flowers,—the melody of birds,—

“...Whan that the month of May
Is comen, and that I hear the foules singe,
And that the flowers ’ginnen for to spring
Farwel my book....”[457]


By the end of the fourteenth century we find signs that books more often formed a part of well-to-do households, and that the formal reading and reciting entertainments were giving place gradually to the informal and personal use of books. Among many pieces of evidence that this was so, Chaucer himself furnishes us with two of the best, one in the Wife of Bath’s Tale, and the other in his Troilus and Criseide. The Wife took for her fifth husband, “God his soule blesse,” a clerk of Oxenford—

“He was, I trowe, a twenty winter old,
And I was fourty, if I shal seye sooth.”

Joly Jankin, as the clerk was called,

“Hadde a book that gladly, night and day,
For his desport he wolde rede alway.




He cleped [called] it Valerie and Theofraste,[458]
At whiche book he lough alwey ful faste.
. . . . . . . . . .
And every night and day was his custume,
When he had leyser and vacacioun
From other worldly occupacioun,
To reden on this book of wikked wyves.”[459]

And having quickly taken measure of the Wife’s character, he could not refrain from reading to her stories which seemed to contain a lesson and to point a moral for her. She lost patience, and was “beten for a book, pardee.”

“Up-on a night Jankin, that was our syre,
Redde on his book, as he sat by the fyre.”

And when his wife saw he would “never fyne” to read “this cursed book al night,” all suddenly she plucked three leaves out of it, “right as he radde,” and with her fist so took him on the cheek that he fell “bakward adoun” in the fire. Springing up like a mad lion he smote her on the head with his fist, and she lay upon the floor as she were dead. Whereupon he stood aghast, sorry for what he had done; and “with muchel care and wo” they made up their quarrel: our clerk, let us hope, winning peace, and his wife securing the mastery of their household affairs and the destruction of the “cursed book.”

In Troilus we are told that Uncle Pandarus comes into the paved parlour, where he finds his niece sitting with two other ladies—

“...And they three
Herden a mayden reden hem the geste
Of the Sege of Thebes....”


“What are you reading?” cries Pandarus. “For Goddes love, what seith it? Tel it us. Is it of love?” Whereupon the niece returns him a saucy answer, and “with that they gonnen laughe,” and then she says—

“This romaunce is of Thebes, that we rede;
And we can herd how that King Laius deyde
Thurgh Edippus his sone, and al that dede;
And here we stenten [left off] at these lettres rede,
How the bisshop, as the book can telle,
Amphiorax, fil through the ground to helle.”[460]

This picture of a little informal reading circle is not to be found in like perfection elsewhere in English medieval literature.[461]

§ IV

By the middle of the fifteenth century book-collecting was a more fashionable pastime. Had it not been so we should have been surprised. From 1365 to 1450 was an age of library building. Oxford University now had its library: in quick succession the colleges of Merton, William of Wykeham, Exeter, University, Durham, Balliol, Peterhouse, Lincoln, All Souls, Magdalen, Queens’ (Cambridge), Pembroke (Cambridge), and St. John’s (Cambridge) followed the example. Library rooms also had been put up in the cathedrals of Hereford, Exeter, York, Lincoln, Wells, Salisbury, St. Paul’s, and Lichfield. Moreover, in London had been established the first public library. Dick Whittington, of famous memory, and William Bury founded it between 1421 and 1426. The civic records tell us that “Upon the petition of John{187} Coventry, John Carpenter, and William Grove, the executors of Richard Whittington and William Bury, the Custody of the New House, or Library, which they had built, with the Chamber under, was placed at their disposal by the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonalty.”[462] The foundation is described as “a certen house next unto the sam Chapel apperteynyng, called the library, all waies res’ved for students to resorte unto, wt three chambres under nithe the saide library, which library being covered wt slate is valued together wt the chambres at xiijs. iiijd. yerely.... The saied library is a house appointed by the saied Maior and cominaltie for ... resorte of all students for their education in Divine Scriptures.”[463] Stow, writing in 1598, spoke of it as “sometime a fayre and large library, furnished with books.... The armes of Whitington are placed on the one side in the stone worke, and two letters, to wit, W. and B., for William Bury, on the other side.” Wealthy citizens came forward with pecuniary aid then as they have ever done. William Chichele, sometime Sheriff, bequeathed “xli to be bestowyed on books notable to be layde in the newe librarye at the gildehall at London for to be memoriall for John Hadle, sumtyme meyre, and for me there while they mowe laste.”[464] This was in 1425. Eighteen years later one of Whittington’s executors, named John Carpenter, made this direction in his will: “If any good or rare books shall be found amongst the said residue of my goods, which, by the discretion of the aforesaid Master William Lichfield and Reginald Pecock, may seem necessary to the common library at Guildhall, for the profit of the students there, and those discoursing to the common people, then I{188} will and bequeath that those books be placed by my executors and chained in that library that the visitors and students thereof may be the sooner admonished to pray for my soul” (1442).[465] But this library, like so many others, did not survive the disastrous years of mid-sixteenth century.

It would be singular if this progress in library making were not reflected in the habits of a considerable section of the people. The court and its entourage set the fashion. Henry VI was a lover of books and a collector. His uncle, John, Duke of Bedford, although much occupied with public affairs and mercilessly warring with France, got together a rich library, particularly noteworthy for finely illuminated books: the famous library of the Louvre was a part of his French booty. Of his brother Gloucester we have already spoken. Archbishop Kempe owned a library of theology, canon and civil law, and other books, worth more than £260. He also gave money towards the cost of Gloucester’s library at Oxford; as did also Cardinal Beaufort and the Duchess of Gloucester. Sir John Fastolf possessed a small number of books at Caistor (c. 1450). The collection was of some distinction, as the inventory will show: “In the Stewe hous; of Frenche books, the Bible, the Cronycles of France, the Cronicles of Titus Levius, a booke of Jullius Cesar, lez Propretez dez Choses [by Barth Glanville], Petrus de Crescentiis, liber Almagesti, liber Geomancie cum iiij aliis Astronomie, liber de Roy Artour, Romaunce la Rose, Cronicles d’Angleterre, Veges de larte Chevalerie, Instituts of Justien Emperer, Brute in ryme, liber Etiques, liber de Sentence Joseph, Problemate Aristotelis, Vice and Vertues, liber de Cronykes de Grant Bretagne in ryme, Meditacions Saynt Bernard.”[466] Perhaps this little hoard may be taken{189} as a fair example of a wealthy gentleman’s library in the fifteenth century. A collection perhaps accurately representing the average prelatical library was that of Richard Browne, running to more than thirty books of the common medieval character (1452). A canon residentiary of York named William Duffield had a library of forty volumes, as fine as Archbishop Bowet’s collection, and valued at a higher figure (1452). Ralph Dreff, of Broadgates Hall, possessed no fewer than twenty-three volumes, a larger collection than Oxford students usually had. A vicar of Cookfield owned twenty-four books, some of them priced cheaply (1451).

Some collections were pathetically small. A disreputable student of Oxford, John Brette, had among his “bits of things” a book and a pamphlet. Thomas Cooper, scholar of Brasenose Hall, enjoyed the use of six volumes. Another scholar, John Lassehowe, had a like number; and another, Simon Berynton, had fifteen books, worth sixpence (c. 1448)! A rector also had six, one of them Greek; a chaplain was equipped with six medical works; and James Hedyan, bachelor of canon and civil law, could employ his leisure in reading one of his little store of eight volumes. One Elizabeth Sywardby owned eight books, three being costly (1468).

§ V

More records of the same kind may be obtained from almost any collection of wills and inventories, the number of them increasing towards the end of the manuscript age. How far this change was due to the influence of Italy we do not fully know. Certainly before the end of Henry VI’s reign the first impulse of the Italian renascence—the impulse to gather up the materials of a more catholic and{190} liberal knowledge—had been transmitted to England. Students left our shores to widen their studies in Italy. Public men in England corresponded with Italians, and fell into sympathy with their aims. Occasionally scholars came hither from Italy. Manuel Chrysoloras, one of the leading revivers of Greek studies in Italy, visited England in the service of Manuel Palaeologus, and possibly stayed at Christ Church monastery in 1408.[467] Poggio Bracciolini came to this country in 1418-23 at the invitation of Cardinal Beaufort: what he did while here we know far too little about, but this visit of Italy’s greatest book-collector and discoverer of Latin classical manuscripts cannot have been without some effect upon English students. For Poggio the visit was almost without result. He was in search of manuscripts, but apparently failed to get any with which he was unacquainted. He dismissed our libraries with the sharp criticism that they were full of trash, and described Englishmen as almost devoid of love for letters.[468] Æneas Sylvius also came here, and his visit likewise must have borne some fruit (1435).

Much also was accomplished by correspondence. Among those in communication with Italians and acquainted with the course of their studies, were Bishop Bekington, one of the earliest alumni of Wykeham’s foundation at Oxford, Adam de Molyneux, the correspondent of Æneas Sylvius, Thomas Chaundler, warden of New College, Archdeacon Bildstone, Archbishop Arundel, the benefactor of Oxford University Library and correspondent of Salutati, Cardinal Beaufort’s secretary, and Humfrey of Gloucester. Upon the last-named Italian influence was strong. Among the books he gave to{191} Oxford were Petrarch, Dante, and Boccaccio, but probably the strongest evidence of this influence would be found in the books he retained for his own use. He sought a rendering of Aristotle’s Politics from Bruni; of Cicero’s Republic from Decembrio; of certain of Plutarch’s Lives from Lapo da Castiglionchio; and had other works translated.[469]



But many English students were attracted to visit Italy for the express purpose of sitting under Italian teachers. As early as 1395, one Thomas of England, a brother of the Augustine order, went to Italy and purchased manuscripts, “books of the modern poets,” and translations and other early works of Leonardo Bruni.[470] Thomas was one of the first of a number of enlightened Englishmen who journeyed laboriously and in steady procession to Italy, this time not only to Rome, but to the northern towns, then, with Venice, “the common ports of humanity,” whither they were attracted by the fame of the bright galaxy of humanists—of Coluccio Salutati, collector of Latin manuscripts, Manuel Chrysoloras, Niccolo de’ Niccoli, grubbing Poggio Bracciolini, Pope Nicholas, sometime Cosimo de’ Medici’s librarian and the founder of the Vatican Library, Giovanni Aurispa, famous collector of{192} Greek manuscripts in the East, the renowned Guarino da Verona, Palla degli Strozzi, would-be founder of a public library, Cosimo de’ Medici, whose princely collections are the chiefest treasures of the Laurentian Library, Francesco Filelfo, another importer of Greek books from Constantinople, and Vespasiano, the great bookseller.

Sometimes these pilgrims to Italy were poor men, as were John Free, and the two Oxford men, Norton and Bulkeley, who went thither in 1425-29.[471] But as a rule such a journey was only possible for wealthy men. An important pilgrim was Andrew Holes, who represented England at the Pope’s court in Florence.[472] In the eyes of Vespasiano, Holes was one of the most cultivated of Englishmen. He appears to have bought too many books to send by land, and so was obliged to wait for a ship to transport them. What became of these books?—did he collect for his own use?—or was he acting merely for Duke Humfrey or the king?—or did he leave them, as it is said, to his Church? Unfortunately these are questions which cannot be answered.

Four other men, Tiptoft, Grey, Free, and Gunthorpe, all of Balliol College, where the influence of Duke Humfrey may fairly be suspected, journeyed to Italy. “Butcher” Tiptoft, an intimate of another enlightened community at Christ Church, visited Guarino, walked Florentine streets arm-in-arm with Vespasiano, thrilled Æneas Sylvius, then Pope, with a Latin oration, and returned to his own country with many books, some of which he intended to give to Oxford University—one of the best deeds of his unhappy and calamitous life.[473] While in Italy, William Grey, who sat under Guarino, and made Niccolò Perotti,{193} well known as a grammarian, free of his princely establishment, was conspicuously industrious in accumulating books. If he could not obtain them in any other way he employed scribes to copy for him, and an artist of Florence to adorn them in a costly manner with miniatures and initials. In nearly six years he collected over two hundred volumes of manuscripts, some as old as the twelfth century; probably the finest library sent to England in that age. No fewer than 152 of his manuscripts are now in the Balliol College library, to which he gave his whole collection in 1478; unfortunately most of the miniatures are destroyed. To his patronage of learning and his book-collecting propensities Grey owed his friendship with Nicholas V, and his bishopric of Ely. Grey was also a good friend to Free or Phreas, a poor student, and aided him in Italy with money for his expenses of living and to obtain Greek manuscripts to translate.[474] Free and John Gunthorpe, Dean of Wells, went to Italy together: Free did not live to return, but Gunthorpe brought home manuscripts. He gave the bulk of them to Jesus College, where only one or two are left; some have found their way to other Cambridge Colleges.[475] Another Oxford scholar, Robert Flemming, was in Italy in 1450: here he became the friend of the great librarian of the Vatican, Platina; and got together a number of manuscripts, afterwards given to Lincoln College.

§ VI

The intercourse of all these scholars with Italians was carried on before mid-fifteenth century. Their chief interest{194} was in Latin books, although a large number of Greek manuscripts had been brought to Italy by Angeli da Scarparia, Guarino, Giovanni Aurispa, and Filelfo. After the fall of Constantinople the Greek immigrants introduced books into Italy much more freely. George Hermonymus of Sparta, a Greek teacher and copyist of Greek manuscripts, visited England on a papal mission in 1475, but whether he had any influence on our intellectual pursuits does not appear.[476] Certainly, however, English scholars soon appreciated this new literature.

Letters sent to Pope Sixtus in 1484 by the king, refer to the skill of John Shirwood, bishop of Durham, in Latin and Greek.[477] Shirwood seems to have collected a respectable library. His Latin books were acquired by Bishop Foxe, and formed the nucleus of the library with which the latter endowed Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Some thirty volumes, a number of them printed, now remain at the College to bring him to mind: among them we find Pliny, Terence, Cicero, Livy, Suetonius, Plutarch, and Horace. Less fortunate has been the fate of his Greek books, which went to the collegiate church of Bishop Auckland. At the end of the fifteenth century this church owned about forty volumes. The only exceptions to its medieval character were Cicero’s Letters and Offices, Silius Italicus, and Theodore Gaza’s Greek grammar.[478] But Leland tells us that Tunstall, who succeeded to the bishopric in 1530, found a store of Shirwood’s Greek manuscripts at this church. What became of them we do not know.[479]

About this same time a certain Emmanuel of Constantinople seems to have been employed in England as a{195} copyist. For Archbishop Neville he produced a Greek manuscript containing some sermones judiciales of Demosthenes, and letters of Aeschines, Plato, and Chion (1468).[480] Dr. Montague James has shown that this manuscript of Emmanuel is by the same hand as the manuscripts known as the “Ferrar group,” which comprises “a Plato and Aristotle now at Durham, two psalters in Cambridge libraries, a psalter and part of a Suidas at Oxford, and the famous Leicester Codex of the Gospels.”[481] Dr. James believes the Plato and the Aristotle to have been transcribed for Neville by Emmanuel. In 1472 the archbishop’s household was broken up, and the “greete klerkys and famous doctors” of his entourage went to Cambridge. Among them, it is conjectured, was Emmanuel, and so it came to pass that three manuscripts in his writing have been at Cambridge; two psalters, as we have said, are there now, and in the beginning of the sixteenth century one of them, with the Leicester Codex, was certainly in the hands of the Grey Friars at Cambridge. This happy fruit of Dr. James’ research throws a welcome ray of light on the pursuit of Greek studies in the last quarter of the fifteenth century.[482]

In view of all the hard things which have been said of the religious, it is significant to find them taking a leading part in bringing Greek studies to England. We cannot collate all the instances here, but a few may be brought together. Two Benedictines named William of Selling and William Hadley, some time warden of Canterbury College, Oxford, were in Italy studying and buying books for three years after 1464.[483] The former became distinguished for his aptitude in learning the ancient tongues, and{196} consequently won the friendship of Angelo Poliziano. At least two other visits to Italy were made by him; the last being undertaken as an emissary of the king. On these occasions he got together as many Greek and Latin books as he could, and brought them—a large and precious store—to Canterbury.[484] For some reason the books were kept in the Prior’s lodging instead of in the monastic library, and here they perished through the carelessness of Layton’s myrmidons.[485] Among the books lost was possibly a copy of Cicero’s Republic. Only five manuscripts have been found which can be connected with Selling’s library: a fifteenth-century Greek Psalter, a copy of the Psalms in Hebrew and Latin, a Euripides, a Livy, and a magnificent Homer.[486] This Homer we have already referred to in an earlier chapter, when describing the work of Theodore of Tarsus. The signature Θεοδωρος has now been more plausibly explained. “The following note,” writes Dr. James, “which I found in Dr. Masters’s copy of Stanley’s Catalogue, preserved in [Corpus Christi] College Library, suggests another origin for this Homer. I have been unable to identify the document to which reference is made. It should obviously be a letter of an Italian humanist in the Harleian collection.... ‘Mem.: Humphrey Wanley, Librarian to the late Earl of Oxford, told Mr. Fran: Stanley, son of the author, a little before his death, that in looking over some papers in the papers in the Earl’s library, he found a Letter from a learned Italian to his Friend in England, wherein he told him there was then a very stately Homer just transcribed for Theodorus{197}





Gaza, of whose Illumination he gives him a very particular description, which answer’d so exactly in every part to that here set forth, that he [Wanley] was fully perswaded it was this very Book, and yt the Θεοδωρος at the bottom of 1st page order’d to be placed there by Gaza as his own name, gave occasion to Abp. Parker to imagine it might have belonged to Theodore of Canterbury, which however Hody was of opinion could not be of that age.’ Th. Gaza,” continues Dr. James, “died in 1478; the suggestion here made is quite compatible with the hypothesis that Sellinge was the means of conveying the Homer to England, and does supply a rather welcome interpretation of the Θεοδωρος inscription.” This reasonable hypothesis may be strengthened if we point out that Gaza was in Rome from 1464 to 1472, and Selling visited that city between 1464 and 1467 and again in 1469. Selling may have got the manuscript from Gaza on one of these occasions.

There is evidence of Greek studies at other monasteries,—at Westminster after 1465, when Millyng, an “able graecian,” became prior at Reading in 1499 and 1500, and at Glastonbury during the time of Abbot Bere.[487]

But Canterbury’s share was greatest. Selling seems to have taught Greek at Christ Church. In the monastic school there Thomas Linacre was instructed, and probably got the rudiments of Greek from Selling himself. Thence Linacre went to Oxford, where he pursued Greek under Cornelius Vitelli, an Italian visitor acting as prælector in New College.[488] In 1485-6 Linacre went with his old master to Italy—his Sancta Mater Studiorum—where Selling seems to have introduced him to Poliziano. Linacre perfected his Greek pursuits under Chalcondylas, and{198} became acquainted with Aldo Manuzio the famous printer, and Hermolaus Barbarus. A little story is told of his meeting with Hermolaus. He was reading a copy of Plato’s Phaedo in the Vatican Library when the great humanist came up to him and said “the youth had no claim, as he had himself, to the title Barbarus, if it were lawful to judge from his choice of a book”—an incident which led to a great friendship between the two. Grocyn and Latimer were with Linacre in Rome. The former was the first to carry on effectively the teaching of Greek begun at Oxford possibly by Vitelli; but he was nevertheless a conservative scholar, well read in the medieval schoolmen, as his library clearly proves. This library is of interest because one hundred and five of the one hundred and twenty-one books in it were printed. The manuscript age is well past, and the costliness of books, the chief obstacle to the dissemination of thought, was soon to give no cause for remark.{199}



SECULAR makers of books have plied their trade in Europe since classic times, but during the early age of monachism their numbers were very small and they must have come nigh extinction altogether. In and after the eleventh century they increased in numbers and importance; their ranks being recruited not only by seculars trained in the monastic schools, but by monks who for various reasons had been ejected from their order. These traders were divided into several classes: parchment-makers, scribes, rubrishers or illuminators, bookbinders, and stationers or booksellers. The stationer usually controlled the operations of the other craftsmen; he was the middleman. Scribes were either ordinary scriveners called librarii, or writers who drew up legal documents, known as notarii. But the librarius and notarius often trenched upon each other’s work, and consequently a good deal of ill-feeling usually existed between them.

Bookbinders, and booksellers or stationarii, probably first plied their trade most prosperously in England at Oxford and Cambridge. By about 1180 quite a number of such tradesmen were living in Oxford; a single document transferring property in Cat Street bears the names of three illuminators, a bookbinder, a scribe, and two parchmenters.[489] Half a century later a bookbinder is mentioned{200} in a deed as a former owner of property in the parish of St. Peter’s in the East; another bookbinder is witness to the deed (c. 1232-40).[490] After this bookbinders and others of the craft are frequently mentioned. Towards the end of the thirteenth century Schydyerd Street and Cat Street, the centre of University life, were the homes of many people engaged in bookmaking and selling; the former street especially was frequented by parchment makers and sellers. In this street, too, “a tenement called Bokbynder’s is mentioned in a charter of 1363-4; and although bookbinding may not have been carried on there at that date, the fact of the name having been attached to the place seems sufficient to justify the assumption that a binder or guild of binders had formerly been established there. In Cat Street a Tenementum Bokbyndere, owned by Osney Abbey, was rented in 1402 by Henry the lymner, at a somewhat later date by Richard the parchment-seller, and in 1453 by All Souls’ College.”[491]

Stationers had transcripts made, bought, sold and hired out books and received them in pawn. They acted as agents when books and other goods were sold; in 1389, for example, a stationer received twenty pence for his services in buying two books, one costing £4 and the other five marks.[492] They attended the fair at St. Giles near Oxford to sell books. This was not their only interest, for they dealt in goods of many kinds. They were in fact general tradesmen: sellers, valuers, and agents; liable to be called upon to have a book copied, to buy or sell a book, to set a value upon a pledge, to make an inventory and valuation of a scholar’s goods and chattels after his death. Their office was such an important one for the well-being of{201} the scholars that it was found convenient to extend to them the privileges and protection of the University, and in return to exact an oath of fairdealing from them.[493]

Before the end of the thirteenth century the University’s privileges had been extended to servientes known as parchment-makers, scribes, and illuminators; in 1290 the privileges were confirmed.[494] Certain stationers were then undoubtedly within the University as servientes, but in 1356 they are recorded positively as being so with parchmenters, illuminators, and writers: and again in 1459 “alle stacioners” and “alle bokebynders” enjoyed the privileges of the University, with “lympners, wryters, and pergemeners.”[495] These privileges took them out of the jurisdiction of the city, although they still had to pay taxes, which were collected by the University and paid over to the city treasurer.

Stationers regarded as the University’s servants were sworn, as we have already indicated. The document giving the form of their oath is undated, but most likely the rules laid down were observed from the time the stationers were first attached to the University. The oath was strict. A part of their duties was the valuation of books and other articles which were pledged by scholars in return for money from the University chests. These chests or hutches were expressly founded by wealthy men for the assistance of poor scholars. By the end of the fifteenth century there were at Oxford twenty-four such chests, valued at two thousand marks; a large pawnbroking fund, but probably by no means too large.[496] Mr. Anstey, the editor of Munimenta Academica, has drawn a vivid picture of the inspection of one of these chests and of the business{202} conducted round them, and we cannot do better than reproduce it. Master T. Parys, principal of St. Mary Hall, and Master Lowson are visiting the chest of W. de Seltone. We enter St. Mary’s Church with them, “and there we see ranged on either side several ponderous iron chests, eight or ten feet in length and about half that width, for they have to contain perhaps as many as a hundred or more large volumes, besides other valuables deposited as pledges by those who have borrowed from the chest. Each draws from beneath his cape a huge key, which one after the other are applied to the two locks; a system of bolts, which radiate from the centre of the lid and shoot into the iron sides in a dozen different places, slide back, and the lid is opened. At the top lies the register of the contents, containing the particulars;—dates, names, and amounts—of the loans granted. This they remove and begin to compare its statements with the contents of the chest. There are a large number of manuscript volumes, many of great value, beautifully illuminated and carefully kept, for each is almost the sole valuable possession perhaps of its owner! Then the money remaining in one corner of the chest is carefully counted and compared with the account in the register. If we look in we can see also here and there among the books other valuables of less peaceful character. There lie two or three daggers of more than ordinary workmanship, and by them a silver cup or two, and again more than one hood lined with minever. By this time a number of persons has collected around the chest, and the business begins. That man in an ordinary civilian’s dress who stands beside Master Parys is John More, the University stationer, and it is his office to fix the value of the pledges offered, and to take care that none are sold at less than their real value. It is a motley group that stands around; there are several{203}




masters and bachelors, ... but the larger proportion is of boys or quite young men in every variety of coloured dress, blue and red, medley, and the like, but without any academical dress. Many of them are very scantily clothed, and all have their attention rivetted on the chest, each with curious eye watching for his pledge, his book or his cup, brought from some country village, perhaps an old treasure of his family, and now pledged in his extremity, for last term he could not pay the principal of his hall the rent of his miserable garret, nor the manciple for his battels, but now he is in funds again, and pulls from his leathern money-pouch at his girdle the coin which is to repossess him of his property.”[497] Naturally their duty as valuers of much-prized property invested the stationers with some importance. Their work was thought to be so laborious and anxious that about 1400 every new graduate was expected to give clothes to one of them; such method of rewarding services with livery or clothing being common in the middle ages.[498] The form of their oath was especially designed to make them protect the chests from loss. All monies received by them for the sale of pledges were to be paid into the chests within eight days. The sale of a pledge was not to be deferred longer than three weeks. Without special leave they could not themselves buy the pledges, directly or indirectly: a wholesome and no doubt very necessary provision. Pledges were not to be lent for more than ten days. All pledges were to be honestly appraised. When a pledge was sold, the buyer’s name was to be written in the stationer’s indenture. No stationer could refuse to sell a pledge; nor could he take it away from Oxford and sell it elsewhere. He was bound to mark all books exposed for sale, as pledges, in the usual way, by quoting the beginning of the second folio. All persons{204} lending books, whether stationers or other people, were bound to lend perfect copies. This oath was sworn afresh every year.[499]

Many stationers were not sworn. They speedily became serious competitors with the privileged traders. By 1373 their number had increased largely, and restrictions were imposed upon them. Books of great value were sold through their agency, and carried away from Oxford. Owners were cheated. All unsworn booksellers living within the jurisdiction of the University were forbidden, therefore, to sell any book, either their own property, or belonging to others, exceeding half a mark in value. If disobedient they were liable to suffer pain of imprisonment for the first offence, a fine of half a mark for the second—a curious example of graduated punishment—and a prohibition to ply their trade within the precincts of the University for the third.[500]

At this time bookselling was a thriving trade. De Bury tells us: “We secured the acquaintance of stationers and scribes, not only within our own country, but of those spread over the realms of France, Germany and Italy, money flying forth in abundance to anticipate their demands: nor were they hindered by any distance, or by the fury of the seas, or by the lack of means for their expenses, from sending or bringing to us the books that we required.”[501]

Records of various transactions are extant, of which the following may serve as examples. In 1445, a stationer and a lymner in his employ had a dispute, and as the two arbiters to whom the matter was referred failed to reach a settlement in due time, the Chancellor of the University stepped in and determined the quarrel. The judgment was as follows: the lymner, or illuminator, was to serve the stationer, in liminando bene et fideliter libros suos, for one{205} year, and meantime was to work for nobody else. His wage was to be four marks ten shillings of good English money. The lymner in person was to fetch the materials from his master’s house, and to bring back the work when finished. He was to take care not to use the colours wastefully. The work was to be done well and faithfully, without fraud or deception. For the purpose of superintending the work the stationer could visit the place where the lymner wrought, at any convenient time.[502] The yearly wage for this lymner was nearly fifty pounds of our money.

An inscription in one codex tells us it was pawned to a bookseller in 1480 for thirty-eight shillings. Pawnbroking was an important part of a bookseller’s business. Lending books on hire was usual among both booksellers and tutors, for it was the exception, rather than the rule, for university students to own books, while in the college libraries there were sometimes not enough books to go round. For example, the statutes of St. Mary’s College, founded in 1446, forbade a scholar to occupy a book in the library above an hour, or at most two hours, so that others should not be hindered from the use of them.[503]

At Cambridge the trade was not less flourishing. From time to time it was found necessary to determine whether the booksellers and the allied craftsmen were within the University’s jurisdiction or not. In 1276 it was desired to settle their position as between the regents and scholars of the University and the Archdeacon of Ely. Hugh de Balsham, Bishop of Ely, when called in as arbiter, decided that writers, illuminators, and stationers, who exercise offices peculiarly for the behoof of the scholars, were answerable to{206} the Chancellor; but their wives to the Archdeacon. Nearly a century later, in 1353-54, we find Edward III issuing a writ commanding justices of the peace of the county of Cambridge to allow the Chancellor of the University the conusance and punishment of all trespasses and excesses, except mayheim and felony, committed by stationers, writers, bookbinders, and illuminators, as had been the custom. But the question was again in debate in 1393-94, when the Chancellor and scholars petitioned Parliament to declare and adjudge stationers and bookbinders scholars’ servants, as had been done in the case of Oxford. This petition does not seem to have been answered. But by the Barnwell Process of 1430, it was decided that “transcribers, illuminators, bookbinders, and stationers have been, and are wont and ought to be—as well by ancient usage from time immemorial undisturbedly exercised, as by concession of the Apostolic See—the persons belong and are subject to the ecclesiastical and spiritual jurisdiction of the Chancellor of the University for the time being.” Again in 1503 was it agreed, this time between the University and the Mayor and burgesses of Cambridge, that “stacioners, lymners, schryveners, parchment-makers, boke-bynders,” were common ministers and servants of the University and were to enjoy its privileges.[504]

Fairs were so important a means of bringing together buyers and sellers that we should expect books to be sold at them. And in fact they were. The preamble of an Act of Parliament reads as follows: “Ther be meny feyers for the comen welle of your seid lege people as at Salusbury, Brystowe, Oxenforth, Cambrigge, Notyngham, Ely, Coventre, and at many other places, where lordes spirituall and temporall, abbotes, Prioures, Knyghtes, Squerys, Gentilmen, and your seid Comens of every Countrey,{207} hath their comen resorte to by and purvey many thinges that be gode and profytable, as ornaments of holy church chaleis, bokes, vestmentes [etc.] ... also for howsold, as vytell for the tyme of Lent, and other Stuff, as Lynen Cloth, wolen Cloth, brasse, pewter, beddyng, osmonde, Iren, Flax and Wax and many other necessary thinges.”[505] The chief fairs for the sale of books were those of St. Giles at Oxford, at Stourbridge, Cambridge, and St. Bartholomew’s Fair in London.

London, however, speedily asserted its right to be regarded as England’s publishing centre. The booksellers with illuminators and other allied craftsmen established themselves in a small colony in “Paternoster Rewe,” and they attended St. Bartholomew’s Fair to sell books. By 1403 the Stationers’ Company, which had long been in existence, was chartered; its headquarters were in London, at a hall in Milk Street. This guild did not confine its attention to the book-trade; nor did the booksellers sell only books. Often, indeed, this was but a small part of general mercantile operations. For example, William Praat, a London mercer, obtained manuscripts for Caxton. Grocers also sold manuscripts, parchment, paper and ink. King John of France, while a prisoner in England in 1360, bought from three grocers of Lincoln four “quaires” of paper, a main of paper and a skin of parchment, and three “quaires” of paper. From a scribe of Lincoln named John he also bought books, some of which are now in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.[506]

We have a record of an interesting transaction which took place at the end of the manuscript period (1469). One William Ebesham wrote to his most worshipful and{208} special master, Sir John Paston, asking, in a hesitating, cringing sort of way, for the payment of his little bill, which seems to have been a good deal overdue, as is the way with bills. All this service most lowly he recommends unto his good mastership, beseeching him most tenderly to see the writer somewhat rewarded for his labour in the “Grete Boke” which he wrote unto his said good mastership. And he winds up his letter with a request for alms in the shape of one of Sir John’s own gowns; and beseeches God to preserve his patron from all adversity, with which the writer declares himself to be somewhat acquainted. He heads his bill: Following appeareth, parcelly, divers and sundry manner of writings, which I William Ebesham have written for my good and worshipful master, Sir John Paston, and what money I have received, and what is unpaid. For writing a “litill booke of Pheesyk” he was paid twenty pence. Other writing he did for twopence a leaf. Hoccleve’s de Regimine Principum he wrote for one penny a leaf, “which is right wele worth.” Evidently Ebesham did not find scrivening a too profitable occupation.[507]




“Some ther be that do defye
All that is newe, and ever do crye
The olde is better, away with the new
Because it is false, and the olde is true.
Let them this booke reade and beholde,
For it preferreth the learning most olde.”
A Comparison betwene the old learnynge and the newe (1537).[508]


AFTER a storm a fringe of weed and driftwood stretches a serried line along the sands, and now and then—too often on the flat shores of one of our northern estuaries, whence can be seen the white teeth of the sea biting at the shoals flanking the fairway—are mingled with the flotsam sodden relics of life aboard ship and driftwood of tell-tale shape, which silently point to a tragedy of the sea. Usually the daily paper completes the tale; but on some rare occasion these poor bits of drift remain the only evidence of the vain struggle, and from them we must piece together the narrative as best we can. And as the sea does not give up everything, nor all at once, some wreckage sinking, or perishing, or floating upon the water a long time before finding a well-concealed hiding-place upon some unfrequented shore, so the past yields but a fraction of its records, and that{210} fraction slowly and grudgingly. So far this book has been a gathering of the flotsam of a past age: odd relics and scattered records, a sign here and a hint there; often unrelated, sometimes contradictory. In more skilful hands possibly a coherent story might be wrought out of these pièces justificatives; but the author is too well aware of the difficulty of arranging and selecting from the mass of material, remembers too well the tale of mistakes thankfully avoided, and is too apprehensive that other errors lurk undiscovered, to be confident that he has succeeded in his aim. Whether the story is worth telling is another matter. Surely it is. To be able to follow the history of the Middle Ages, to become acquainted with the people, their mode of life and customs and manners, is of profound interest and great utility; and it is by no means the least important part of such study to discover what books they had, how extensively the books were read, and what section of the people read them.

Let us here sum up the information given in detail in the foregoing pages; adding thereto some other facts of interest. And first, what of the character of the medieval library?

During the earlier centuries monastic libraries contained books which were deemed necessary for grammatical study in the claustral schools, and other books, chiefly the Fathers, as we have seen, which were regarded as proper literature for the monk. The books used in the cathedral schools were similar. Such schools and such libraries were for the glory of God and the increase of clergy and religious. At first, especially, the ideal of the monks was high, if narrow. It is epitomised in the untranslatable epigram—Claustrum sine armario (est) quasi castrum sine armamentario.[509] “The library is the{211} monastery’s true treasure,” writes Thomas à Kempis;[510] “without which the monastery is like ... a well without water ... an unwatched tower.” Again: “Let not the toil and fatigue pain you. They who read the books formerly written beautifully by you will pray for you when you are dead. And if he who gives a cup of cold water shall not lack his guerdon, still less shall he who gives the living water of wisdom lose his reward in heaven.”[511] St. Bernard wrote in like terms. Books were their tools, “the silent preachers of the divine word,” or the weapons of their armoury. “Thence it is,” writes a sub-prior to his friend, “that we bring forth the sentences of the divine law, like sharp arrows, to attack the enemy. Thence we take the armour of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.”[512] With such an end in view Reculfus of Soissons required his clergy to have a missal, a lectionary, the Gospels, a martyrology, an antiphonary, a psalter, a book of forty homilies of Gregory, and as many Christian books as they could get (879). With this end in view were chosen for reading in the Refectory at Durham (1395) such books as the Bible, homilies, Legends of the Saints, lives of Gregory, Martin, Nicholas, Dunstan, Augustine, Cuthbert, King Oswald, Aidan, Thomas of Canterbury, and other saints.[513] With this end in view the monastic libraries contained a very large proportion of Bibles, books of the Bible, and commentaries—a proportion suggesting the Scriptures were studied with a closeness and assiduity for which the monks have not always received due credit.[514] A great deal of room was{212} given up to the works of the Fathers—their confessions, retractations, and letters, their polemics against heresies, their dogmatic and doctrinal treatises, and their sermons and ethical discourses. Of all these writings those of Hilary, Basil, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Jerome, and the great Augustine were most popular. John Cassian, Leo, Prosper, Cassiodorus, Gregory the Great, Aldhelm, Bede, Anselm, and Bernard, and the two encyclopædists, Martianus Capella and Isidore of Seville, were the church’s great teachers, and their works and the sacred poetry and hymns of Juvencus the Spanish priest, of Prudentius, of Sedulius, the author of a widely-read and influential poem on the life of Christ, and of Fortunatus, were nearly always well represented in the monastic catalogues, as may be seen on a cursory examination of those of Christ Church and St. Augustine’s, Canterbury, of Durham, of Glastonbury in 1248, of Peterborough in 1400, and of Syon in the sixteenth century. In the earlier libraries the greater part of the books were Scriptural and theological; to these were added later a mass of books on canon and civil law; so that the monastic collection may be characterised as almost entirely special and fit for Christian service, as this service was conceived by the religious.

And classical literature was received into the fold for a like purpose. From the earliest days of Christendom prejudice against the classics was widespread among Christians. Such books, it was urged, had no connexion with the Church or the Gospel; Ciceronianism was not the road to God; Plato and Aristotle could not show the way to happiness; Ovid, above all, was to be avoided.[515] In dreams the poets took the form of demons; they must be exorcised, for the soul did not profit by them. The precepts—and for these the Christian sought—in the poems were{213} like serpents, born of the evil one; the characters, devils. Some Christians sighed as they thrust the tempting books away. Jerome frankly confesses he cared little for the homely Latin of the Psalms, and much for Plautus and Cicero. For a time he renounced them with other vanities of the world; yet when going through the catacombs at Rome, where the Apostles and Martyrs had their graves, a fine line of Virgil thrills him; and later he instructed boys at Bethlehem in Plautus, Terence, and Virgil, much to the horror of Rufinus. Even in the eleventh century this feeling existed. Lanfranc wrote to Dumnoaldus to say it was unbefitting he should study such books, but he confessed that although he now renounced them, he had read them a good deal in his youth. Somewhat later Herbert “Losinga,” abbot of Ramsey, had a dream which led him to cease reading and imitating Virgil and Ovid; but elsewhere he recommends his pupils to accept Ovid as a model in Latin verse, while he quotes the Tristia.[516] The rules of some orders, as those of Isidore, St. Francis, and St. Dominic, forbade the reading of the classics, save by permission. For their value in teaching grammar and as models of literary style, however, certain classic authors—especially Virgil, Ovid, Cicero, Horace, Juvenal, and Statius—were regarded as supplementary to the grammatical works of Donatus, Victorinus, Macrobius, and Priscian, and were studied by the religious throughout the Middle Ages. They were grammatical text-books, as indeed they are still; but then they were very little else. A man would call himself Virgil, not from inordinate vanity, but from a naive pride in his profession of grammarian: to his way of thinking the great poet was no more.[517] “As decade followed decade,” writes Mr. H. O. Taylor, “and century followed century, there was no falling off in the study of the Æneid. Virgil’s{214} fame towered, his authority became absolute. But how? In what respect? As a supreme master of grammatical correctness and rhetorical excellence and of all learning. With increasing emptiness of soul, the grammarians—the ‘Virgils’—of the succeeding centuries put the great poet to ever baser uses.”[518]

From time to time the use of the classics even for grammatical purposes was condemned, though unavailingly. They were necessary in the schools; evils, doubtless, but unavoidable. Then, again, some of the classics were looked upon as allegorical: from the sixth century to the Renascence the Æneid was often interpreted in this way; and Virgil’s Fourth Eclogue was thought to be a prophecy of Christ’s coming. Ovid allegorised contained profound truths; his Art of Love, so treated, was not unfit for nuns.[519] Other writers, as Lucan, were appreciated for their didacticism; Juvenal, Cato and Seneca the younger as moralists. And some of the religious fell a prey to these evils, inasmuch as they assessed them at their true value as literature.

The classics therefore were accepted. Anselm recommended Virgil. Horace, in his most amorous moods, was sung by the monks. Ovid, either adapted or in his natural state, was a great favourite. In an appendix we have scheduled the chief classics found in English monastic catalogues to indicate roughly the extent to which they were collected and used. A glance at Becker’s sheaf of catalogues will show us that Aristotle, Horace, Juvenal, Lucan, Persius, Plato, Pliny the elder, Porphyry, Sallust, Statius, Terence, and especially Cicero, Ovid, Seneca, and Virgil are well represented. But it must not be supposed that they were in monastic libraries in excessive numbers. On the contrary. An inspection of almost any catalogue of{215}






such a library will prove that only a small proportion of it consisted of classical writings, especially in those catalogues compiled prior to the time when Aristotle’s works dominated the whole of medieval scholarship. The monastic library was throughout the Middle Ages the armoury of the religious against evil, and the few slight changes of character which it underwent at one time and another do not alter the fact that on the whole it was a fit and proper collection for its purpose.[520]

§ II

After the twelfth century broadening influences were at work. The education given in the cathedral and monastic schools was found to be too restricted; the monasteries, moreover, now began to refuse assistance to secular students.[521] To some extent the catechetic method of the theologians was forced to give place to the dialectic method, equally dogmatic, but more exciting and stimulating. Hence was compiled such a book as Peter Lombard’s Sentences (1145-50), a cyclopædia of disputation, wherein theological questions were collected under heads, together with Scriptural passages and statements of the Fathers bearing on these questions. By the thirteenth century Lombard was the standard text-book of the schools: a work of such reputation that it was studied in preference to the Scriptures, as Bacon complained.

A demand also arose for instruction in civil and canon law, which the existing schools did not supply. This broader learning was provided in the early universities, at first to the dislike of the Church, and sometimes to the{216} annoyance of royal heads. Particular objection was taken to the study of law. An Italian named Vicario (Vacarius) lectured on Justinian at Oxford in 1149. Then he abridged the Code and Digest for his students there. King Stephen forbade him to proceed with his lectures, and prohibited the use of treatises on foreign law, many manuscripts of which were consequently destroyed. But these measures were not very effectual. Within a short time civil law became recognised in the University as a proper subject of study. By 1275, when another Italian jurist named Francesco d’Accorso, a distinguished teacher at Bologna, came to Oxford to lecture, the study of civil law was pursued with the royal favour.[522]

The searcher among old wills cannot fail to be struck with the number of law books in the small private libraries. Sometimes the whole of one of these little collections consists of law books; often there are more books of this kind than of any other. For example, of eighty books bequeathed by Prior Eastry to Christ Church, Canterbury, forty-three were on canon and civil law: of eighty-four books given to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, by the founder, exactly one-half were juridical. A wealthy canon of York left but half a dozen books, all on law. The books bequeathed to Peterborough Abbey by successive abbots were chiefly on law. Many other examples could be recited. There was a reason for this. Friar Bacon, writing in 1271, complained that jurists got all rewards and benefices, while students of theology and philosophy lacked the means of livelihood, could not obtain books, and were unable to pursue their scientific studies. Canonists, even, were only rewarded because of their previous knowledge of civil law: at Oxford three years had to be devoted to the study of civil law before a student could be admitted as bachelor of canon{217} law. Consequently a man of parts, with a leaning towards theological and philosophical learning, took up the study of civil law, with the hope of more easily winning preferment.[523] “Compared with such [legal] lore,” writes Mr. Mullinger, “theological learning became but a sorry recommendation to ecclesiastical preferment; most of the Popes at Avignon had been distinguished by their attainments in a subject which so nearly concerned the temporal interests of the Church; and the civilian and the canonist alike looked down with contempt on the theologian, even as Hagar, to use the comparison of Holcot, despised her barren mistress.”[524] The most casual glance through some pages of monastic records will show how frequent and endless was the litigation in which the Church was engaged, and consequently how useful a knowledge of civil law would be.

But these changes were trifling compared with the stimulus given to medieval learning by the influx of Greek books and of Arabic versions of them. In the second half of the eleventh century the works of Galen and Hippocrates were re-introduced into Italy from the Arabian empire by a North African named Constantine, who translated them at the famous monastery of Monte Cassino. These translations, with the numerous Arabian commentaries, and the conflict of the physicians of the new school with those of the old and famous school of Salerno, constitute the revival of medical studies which occurred at that time.[525] It would seem that this revival was felt quickly in England, as in the twelfth century four books by Galen and two by Hippocrates, with some Arabian works, were to be found in the monastic library of Durham; a number significant of the liberal feeling of the monks of this house, inasmuch as in all the catalogues transcribed by Becker appear only{218} ten books by Galen and nine by Hippocrates.[526] Before 1150 the whole of the Organon of Aristotle was known to scholars;[527] but not till about that time did the other works begin to be exported from Arabic Spain. Then Latin versions of Arabic translations of the Physics and Metaphysics were first made.

Daniel of Morley (fl. 1170-90) brought into this country manuscripts of Aristotle, and commentaries upon him got in the Arab schools of Toledo, then the centre of Mohammedan learning. Michael the Scot (c. 1175-1234), “wondrous wizard, of dreaded fame,” was another agent of the Arab influence. He received his education perhaps at Oxford, certainly at Paris and Toledo. From manuscripts obtained at the last place he translated two abstracts of the Historia animalium, and some commentaries of Averroës on Aristotle (1215-30).[528] A third pilgrim from these islands, Alfred the Englishman, also made use of Arabic versions; and most likely both he and Michael brought home with them manuscripts from Toledo and Paris. Of the renderings made by these men and by some foreign workers in the same field, Friar Bacon speaks with the utmost contempt. Their writings were utterly false. They did not know the sciences they dealt with. The Jews, the Arabs, and the Greeks, who had good manuscripts, destroyed and corrupted them, rather than let them fall into the hands of unlettered and ignorant Christians.[529] Aristotle should be read in the original, he also says; it would be better if all translations were burnt. The criticism is acrid; but the men he contemns served scholarship well by quickening the interest in Greek books,{219} and they succeeded so well because they gave to the schoolmen not only versions of Aristotle’s text, but commentaries and elucidations written by Arabs and Jews who had carefully studied the text, and could explain the meaning of obscure passages in it.[530]

When these translations were coming to England, travellers were bringing Greek books directly from the East. A doctor of medicine named William returned to Paris from Constantinople in 1167, carrying with him “many precious Greek codices.”[531] About 1209 a Latin translation of Aristotle’s Physics or Metaphysics was made from a Greek manuscript brought straight from Constantinople. Some of these few importations were certainly destroyed at once, probably all were, for Aristotle was proscribed in Paris in the following year, and again in 1215, at the very time when Michael the Scot was procuring versions in another direction, at Toledo.[532] Not until mid-thirteenth century was the ban wholly removed.

For a time, owing to the capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders, intercourse between East and West had become far freer than it had been for centuries (1203-61). Certain Greek philosophers of learned mien came to England about 1202, but did not stay; and some Armenians, among them a bishop, visited St. Albans. Whether they or Nicholas the Greek, clerk to the abbot of that monastery, brought books with them we do not know; Nicholas, at any rate, seems to have assisted Grosseteste in his Greek studies.[533] John of Basingstoke,{220} Grosseteste’s archdeacon, carried Greek manuscripts—many valuable manuscripts, we are told—from Athens, whither Grosseteste had sent him. The bishop himself imported books to this country, probably from Sicily and South Italy.[534] He had a copy of Suidas’ Lexicon, possibly the earliest copy brought to the West. The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs was also in Grosseteste’s possession: the manuscript was brought home by John of Basingstoke, and still exists in the Cambridge University Library.[535] These forged Testaments were translated by Nicholas the Greek, and as no fewer than thirty-one copies of the Latin version still remain they must have had a good circulation.[536] Possibly the Greek Octateuch (Genesis to Ruth), now in the Bodleian Library, was imported into this country by Grosseteste or by somebody for him; at one time the manuscript was in the library of Christ Church, Canterbury.[537] Among other Greek books which Grosseteste used and translated, or had translated under his direction, were the Epistles of St. Ignatius, a Greek romance of Asenath, the Egyptian wife of the patriarch Joseph, and some writings of Dionysius the Areopagite. At Ramsey, where the bishop’s influence may be suspected, Prior Gregory (fl. 1290) owned a Græco-Latin psalter, still extant.[538] Possibly all the importations were of similar character, and the number of them cannot have been great or we should have heard more of them.

Friar Bacon, writing about 1270, complains that he could not get all the books he wanted, nor were the versions of the books he had satisfactory. Parts of the Scriptures were untranslated, as, for example, two books of Maccabees,{221} which he knew existed in Greek, and books of the Prophets referred to in the books of Kings and Chronicles; the chronology of the Antiquities of Josephus was incorrectly rendered, and biblical history could not be usefully studied without a true version of this book. Books of the Hebrew and Greek expositors were almost wanting to the Latins: Origen, Basil, Gregory, Nazianzene, John of Damascus, Dionysius, Chrysostom, and others, both in Hebrew and Greek.[539] The scientific books of Aristotle, of Avicenna, of Seneca, and other ancients could only be had at great cost. Their principal works had not been translated into Latin. “The admirable books of Cicero De Republica are not to be found anywhere, as far as I can hear, although I have made anxious inquiry for them in different parts of the world and by various messengers.”[540]

The period during which the intellectual life of the Middle Ages was broadened by the introduction of new knowledge and ideas originally from Greek sources, began, as we have said, with the influx of translations from the Arabic. The movement culminated with the work of William of Moerbeke, Greek Secretary at the Council of Lyons (1274), who, between 1270 and 1281, translated several of Aristotle’s works from the Greek, including the Rhetorica and the Politica. Fortunately we have a record belonging to this time of a collection of books which shows admirably the character of the change. A certain John of London (c. 1270-1330), believed to have been Bacon’s pupil, probably became a monk of St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, and in due course bequeathed a library of books to his house. This collection amounted to nearly eighty books, of which twenty-three were on mathematics and astronomy, a like number on medicine, ten on philosophy, six on logic, four historical, three on grammar,{222} one poetry, and the rest collections.[541] Such a collection is remarkable not only for its character, but on account of its size, which was very large for anybody to own privately in that age.


On one occasion, after spending much time in searching wills and in examining catalogues without finding a reference to an interesting book—to either an ancient or a medieval classic—the writer well remembers the little shock of pleasure he felt when, in a single half-hour, he noted Piers Plowman in one brief unpromising will, and six English books among the relics of a mason. Nearly all the libraries of private persons and of academies are depressing in character. Rarely can be found a bright human book gleaming like a diamond in the dust. Score after score of decreta, decretales, Sextuses, and Clementines, and chestsful of the dreariest theological disquisition impress upon the weary searcher the fact that academic libraries were usually even more dryasdust than monastic collections, and he begins to understand how prosperous law may be as a calling, and to have an inkling of what is known, in classic phrase, as a good plain Scotch education.

Between an academic library and a monastic collection there were differences of character and in the beauty and value of the manuscripts. As a general rule a large proportion of the monks’ books were more or less richly ornamented: they were the treasures as well as the tools of the community. The books of the colleges were usually for practical purposes: they were tools, treasured, doubtless, for their contents, not for the beauty of the writing or because they were decorated. The difference in character of the collections as a whole was one of proportion in the{223}






representation of the various classes of books. Generally speaking, the monastic collection comprised proportionately more theology and less canon and civil law than the academic library. In the subjects of the trivium and the quadrivium, and in philosophy, a college was more strongly equipped than a monastery; on the other hand, a monastery frequently had a larger proportion of classical literature, and always more “light” or romance literature.

Early university studies were in two parts, the trivium—grammar, rhetoric, and logic, and the quadrivium—music, astronomy, geometry, and arithmetic. These were the seven liberal arts. A fresco in a chapel in the Church of S. Maria Novella at Florence illustrates these arts. On the right of the cartoon is the figure of grammar; beneath is Priscian. For the study of this subject John Garland recommended Priscian and Donatus. Priscian was a leading text-book on the subject, and it was supported by a short manual compiled from Donatus. At Oxford extracts from these authors were thrown into the form of logical quaestiones to afford subjects of argument at the disputations held once a week before the masters of grammar.[542] To these books should be added a dictionary, with some peculiar and quaint etymologies, by Papias the Lombard; grammatical works by John Garland; Bishop Hugutio’s etymological dictionary (c. 1192); a dreary hexameter poem by Alexander Gallus, the Breton Friar (d. 1240)—“the olde Doctrinall, with his diffuse and unperfite brevitie”; Eberhard’s similar poem (c. 1212), called Graecismus, because it includes a chapter on derivations from the Greek; and a very large book, the{224} Catholicon (c. 1286), partly a grammar and partly a dictionary, with copious quotations from Latin classics, which had been compiled with some skill and care by John Balbi, a Genoese Black Friar. Papias and Hugutio were sharply condemned by Friar Bacon, but they remained in use long after his time, and Balbi owed much to both of them. Many copies of the Catholicon seem to have been made, although the transcription of so large a book was costly: even before it was printed (1460), copies for reference were sometimes chained up in English churches, and after it was printed this practice became more general, at any rate in France. By the fourteenth century Priscian was almost superseded by Alexander and Eberhard, whose versified grammars came into common use; a jingle, whether it be—

“ ‘Ne facias’ dicas ‘oroque ne facias.’
Humane, dure, large, firmeque, benigne,
Ignaveque, probe, vel avare sive severe,
Inde nove, plene, vel abunde sive proterve,
Dicis in er vel in e, quamvis sint illa secundae,”

in the fourteenth century, or

“Feminine is Linter, boat
Learn these neuters nine by rote,”

in the twentieth century, seems to help the harassed student along the linguistic path. The reading of Virgil and Statius and some other writers put flesh upon these grammatical dry bones. But as the masters of grammar at Oxford were expected to be guardians of morals as well, they were expressly forbidden to read and expound to their pupils Ovid’s Ars amandi, the Elegies of Pamphilus, and other indecent books.[543]

Next to the figure of Grammar is Rhetoric, with Cicero{225} seated beneath. Cicero, with Aristotle, Quintilian and Boëthius were the chief exponents of rhetoric; with Virgil, Ovid, Statius, and sometimes such a book as Guido delle Colonne’s epic of Troy, as examples of literary style. John Garland (fl. 1230) recommended Cicero’s De Inventione (Rhetorica), De Oratore, the Ad Herennium ascribed to Cicero, Quintilian’s Institutes and the Declamationes ascribed to him. The third figure is Logic, coupled with the figure of Aristotle. The Categories and Porphyry’s Isagoge were the books of greatest service in the study of this subject; with Boëthius’ translations and expositions of Aristotle and Porphyry. All the foregoing and Cicero’s Topica are selected by John Garland. Later the Summulae logicales of Peter the Spaniard (fl. 1276), William of Heytesbury’s Sophismata (c. 1340), the Summa logices of the great English schoolman, William of Ockham (d. c. 1349), and the Quaestiones of William Brito (d. 1356) were the chief manuals of dialectic.

The first figure in the representation of the quadrivium is Music, with Tubal Cain beneath. In this subject, for which few books were necessary, Boëthius was the guide. With Astronomy is associated Ptolemy. The Cosmographia and Almagest of Ptolemy, and the works of some Arabian authors, with books of tables, were the student’s manuals. In our cartoon Geometry has Euclid for companion. Arithmetic is associated with Pythagoras in the picture: for this subject Boëthius was the text-book.[544]

Besides the seven liberal arts, natural, metaphysical, and moral philosophy, or the three philosophies, were added in the thirteenth century. For these studies Aristotle and his{226} commentators were the chief guides. The medical authorities of the middle ages have been catalogued for us by Chaucer in his description of a doctor of “phisyk”—

“Wel knew he the olde Esculapius
And Deiscorides, and eek Rufus,
Old Ypocras, Haly and Galien;
Serapion, Razis and Avicen;
Averrois, Damascien and Constantyn;
Bernard, and Gatesden, and Gilbertyn.”

Of these names eight are included in Duke Humfrey’s gifts to Oxford in 1439 and 1443; and ten of them are represented in the catalogue of Peterhouse Library in 1418. Besides the writers mentioned by Chaucer, works on fevers by Isaac the Arab, the Antidotarium of Nicholas, and the Isagoge of Johannicius were in general use.

Next to theology—in which class the chief books were the same as in the claustral library, although liturgical books are more rarely found—the largest section of an academic collection was that of civil and canon law. It comprised the various digests, the works of Cinus of Pistoia and Azo; texts of decrees, decretals, Liber Sextus Decretalium, Liber Clementinae, with many commentaries, the Constitutions of Ottobon and Otho, the book compiled by Henry of Susa, Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, called Summa Ostiensis, the Rosarium of Archdeacon Guido de Baysio, and Durand’s Speculum Judiciale. The last three books are frequently met with, and were highly esteemed by medieval jurists.[545]

In a previous chapter we have noted the somewhat fresher character of the library given to Oxford University by the Duke of Gloucester. We have two later records which may be referred to now to indicate the change wrought by the Renascence. A catalogue of William{227} Grocyn’s books was drawn up soon after his death in 1519. This collection proves its owner to have been conservative in his tastes, as the medieval favourites are well represented. Of Greek books there are only Aristotle, Plutarch in a Latin translation, and a Greek and Latin Testament—a curiously small collection in view of his interest in Greek, and in view of the fact that many of the chief Greek authors had been printed before his death. It seems likely that his Greek books had been dispersed. But the change is apparent in the excellent series of Latin classics, which included Tacitus and Lucretius, and in the number of books by Italian writers, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Ficino, Filelfo, Lorenzo della Valle, Æneas Sylvius, and Perotti.

Still more significant of the change are the references to the course of study in the statutes of Corpus Christi College, Oxford (1517). The approved prose writers are Cicero—an apology is offered for the use of barbarous words not known to Cicero—Sallust, Valerius Maximus, Suetonius, Pliny, Livy, and Quintilian. Virgil, Ovid, Lucan, Juvenal, Terence and Plautus are approved as poets. Suitable books to study during the vacations are the works of Lorenzo della Valle, Aulus Gellius, and Poliziano. In Greek the writings—most of them quite new to the age—of Isocrates, Lucian, Philostratus, Aristophanes, Theocritus, Euripides, Sophocles, Pindar, Hesiod, Demosthenes, Thucydides, Aristotle, and Plutarch are recommended. Such a list bears few resemblances to the academic library we have attempted to describe.[546]

§ IV

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries romances began to creep into all libraries, save the academic, in{228} which they are rarely found. As soon as romance literature took a firm hold upon public favour the monks added some of it to their collections. Probably romances were first bought to be copied and sold to augment the monastic income; and more perhaps were sold than preserved. Ascham avers that “in our fathers tyme nothing was red, but bookes of fayned cheualrie, wherein a man by redinge, shuld be led to none other ende, but onely to manslaughter and baudrye.... These bokes (as I haue heard say) were made the moste parte in Abbayes and Monasteries, a very lickely and fit fruite of suche an ydle and blynde kinde of lyuyne.”[547] Thomas Nashe, in his story of The Unfortunate Traveller, describes romances as “the fantasticall dreams of those exiled Abbie lubbers,” that is, the monks.[548] These writers were but echoing such charges as that in Piers Plowman, which declares that a friar was much better acquainted with the Rimes of Robin Hood and Randal Erle of Chester than with his Paternoster. A number of romances are indeed found in monastic catalogues. The library at Glastonbury included four romances (1248); that at Christ Church, Canterbury, contained a few in late thirteenth century. Guy de Beauchamp bequeathed romances to Bordesley Abbey (1315). In the first year of the fifteenth century Peterborough had some romances. At the end of the same century St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, had in its library of over eighteen hundred books only a few romances; while in Leicester Abbey, among a library of about three hundred and fifty books, we find only the Troy book, Drian and Madok, Beves of Hamtoun, all in French, Gesta Alexandri Magni, and one or two others. Edward III bought a book of romance from a nun of Amesbury in 1331—a work of such interest that he kept it in his{229} room. There are plenty of other instances. But in no case have we found an excessive number of romances in monastic libraries, and the charges—if they can worthily be called charges—so often made against monks on this score fall to the ground.[549]

The romances oftenest appearing in monastic catalogues and other records are the following: The Story of Troy, especially Joseph of Exeter’s Latin version, the great Arthurian cycle, the beautiful story of Amis and Amiloun, renowned all over Europe, Joseph of Arimathea, Charlemagne, Alexander, which was of the best of romances, Guy of Warwick, which was very popular, and the semi-historical Richard Cœur de Lion. But many others were in circulation. In Cursor mundi a number of the popular stories of the day are mentioned—

“Men lykyn jestis for to here,
And romans rede in divers maneree,
Of Alexandre the conquerour,
Of Julius Cæsar[550] the emperour,
Of Greece and Troy the strong stryf,
Ther many a man lost his lyfe;
Of Brut,[551] that baron bold of hond,
The first conquerour of Englond,
Of King Artour that was so ryche;
Was non in hys tyme so ilyche [alike, equal]:
Of wonders that among his knyghts felle,
And auntyrs [adventures] dedyn as men her telle
As Gaweyn, and othir full abylle,
Which that kept the round tabyll,
How King Charles and Rowland fawght,
With Sarazins, nold thei be cawght;
Of Tristram and Ysoude the swete,
How thei with love first gan mete,
Of Kyng John, and of Isenbras,
Of Ydoine and Amadas.”[552]


Again, many “speak of men who read romances—

Of Bevys,[553] Gy, and Gwayane,
Of Kyng Rychard, and Owayne,
Of Tristram and Percyvayle,
Of Rowland Ris,[554] and Aglavaule,
Of Archeroun, and of Octavian,
Of Charles, and of Cassibelan.
Of Keveloke,[555] Horne, and of Wade
In romances that ben of hem bimade,
That gestours dos of hem gestes,
At maungeres, and at great festes,
Her dedis ben in remembrance,
In many fair romance.”

Popular romances of this kind had a great influence upon the lives of the people. The long lists of medieval theology and sophistry usually laid before us, and the great majority of the writings which have survived, sometimes lead us to believe the culture of the Middle Ages to have been of a more serious cast than it really was. The oral circulation of romance literature must have been enormous. The spun-out, dreary poems which now make such difficult reading are infinitely more entertaining when read aloud: the voice gives life and character to a humdrum narrative, and the gestour would know how to make the best of incidents which he knew from experience to be specially interesting to an audience. Such yarns would be most attractive to “lewd” or illiterate men—

“For lewdë men y undyrtoke
On Englyssh tunge to make thys boke:
For many ben of swyche manere
That talys and rymys wyl blethly[556] here,
Ye gamys and festys, and at the ale.”[557]






The need of multiplying manuscripts of these poems would not be greatly felt. The reciter would be obliged to learn them off by heart; he need not, and often did not, possess written versions of the poems he recited. And even literate men, as Bishop Grosseteste, preferred to listen to these gestours, rather than to read the narrative themselves. Therefore, any estimate we may form of the number of manuscripts of romances in existence at any time in the fourteenth century, for example, would give not the smallest idea of the extent to which these tales were known.

§ V

The medieval collector of books sometimes, and the monastic librarian nearly always, took care that his library was strong in hagiology and history. He felt the need of books which would tell him of the past history of his church and of the lives of her greatest teachers. When collected these books were an incentive to the more cultivated of the monks to begin the history of his country or his house, or to write or re-write the lives of saints. The fruit is preserved for us in a long line of monkish historians and hagiographers. As a rule the histories they wrote were of little value; but when they had brought the tale down to their own times they continued it with the help of records to their hand, narrated events within their own memory, and maintained the narrative in the form of annals. The method of annalising was simple. At the end of the incomplete manuscript a loose or easily detachable sheet was kept, whereon events of importance to the nation and the monastery and locality of the annalist were written in pencil from time to time during the year. At the end of the year the historian welded these jottings into a narrative. When this was done another leaf for notes was placed after{232} the manuscript. The value of the work so accomplished is incalculable. Without these records it would now be impossible for us to realise what the Middle Ages were like. This service, added to the enormously greater service which monachism did for us in preserving ancient literature, will always breed kind thoughts of a system so repugnant to our modern view of human endeavour.

§ VI

What was the extent of circulation of books during the manuscript age? For the period before the Conquest we can only offer the merest conjecture, which does not help us materially. The rarity of the extant manuscripts of this age is no guide to the extent of their production. During the raids of the northmen the destruction and loss must have been very great indeed. After the Conquest the indifference and contempt with which the conquerors regarded everything Saxon must have been responsible for the destruction of nearly every manuscript written in the vernacular. But, on the other hand, we find suggestions of a greater production than is commonly credited to this period. Religious fervour to make books was not wanting, as some of our most beautiful relics—works exhibiting much painstaking and skilful and even loving labour, calligraphy, and decoration aflame with high endeavour—belong to the Hiberno-Saxon period and the days of Ethelwold. Nor after Alfred’s day was regard lacking for vernacular literature itself rather than for the glory of a faith: how else are we to explain the precious fragments of Anglo-Saxon manuscript which have been preserved for us, especially the Exeter book and the Vercelli book? That the production was considerable is suggested by the records we have. Think of the Irish manuscripts now scattered{233} on the continent; of the library of York; of Bede’s workshop and the northern libraries; and of those in the south, at Canterbury, Malmesbury, and elsewhere. But the use of such manuscripts as were in existence was restricted to monks, wealthy ecclesiastics, and a few of the wealthy laity.

After the Conquest the state of affairs was the same. The period of the greatest literary activity in the monasteries now began, and large claustral libraries were soon formed. The monks then had plenty of books; wealthy clergy also had small collections. An ecclesiastic or a layman who had done a monastery some service, or whose favour it was politic to cultivate, could borrow books from the monastic library, under certain strict conditions. Some people availed themselves of this privilege; but not at any time during the manuscript period to a great extent.[558]

Outside this small circle the people were almost bookless: nearly the whole of the literary wealth of the Middle Ages belonged to the monks and the church. Books were extremely costly. The medieval book-buyer paid more for his book on an average than does the modern collector of first editions and editions de luxe, who pays in addition several guineas a volume for handsome bindings. The prices we have tabulated will fully bear out this statement. But even more striking evidence of the high value set upon books is the care taken in selling or bequeathing them. To-day a line or two in a wealthy man’s will disposes of all his books. He commonly throws them in with the “residue,” unmentioned. In the manuscript age a testator distributed his little hoard book by book. Often he not only bequeaths a volume to a friend, but determines its fate after his friend’s death. For example, a daughter is to have a copy of the Golden Legend, “and to occupye to hir{234}



owne use and at hir owne liberte durynge hir lyfe, and after hir decesse to remayne to the prioress and the convent of Halywelle for evermore, they to pray for the said John Burton and Johne his wife and alle crystene soyles (1460).”[559] A manuscript now in Worcester Cathedral Library bears an inscription telling us that, likewise, one Thomas Jolyffe left it to Dr. Isack, a monk of Worcester, for his lifetime, and after his death to Worcester Priory. A manuscript now in the British Museum was bought in 1473 at Oxford by Clement of Canterbury, monk and scholar, from a bookseller named Hunt for twenty shillings, in the presence of Will. Westgate, monk.[560] In a manuscript of the Sentences is a note telling us that it was the property of Roger, archdeacon of Lincoln: he bought it from Geoffrey the chaplain, the brother of Henry, vicar of North Elkington, the witnesses being master Robert de Luda, clerk, Richard the almoner, the said Henry the vicar, his{235} clerk, and others.[561] An instance of a different kind will suffice. When, after a good deal of rioting at Oxford, many of the more studious masters and scholars went to Stamford, the king threatened that if they did not return to Oxford they would lose their goods, and especially their books. The warning was disregarded, but the threatened forfeiture of their books was evidently thought to be a strong measure.[562]

In his poems Chaucer endows two poor clerks with small libraries. His first portrait of an Oxford clerk is delightful—

“For him was lever have at his beddes heed [rather]
Twenty bokes, clad in blak or reed,
Of Aristotle and his philosophye,
Than robes riche, or fithele, or gay sautrye [fiddle, psaltery].
But al be that he was a philosophre,
Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre;
But al that he mighte of his freendes hente [get],
On bokes and on lerninge he it spente,
And bisily gan for the soules preye
Of hem that yaf him wher-with to scoleye [gave, study].
Of studie took he most cure and most hede.
Noght o word spak he more than was nede,
And that was seyd in forme and reverence,
And short and quik, and ful of hy sentence [high].
Souninge in moral vertu was his speche [conducing to],
And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.”

Almost equally pleasing is his picture of another who lived with a rich churl—

“A chambre hadde he in that hostelrye
Allone, with-outen any companye,
. . . . . . . . . .
His Almageste and bokes grete and smale,
His astrelabie, longinge for his art,
His augrim-stones layen faire a-part
On shelves couched at his beddes heed.”

Both descriptions have been used as evidence that books{236} were not so scarce as supposed; that poor people could get books if they specially needed them. But are these pictures quite true? Has not the poet taken advantage of the licence allowed to his kind? The records preserved at Oxford do not corroborate him. Some of the students were very poor. It seems likely that a would-be clerk attached himself to a master or scholar as a servant in return for teaching in the “kunnyng of writyng” and perhaps other knowledge—

“This endenture bereth witnesse that I, John Swanne, þe sone of John Swanne of Bridlington, in þe counte of Yorke, have putte me servante unto William Osbarne, forto serve him undir þe foorme of a servante for þe terme of iiii. yere, and þe seide William Osbarne forto enfoorme þe seide John Swann in þe kunnyng of writyng, and þe seide John Swann forto have þe first yere of þe seide William Osbarne iijs. iiijd. in money, and ij. peier [pairs] of hosen, and ij. scherts [shirts] and iiij. peire schoon [pairs of shoes], and a gowne, and in þe secunde yeere xiijs. iiijd., and in þe iij. yere xxs. and a gowne, and in þe iiij. yeere xls. And in þe witnesse hereof, etc.” (1456).[563]

Mr. Anstey points out that a very large number, probably the majority of scholars, were not well provided for. They eked out their precarious allowances by begging, by learning handicrafts, and by “picking up the various doles at funerals and commemoration masses, where such needy miserables were always to be found.”[564] Such students would not be likely to have many or perhaps any books. “The stock of books possessed by the younger scholars seems to have been almost nil. The inventories of goods, which we possess, in the case of non-graduates contain hardly any books. The fact is that they mostly could not afford to buy them.... The chief source of supplying books was by purchase from the University sworn stationers, who had to a great extent a monopoly, the object of which was to{237} prevent the sale and removal from Oxford of valuable books. Of such books there were plainly very large numbers constantly changing hands; they were the pledges so continually deposited on borrowing from chests, and seem, from scattered hints, to have been a very fruitful source of litigation and dispute.”[565] Most of these books were in the hands of seniors. Truly enough many a poor clerk would as lief have twenty “bokes” to his name as anything else treble the value. But he would undergo much sharp self-denial and receive much “wher-with to scoleye” ere he got together so considerable a collection of “bokes grete and smale,” to say nothing of instruments. As such a large proportion of the scholars were poor, and unable to acquire books, nearly all the instruction given was oral. Well-to-do scholars would not find, therefore, books of very great service; and indeed they were as ill-equipped in this respect as their poorer brethren. The accounts of the La Fytes, two scholars whose expenses were paid by Edward I himself, contain records of the purchase of two copies of only the Institutions of Quintilian (c. 1290).[566] Is not Chaucer describing his own room in both passages—the room he loved to seek after his day’s work at the desk? Here at the bedhead are his books, including the astronomical treatise of Ptolemy called Almagest. Beside them is the astrolabe, an instrument about which he wrote; and trimly arranged apart his augrim-stones, or counters for making calculations. Such an outfit we might expect him to have: just such a library, neither smaller nor larger.

This supposition calls to mind another argument sometimes used to prove how easy it was to make a small collection of books. Chaucer’s poems display his acquaintance, more or less thoroughly, with many authors. Surely,{238} it is urged, his library was a good one for the time: then how was it possible for a man of his means to own such? He was not wealthy. As a courtier and a public officer the calls upon his purse must have been heavy: little indeed could be left for books. The explanation is probably simple. Books were freely lent, more freely than nowadays; and Chaucer would be able to eke out his library in this way. Another point is important. Professor Lounsbury, who has spent years in an exhaustive study of Chaucer, points out a curious circumstance. “It must be confessed,” he says—a shade of disparagement lurks in the phrase—“it must be confessed that Chaucer’s quotations from writers exhibit a familiarity with prologues and first books and early chapters which contrasts ominously with the comparative infrequency with which he makes citations from the middle and latter parts of most of the works he mentions.”[567] Surely the implication is unjust. Stationers used to let out on hire parts of books or quires. Manuscript volumes were also often made up of parts of works by several authors. Books being scarce, it was preferable to make some volumes select miscellanies, little libraries in themselves. Hear Chaucer himself—

“And eek ther was som-tyme a clerk at Rome,
A cardinal, that highte Seinte Jerome,
That made a book agayn Jovinian;
In whiche book eek ther was Tertulan,
Crisippus, Trotula, and Helowys,
That was abbesse nat fer fro Parys;
And eek the Parables of Salomon,
Ovydes Art, and bokes many on,
And alle thise were bounden in o volume.”[568]

In composite volumes often only the earlier parts of authors’ works were included. If Chaucer owned a few{239} books of this kind, his familiarity with parts of authors—and oftenest with the earlier parts—is accounted for satisfactorily; so also is the range and variety of his reading. Examine the Christ Church Canterbury catalogue in Henry Eastry’s time, and note what a remarkable variety of subjects is comprised in what we nowadays consider rather a paltry number of books. There is another point worth bearing in mind. Speaking of Bishop Shirwood’s books, a writer in the English Historical Review says: “Many of the books bear his mark, Nota, scattered over the margins, or a hand with a long pointing finger. These notes occur usually at the beginnings. In the days when chapters and sections were unknown and division into books rare, when headlines were not and pages sometimes had no signatures even, not to speak of numbers, a reader had to go solidly through a book, and could not lightly turn up a passage he wished for, by the aid of a reference. But except in Cicero and in Plutarch—which is read almost from beginning to end—the marks do not often go far. Shirwood was doubtless too busy to find much time for reading, and before he had made much way with a book a new purchase had come to arouse his interest.”[569]

But to the general rule of scarcity of books some exceptions are known. When a book won a reputation, the cost of producing copies was not wholly restrictive of circulation. Copies of some works of the Fathers were produced in great numbers. The Bible, whole or in part, was copied with such industry that it became the commonest of manuscripts, as it now is the commonest of printed books. Peter Lombard’s Sentences became a famous book: the standard of the schools; everywhere to be found side by side with the Bible, everywhere discussed and commented{240} upon. A twelfth century author of quite different character had a good hold upon the people; the number of copies of Geoffrey of Monmouth must have been considerable, for the British Museum now has thirty-five copies and Bodley’s Library sixteen. “Possibly, no work before the age of printed books attained such immediate and astonishing popularity ... translations, adaptations, and continuations of it formed one of the staple exercises of a host of medieval scribes.”[570] A glance at the monastic and academic library catalogues of later date than mid-thirteenth century will prove more clearly than a shelf full of books how enormous was the influence of Aristotle. If such a collocation as the Bible and Shakspere sums up the present-day Englishman’s ideals of spiritual sustenance and literary power, a similar collocation of the Bible and Aristotle would sum up, with a greater approach to truth, the ideals of the medieval schoolman. Popularity fell to Piers Plowman. Apart from the large currency given to it by ballad singers, many manuscripts were in existence, for even now forty-five of them, more or less complete, remain. As M. Jusserand aptly remarks: “This figure is the more remarkable when we consider that, contrary to works written in Latin or in French, Langland’s book was not copied and preserved outside his own country.”[571] Again, but a few years after the writing of the Canterbury Tales, a copy of it was bequeathed, among other books, by a clerk named Richard Sotheworth of East Hendred, Berks (1417).[572] The impression is left upon one’s mind that this work had found its way quickly and in many copies into country places.

But as only a few books had a comparatively large circulation, these few had a disproportionately powerful{241} influence. The Bible was paramount. Aristotle dominated the whole mental horizon of the schoolmen. Alfred of Beverley tells us that Geoffrey of Monmouth’s book “was so universally talked of that to confess ignorance of its stories was the mark of a clown.”[573] So great was the influence of Piers Plowman, that from it were taken watchwords at the great rising of the peasants.[574] The power of such works could not be wholly hemmed in by the barrier of manuscript: like a spring torrent it would burst forth and carry all before it. In the manuscript period a book of great originality and power, or a work which reproduced the thought of the time accurately and with spirit, ran no great risk of being passed over and forgotten; too little was produced for much that was good to be lost. It was copied once and again; became very slowly but very surely known to a few, then to many; and all the time waxed more and more influential in its teaching. The growth was slow, but then the lifetime was long. Now the chance of a good book going astray is much greater. What watcher of the great procession of modern books does not fear that something supremely fine and great has passed unobserved in the huge, motley crowd?





Note.—Following is a selection from a large number of prices recorded in various places. In making the selection I have included books of various prices. An asterisk (*) before the reference signifies that additional prices will be found in the same place.

These prices must be multiplied at least ten times before the value set upon books in the Middle Ages can be compared with the value set upon them to-day.

Date Description Price
1344 Bible for Merton College £3
Rogers, i. 646
1354-74 For redeeming a Bible which lay in Langeton
chest (1354) £3
For a Bible pledged in Chichester chest (1357) £3
For a Bible redeemed from Chichester chest (1358) £3
For Bible pledged in Winton chest (1358) £3
To our barber for a Bible pledged to him in time
of John Dagenet 4 marks.
O. H. S., 27, Boase, xlviii.
1376 Bible, small 12 fr.
Robinson, 5
c. 1387 Bible for New College £2, 13s. 4d.
Another £1, 6s. 8d.
Another £1, 0s. 0d.
O. H. S., 32, Collect., 220
15 c. Bible, 13 cent., 358 ff., double cols. of 53
lines, in good small hand 5 marks.
James4, 19
1423 Pro j Biblia, cum ij signaculis deauratis £6, 13s. 4d.
Surtees Soc., xlv. 76
1439 Bible £3, 6s. 8d.
James10, xxiv.
{244}1444 Bible £2, 13s. 0d.
James10, xxiv.
1449 Bible covered with red leather, and having
gilded clasps £6, 13s. 4d.
Surtees Soc., xlv. 110
1452 Bible £6, 13s. 4d.
Surtees Soc., xlv. 132
1471 Bible, in 5 vols. £2
James10, xxiv.
1473 Bible bought at Oxford. Now Brit. Mus. MS.
Burney 11 20s.
James, 515
1358 Missal pledged in Burnel chest 8s. 4d.
O. H. S., 27, Boase, xlviii.
1383-4 Abbot Litlington's missal£34, 14s. 7d.
Robinson, 7-8
1449 Old Missal, de usu Ebor. 26s. 8d.
Surtees Soc., xlv. 110
1452 Missal, de usu Ebor. £4, 13s. 4d.
Old Missal 10s.
Surtees Soc., xlv. 132-33
1459 A fair mass book £10
Rogers, iv. 600
1468 Missal £4
Surtees Soc., xlv. 163
1491 Missal 40s.
Surtees Soc., xlv. 161 n.
1509 A new masboke couered with white lether and ij
longe claspes of latyn £4
A little massebooke after the ffrenche use 3s. 4d.
C. A. S. (N.S.) 8vo ser., iii. 361
1370 Portiforium 10s.
Cam. Soc., Bury Wills, 1
{245}1395 Portiforium notatum 20s.
Parvum portiforium 33s. 4d.
Surtees Soc., xlv. 6
1400 Portiforium de usu Sarum 66s. 8d.
Ibid., 13
1449 Great portiforium de usu Ebor.£11, 3s. 6d.
Great portiforium de usu Sarum 53s. 4d.
Ibid., 110
1451 Portiforium 6s. 8d.
Mun. Acad., 609
1452 Portiforium de usu Sarum 53s. 4d.
Portiforium de usu Ebor. 53s. 4d.
Portiforium 13s. 4d.
Surtees Soc., xlv. 132-33
1491 Portiforium de Ebor. 43s. 4d.
Ibid., 161n.
1518 A little portuos lyinge to plegge in teamce street 53s. 4d.
Reliquary, vii. 18
1300 Psalter, with glosses 10s.
Warton, i. 188n.
1376 Psalter, glossed 12 fr.
Robinson, 6
c. 1380 Psalter, glossed 26s. 8d.
O. H. S., 32, Collect., 226
1395 Psalter, in large letters; price 6s. 8d.
sold for 13s. 4d.
Surtees Soc., xlv. 6
1447 Psalter 3s. 8d.
Rogers, iv. 600
1449 Psalter, glossed 11s.
Surtees Soc., xlv. 110
1451 Psalter, glossed 6s. 8d.
Mun. Acad., 609
{246}1452 Psalter, glossed 13s. 4d.
Illuminated Psalter 13s. 4d.
Small Psalter 6s. 8d.
Surtees Soc., xlv. 132-33
1468 Psalter 8s. 4d.
Ibid., 163
c. 1470 Psalter 6s. 8d.
Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner, vi. 175-77
c. 1420-40 Antiphonary for S. Albans £6s, 13s. 4d.
Another £6
Ann. mon. S. Alb. a J. Amund., ii. 256-71
1459 2 new great antiphons £13, 6s. 8d.
Rogers, iv. 600
1491 Antiphonary [with musical notation] 33s. 4d.
Surtees Soc., xlv. 161 n.
1509 A grete antyphoner in parchement with legent
couered with white lether with ij long claspes of
latyn £8
An olde litle antyphoner withoute couer and
claspes 3s. 4d.
C. A. S. (N.S.), 8vo ser., iii. 361
1449 20 new Processionals for All Souls College £5, 13s. 4d.
Rogers, iv. 600
1509 A Processionall noted [with musical notation]
couered with Tawny lether and ij long claspes 26s. 8d.
A processionall couered with Tawny lether with
oon claspe 5s.
C. A. S. (N.S.), iii. 361
c. 690 Land sufficient for 8 families exchanged for a book
on cosmography, of admirable workmanship.
Vitæ Abb. § 15
{247}1174 Bede's Homilies and S. Austin's Psalter exchanged
for 12 measures of barley and a pall, on which
was embroidered in silver the history of
S. Birinus converting a Saxon king.
Warton, i. 186
1300 Historia Scholastica [Peter Comestor], [Cf. 1452.] £1
Concordance 10s.
Four greater prophets, with glosses 5s.
*Warton, i. 188n.
1300 Book of Decretals 3s.
*Stevenson, Hist. of Ely
1306 A school book 2d.
Rogers, i. 645-56
1322 Liber gardanarum £3, 6s. 8d.
Rogers, i. 646
1357 For book on Prophets and the third part of
Thomas Aquinas (tertia pars Summae), pledged
in Tykeford chest 13s. 4d.
O. H. S., 27, Boase, xlviii.
c. 1360 La Bible Hystoriaus, ou Les Histories escolastres.
B.M. Reg. 19 D ii. Taken from King of
France at Poitiers; bought by Wm. Montagu,
for 100 marks.
Ordered to be sold by the Last will of his
Countess Elizabeth for 40 livres.
Warton, i. 187
1376 Dictionary in 3 volumes 200 francs.
Gospels glossed in 1 volume 15 francs.
N. de Lyra on the Gospels and the Epistles of Paul 37½ francs.
Quodlibeta of Herveus Natalis Brito 3 francs.
Milleloquium Augustini [anthology of S. Augustine
by Bartholomew of Urbino] 80 francs.
Augustine, super psalterium abbreviatus cum
septem quaternis non ligatis 1 franc.
N. de Lyra, third part 37½ francs.
Small concordance 1 franc.
Speculum Historiale, first part, by Vincent of
Beauvais 50 francs.
Augustine, de Civitate Dei 12 francs.
Lombard's Sentences. [Cf. 1423, 1452.] 6 francs.
Boëthius, de Consolatione philosophiae, cum aliis. 10 francs.
Summa Hostiensis [one of the chief books on
canon law]. [Cf. 1380.] 20 francs.
{248}1376 Cronica Martiniana, by Martinus Polonus; Bede,
de Gestis Anglorum; Life of S. Thomas, in
1 volume 10 francs.
Anselm, de Similitudinibus 2 francs.
*Robinson, 5-7
1378 Wylliott's book on natural philosophy £3, 6s. 8d.
Rogers, i. 646
1379 11 quires of Bacon's Mathematics 5s. 6d.
Rogers, i. 646
c. 1380 Lectura T. Alquini super 410 sententiarum 10s.
Evangelium Johannis et Apocalypsis glosatum 20s.
Concordantiae Bibliae 8s.
Sermones veteres 3s. 4d.
Sermones N. Gorham de communi sanctorum 5s.
Liber Genesis glosatus 20s.
Legenda Aurea 20s.
Augustine, de Civitate Dei 53s. 4d.
Haymo super epistolas Pauli 100s.
Evangelium Mathaei 2s.
" Johannis glos. 3s. 4d.
Biblia versificata 5s.
Quaternus sermonum 2s. 6d.
Epistolae Sidonii, in quaterno 12d.
Albertus Magnus, de vegetabilibus et plantis cum
multis aliis 53s. 4d.
Textus Metha[physi]cae 10s.
Commentator super libros caeli et mundi 5s.
Liber de Anima, continens 3 libros cum aliis 3d.
Textus naturalis philosophiae 16s.
" 13s. 4d.
" 13s. 4d.
Tractatus de Animalibus 4s.
Liber Decretalium non glosatus 3s. 4d.
Liber Decretalium 16s. 8d.
Summa Hostiensis. [Cf. 1376.]£4, 13s. 4d.
Liber Sextus decretalium. [Cf. 1423, 1445,
1451.] 75s.
Codex. [Cf. 1423.] 31s. 4d.
Liber inforciatus. [Cf. 1423, 1445.] 20s.
Digestum vetus. [Cf. 1423.] 5s.
O. H. S., 32, Collect., 224-41
1389 Problems of Aristotle for Exeter College £4
Boëthius, De Disciplina Scholarum, and De
Consolatione philosophiæ 5 marks.
O. H. S., 27, Boase, xxxvi.
{249}1394 Parchment for 4 choir books, and writing them£11, 13s. 3d.
Surtees Soc., xxxv. 130
c. 1394 Writing, illuminating and other expenses of a
primer, given to the Lady Queen of Castile,
i.e. Constance, 2nd wife of John of Gaunt 63s. 6d.
C. A. S. (N.S.), iii. 401
1395 Cronica Martiniana, cum aliis.
Priced 3s. 4d., sold for [Cf. price in 1376] 3s. 4d.
Libellus cum causa T. Cantuariensis, et aliis.
Priced 2s., sold for 3s. 4d.
Repertorium Willelmi Durand.
Priced 6s. 8d., not sold 6s. 8d.
William de Mandagoto de Electionibus. Priced
5s., sold for 6s. 8d.
Constitutions of Ottobonus, cum aliis. Priced
18d., not sold 18d.
Petrus de Formâ dictandi, quire. Priced 2s.,
not sold [Cf. 1443] 2s.
Bernard, Meditationes, cum aliis 5s.,
sold for 6s.
Mandeville on paper, in French. 2s., not sold 2s.
Quire, de Arte dictandi, with letters of Peter of
Blois. 2s., not sold 2s.
Textus Clementinarum [Decretals of Clement]
12d., not sold 12d.
Brut in French. 2s., not sold 2s.
Surtees Soc., xlv. 6
1397 Vellum for 6 Processionals, and writing, noting
(notatio, musical notation), illuminating and
binding them 73s. 4d.
Surtees Soc., vii. xxvi.-vii. n.
15 c. Liber Scintillarum 2s.
Augustine on John 10 marks.
C. A. S. (N.S.), iii. 403
15 c. For 39 quires parchment at vid.=xxs.
vid. (sic) 19s. 6d.
For writing same at xxd. quire 65s.
For illuminating 12d.
For binding 2s. 6d.
Summa £4, 8s. 0d.
James3, 105
15 c. 27 quires parchment at iiid. 6s. 9d.
For writing same at 16d. 36s.
Illumination 8d.
Binding 2s.
Summa 45s. 5d.
Ibid., 128
{250}15 c. 27 quires and 6 fo. parchment at iiid. 6s. 9d.
For writing same at 16d. 36s.
Illumination 6d.
Binding 2s.
Total 45s. 3d.
Ibid., 133
15 c. 33 quires parchment 8s. 3d.
For writing same at 16d. 44s.
Illumination 12d.
Binding 2s.
Total 55s. 3d.
Ibid., 169
15 c. 29 quires parchment at iiid. 7s. 3d.
For writing same at 16d. 38s. 8d.
Illumination 12d.
Binding 2s.
Total 48s. 11d.
Ibid., 226
15 c. Antonius Andreas, super Metaphysica, etc., 153ff.,
on paper 13s. 4d.
James3, 290
1400 John of Meun's Roman de la Rose, sold before
the palace gate at Paris £33, 6s. 6d.
Warton, i. 187
1400 Tabula Martiniana 3s. 4d.
Gradual, de usu Ebor. 40s.
Catholicon. [Cf. 1452.] £4, 10s. 0d.
*Surtees Soc., xlv. 13
1414 For mending one old mass book almost worn out;
for parchment and new writing in divers parts
and for the binding and new clasps, and a skin
to cover the book 11s. 2d.
Archæologia, lvii. 208-9
1420-40 Three books given to the Duke of Gloucester,
Cato glossed, and two books of Abbot Whethamstede's
own composition £10
Book of astronomy, given to the Duke of Bedford £3, 6s. 8d.
Boëthius, de Consolatione philosophiae, glossed £5
Holkot, super Sapiéntiam Salomonis 13s. 4d.
Holkot, Sermons £3, 6s. 8d.
Thos. Netter of Walden and Wm. Wodeford
against Wyclif. 2 vols. £6, 13s. 4d.
*Ann. mon S. Alb. a J. Amund. ii. 256, 259,
{251}1420-40Alan de Lisle's Anticlaudianus, cum quaestionibus
in eodem 13s. 4d.
Unus parvus libellulus, cum metris et tabulis
diversis 13s. 4d.
* Ann. mon S. Alb. a J. Amund. ii. 256,
259, 268-71.
1423 Magister Sententiarum. [Cf. 1376, 1452.] 16s.
Concordance 20s.
Gregory's Pastoral care 4s.
Anselm, Cur Deus homo. [Cf. 1451.] 10s.
Archdeacon Guido de Baysio's Rosarium 40s.
Liber Sextus Decretalium. [Cf. 1380, 1445, 1451.] 40s.
Digestum Inforciatum. [Cf. 1380, 1445.] 13s. 4d.
Digestum vetus. [Cf. 1380.] 13s. 4d.
Codex. [Cf. 1380.]£1, 6s. 8d.
Surtees Soc., xlv. 76
1432 Dr. Thomas Gascoigne gave 6 books to Lincoln
College, value £17, 10s.
Clark, Linc. Coll. (Coll. Hist.)
1438 Thomas Aquinas super primum Sententiarum £1
Thomas Aquinas in secundum Sententiarum £1, 6s. 8d.
James10, xxiv.
1441 Tabula super Senecam et Boetium de Consolat. et
de disciplina scholarium 1s. 8d.
James10, xxiv.
1442 One part of Lyra £3, 6s. 8d.
James10, xxiv.
1443 27 volumes bought from John Paston's Exors. for
King's Hall, Cambridge. £8, 17s. 4d.
1443 For an old book, Postillae super Lucam 2s.
James10, xxiv.
1443 Petrus de formâ dictandi. [Cf. 1395.] 1s. 8d.
Mun. Acad., 532
1445 Book of philosophy, cum tractatibus Alberti 13s. 4d.
James10, xxiv.
1445 Liber Sextus Decretalium, pledged for. [Cf. 1380, £1, et ob.
1423, 1451.]
Digestum Inforciatum, pledged for. [Cf. 1380, 3s. 4d.
* Mun. Acad., 543
{252}1449 Cicero, Rhetoric 3s. 4d.
James10, xxiv.
1451 Petrus de Palude [? in Sententiis] 2s.
Epistles of Seneca ad Lucilium 2s.
Gregory's Sermons 6s. 8d.
Plato, Timaeus 6d.
Digestum vetus. [Cf. 1380, 1423] 4s.
Liber Sextus Decretalium, cum glossa cardinali.
[Cf. 1380, 1445, 1423.] 5s.
Codex. [Cf. 1423.] 4s.
Bernardus Parmensis de Botone, Casus longus 5s.
Martial 1s.
Anselm, Cur Deus homo. [Cf. 1423.] 2s. 4d.
Decretals of Clement 3s. 4d.
Vetus liber Decretalium 1s. 4d.
* Mun. Acad., 609
1452 Isidore, Etymologies; Bede, Historia
Ecclesiastica 30s.
Augustine, de spiritu et anima, with
the Meditations of S. Bernard, and many
other contents 40s.
Guillelmus Parisiensis de virtutibus 20s.
Bartholomeus Anglicus [Bartholomew de Glanville]
de proprietatibus rerum 6s. 8d.
Pupilla oculi. [There were several books of this
title.] 20s.
Catholicon. [Cf. 1400.] £4
Polichronica 20s.
Historia Scholastica. [Cf. bef. 1300.] 5s.
Lombard's Sentences. [Cf. 1376, 1423.] 16s.
* Surtees Soc., xlv. 132-3
1453 Book by Wyclif 7s. 6d.
Book against Wyclif 3s. 6d.
More's book on Wyclif and other books £2, 2s. 0d.
Rogers, iv. 600
1455 Nicolaus de Gorham super Psalterium, pledged
for £1, 6s. 8d.
James10, xxiv.
1455 Gregory the Great's Works, 157 leaves £3, 6s. 8d.
Library (N. S.), viii. 172
1456 Avicenna, redeemed for £1, 6s. 4d.
James10, xxiv.
1457 Aegidius super Physica 16s. 8d.
James10, xxiv.
{253}1457 Aristotle de animalibus 5s. 6d.
James10, xxiv.
1459 A Holy Legend £10
Rogers, iv. 600
1462 Aristotle, Rhetor. Polit., etc. 8s. 5d.
James10, xxiv.
1462 Map of the world, bought for New College £5
Rogers, iv. 600
1467 Cicero, de Officiis and Ambrosius super eodem 6s.
James10, xxiv.
c. 1468 S. Augustine's Epistles £1, 13s. 4d.
Library (N.S.), viii. 172
1468 Richard Rolle's Meditatio de passione domini 4d.
*Surtees Soc., xlv. 163
1469 Jerome's Epistles £1
James10, xxiv.
1469 Vellum, writing, correcting, illuminating, and
binding a Lectionary in redskin, and cleaning
the book 64s. 3d.
Library, ii. (1890), 243
c. 1470 iij bokes of soffistre 1s. 8d.
A red boke with Hugucio and Papie £1
A boke of Seynt Thomas de Veritatibus 10s.
1 boke of xij chapetyrs of Lyncoln,
and a boke of Safistre 10s.
1 premere (primer?) 2s.
* Gairdner, Paston Letters, vi. 175, 177
1472 Thomas Aquinas, Tabula on works 5s. 4d.
James10, xxv.
1481 Alexander Aphrodisaeus, super libros de Anima £1, 13s. 4d.
Rogers, iv. 600-1
1502 Hugo de Vienna's works in 7 volumes [printed] £2, 6s. 4d.
Rogers, iv. 600-1
1509 A printed legende in paper de usu Saris coueryd
with white lether with ij short claspes of latyn 3s. 4d.
C. A. S. (N.S.), 8vo ser., iii. 361
{254}1509 A graile couered with white lether with ij long
claspes £4, 6s. 8d.
A graile couered with white lether having ij
longe claspes 53s. 4d.
A prikesong boke in parchement 13s. 4d.
C. A. S. (N.S.), 8vo ser., iii. 361
c. 1525 Cicero, de Officiis, bought by Thos. Linacre;
now B. M. Reg. 15 A vi. 8d.
James, 519
1531 4 hymnaria for the quire at ⅓ 5s.
Rogers, i. 600-1
1538 1 Statutes of the Kingdom 14s.
Polydore Vergil's history 6s. 8d.
Rogers, i. 600-1
1539 Giorgio della Valle [? Aristotle's Poetics] 10s.
Rogers, iv. 600-1
1540 Map of the World 4s. 0d.
Suidas in Greek [? printed ed. 1499] £1, 12s. 0d.
Erasmus on New Testament 9s.
Rogers, iv. 600-1
1542 Theophylact and Eustathius [? printed ed. 1542] £2, 2s. 0d.
Epiphanius 8s.
Rogers, iv. 600-1
Parchment for, writing, rubrishing and binding a
book called "Domyltone," also rubrishing
Heytesbury's Sophismata. ["Domyltone" was
perhaps one of John of Dumbleton's books] 15s. 4½d.
Hist. MSS., 2nd Rept., App. 129;
Bibliographica, iii. 148
Note.--Many prices of books at Winchester
College, temp. Henry VI will be found in
Archæol. Jour. xv. (1858) 62-74.
1346 For writing a Psalter with Kalendar 5s. 6d.
And a "placebo et dirige cum ympnario et
collectario" 4s. 3d.
Surtees Soc., xxxv. 165
1383-4 For writing Abbot Litlington's Missal during
two years £4
Robinson, 7-8
{255}1383-4 Livery for the scribe 20s.
For writing notes (musical notation) in Abbot
Litlington's Missal 3s. 4d.
Robinson, 7-8
1393 Writing 2 Graduals £4, 6s. 8d.
Surtees Soc., xxxv. 130
1397 For writing a Legenda of 34 "quires" 72s.
Surtees Soc., vii. xxvi-xxvii n.
15c. Writing 25 quires at 16d. 33s. 4d.
James3, 234
? 15 c. Writing per quire. 16d.
C. A. S. (N.S.), iii. 398
1430 N. de Lyra transcribed 100 marks
Warton, i. 187 n.
1467 Item, for wrytynge of a quare and demi ... prise
the quayr, xxd. 2s. 6d.
Item, for wrytenge of a calendar 12d.
Item, for notynge (musical notation) of v.
quayres and ij leves, prise of the
quayr, viij[d.] 3s. 7d.
Gairdner, Paston Letters, v. 4
1469 For writing a "litill booke of Pheesyk" 2d.
For writing "the tretys of Werre in iiij books,
which conteyneth lx levis aftir ijd. a leaff" 10s.
For writing "De Regimine Principum, which
conteyneth xlvti leves, aftir a peny a leef,
which is right wele worth" 3s. 9d.
*Gairdner, Paston Letters, v. 2-4
1469 For writing a Lectionary of 18 quires and 9 skins 28s. 4d.
Library, ii. (1890) 243
1374 Church of Norwich paid for illuminating a
Graduale and Consuetudinary £22, 9s.
Merryweather, 36n.
1383-4 For illumination of the large letters in Abbot
Litlington's Missal £22, 0s. 3d.
Robinson, 7-8
{256}1393 Illuminating 2 graduals £2
Surtees Soc., xxxv. 130
1395 Illuminating 3 graduals £2
Surtees Soc., xxxv. 130
1397 Illuminating and binding Legenda of 34 "quires" 30s.
Surtees Soc., vii. xxvi-xxvii n.
1445 Yearly wages of an illuminator at Oxford, four
marks, ten shillings
Mun. Acad., 551
1467 Sir John Howard paid Thomas Lympnour of
Bury St. Edmunds for illuminating, and other
For viij. hole vynets [or small miniatures]
prise the vynett, xijd 8s.
Item, for xxj. demi-vynets ... prise the
demi-vynett, iiijd. 7s.
Item, for Psalmes lettres xvc and di' ... the
prise of C. iiijd. [I.e., 1550 at 4d.
a hundred] 5s. 2d.
Item, for p'ms letters lxiijc ... prise of a
C., jd. 5s. 3d.
Item, for floryshynge of capytalls, vc 5d.
Gairdner, Paston Letters, v. 4
1469 For rubrishing a book 3s. 4d.
Gairdner, Paston Letters, v. 4
1469 Illuminating a Lectionary 13s. 6d.
Library, ii. (1890) 243
1383-4 Binding Abbot Litlington's Missal 21s.
Robinson, 7-8
1384-5 Covering a great Portiforium 3s. 2d.
Covering a book and making three silver clasps 5s. 8d.
Robinson, 8
1392 Binding seven books 4s. 0d.
O. H. S., 27, Boase, xlviii.
1395 Binding large gradual (York Cathedral) 10s.
Surtees Soc., xxxv. 130
? 15c. Binding (in white skin over wooden boards) 2s.
C. A. S. (N.S.), iii. 398
{257}1412-13 Stitching 67 books at 1½d. a book, with
13d. in addition 9s. 5½d.
Stitching covers of 52 books at 1d. 4s. 4d.
C. A. S. (N.S.), iv. 300-3
1428 Binding Bible in 2 vols. 5s. 3d.
Rogers, iv. 600
1467 Item, for byndynge of the boke [a Psalter or
other liturgical book] 12s.
Gairdner, Paston Letters, v. 4
1469 Binding a Lectionary in redskin, and correcting
the book 5s. 5d.
Library, ii. (1890) 243
Note.--For many prices for binding,
repairing, and chaining books, see
Bibliographical Society's Monograph 13,
p. 18-19.


A very large number of prices of vellum and parchment might be quoted. These will suffice: (1301) vellum per skin, 1¼d.; (1312-13) 6 doz. parchment, 8s. 8d.; (1358-59) 2 doz. parchment, 6s.; (1359-60) 2½ doz. parchment, 7s. 6d.; (1383-84) 13 doz. vellum, £4, 6s. 8d.; (1395) 12 parchment skins, 5s. 0d.; (1397) vellum per dozen skins, 4s. 6d.; (1412-13) vellum cost a dozen skins 2s. 10d.; (1412-13) 9 skins of parchment 13½d., and 6 skins of parchment, 16d.; (1467) 3 quires of vellum, 5s.; 17 quires for a Lectionary, 10s. 6d.

Skins for binding were sold in (1395) 1 deerskin, 3s. 2d.; (1397) 6 deerskins for processionals, 13s. 4d; (1412-13) 97 calfskins @ 4d. a skin, 82 sheepskins @ 3d., 3 sheepskins for 5d., 12 redskins @ 6d.; (1469) 1 redskin, 5d.{258}



THIS list is brief, but it should be long enough to show clearly what Greek and Latin authors were read in the Middle Ages, and to indicate roughly their comparative popularity. A note has been made of only one copy of a work found at a particular place at a certain time; often there were duplicates, sometimes many copies: for example, consult Appendix C, under date c. 1170.

The following abbreviations are used: August. Fr. York = Augustinian Friary, York; C. U. L. = Cambridge University Library; Cant. Coll. = Canterbury College, Oxford; Ch. Ch. C. = Christ Church, Canterbury; Durh. = Durham Priory; Lanthony = Lanthony Priory, nr. Gloucester; Ox. U. L. = Oxford University Library; S. Cath. H. = S. Catharine’s College; Rochester = S. Andrew’s Priory, Rochester; S. Aug. C. = S. Augustine’s Monastery, Canterbury; S. Mart. Dov. = S. Martin’s Priory, Dover. Other abbreviations are self-explanatory.

Aeschines.Orations (1443, Ox. U. L.).

Aristotle.—(8 cent., York; 1248, Glastonbury; 1315, Durh.; c. 1387, New Coll.; 1418, Peterhouse). Organon (c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 1202, Rochester; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1372, August. Fr. York; c. 1385, Pembr. Coll.; 1389, S. Mart. Dov.; 1391 and 1395, Durh.; 1435 and 1473, C. U. L.; 1452, King’s Coll. Camb.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1524, Cant. Coll.; c. 1526, Syon). Topica (bef. 13 cent., Reading; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1387, Exeter Coll.; 1448, Hospital of S. Mary within Cripplegate, London). De Sophisticis elenchis (bef. 13 cent., Reading). Natural sciences (1274, Peterborough; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 14 cent., Ramsey; 1435 and 1473, C. U. L.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C., de nova translacione; 1524, Cant. Coll.; c. 1526, Syon). Physica (c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 14 cent., Ramsey; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1391 and 1395, Durh.; 1435, C. U. L.; 1452, King’s Coll. Camb.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1508, Ch. Ch. C.; 1524, Cant. Coll.). Meteorologica (1435 and 1473, C. U. L.). Historia animalium (c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C., de animalibus; 1372, August. Fr. York, de animalibus; 1389, S. Mart. Dov., de natura animalium; 1473, C. U. L.; 1520, Wm. Grocyn, de animalibus). De generatione animalium (c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1443, Ox. U. L.). De anima (c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1439, Ox. U. L.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1524, Cant. Coll.; c. 1526, Syon). Metaphysica (c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1372, August.{259} Fr. York; 1452, King’s Coll. Camb.; 1473, C. U. L.; 1487, Pembr. Coll.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1524, Cant. Coll.; c. 1526, Syon). Ethica (c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1387, Exeter Coll.; 1391, Durh.; 1428, Pembr. Coll.; 1439, Ox. U. L.; 1452, King’s Coll. Camb.; 1473, C. U. L.; 1475, S. Cath. H.; 1487, Pembr. Coll.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1508, Ch. Ch. C.; 1524, Cant. Coll., noviter translatus; c. 1526, Syon). Magna Moralia (1487, Pembr. Coll.; c. 1526, Syon). Politica (c. 1428, Pembr. Coll.; 1439, Ox. U. L.; 1452, King’s Coll. Camb.; 1487, Pembr. Coll.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1508, Ch. Ch. C.; 1524, Cant. Coll.; c. 1526, Syon). Rhetorica (c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1475, S. Cath. H.; 1487, Pembr. Coll.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1508, Ch. Ch. C.; 1524, Cant. Coll.; c. 1526, Syon). Problemata (1435 and 1473, C. U. L.; 1520, Wm. Grocyn; c. 1526, Syon). Oeconomica (1372, August. Fr. York).

Caesar.Commentaries (1443, Ox. U. L.; 1452, King’s Coll. Camb.; 1520, Wm. Grocyn).

Cicero.—(8 cent., York; 1439, Ox. U. L., Opera viginti duo in magno volumine; 1520, Wm. Grocyn, Opera omnia). Epistolae (1480, Bp. Shirwood; 1498, Coll. of Bishop Auckland; 1524, Cant. Coll.; 1439, Ox. U. L., 1520, Wm. Grocyn, and c. 1526, Syon, ad familiares; 1439, Ox. U. L., ad Quintum). Orationes (beg. 14 cent., Lanthony, in Catilinam; 1439, Ox. U. L.; 1474, Bp. Shirwood; 1478, Balliol Coll.; 1500, Jesus Coll., Rotherham; 1520, Wm. Grocyn; 1372, August. Fr. York, Tullii invectivarum; 1391, Durh.; 1439, Ox. U. L.; and 1520, Wm. Grocyn, Philippics; 1439, Ox. U. L., in Verrem). De Senectute (c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 1180, Whitby; 12 cent., Durh.; 1217-18, Evesham; 1248, Glastonbury; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; c. 1400, Meaux; 1418, Peterhouse; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; c. 1526, Syon. Frequently found). De Legibus (12 cent., Durh.). De Officiis (1202, Rochester; beg. 14 cent., Lanthony; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1418, Peterhouse; 1439, Ox. U. L.; 1475, S. Cath. H.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; c. 1526, Syon). De Republica (Somnium Scipionis (c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 14 cent., Ramsey; 1418, Peterhouse;? 1482, Leicester; c. 1526, Syon). De Amicitia (c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 1180, Whitby; 1195, Durh.; 1217-18, Evesham; 1248, Glastonbury; beg. 14 cent., Lanthony; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1391, Durh.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; c. 1526, Syon—one of the commonest of classic works in the M.A.). Paradoxa (1217-18, Evesham; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1391, Durh.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; c. 1526, Syon). Tusculanae disputationes (beg. 14 cent., Lanthony; 1418, Peterhouse; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1524, Cant. Coll.; 1526, Syon). De Inventione (Rhetorica) (c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 12 or 13 cent., Bury; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1391, Durh.; 1439, Ox. U. L.; 1452, King’s Coll. Camb.; 1458, S. Paul’s; 1473, C. U. L.;? 1482, Leicester; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1524, Cant. Coll.; c. 1526, Syon, nova rhetorica). De Oratore (1477, Bp. Shirwood). Topica (c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.). De Natura Deorum (c. 1526, Syon). De Finibus (1472, Bp. Shirwood).

Gellius.Noctes Atticae (c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1391, Durh.; 1439, Ox. U. L.; 1476, Bp. Shirwood; 1520, Wm. Grocyn; c. 1526, Syon).

Homer.”—(12 cent., Durh.; 1180, Whitby). Iliad (c. 1526, Syon).

Horace.—(c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 12 or 13 cent., Bury; bef. 13 cent., Reading;{260} 1202, Rochester; 1248, Glastonbury; beg. 14 cent., Lanthony; 14 cent., Ramsey; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1452, King’s Coll. Camb.; c. 1480, Bp. Shirwood;? 1482, Leicester; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1500, Jesus Coll., Rotherham; c. 1526, Syon). Epistles (bef. 13 cent., Reading; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1389, S. Mart. Dov.).

Juvenal.c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 1180, Whitby; 12 cent., Durh.; 12 or 13 cent., Bury; bef. 13 cent., Reading; 1217-18, Evesham; 1248, Glastonbury; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1389, S. Mart. Dov.; 1391, Durh.; 1487, Bp. Shirwood; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1520, Wm. Grocyn; c. 1526, Syon.

Livy.—(1248, Glastonbury; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1443, Ox. U. L.; 1475, Bp. Shirwood; 1508, Ch. Ch. C.; 1520, Wm. Grocyn; c. 1526, Syon, epitome by Florus).

Lucan.—(8 cent., York; c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 12 cent., Durh.; 1202, Rochester; 1217-18, Evesham; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; beg. 14 cent., Lanthony; 14 cent., Ramsey; 1389, S. Mart. Dov.; 1418, Peterhouse; 1473, C. U. L.;? 1482, Leicester; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1524, Cant. Coll.; c. 1526, Syon).

Lucretius.De Rerum natura (1520, Wm. Grocyn).

Martial.—(12 cent., Peterboro’; 14 cent., Ramsey; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1372, August. Fr. York, Epigrammata marcii valerii, libri 15; c. 1400, Meaux; 1418, Peterhouse; 1451, Henry Calder, vicar of Cookfield; 1476, Bp. Shirwood).

Ovid.—(c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 12 cent., Durh.; beg. 14 cent., Lanthony; 1202, Rochester, Ovidius magnus; 14 cent., Ramsey; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.;? 1482, Leicester). Ars amatoria (12 cent., Durh.; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1500, Jesus Coll., Rotherham). Remedia Amoris (12 cent., Durh.; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1438, T. Cooper, a scholar of Oxford; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1500, Jesus Coll., Rotherham). Mendicamina faciei (c. 1497, S. Aug. C.). Metamorphoses (1372, August. Fr. York; 1389, S. Mart. Dov.; 1443, Ox. U. L.; 1452, King’s Coll. Camb.; 1470, Pembr. Coll.; 1473, C. U. L.;? 1482, Leicester, de mirabilibus mundi; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1500, Jesus Coll., Rotherham; c. 1526, Syon). Fasti (12 cent., Durh.; 1202, Rochester; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1389, S. Mart. Durh.; 1418, Peterhouse; 1443, Ox. U. L.). Tristia (c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 12 cent., Durh.; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1389, S. Mart. Dov.; 1418, Peterhouse; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.). Ibis (c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 12 cent., Durh.; 1372, August. Fr. York; c. 1400, Meaux; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.). Heroides (1372, August. Fr. York). Ex Ponto (c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 12 cent., Durh.; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1391, Durh.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.).

Persius—(c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 1180, Whitby; 12 cent., Durh.; 1202, Rochester; 1248, Glastonbury; beg. 14 cent., Lanthony; 1520, Wm. Grocyn).

Plato—(1180, Whitby; bef. 13 cent., Reading; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1389, S. Mart. Dov.; 1439, Ox. U. L.;? 1482, Leicester; c. 1526, Syon). Timaeus (c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 12 cent., Durh.; 1248, Glastonbury; beg. 14 cent., Lanthony; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1372, August Fr. York; 1418, Peterhouse; 1451, Hy. Caldey, vicar of Cookfield; 1478, Balliol Coll., new translation; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.). Republic (1443, Ox. U. L., new translation; 1452, King’s Coll., Camb.; 1475, S. Cath. H.). Euthyphro (1478, Balliol Coll., new translation).{261}

Plautus—12 or 13 cent., Bury [James1, 27]; beg. 14 cent., Lanthony, Aulularia; 1481, Bp. Shirwood; 1520, Wm. Grocyn.

Pliny the Elder—(8 cent., York; 1126-71, Glastonbury, de naturali historia; 12 or 13 cent., Bury; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C., Prima pars Plinii, et secunda pars; 1418, Peterhouse, Hist. nat.; 1439, Ox. U. L., Plinius de naturis rerum; 1443, Ox. U. L., Physica; 1464, Bp. Shirwood; 1520, Wm. Grocyn; c. 1526, Syon). Extracts, Medicina Plinii (c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C., Liber Plinii junioris [sic] de diversis medicinis).

Pliny the Younger.Letters (1443, Ox. U. L.).

Plutarch.Vitae (1480, Bp. Shirwood, printed, Latin; 1520, Wm. Grocyn).

Quintilian.Institutio oratoria (12 cent., Durh.; c. 1290, the La Fytes, scholars at Oxford; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1326-35, S. Albans; 1389, S. Mart. Dov.; 1391, Durh.; 1418, Peterhouse; 1439, Ox. U. L.; 1475, S. Cath. H.; 1478, Balliol Coll.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.)

Sallust—(c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 12 cent. Durh.; 1202, Rochester; 1248, Glastonbury; beg. 14 cent., Lanthony; c. 1400, Meaux; 1418, Peterhouse). Bella (12 cent., Bury; 1452, King’s Coll. Camb., de bello Cat.; 1500, Jesus Coll., Rotherham; c. 1526, Syon). Seneca the Youngerc. 1170, Peterboro’; 1260-9, S. Albans; 12 cent., Durh.; 14 cent., Ramsey; 1478, Balliol Coll.; 1520, Wm. Grocyn). Opera (c. 1497, S. Aug. C.). De Beneficiis (c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1395, Durh.; c. 1400, Meaux; 1418, Peterhouse). De Clementia (c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1395, Durh.; 1418, Peterhouse; 1458, S. Paul’s). Epistolae morales (12 cent., Peterboro’; 12 or 13 cent., Bury; bef. 13 cent., Reading; 13 cent., Rievaulx; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1395, Durh.; c. 1400, Meaux; 1418, Peterhouse; 1451, Hy. Caldey, vicar of Cookfield; 1452, King’s Coll., Camb.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.). Naturales quaestiones (1418, Peterhouse; 1458, S. Paul’s). Tragædiae (1372, August. Fr. York; 1439, Ox. U. L.; 1452, King’s Coll., Camb.; c. 1480, Bp. Shirwood). Innumerable.

Statius—(8 cent., York; 1180, Whitby; 12 or 13 cent., Bury; 1389, S. Mart. Dov.; c. 1526, Syon). Thebais (c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 12 cent., Durh.; 1418, Peterhouse; 1479, Bp. Shirwood). Achilleis (c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 12 cent., Durh.; 1372, August Fr. York; 1452, King’s Coll. Camb.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.). Silvae (1478 Bp. Shirwood).

Suetonius.De Vita Caesarum (12 or 13 cent., Bury; 1126-71, Glastonbury; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1372, August. Fr. York; c. 1400, Meaux; 1443, Ox. U. L.; 1458, S. Paul’s; 1476, Bp. Shirwood; 1508, New Coll.; 1520, Wm. Grocyn; c. 1526, Syon).

Tacitus.De Oratoribus (1520, Wm. Grocyn; 1526, Syon).

Terence—(12 cent., Durh.; 12 cent., Peterboro’; 12 or 13 cent., Bury; c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C.; 1202, Rochester; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; beg. 14 cent., Lanthony; 14 cent., Ramsey; 1326-35, S. Albans; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1389, S. Mart. Dov.; 1391, Durh.; 1443, Ox. U. L.; 1471, Bp. Shirwood; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1500, Jesus Coll., Rotherham; c. 1530, Wells Cath.).

Trogus, Pompeius—(8 cent., York; 1095, Durh.; 12 cent., Durh.; 1391, Durh.; 1443, Ox. U. L.; 1465, Bp. Shirwood).

Valerius Maximus.Facta et dicta memorabilia (13 cent., Bury; 1391,{262} Durh.; 1418, Peterhouse; 1420-40, S. Albans; 1452, King’s Coll. Camb.; 1520, Wm. Grocyn; c. 1526, Syon).

Varro.De Lingua Latina (1443, Ox. U. L.; c. 1526, Syon).

Virgil—(8 cent., York; 12 or 13 cent., Bury; 12 cent., Durh.; c. 1150, Lincoln Cath.; c. 1170, Ch. Ch. C., Virgilius totus; 14 cent., Ramsey; 1326-35, S. Albans;? 1482, Leicester; c. 1526, Syon, Opera). Bucolics (12 cent., Durh.; 1180, Whitby; bef. 13 cent., Reading; 1202, Rochester; 1248, Glastonbury; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1389, S. Mart. Dov.; 1391, Durh.; 1418, Peterhouse; 1452, King’s Coll. Camb., Virgilius in bucolicis cum ceteris; 1458, S. Paul’s; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.). Georgics (12 cent., Durh.; bef. 13 cent., Reading; 1202, Rochester; 1248, Glastonbury; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1391, Durh.; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.). Aeneid (1202, Rochester; 1248, Glastonbury; c. 1300, Ch. Ch. C.; 1372, August. Fr. York; 1391, Durh.; 1418, Peterhouse; c. 1497, S. Aug. C.; 1524, Cant. Coll.).


In compiling the above list use has been made of Bateson; Becker; Bradshaw; C.A.S.; Chron. Mon. de Melsa, iii.; Dugdale, Hist. of S. Paul’s; E.H.R. iii.; James; James1; James2; James9; James10; Mun. Acad.; Robinson; Sur. Soc. vii.; Archaeologia Cantiana; Fasciculus Ioanni Willis Clark dicatus (art. by Dr. M. R. James), and other works.{263}



Note.—This list aims (i) to bring together in brief form a number of records which are better removed from the main text of this book, and (ii) to present in chronological order facts carefully selected to show the variety of medieval libraries, in size and character.

Date Description Source
778 Alcuin’s library at York. Aristotle, Alcuin, De Pont.
Virgil, Lucan, Statius, Cicero, Eccle. Ebor.,
Aldhelm, Bede, etc. 1535-61; Becker,
10 c. Books given to Peterborough by Dugdale, i. 382.
Ethelwold. Bede in Marcum, Liber
Miraculorum, Expositio Hebraeorum
nominum, De Literis Graecorum, etc.
About 20.
10 c. King Athelstan gave some nine books to B. M. Cott., A 1.
S. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury: viii. fo. 56b;
Persius, Isidore, Bede (?), etc. James, lxix.
c. 1034 “Many” books on theology and grammar Chron. Abb. de E.
given to Evesham Abbey by Bp. (Rolls S.), 83.
1045 Two books bequeathed to Glastonbury Wm. of Malm., De
by Bp. Brithwold. Ant. Glaston.,
Wharton, Angl.
Sacra (1691), i.
c. 1060 At St. Peter’s Exeter books given by Dugdale, ii. 527.
Bp. Leofric; Exeter Book, Leofric
Missal, etc.
1077-93 Church books given to S. Albans by Gesta ... S.
Abbot Paul. Albani, i. 58.
1078-99 Bp. Osmund collected and wrote books W. of Malm., Gesta
for Old Sarum Church. Pont., 183.
c. 1080 Abbot Walter made many books for Chron. Abb. de E.
Evesham. (Rolls S.), 97.
1095 Bp. William de Carilef gave about 52 Surtees Soc., vii.
books to Durham [not Lindisfarne, as 117-8; Becker, 172.
in Becker].
12 c. Nearly 370 pieces at Durham Priory: Surtees Soc., vii.
Quintilian, Plato’s Timaeus, 1-10.
Sallust, Cicero (de Legibus, de
Amic., de Senectute), Terence,
Virgil, Ovid (Epp., Tristia, Ars
amandi, Remedia amoris de Fastis),
Lucan, Juvenal; grammar, rhetoric,
arithmetic, geometry, medicine; some
English books.
12 c. At Burton-on-Trent Abbey, after 1175, B. M. Add. MS. 23944,
there were 78 vols. Incl. Augustine, fo. 157;
Gregory, Bede, Anselm, etc. Zentralblatt,
ix. 201-3.
12 c. Catalogue of 68 pieces belonging MS. Bodley, 163, f.
probably to one of the great 261; Becker, 216.
Southern abbeys.
1104 Abbot Peter gave many books to Hist. et cart. mon.
Gloucester Abbey. Glouc., i. xxiv.
1119-46 Abbot Geoffrey gave church books to S. Gesta ... S. Alb.,
Albans. i. 94.
1126-71 At Glastonbury Abbot Henry had 54 Adam de Domerham,
books transcribed, incl. Pliny’s Hist., ed. Hearne
Nat. Hist., Suetonius De Vita (1727), ii. 317-18;
Caesarum, Gesta Britonum, Gesta Hearne, Hist. and
Anglorum. Ant. of G. (1722)
1130 Abbot Reginald acquired for church of Chron. Abb. de E.
Evesham Ab. books and ornaments. 99.
1150 Hugh of Leicester gave books to Lincoln Girald. Cambrensis
Cath. 42 vols. and map of world in (Rolls Ser.), vii.
library now; 31 added soon after. 165.
Some parts of Bible given by Bp.
Alexander; 9 books given by Bp.
Chesney. Library included Augustine,
Gregory, Bede, Ambrose, Jerome,
Virgil, Vegetius (de re Militari).
c. 1170 Over 223 volumes in Christ Church, James, 7.
Canterbury: catalogue, which is but a
fragment, contains books of grammar,
rhetoric, music, arithmetic, poetry,
logic, astronomy, geometry--Donatus
in Greek, Donatus in English,
Cicero’s Rhetoric, de Senectute,
de Amicitia (2), Plato’s Timaeus,
Terence (5 volumes), Sallust (8
volumes), Virgil (8 volumes), Horace
(8), Lucan (5), Statius (6), Juvenal
(4) Persius (9), Cato (2), Ovid (5).
c. 1177 Nearly 80 books in Peterboro’ Hist. Angl.
Abbey--Seneca, Terence, Martial. Script. Varii
[Sparke], 98-9;
96-97; Becker,
c. 1180 74 pieces in Whitby Abbey--42 theology, Becker, 226.
15 history: Cicero (de Amicitia,
de Senectute), Homer, Juvenal,
Plato, Sedulius, Statius, Virgil?
(Bucolica), Persius, etc.
1184 Bp. Bartholomew left books to church at B.M. Cotton Roll.
Crediton and to another church. II., 11 (at end).
12 or 13 c. At Bury S. Edmunds Abbey there was James1, 23.
a fair library at this period;
including average number of classics.
13 c. Before this Reading Abbey had 228 E. H. R. (1888),
volumes--Seneca, Aristotle, Virgil, 117-23.
Juvenal; Gesta R. Henrici secundi,
Ystoria Rading, Hist. Anglorum.
13 c. At Lanthony there were 486 volumes, B. M. Harl. MS.
including Plato, Plautus, Cicero, 460, ff. 3-11;
Sallust, Persius, Ovid, Lucan, Zentralblatt,
Horace, Terence. ix. 207-22.
13 c. Prior John de Marcle gave 6 treatises Chron. Abb. de E.
on law to Evesham Abbey. (Rolls Ser.), xxii
13 c. At Leominster church, a dependency of E. H. R. (1888),
Reading Abbey, 130 books: Rotula 123-5.
cum vita sancti Guthlaci anglice
scripta, Medicinalis unus anglicis
litteris scriptus, Liber qui
appellatur landboc.
13 c. At Rievaulx there was a large library James9, 45-56.
of the usual medieval character:
incl. Seneca, Justinian.
13 c. Flexley or Dene Abbey owned 79 Zentralblatt, ix.
volumes: incl. three English books. 205-07.
c. 1200 About 46 writers used as authorities by R. de Diceto, Op.
Ralph of Diss for his Abbreviationes Hist. i. 20.
1202 At S. Andrew’s Priory, Rochester, there Archæologia
were about 280 volumes, many including Cantiana, iii.
several distinct treatises. Scriptures, 47-64 (1860).
liturgical and devotional books,
Fathers, schoolmen, philosophical and
medical treatises, grammatical works:
Horace, Virgil, Sallust, Terence,
Persius, Lucan, Ovid, Aristotle’s
Organon, Cicero.
1208 Eight books presented to King John by Sussex Archæol.
the sacristan of Reading, all scriptural Collections, ii.
and theological. (1849), 134-5.
1222 Peterborough receives 7 books, incl. Dugdale, i. 354.
2 Psalters, from Abbot R. de
1215 At Glastonbury, 14 or 15 books were Adam de Domerham,
written for Prior Thomas: books of Hist. ed. Hearne
the Bible, missals. (1727), ii. 441.
1217-18 Prior Thos. de Marleberge gave a “large Chron. Abb. de E.
collection”--including law, medicine, (Rolls Ser.), 267.
philosophy, poetry, theology, grammar;
Cicero (de Amicitia, de Senectute,
Paradoxa), Lucan, Juvenal--to Evesham
1226 At Peterborough a dozen books were Dugdale, i. 354.
left by Abbot Alex. de Holdernesse.
1245 At Peterborough about 20 books, ordinary Ibid., i. 355.
in character, were left by Abbot Walter
de St. Edmund.
c. 1240 Bp. Ralph of Maidstone gave service
books and a Legend to Hereford
1245 35 vols. at St. Paul’s Cathedral; ordinary Archæologia, I.
medieval character. 496.
1247-48 At Glastonbury there were nearly 500 Joh. Glaston,
books. Incl. much theology, chronicles, Chron., ed.
classics. Aristotle, Livy, Sallust, Hearne (1726), II.
Virgil, Cicero, Plato, Persius, Horace, 423-44.
1249 Peterborough receives 5 books from Dugdale, i. 356.
Abbot Wm. de Hotot.
1253 Richard de Wyche, Bp. of Chichester, Sussex Archæol.
left a number of books to the Coll., i. (1848)
friars: chiefly glossed books of 168-187.
the Bible, a glossed psalter, the
Sentences, etc.
c. 1255 John of Basingstoke imports Greek MSS. Gasquet3, 158-59;
from Athens. Stevenson, 224, 227.
1258-59 Prior Jno. of Worcester gave a number Chron. Abb. de E.
of books to Evesham Abbey. Grammar, (Rolls Ser.), xxii
logic, physics, theology, canon and n.
civil law.
1259 Master of Sherborne Hospital left Surtees Soc., ii. 6.
church books, and a liber phisica
to the Hospital.
1260-90 Many books, including Seneca, given to Gesta ... S. Alb.,
S. Albans by Abbot Roger. i. 483.
1262 Peterborough receives 5 books from Dugdale, i. 356.
Abbot J. de Kaleto. Incl. .
Testamentum xii Patriarcharum.
1266 Roger de Thoris gave books to Grey Oliver, Mon. D.
Friars’ Convent, Exeter. Exon. (1846),
1274 Abbot R. de Sutton left some 17 books Dugdale, i. 357
to Peterborough. Incl. psalters,
canon law, liber Naturalium
1295 Abbot R. de London leaves 10 books to Dugdale, i. 357.
Peterborough. Boëthius de
Consolatione philosophiae, Nova
logica, psalters, etc.
1280-1303 Bp. Richard of Gravesend. Over 100 Misc. of Philobiblon
volumes, worth about £100. S. 1856; Edwards,
i. 373.
1285-1331 Library of about 1850 volumes now at James, 13-142.
Christ Ch., Canterbury. A fine
collection. Many classics. English
books: Genesis Anglice depicta,
Boëthius de Consolatione,
Herbarius Anglice depictus, Chronica
vetustissima, Chronica Latine et
Anglice, etc.
1287-1345 Richard of Bury owned a large library. R. de B., passim.
1290 John of Taunton added 40 works to Joh. Glast. Hist.,
Glastonbury Library. Ordinary. ed. Hearne (1726),
ii. 251-52; A. de
Domerham, Hist.,
ii. 574-75.
1295 13 Gospels and other parts of the
Scriptures, and a commentary of
Aquinas at S. Paul’s Cathedral.
1299 Abbot W. de Wodeforde left 18 books to Dugdale, i. 358.
Peterborough. Liturgical, theological,
and law.
1299-1300 Edward I. owned a few books; including Edwards, i. 391.
book of romance.
Late 13 c. Galfridus de Lawað, rector of the church James10, 158.
S. Magnus, London, had 49 books.
Canon law, grammar, logic, medicine,
14 c. More than 600 books and 170 service Chron. Abb. Ram.,
books in Ramsey Abbey. Aristotle, 356 (Rolls Ser.).
Plato (Timaeus), Greek Psalters,
Ars Loquendi Linguam Graecam, Greek
and Latin Psalter; Virgil, Ovid,
Martial, Terence, Lucan, Prudentius,
Seneca; French Bible, three Hebrew
books, Hebrew Psalter, two parts of
Hebrew Bible, Liber expositionum
dictionum Hebraicum, glossary of
Hebrew Bible, Expositio nominum
Hebraeorum, Interpretationes
Hebraicorum, Ars loquendi et
intelligendi in Lingua Hebraica.
14 c. Small and unimportant collection at St. Oliver, Mon. D.
Andrews Priory, Tywardreath. Exon., 36.
14 c. Richard of Stowe gave to St. Peter’s, B. M. Harl. MS.,
Gloucester, 7 vols., including 627, fo. 8 a.
Boëthius de Consolatione P.
14 c. John de Bruges wrote 33 books, ordinary Hearne, Hist. and
in character, for Coventry Priory. Ant. Glast., App.
Incl. Palladius, de Agricultura. 291-93 (1722);
Dugdale, iii. 186.
14 c. 23 books at Deeping Priory, Dugdale, iv. 167.
Lincolnshire: including Gesta
14 c. About 350 vols. at Peterboro’: including Gunton, Hist. of Ch.
Aristotle, Cicero, Virgil, Ovid, of Peterboro’
Seneca, Sallust; a good deal in French. (1686), 173-224.
1300 Bp. Bek had a number of books which he Surtees Soc., vii.
refused to return to the Prior of 121-22.
Durham; included Historia Anglorum,
and Liber qui vocatur Liber S.
Cuthberti, in quo secreta Domus
1313 15 works, chiefly theological, beq. by Hist. MSS., 9th Rep.,
Bp. Baldock to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Pt. i. 46a.
1315 Church books and Bibles in Christ Dart, Cath. of Cant.
Church, Canterbury (list). (1726), App. vi.,
1315 Guy de Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, left Todd, Ill. of Lives of
books to Bordesley Abbey: French Gower and Chaucer
romances, etc. (1810), 161, 162;
Merryweather, 193-4;
Edwards, i. 375-6.
1315 Some 40 volumes at Durham College, O. H. S., 32,
Oxford; sent from Durham. Chiefly Collect. 36.
theology; Aristotle.
1321 Abbot Godfrey de Croyland left about Dugdale, i. 358-59.
a dozen books to Peterborough.
Theology, law, etc.
1322 Abbot Walter of Taunton gave 7 volumes Williams, 81.
to Glastonbury.
1325 A small collection of church books at Surtees Soc., ii. 22.
St. Edmund’s Hospital, Gateshead.
1327 Abingdon Abbey had 100 Psalters, 100 Ibid., vii. xxxiii.
Graduals, 40 Missals; 22 codices,
probably not church books.
1327 About 230 volumes at Exeter. Civil and Oliver, Lives of Bps. of
canon law, theology. E., 301-10.
1327 Bp. Cobham bequeathed his books and Mun. Acad., i. 227.
350 marks to found common library at
1331 Prior Henry Eastry bequeathed 80 books James, 143.
to Christ Church, Canterbury--26
theology, 29 canon law, 14 civil law,
11 church books.
1335 Abbot Adam de Sodbury gave 7 vols. to Joh. Glaston. Hist., ed.
Glastonbury. Hearne (1726), 265.
1335 4 books given and 32 sold to Richard of Gesta ... S. Alb., ii.
Bury from S. Albans Abbey. 200.
1335-49 Books given to S. Albans by Abbot Ibid., ii. 363.
1336 Bp. Stephen Gravesend bequeathed books Lyte, 181.
to four colleges, Merton, University,
Balliol, Oriel.
1337 93 books missing at Christ Church, James, 146.
Canterbury. Many books of offices;
includes Brutus in French.
1338 Abbot Adam de Botheby left about a Dugdale, i. 360.
dozen books on canon law, theology,
and liturgical books to Peterborough.
1343 Hinton Priory lent about 23 books to Hunter, 17;
another house--Gospels, homilies, lives Surtees Soc.,
of saints, etc. vii. xxxviii.
1345 (6) Over 50 volumes in Lichfield Cathedral--all W. Salt Arch. S.
church books, except 2 martyrologies, vi., pt. 2,
4 quires of lives of saints, and Sacrist’s roll,
De gestis Anglorum. St. Chad’s Gospels. 211.
1349-96 Abbot Thomas’ study or library at St. Gesta ... S.
Albans enlarged; many books added. Alb., iii, 389;
cf. ii. 399.
1350 Trinity Hall, Cambridge, receives 84 C. A. S. (1864),
vols. from founder, Dr. Bateman: ii. 73-78; Clark,
Canon law (32), civil law (10), theology 138.
(28), chapel books (14).
1353 Abbot de Morcote left some 11 books to Dugdale, i. 360.
Peterborough: Canon law, a Catholicon.
1355 Elizabeth de Clare bequeathed to Clare Edwards, i. 374.
Hall, a few books: including Hugutio.
1358 John Trevaur, Bp. of St. Asaph. Chiefly B. M. Add. MS.
ecclesiastical books. 25459, fo. 291.
1358 Thomas de la Mare, wealthy canon of Surtees Soc.,
York, owned some six law books. iv. 69.
1360 Bp. Grandisson of Exeter appears to have
owned a good library. He gave 4
books to Exeter; Aquinas’ works to
Black Friars of Exeter; 1 to Windsor
Chapel; remainder to his Chapter, to
the collegiate churches of Ottery,
Crediton, and Boseham, and Exeter
College, Oxford. His copy of Anselm’s
Letters is now in Brit. Mus.
1361 Peterborough received 7 books from Dugdale, i. 361.
Abbot Robt. Ramsey. Canon law.
1362 A small collection, nearly all church Surtees Soc., xii.,
books, at Coldingham Priory. App. xl.
1368 Simon of Bredon bequeathed books to six Hist. MSS., 9th
Oxford Colleges. Rept., pt. i., 46.
1370 A Chaplain (Adam de Stanton) left 4 Cam. Soc., Bury
books, including one of romance. wills (1850), 1.
1372 At York the Friars Eremites of S. Fasciculus J. W.
Augustine owned 646 books. Bibles Clark dicatus,
and glossed books of Bible, Greek 2-96.
Psalter, patristic and later church
writers (91), logic and philosophy
(100), astronomy and astrology (36),
civil law (14), canon law (35),
grammar and Latin poets (50),
medicine (22), sermons (42),
arithmetic, music, geometry,
1374 Archbp. W. Whittlesey bequeathed his Hook, Archbps., iv.
library to Peterhouse. 242-43.
1375 Nearly 100 volumes at Oriel College, O. H. S. 5,
Oxford; half the collection theology Collect., i. 66.
and philosophy; translations of
1376 116 books bequeathed to Westminster Robinson, 5-7.
Abbey by Simon Langham, Archbp.
of Canterbury. Valued at 1121 francs
and 14 shillings. Chiefly theology.
1377-1400 In the Royal Chapel of Windsor Castle Dugdale, vi., pt. 3,
34 books were chained up, incl. 1362.
Catholicon, Hugutio, Legenda Aurea,
French romances, one “Romaunce de
two la Rose, et alius difficilis
materiae.” Also liturgical and
Scriptural books.
1378 Sir John de Foxle left a large missal Archæol. Cantiana,
and a few service books. iii. 267; Archæol.
Jour., xv. (1858),
1378 Thos. de Farnylaw, Chancellor of York, Surtees Soc., iv.
left Bible and concordances to St. 102-03.
Nicholas’ Church, Newcastle; a book
of sermons to Embleton Church; other
books to Vicar of Waghen; others to
Merton and Balliol.
1379 Wm. de Feriby, canon of York, archd. Ibid., iv. 103-04.
of Cleveland. “Item lego ad novam
fabricam Ecclesiae Ebor. xx marcas et
omnes libros, qui fuerint domini mei
domini Willielmi de Melton.” Several
law books specifically mentioned.
c. 1380 Bp. Reed left many manuscripts to O. H. S., 32,
Merton College. Collect. 214.
1387 William of Wykeham furnished New Ibid., 223.
College with over 240 books--135
(138) theology, 28 philosophy, 41 canon
law, 36 civil law.
c. 1387 52 books added to New College by somebody Ibid., 223.
unnamed: 37 medicine.
c. 1387 63 books given to New College by Bp. Ibid., 223.
Reed: 58 theology, 2 philosophy, 3
canon law.
1387 Sir Simon Burley owned a few romances. B. M. Add. MS.
25459, fo. 206.
1387 Hy. Whitefield left books and money to O. H. S., 27,
buy books for Exeter College, and Boase, 7.
Burley on logic and Aristotle’s Ethica
and Topica were bought and chained
up in library.
1389 450 volumes at S. Martin’s Priory, James, xc. 407.
Dover--Bibles, theology, civil and canon
law, logic, philosophy, rhetoric,
medicine, chronicles, romances (le
Romonse du roy Charles, le Romonse de
Athys, le Romonse de la Rose, etc.),
grammar, dictionaries. Plato, Aristotle,
poetry, Horace, Statius, Ovid, Virgil,
Juvenal, Terence, Lucan.
1389-1435 John, Duke of Bedford, bought portion of Delisle, Le Cabinet
French Royal Library. des manuscrits.
c. 1390 14 books given to Evesham Abbey by Chron. Abb. de E.
John de Brymesgrave, sacrist. (Rolls Ser.),
xxii n.; Dugdale,
ii. 7 n.
c. 1390 96 books given to Evesham Abbey by Chron. Abb. de E.
Prior Nich. Herford; not the Lollard (Rolls Ser.),
of this name. xxii n.
1391 Peterborough received 8 books, incl. Dugdale, i. 361.
Catholicon, from Abbot Henry de
1391 508 volumes in common case within Surtees Soc.,
spendiment and in inner room of vii. 10-39.
spendiment at Durham Priory--Bibles,
theology, logic, philosophy, medicine,
grammar, law. Seneca, Cicero,
Quintilian, Valerius Maximus, Palladius
(de Agricultura), A. Gellius, Juvenal,
Terence, Virgil, Ovid, Aristotle.
1391 The Rector of Adell Church, Thos. de Ibid., iv. 156.
Halton, left 5 books of canon law.
1391 John Percyhay of Swynton left small Ibid., iv. 164.
collection of books, incl. Brut in
1392 Robert de Roos, a soldier, left church Ibid., iv. 178.
books, and several volumes in French:
incl. Roumans de Sydrach (a curious
medley of medieval mystery and science,
in prose).
1394 King’s Hall, Cambridge, had a library of Willis, Arch.
87 volumes. Hist. of Camb.,
ii. 442.
1394 John Hopton, a chaplain, left a few books, Surtees Soc.,
four mentioned: incl. Gospels in iv. 196.
English. (? Wyclif’s).
1394 John de Pykering, rector of S. Mary’s, Ibid., iv. 194.
Castlegate, York, left small collection
of church books.
1395 Thomas of England, an Augustinian, Gherardi, Statuti
bought MSS. in Italy. della Univ. e
364; Einstein,
15; Sandys, ii.
1395 411 volumes in common library, for Surtees Soc.,
refectory, and in case of novices at vii. 46-84.
Durham Priory. Theology, law, history;
Seneca, Aristotle, Galen, Hippocrates.
1395 John de Scardeburgh, rector of Tichmarsh, Ibid., xlv. 6.
left over 26 books: incl. Brut in
French, Mannedevile “in paupiro” in
c. 1395 79 volumes at Hulne. Theology, history, Ibid., vii.
grammar, logic, law, church books. 131-35.
1396 Walter de Bragge, canon of York, left Surtees Soc.,
small collection of theology and iv. 207.
service books: incl. Piers Plowman
and Catholicon.
1396 Abbot Nich. Elmstow left liturgical and Dugdale, i. 361.
law books to Peterborough.
1397 Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of B. M. Add. 25459,
Gloucester, left a collection of fo. 212-16.
books, theological and French.
1399 Eleanor of Gloucester, left about 15 Nicolas,
mostly in French; richly bound. Testamenta
vetusta, i.
146; Edwards, i.
14 and 15 c. 158 titles given to Pembroke College, C. A. S., ii.
Cambridge, by various donors. (8vo ser.)
Aristotle, Seneca, Aulus Gellius, 13-21;
Ovid. James10,
15 c. Robert de Wycliff, rector of Hutton Surtees Soc.,
Rudby in Cleveland, left 5 books: ii. 66; iv. 405.
incl. Catholicon.
1400 326 volumes at Titchfield Abbey. 102 Madan, 78-79.
liturgical volumes. Theology, canon
and civil law, English law, medicine,
grammar, logic and philosophy. 18
French books.
c. 1400 Meaux Abbey had nearly 350 books, not Chron. mon. de
counting church books: incl. Melsa (Rolls
Historia Anglorum, Martial, Seneca, Ser.) iii.
Ovid, Plato, Suetonius, Cicero. lxxxiii.
1400 Thos. de Dalby, archdeacon of Richmond, Surtees Soc.,
left a few church books; Decretals, xlv. 13.
1403 John de Scarle, Lord Chancellor, left a Ibid., xlv. 22.
few books: Bible, missal, psalter,
breviary, Speculum Sacerdotum.
1404 Bp. Skirlaw of Durham gave 6 books to Ibid., vii. 127;
University College, Oxford, where he iv. 319.
had endowed Fellowships. Left 13
church books when he died.
1409 Wessington sent 20 books--Bible, Ibid., vii.
commentaries, etc.--to Durham 39-41; cp.
College, Oxford; 19 books bought in O. H. S., 32,
their stead. Collect.
c. 1410 Robert Rygge, Chancellor of the O. H. S., 27,
University of Oxford, left books to Boase, 11.
Exeter College, Oxford.
1411 34 books added to Christ Church, Lit. Cant. (Rolls
Canterbury, during time of Prior Ser.), iii. 121; James,
Chillenden: all canon and civil law. 150-51.
1412 Roger de Kyrkby, vicar of Gainford, left Surtees Soc., ii. 54.
a few books: Legenda Aurea, Gemma
Ecclesiae, and others not named.
1413 N. de Lyra chained in chancel of St. Mun. Acad., 270.
Mary’s Church, Oxford.
1414 Archbp. Arundel left many books: Hook, Lives of Abps.,
“ornamenta oratorii” and books valued iv. 527.
at over £352.
1416 Catalogue of Durham library bears this Surtees Soc., vii.
date, but it is either the foundation 85-116.
of the catalogue of 1391 or a copy of
it. This inventory has been used to
take stock.
1416 William de Waltham, canon of York, left Surtees Soc., xlv.
a collection of books, only a few of 57-59.
which are mentioned. Chiefly
1416 St. Mary Redclyffe Church, Bristol, had Cox and Harvey, Eng.
2 books of canon law. Ch. Furniture, 331.
1418 Stephen Scrope, Archdeacon of Richmond, Surtees Soc., iv. 385.
Chancellor of Cambridge University,
left a few books of canon law; also
1418 John de Newton left books to Church of Hunter, Notes of Wills
York, and to Peterhouse, Cambridge. in Registers of York,
Bibles, commentaries, theology: incl. 15; Edwards, i. 386.
Richd. Hampole, Petrarch’s de
Remediis utriusque fortunae, Seneca,
Valerius Maximus.
1418 380 volumes now at Peterhouse. Theology James3, 3-26; Mullinger,
(124), natural and moral philosophy 324; Clark, 139-41;
and metaphysics (53), canon and civil cf. Camb. Lit., ii.
law (66), grammar and poetry (23), 362-67.
logic (20), medicine (18), astronomy
(13), alchemy, arithmetic, music,
geometry, rhetoric. Aristotle, Plato,
Cicero, Ovid, Lucan, Statius, Sallust,
Quintilian, Seneca, Virgil, Petrarch’s
1419 Wm. Cawod, canon of York, left 13 Surtees Soc., iv.
books, uninteresting in character. 395-96.
1420-40 49 volumes added to S. Albans in Abbot Ann. mon. S. Alb.
Whethamstede’s time: incl. some books a J. Amund., ii.
for the choir, and other books of the 268-71.
Abbot’s own compilation.
1420-60 The library of Winchester College was a Archæol. Jour., xv.
large collection of liturgical books; (1858), 62-74.
philosophy, chronicles, canon and
civil law, grammar.
1421 Thos. Greenwood, canon of York, left Surtees Soc., xlv.
books valued at £31, 4s. Canon and 64.
civil law.
1422 Roger Whelpdale, Bp. of Carlisle, left Ibid., xlv. 67.
a small number of books to Balliol
College, Oxford.
1422 9 books sent from Durham to cell of Ibid., vii. 116.
Stamford, which was in control of
1423 Henry Bowet, Archbp. of York, left 33 Ibid., xlv. 76;
books, worth £33. Bible, theology, Historians of York
law. (Rolls Ser.), iii.
c. 1424 10 volumes given to Wells Cathedral by Hist. MSS., 3rd
Bp. Stafford. Canon law, etc. Rep., App. 363;
Archæologia, lvii.
1424-40 122 volumes in Cambridge University C. A. S. Comm., ii.
Library. Theology (69), natural and 242-57; Bradshaw,
moral philosophy (17), canon law 19-34.
(23), medicine, logic, poetry,
grammar, history.
1425 Sheriff Wm. Chichele bequeathed £10 for L. A. R., x. 382.
books to Guildhall Library.
1430 Robert Ragenhill, advocate of court of Surtees Soc., xlv.
York, left 5 law books and N. de Lyra 89.
to Church of York.
1432 George Darell de Seszay left 5 books: Ibid., xxx. 27, 28.
incl. Mandeville.
1432 John Raventhorpe, a chaplain, left Ibid., xxx. 28-29.
service books and grammatical books;
also Liber Angliae de Fabulis et
1432 Robert Wolveden, treasurer of Church of Ibid., xlv. 91.
York, left theological books to
Church of York. Cato glossed and
Golden Legend also left.
1432 Dr. Thos. Gascoigne gave 6 books to Clark, Lincoln College.
Lincoln College, valued £17, 10s.
1432 Robert Semer, sub-treasurer of Church of Surtees Soc.,
York, left 5 books, unimportant. xlv. 91 n.
1434 J. de Manthorp, vicar of Hayton, left a Ibid., xxx. 36.
few church books.
1435 Æneas Sylvius saw Latin translation of Creighton,
Thucydides in S. Paul’s Cathedral. Papacy, iii.
53 n.
1435 T. Hebbeden, dean of Collegiate Church Surtees Soc.,
of Auckland, left a few books; 6 ii. 82.
mentioned, incl. Guido delle Colonne,
Lancelot in French.
1435-36 Robert Fitzhugh, Bp. of London, left 13 Simpson, W.S.,
books, incl. Textus moralis philosophiae. Registrum ...
Eccl. Cath. S.
Pauli (1873),
1436 Thomas Langley, Bp. of Durham, left over Surtees Soc.,
40 books. Theology, civil and canon vii. 119.
law, N. de Lyra.
1438 Thomas Cooper of Brasenose Hall left 6 Mun. Acad., 515.
books: incl. Boëthius, book on
geometry, Ovid’s Remedia Amoris.
1439 Thomas Markaunt, presented to Corpus C. C. C. MS., 232;
Christi College, Cambridge, 76 books, C. A. S. Misc.
worth about £104. comm., 4to
ser., No. 14,
pt. 1, 16-20.
1439 Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester, gave 129 Mun. Acad.,
books to Oxford University Library. 758-65.
See p. 140.
1440 23 books given to All Souls’ College by B. M. Add. MS.,
Henry VI. Civil and canon law, 4608; Vickers,
theology, philosophy. H. Duke of
1440 Robert Alne, an officer in the Surtees Soc.,
ecclesiastical court of York, left about xxx. 78-79.
a dozen books. Canon law, etc.; Petrarch,
de Remediis utriusque fortunae.
1441 Andrew Holes, political agent of Henry Sandys, ii. 222.
VI, bought many manuscripts in Italy.
1443 Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester, gave 135 Mun. Acad.,
volumes to Oxford University Library. 765-72
See p. 142.
1443 John Carpenter bequeathed books to L. A. R., x.
Guildhall Library, London. 382.
1443 John Brette, student at Oxford, owned Mun. Acad., 531.
1 book, de Formd dictandi, and a
pamphlet, worth together 1s. 11d.
1445 Jas. Hedyan, Bachelor of canon and civil Ibid., 544.
law, principal of Eagle Hall, Oxford,
owned 8 books of law.
1447 Reginald Mertherderwa, a rector, owned 6 Ibid., 559-61.
books: grammar, book of civil law, etc.
1448 Ralph Dreff, of Broadgates Hall, Oxford, Ibid., 582.
owned 23 books. Bible, law.
1448 At the Hospital of S. Mary within B. M. Cott. Roll.,
Cripplegate, called Elsingspital, xiii. 10;
London, there were 63 volumes. Bible, Malcolm,
theology, canon law; Hippocrates, Londinium
Galen. Redivivum
(1807), i. 27;
Vict. Hist. of
London, i. 536.
1449 Thomas Morton, canon of York, left a Surtees Soc.,
small number of church books. xlv. 110.
1450 107 volumes at Lincoln Cathedral at this Clark, III.
1450 Robert Hoskyn, rector, left a small Mun. Acad.,
collection. Church books, canon law. 605-06.
1451 Henry Caldey, vicar of Cookfield, left 25 Ibid., 609.
books. Theology, law. Seneca, ad
Lucilium, Martial, Plato. Value
£5, 0s. 6d.
1451 John Moreton, chaplain, left 6 physical Ibid., 613.
1452 Richard Browne or Cordone, Archdeacon of Ibid., 639-53.
Rochester, left more than 30 books.
Theology and law.
1452 Wm. Duffield, canon of York, left 40 Surtees Soc.,
volumes, worth £46, 16s. Theology, xlv. 132-33.
law; Catholicon.
1453 King’s College, Cambridge, had a James2, 72-83.
library of 174 volumes: philosophy,
theology, medicine, astrology,
mathematics, canon law, grammar,
classical and general literature,
inclu. Aristotle, Plato, Cicero,
Seneca, Sallust, Cæsar, Ovid, Virgil,
1454 Richard Plane, rector, left a few church Surtees Soc.,
books. xxx. 180.
1454 Cardinal John Kempe left books worth Hook, Lives of Abps., v. 267.
£263, 8s. 10d. Theology, canon and
civil law, etc.
1454 Wm. Brownyng, canon of Exeter, left O. H. S., 27,
books to be chained in library of Boase, xxxvii. n.
Exeter College.
1455 John Lassehowe, a scholar, left six Mun. Acad., 663.
books: grammar, sermons, breviary.
1455 Thomas Spray, chaplain, left 2 books: Ibid., 660.
Liber Sermonum Magdalenae, Manipulus
1457 Thomas Aleby, rector of Kirkby in Surtees Soc.,
Cleveland, left 6 church books. xxx. 210.
1457 John Edlyngton, rector of Kirkby Ibid., xxvi. 2, 3.
Ravensworth, left small collection.
Bible, liturgical books, Legenda
Aurea, Polichronicon, etc.
1457 John Seggefyld, M.A., Fellow of Lincoln Mun. Acad., 666.
College, left two books, Boëthius de
Consol. philos. in English, one of
Richard Rolle’s works.
1457 Doctor Thos. Gascoigne, Chancellor of Mun. Acad., 671;
Oxford, left books and “quires” Bateson, xxv.
written on paper to Syon Monastery,
1457 John Baringham, treasurer of York, left a Surtees Soc.,
small number of liturgical books. xxx. 203.
c. 1458 John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, bought O. H. S., 36,
many manuscripts in Italy. Anstey, ii. 354,
1458 171 books at S. Paul’s Cathedral. Dugdale, Hist. of S.
Grammar (6), philosophy (5), classics Paul’s (1818), 392-98.
(7), medicine (6), history (8), canon
law (21), remainder Bible commentaries,
theology. Cicero, Virgil, Seneca,
Suetonius, Hippocrates, Galen.
1458 Nicholas Holme, canon of the collegiate Surtees Soc., xxx. 219.
Church of Ripon, left 15 books. Liturgical,
Richard Rolle of Hampole, 1
book of medicine.
1458 Wm. Port gave books to New College, O. H. S. 32, Collect.
Oxford. 232-33.
1463 John Baret, lay officer in Bury Abbey, left Cam. Soc., Bury Wills,
3 books, Disce mori, “book of ynglych 35, 41, 246.
and latyn with diuerse maters of good
exortacons, wretyn in papir,” Lydgate’s
Story of Thebes.
1464 Wm. Downham, chaplain of York, left a Surtees Soc., xxx. 268.
few books.
1464 St. Mary’s Church, Warwick, had 5 Notices of Churches
of Warwickshire
, i. 15-16.
books. Bible versified, Pharetra de
Auctoritatibus, etc.
1464 Books bequeathed by John Rowe to Exeter O. H. S. 27, Boase.
College, Oxford; also Ralph Morewell.
1464-67 William Selling, Benedictine monk, collected James, li.; Sandys, ii.
Greek and Latin books in Italy. 225.
1466 John Fernell, chaplain, left a few grammatical Surtees Soc., xxx. 275.
and other books.
1466 At Ewelme Almshouse, Oxford, were delivered Hist. M.S.S., 8th Rept.,
some liturgical books, 4 French pt. i. 629 a.
books, a “boke of English, in paper, of
ye pilgrymage, translated by dom John
Lydgate out of frensh,” and other
1468 Elizabeth Sywardby left 8 books, several Surtees Soc., xlv. 163.
in English.
1469 Sir Richard Willoughby of Woollaton, Ibid., xlv. 171.
left to parish church of Woollaton
liturgical books and Crede mihi.
1469 Sir Edward Bethum gave books for chaining Ibid., vii. 126.
in church of Lytham Cell, Lancs.
1471-72 Wm. Hawk, rector of Berwick in Elmet, Surtees Soc., xlv. 220 n.
left 1 psalter.
1472-73 Queens’ College, Cambridge, had 224 C. A. S. Comm., ii.
volumes in the library. Theology, law. (1864) 165-81.
Aristotle. Catholicon.
1472 John Hamundson, master of grammar Surtees Soc., xlv. 198-99.
school attached to York Minster, left
book of Chronicles in English, Papias,
a book called Horsehede.
1473 Cambridge University Library comprised C. A. S. Comm., ii.
330 volumes. Lucan, Ovid, Aristotle, (1864) 258-76.
Seneca, Cicero. Petrarch, de Remediis.
1473 68 books, mostly Scriptural commentaries, Carr, Univ. Coll.
given to University College, Oxford, by (1902), 68.
an old Fellow, Wm. Aspylon.
1470-75 Thomas Rotherham gave many books to Willis, Camb., iii. 25.
the University Library, Cambridge.
1474-75 Robert Est, possibly chantry-priest in Surtees Soc., xlv. 159.
York Minster, left to parish church of
Brigsley, Lincs., a small collection:
incl. Legenda Sanctorum, liber de Gestis
Romanorum cum aliis fabulis Isopi et
multis narrationibus.
1475-76 Thos. Worthington, vicar of Sherburn in Ibid., xlv. 220 n.
Elmet, left 3 volumes to Balliol College,
Oxford; unimportant.
1475-76 Robt. Echard, rector of East Bridgeford, Ibid., xlv. 219.
left 10 books, several liturgical, the rest
1475 104 volumes in library at S. Catharine’s C. A. S., i. (1840) 1-11.
College, Cambridge. Plato, Aristotle
(Ethica and Politica), Cicero, Petrarch,
de Remediis (2 copies), Boccaccio, de
Casis virorum illustrium, in English.
1476 John Hurte, vicar of S. Mary’s, Nottingham, Surtees Soc., xiv.
left 21 books. Liturgical books, 220-22.
theology, astronomy, Guido delle
Colonne’s Troy book.
1478 Bp. William Grey gave 200 books to Coxe, Cat. Cod. Oxon.-Balliol;
Balliol College, Oxford. Nearly all Mullinger,
were collected in Italy. Plato (Timaeus Hist. of Univ. of Camb., 397.
and Euthyphro, new translations), the
Golden Verses of Pythagoras, Cicero,
incl. some hitherto unknown speeches,
Quintilian, Seneca. Petrarch’s Letters,
orations of Poggio Bracciolini, Leonardo
Bruni, and Guarino da Verona.
1479 Thomas Pynchebek of York left 4 books: Surtees Soc., xlv. 199n.
incl. Richard Rolle of Hampole.
1479-80 Robt. Lythe, chaplain, left 6 books, and Ibid., xlv. 199 and n.
John Burn, another chaplain, 5--unimportant.
c. 1480 Bishop John Shirwood of Durham owned E. H. R., xxv. 455.
a good library, including a fair collection
of the classics, and Theodore
Gaza’s Greek grammar.
1481 William of Waynflete gave 800 books to Warren, Magd. Coll.,
Magdalen College, Oxford. 18.
1481 Sir Thos. Lyttleton left a Catholicon, Library, i. 411.
Constitutiones Provinciales, and Gesta
Romanorum to Halesowen Church,
1482 Dr. John Warkworth gave 55 books to James3, 23-26.
Peterhouse. Terence, Statius: Liber
Cronic’ in Anglicis, Liber in Gallicis;
much theology.
1482 At Leicester Abbey there were over 350 Nichols, Hist. of Leicester
books in the library. Bibles and commentaries, (1815), i. pt. 2,
medieval schoolmen, grammar, App. 102-08.
sermons, Lucan, Ovid, Horace,
Virgil, Cicero, Plato, French books,
Mandevile, Gower; logic, astronomy,
1483 Robert Flemming left books, which he Einstein, 23.
had collected in Italy, to Lincoln
College, Oxford.
1486 Church of S. Christopher le Stocks, Archæologia, xlv. (1880)
London, had a collection of church 118.
books only.
1486 At this time only 52 volumes were in St. Dugdale, Hist. of S.
Paul’s Cathedral; chiefly liturgical. Paul’s, 399.
1486 John Lese of Pontefract left 5 theological Surtees Soc., xlv. 220-21 n.
1488 31 books presented to Oxford University
Library by an old scholar.
1489 128 volumes presented to Oxford University Mun. Acad., 357.
Library by Dr. Litchfield, archdeacon of
1489-94 John Auckland, Prior, presented to Rudd, Codd. MSS.
Durham Priory, some 33 books; ordinary Eccles. Cath. Dun.
medieval character. Catal., 1825, passim.
1491 Richard Lovet, vicar of Ruddington, left Surtees Soc., xlv. 221 n.
a few theological books.
1491 Thomas Symson of York left 7 theological Ibid., xlv. 160 n.
1491 Over 40 books given to All Souls College, Robertson, All Souls
Oxford, by John Stokys, Warden. (Coll. Hist.), 33.
1493 Roger Drury left “ij Ingyshe bocks, called Cam. Soc., Bury Wills,
Bochas, of Lydgat’s makyng.” 246.
c. 1497 St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, contained James, lvii. 173.
1837 books. Scriptures, theology,
natural history, history, philosophy,
music, geometry, astronomy, medicine,
logic, grammar, poetry, alchemy, canon
law. Plato (Timaeus), Aristotle (a great
deal: Metaphysica, Physica, Rhetorica,
Ethica, Politica, new trans. of Historia
naturalium), Terence, Cicero, Horace,
Virgil (Aeneid, Georgics, Bucolics),
Ovid, Lucan, Seneca (incl. Tragedies),
Juvenal, Quintilian, Statius; French
books--Charlemagne, Historia Britonum,
Guy of Warwick, Lancelot, Perceval
of Galles, Holy Graal, Guillaume
le Maréchal, etc.
1498 Collegiate Church of Auckland possessed Surtees Soc., ii. 101-03.
some 40 volumes. Bible, theological
and liturgical books, canon law;
Cicero’s Letters.
1498 John Gunthorpe, Dean of Wells, bequeathed James16, 13.
to Jesus College, Cambridge,
some manuscripts collected in Italy.
1499 William Holcombe left books to Exeter Oliver, Mon. D. Exon.,
College and to friends: including 278.
Hugutio, Gesta Alexandri.
1500 Archbp. Rotherham left to Jesus College, James13, 5-8.
Rotherham, some hundred volumes.
Chiefly theology. Terence, Cicero’s
Orations, ad Familiares, Horace,
Sallust’s Catilina and Jugurtha, Ovid’s
Metamorphoses, Ars amandi, Remedia
Amoris, etc., Petrarch (de Vita solitaria,
de Remediis utriusque fortunae).
1506 363 volumes in Exeter Cathedral. Oliver, 366-75.
1508 306 books repaired at Christ Church, James, 152.
Canterbury. Theological, homiletic
and law books. Livy, Liber grecorum.
1508 Abp. Warham gave books to New College. O. H. S. 32, Collect.
1509 Christ’s College, Cambridge, received 57 C. A. S., iii. (N.S.,
liturgical books bequeathed by the 8vo), 361.
Lady Margaret.
1519-20 William Grocyn’s Library comprised 105 Leland, ii. 317; O. H. S.
printed books and 17 manuscripts. 16, Collect. 319-23.
Much theology; leading Latin classics.
Greek and Latin New Testament.
Petrarch, Boccaccio, Ficino, Filelfo,
Lorenzo della Valle, Aeneas Sylvius,
Perotti. Adagia of Erasmus.
1519 Robert Same, chaplain, bequeathed 1 Cam. Soc., Bury Wills,
book to Wetheringsett Church. 253.
1524 292 books at Canterbury College, Oxford, James, 165.
theology, law, philosophy. Aristotle
(incl. Ethica newly translated); Cicero,
Horace, Virgil, Lucan; Boccaccio,
Lorenzo della Valle.
1504-26 At least 1421 volumes in Syon Monastery, Bateson, passim.
Isleworth. Of the rough classification
Miss Bateson wrote: “Generally speaking
A includes grammar and classics (77
volumes); B, medicine, astrology, a few
classics (55); C, philosophy (46); D,
commentaries on the Sentences (128);
E, Bibles and concordances (75); F-I,
commentaries on the Old and New
Testament (232); K, History (65); L,
dictionaries (58); M, Lives of the Saints
(121); N, Fathers (88); O, devotional
tracts (98); P to S, chiefly sermons,
over 70 books in each class; T, canon
law (104); V, civil law (21),”--p. vii.
Of Latin Renascence literature there
are works by Coluccio Salutati, Leonardo
Bruni, Poggio, Bessarion, Platina,
Poliziano, Pico della Mirandola; and
translations from the Greek by Hermolaus
Barbarus, Gaza, Erasmus, and
others. Also Petrarch (Psalmi poenitentiales),
Boccaccio (de geneal. deor.
gent.), Savonarola (de virtute fidei),
Reuchlin. This catalogue is of the
men’s library only: there was another
library for women. Many of the books
were printed; nearly 400 editions have
been identified.





Adamnan. Vita S. Columbae. Ed., Reeves. 1874.


Allen, J. R. Celtic Art. 1904. Antiquary’s books.


Archæologia, various volumes; especially vol. xliii. and vol. lvii. (Church, Rev. C. M., Library of Wells Cathedral).


Archdall, M. Monasticon Hibernicum. 2 vols. 1786.


Bateson, Mary, ed. Catalogue of the Library of Syon Monastery, Isleworth. 1898.


Becker, G. Catalogi Bibliothecarum antiqui. Bonn, 1885.

*Biblio. Soc.

Bibliographical Society’s Transactions and Monographs. Especially Monogr. 10 and 13, Strickland Gibson, early Oxford bindings; and G. J. Gray, earlier Cambridge stationers.


Botfield, B. Notes on the Cathedral Libraries of England. 1849.


Bradley, J. W. Dictionary of Miniaturists, Calligraphers, and Copyists. 3 vols. 1887-9.


Bradshaw, H. Collected papers. 1889.

Bradshaw Soc.

Henry Bradshaw Society. Customary of the Benedictine Monasteries, Canterbury. 2 vols. 1902.

B. M. Cott. Claud., E. iv.
B. M. Cott. Domit., A. viii.
B. M. Cott. Galba, C. iv.
B. M. Cott. Nero, D. vii.
B. M. Reg. 2, E. ix.
B. M. Reg. 13, D. iv.

Bryce, W. M. Scottish Grey Friars. 2 vols. 1909.


Bury, J. B. Life of Saint Patrick. 1905.

Cambridge Stat.

Documents relating to the University and Colleges. 3 vols. 1852.

C. A. S.

Cambridge Antiquarian Society. Publications and communications. Various volumes.

Cam. Soc.

Camden Society Publications. Various volumes.

{287}Camb. Lit.

Cambridge History of English Literature, vols. i.-iv. 1907-9. Especially vol. i. ch. ii., Runes and MSS., and ch. x., English Scholars of Paris and Franciscans of Oxford; vol. ii. ch. xv., English and Scottish Education; vol. iii. ch. i., Englishmen and the Classical Renascence; vol. iv. ch. xix., Foundation of Libraries. [And bibliographies to these chapters.]


Clark, J. W. Care of Books: Essay on the Development of Libraries and their Fittings. 1909. 2nd ed.


Cooper, C. H. Annals of Cambridge. 5 vols. 1842-{53}, 1908.


Davenport, C. The Book: Its History and Development. 1907.


Delisle, L. Le Cabinet des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Impériale. 1868-74.

D. C. B.

Dictionary of Christian Biography.

D. N. B.

Dictionary of National Biography.


Dugdale, Sir W. Monasticon Anglicanum. Ed., Caley, Ellis, and Bandinel. 9 vols. 1817-30.


Edwards, E. Memoirs of Libraries. 2 vols. 1859.


Edwards, E. Free Town Libraries. 1869.


Edwards, E. Libraries and Founders of Libraries. 1864.


Einstein, L. Italian Renaissance in England. New York, 1892.

E. H. R.

English Historical Review.


Floyer, Rev. J. K. Catalogue of MSS. preserved in the Chapter House of Worcester Cathedral. 1906.


Floyer, Rev. J. K. Thousand Years of a Cathedral Library. Reliquary, Jan. 1901.


Gasquet, F. A. English Monastic Life. 1905. Antiquary’s Books.


Gasquet, F. A. Eve of the Reformation. 1909.


Gasquet, F. A. Last Abbot of Glastonbury, etc. 1908.


Gasquet, F. A. Old English Bible and other Essays. 1897.


Gottlieb, T. Ueber Mittelalterliche Bibliotheken. Leipzig, 1890.

Grace B.

Grace Books Δ and I. Proctor’s Accounts and Other Records of the University of Cambridge. Ed., Leathes and Bateson. 1897.


Haddan, A. W. Remains. 1876.


Hardy, Sir T. D. Descriptive Catalogue of MSS. relating to the History of Great Britain and Ireland. 4 vols. Rolls Series.


Healy, J. Ireland’s Ancient Schools and Scholars. 4th ed. 1902.

Hist. MSS.

Historical MSS. Commission Reports.


Hunter, J. English Monastic Libraries. 1831.


Hyde, D. Literary History of Ireland. 1899. Library of Literary History.


James, M. R. Ancient Libraries of Canterbury and Dover. 1903.


James, M. R. Abbey of St. Edmund at Bury. 1895.


James, M. R. Descriptive Catalogue of the MSS. in the Library of King’s College. 1895.


James, M. R. Descriptive Catalogue of the MSS. in the Library of Peterhouse. 1899.


James, M. R. Descriptive Catalogue of the Western MSS. in the Library of Emmanuel College.


James, M. R. Descriptive Catalogue of the Western MSS. in the Library of Christ’s College. 1905.


James, M. R. Descriptive Catalogue of the MSS. in the Library of Trinity Hall. 1907.


James, M. R. Descriptive Catalogue of the Western MSS. in the Library of Clare College. 1905.


James, M. R. Descriptive Catalogue of the MSS. in the Library of Gonville and Caius College. 2 vols. 1907-8.


James, M. R. Descriptive Catalogue of the MSS. in the Library of Jesus College. 1895.


James, M. R. Descriptive Catalogue of the MSS. in the Library of Pembroke College, Cambridge. 1905.


James, M. R. The Western MSS. in the Library of Trinity College: Descriptive Catalogue. 4 vols. 1900-04.


James, M. R. Descriptive Catalogue of the Western MSS. in the Library of Queens’ College, Cambridge. 1905.


James, M. R. Descriptive Catalogue of the MSS. in the Library of Sidney Sussex College. 1895.


James, M. R. Descriptive Catalogue of the MSS. in the Library of Eton College. 1895.


James, M. R. Descriptive Catalogue of the MSS. in the Fitzwilliam Museum. 1895.


James, M. R. Archbishop Parker’s MSS. 1899.


James, M. R. Descriptive Catalogue of the MSS. in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Part I. 1909.


James, M. R. Descriptive Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the College Library of Magdalene College, Cambridge. 1909.


Joyce, P. W. Social History of Ancient Ireland. 2 vols.

Lecoy de la Marche

Lecoy de la Marche, A. Les Manuscrits et la Miniature. [1884.] Bibliothèque de l’Enseignement des Beaux-Arts.


Leland, J. Collectanea. 6 vols. 1715.


Leland, J. Itinerary. Ed., Smith. 1907-8.


{289}Leland, J. De Scriptoribus Britannicis. 1709.


The Library, vols. i.-x. New series, vols. i.-x.

L. A. R.

Library Association Record, vol. i. to date.


Lyte, H. C. Maxwell. History of the University of Oxford to 1530. 1886.


Maclean, M. Literature of the Celts. 1902.


Macray, W. D. Annals of the Bodleian Library. 1890.


Madan, F. Books in Manuscript. 1893. Books about Books.


Maitland, S. R. The Dark Ages. 1844.


Merryweather, F. S. Bibliomania in the Middle Ages. 1849.

*Mon. Fr.

Monumenta Franciscana. Ed., Brewer. 1858. Rolls series.

*Mun. Acad.

Munimenta academica. Ed., Anstey. 2 vols. 1858. Rolls series.


Mullinger, J. B. University of Cambridge to 1535. 1873.

Oxford Stat.

Statutes of the Colleges of Oxford. 3 vols. 1853.

O. H. S., 27, Boase

Oxford Historical Society, vol. xxvii. Boase, C. W. Registrum Collegii Exoniensis.

O. H. S., 35, 36,

O. H. S. Anstey, H. Epistolae academicae. 2 vols. Anstey 1898.

O. H. S., 5, 16

O. H. S. Collectanea. Series 1-3. 1885, 1890, and 32, Collect. 1896.

O. H. S., 20, Little

O. H. S. Little, A. G. Grey Friars in Oxford. 1892.


Pietas Oxoniensis in Memory of Sir Thomas Bodley. 1902.


Putnam, G. Books and their Makers in the Middle Ages. 2 vols. 1896-7.


Rashdall, H. Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages. 2 vols. 1895.

R. de B.

Richard of Bury. Philobiblon. Ed., Thomas. 1888.


Robinson, J. A., and James, M. R. The MSS. of Westminster Abbey. 1909.


Rogers, J. E. T. History of Agriculture and Prices. 6 vols. 1866-87.


Rouveyre, Edouard. Connaissances nécessaires à un bibliophile. 10 vols. 1899.

R. H. S.

Royal Historical Society. Transactions.


Sandys, J. E. History of Classical Scholarship. Vols. i. (2nd ed., 1906) and ii.

S. H. R.

Scottish Historical Review.


Stevenson, F. S. Robert Grosseteste. 1899.

Stokes (G. T.)

Stokes, G. T. Ireland and the Celtic Church. 1886.

Stokes (M.)

Stokes, Margt. Early Christian Art in Ireland. 1887.

Stokes (M.)2

Stokes, M. Six Months in the Apennines. 1892.

Stokes (M.)3

Stokes, M. Three Months in the Forests of France. 1895.

{290}Stokes (W.)

Stokes, W., ed. Tripartite Life. 2 vols. 1887. Rolls series.


Stow, J. Survey of London. Ed., C. L. Kingsford. 2 Vols. 1908.

*Surtees Soc.

Surtees Society Publications. Various volumes; especially vol. vii., Catalogi veteres librorum. 1840.


Taylor, H. O. Classical Heritage of the Middle Ages. New York, 1901.


Thompson, Sir E. M. Greek and Latin Palæography. 3rd ed. 1906.


Warton, T. History of English Poetry. 4 vols. 1871.


Wattenbach, W. Das Schriftwesen im Mittelalter. 3rd ed. Leipzig, 1896.


Williams, J. W. Somerset Medieval Libraries.


Wordsworth, C., and Littlehales, H. Old Service Books of the English Church. Antiquary’s Books.


Centralblatt für Bibliothekswesen. Various volumes.

Note.Books marked with an asterisk * are important.{291}


A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, Y.

Abdy, Robert, 150-151
Abingdon Abbey, 33, 39, 41, 78, 87, 88, 97, 98, 269
Abyssinian libraries, 18
Academic libraries, 133 seqq.;
Cambridge, 155 seqq.;
Character of books in, 222 seqq.;
economy, 165 seqq.;
Oxford, 133 seqq.
Acca, Bp., 34
Adam de Brome, 135
Aelfric, 44, 85
Aelfric, Abp., 44
Aelfward, Abbot, 44, 263
Aeneas Silvius, 120, 277
Aethelwold, 40-41, 263
Aidan, St., 30
Aileran, 8
Albinus, 25, 28
Alcuin, 9, 10, 35-36, 78, 80, 263
Aldfrith of Northumbria, 9, 31
Aldhelm, 8, 28-29, 31
Aleby, Thomas, 279
Alfred the Great, 37-39
All Souls College, 147, 149, 151, 153, 165, 166, 167, 168, 170, 186, 277, 283
Alne, Robert, 156, 277
Annalists, monastic, 231-232
Anselm, 83, 214
Antiphonaries, value of, 246
Antiphonary of Bangor, 11
Arabian works imported, 217-218
Aristotle, works introduced, 53, 217-222;
influence, 240
Armagh, Book of, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20
Armagh monastery, 4, 9, 12
Armaria, 91
Armarius, 96-97
Arnoul of Metz, Gospels of, 20
Arundel, Abp., 139, 190, 275
Asser, 38
Assicus, Bp., 20, 21
Astronomical text-books, 225
Athelney monastery, 39
Athelstan, King, 263
Audit of books in monasteries, 102-103
Augustine, St., 14, 24
Augustine, Irish Monk, 8
Aumbries, 91, 92
Austin Friars’ libraries, 55, 56, 67-68, 103, 271

Bacon, Friar, 178, 216, 218-219, 220-221
Baldock, Ralph, 119-120, 269
Bale, John, 66-67
Balliol College, 54, 146, 148, 150, 153, 186, 192, 193, 281, 282
Balsham, Hugh of, 158
Bangor monastery, 7
Baret, John, 280
Baringham, John, 279
Barking nunnery, 33
Basil the Great, 2
Basingstoke, John of, 219-220, 267
Bateman, Bp. William, 158-159, 270
Battle Abbey, 62
Beauchamp, Guy de, 177, 269
Beaufort, Card., 188, 190
Beaufort, Sir Thomas, 162
Beaulieu Abbey, 93
Becket, Thomas à, 89
Beckford Cell, 47
Bede, 26 n., 27, 32-33;
his library, 33 n.;
Ecclesiastical History, MSS., 15, 110;
Apocalypse MS., 110-111
Bedford, Duke of. See John of Lancaster
Bedyll, Thomas, 68
Bek, Bp., 269
Bekynton, Bp., 123 n., 190
Benedict Biscop, 31-32, 33, 86
Benedictines, use of books among, 23-24, 49, 63
Benedictional of Abp. Robert, 42
Benedictional of Ethelwold, 42, 43
Bethum, Sir Edward, 280
Beverley Minster, 128
Bible, Latin, correcting text, 58;
circulation, 239;
prices of, 243-244{292}
Biblical literature in monasteries, 210-212
Bicchieri, Guala, Card., 86-87
Bicester Priory, 175
Binding, 107-108;
prices, 256-257
Birkenhead Priory, 73, 74
Bishop Auckland Church, 194, 277, 283
Black Death, 138, 138 n., 159
Black Friars’ books, 55
Bobio, 8, 10, 87
Bodleian Library, 113
Bohun, Eleanor, of Gloucester, 177
Bolton, S. Mary’s Church, 129
Boniface, 34
Book-boxes, 113-114, 123
Bookrooms, in colleges, 149-151, 164, 186;
in churches, 112, 115, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 122-123, 124, 126, 128, 130, 186;
in monasteries, 12, 63, 93-96
Books, care of, 97-98;
extent of circulation, 232-241;
destruction and dispersal, 59 seqq., 152-154, 157-158;
prices of, 243 seqq.
Booksellers, 199 seqq.
Book-trade in Oxford, 133 seqq., 199 seqq.;
Cambridge, 155, 205 seqq.;
London, 207
Bordesley Abbey, 67, 67 n.
Boston Church, 129
Boston, John, 59
Bowet, Abp., 123 n., 178, 189, 276
Bragge, Canon, 177, 274
Brantingham, Bp., 149, 150 n.
Brasenose College, 168
Bredon, Simon de, 146, 271
Brensall-in-Craven, S. Wilfrid’s, 129
Breviaries, prices of, 244-245
Brigsley Church, 129
Bristol, S. Mary Redcliffe, 128, 275
Browne (Cordone), Archdeacon, 123, 129, 139, 189, 278
Brownyng, William, 279
Bubwith, Nicholas of, 123
Buckfast Abbey, 90
Burley, Sir S., 272
Burton-on-Trent Abbey, 264
Bury, R. de, 50, 58, 60-61, 170-172, 178 seqq., 267, 269
Bury St. Edmunds Abbey, 44, 49, 59, 61, 63, 68 n., 69, 71, 84, 86, 88, 90, 96, 162, 265

Caedmon, 30
Calami, 85
Caldey, Henry, 278
Calligraphy. See Writing
Cambridge, book-trade, 155, 205 seqq.;
college libraries, 158 seqq.;
University Library, 70, 155 seqq., 164, 276, 281.
See also names of Colleges
Cambuskenneth monastery, 57
Candida Casa, 7
Canterbury (Christ Church), 46, 46 n., 49, 63, 64, 65, 70, 71, 76, 80, 89, 95, 100, 101, 102, 150, 177, 190, 196-197, 220, 239, 265, 267, 269, 270, 275, 284
Canterbury (S. Augustine’s), 9, 14, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 31, 33, 40, 47, 49, 69, 70, 71, 83, 88, 89, 95, 96 n., 103, 104, 175, 178, 263, 283
Canterbury College, Oxford, 138 n., 150, 195, 284
Capsae, 19 n.
Carilef, William de, 90, 264
Carmelite Friars’ libraries, 54, 55
Carpenter, Bp. John, 115
Carpenter, John, 187, 278
Carrells, 75-77, 92
Cathach Psalter. See Columba’s Psalter
Catalogues of monastic books, 103-107
Cathedral libraries, 109 seqq.
Catholicon, 132, 224
Cawod, William, 275
Ceadda (Chad), 30
Cedd, 30
Chace, Thomas, 150
Chad, St., 30;
Gospels of, 14
Chained books, 109, 112, 117
Charles the Great, 35, 107
Charleton, Bp., 116
Chaucer, Geoffrey, 85, 174, 182-184, 240
Chaundler, Thomas, 190
Chertsey Abbey, 33
Chester, Richard, 160
Chester, S. Werburgh’s, 61, 76, 92
Chesterton Church, 87, 87 n.
Chests for books, 91
Chichele, Abp. Henry, 95
Chichele, William, 187, 276
Christ Church, Oxford, 151 n.
Christ’s College, Cambridge, 164, 284
Church, Canon C. M., 110, 121, 124 n.
Church libraries, 109 seqq.
Ciaran, St., 13, 22
Circulation of books, extent, 232-241
Clare College, 138 n., 158, 164
Clare, Elizabeth, 158, 177, 270
Clark, Dr. J. W., 92, 95, 113
Classical literature in monasteries, 212-215, 258 seqq.{293}
Clement, 10, 11
Clergy and books, 177-178
Clifford, J. de, 177
Clonard, 5
Cluni Abbey, 103
Cobham, Bp., 134-136, 269
Cockersand Abbey, 73
Codex Exoniensis, 87, 110, 113
Codex Vercellensis, 87, 87 n.
Coldingham, 34, 271
College libraries, 145 seqq., 158 seqq.
Columba, St., 5, 6, 17;
Psalter, 6, 16, 17, 21
Columban, St., 7
Coopertoria librorum, 19 n.
Corbie, 78, 89
Corpus Christi College, Camb., 70, 110, 113, 138 n., 159, 163, 164, 277
Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 70, 151 n., 154, 170, 227
Correctoria, 58, 85
Corvey, 89
Coventry Priory, 268
Cronan, St., 21, 22
Croucher, John, 156
Crowland, 33, 37
Culross, 56
Cumdachs, 4, 12, 19, 19 n.
Cummian, St., 8
Cupboards for books, 91
Cuthbert, Abbot, 80
Cuthbert, St., 31

Dalby, T. de, 274
Daniel, Bp. of Winchester, 34
Darell, G., 276
Deeping Priory, 268
Derby, All Saints, 130
Despenser, Hugh le, elder, 177
Dicuil, 11
Dimma’s Book, 21, 22
Domnach Airgrid (S. Patrick’s Gospels), 17, 20
Donatus, 11
Dover, S. Martin’s Priory, 70, 71, 90, 105, 106, 272
Downham, W., 280
Dreff, Ralph, 189, 278
Drury, Roger, 283
Duffield, Canon W., 189, 278
Dungal, 10, 11
Dunstan, 40, 41, 41 n.
Durham, Book of (Lindisfarne Gospels), 15, 17
Durham Hall, Oxford, 54, 148, 150, 170, 179, 269, 274
Durham Priory, 63, 73, 75, 80, 91, 103, 107, 162, 211, 217, 264, 269, 273, 275, 276, 283
Durrow, Book of, 16, 20

Eastern monachism, 1-3
Easton, Card., 90
Eastry Prior, 70, 89, 95, 216, 269
Ebesham, W., 207-208
Ecgberht, 9
Echard, R., 281
Edlyngton, J., 279
Edward II., 176
Eleanor of Gloucester, 274
Electio librorum, 166 n., 167
Eltisle, T. de, 159
Ely Priory (cathedral), 33, 86, 88, 101
Embleton Church, 128, 271
Emmanuel of Constantinople, 194-195
English monastic libraries, 23 seqq.
English scholars in Ireland, 8, 9
Erghome, John, 56
Erigena, or Scotus, John, 11, 39
Ernulf of Rochester, 47
Est, R., 129, 281
Ethelwold, 40, 41, 263
Eton College, 144, 159-160, 161
Evesham Abbey, 33, 44, 47, 76, 88, 90, 263, 264, 265, 266, 267, 272
Exeter Book, 87, 110, 113
Exeter Cathedral, 44, 110-114, 186, 263, 269, 284
Exeter College, Oxford, 87, 111-112, 113 n., 146, 148, 149-150, 151, 166, 166 n., 168, 186, 272, 274, 279, 280, 284
Exeter, Grey Friars, 54, 267
Explicitus, 81-82

Fairs, selling books at, 200, 206-207
Farnylaw, T. de, 128, 271
Fastolf, Sir J., 188
Felton, Sir W. de, 146
Feriby, W. de, 124 n., 177, 272
Fernell, J., 280
Fiacc, 4, 13 n.
Finnian of Moville, 5, 6, 17
Fitzhugh, Bp. R., 156, 277
Fitzralph, Abp., 57
Flemming, Robert, 147, 153, 193, 282
Fleury Abbey, 88
Flexley Abbey, 266
Floyer, Rev. J. K., 115
Foxe, Bp., 194
Foxle, Sir J. de, 271
Francis, St., 52-53
Franciscan libraries, 52 seqq.
Free, John. 64, 192, 193{294}
Friars, bibliographical work, 58-59;
as book-collectors, 57-58;
correction of texts, 58;
libraries, 52 seqq.
Furness Abbey, 94

Gascoigne, Dr. T., 54, 147, 148, 153, 277, 279
Gateshead, S. Edmund’s Hospital, 269
Gaul, Irish missionaries in, 7-8, 10
Gaul, monachism in, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
Geoffrey of Monmouth, 240
Gerbert of Bobio, 78, 87
Germanus of Auxerre, 3
Gildas, 9
Glastonbury Abbey, 34, 39, 41, 45 n., 48, 63, 64, 263, 264, 266, 268, 269
Gloucester Abbey, 34, 48, 63, 76, 96, 264, 268
Gloucester, Duke of. See Humfrey of Gloucester
Golden Book of Edgar, 42
Gonville and Caius College, 158, 159, 164
Gower, John, 182
Grammatical text-books, 223-224
Grandisson, Bp., 111, 111 n., 112, 113, 150, 270
Gravesend, Bp. R. de, 146, 178, 267
Gravesend, Bp. S. de, 270
Greek books imported, 194-198, 217-222;
in monasteries, 26, 64
Greek, knowledge of, in monasteries, 7, 10, 11, 195-198, 217-222
Greeks in England, 194-195, 219-220
Greenwood, T., 178, 276
Gregory the Great’s books, 24
Grey Friars’ libraries, 52 seqq.
Grey, Bp. William, 150, 153, 192-193, 282
Grimbald, 38
Grocyn, William, 198, 226-227, 284
Grosseteste, Robert, 53, 54, 57, 86, 220
Gunthorpe, Dean, 123 n., 192-193, 284

Hadley, Wm., 195
Hadrian, 26, 28, 29
Halesowen Church, 129
Halton, T. de, 273
Hamo, Chancellor, 118
Hamundson, John, 281
Harris, J., 156
Hawk, W., 281
Healy, Dr. John, 5
Hebbeden, T., 277
Hebrew books in Friars’ libraries, 54, 56;
in Ramsey Abbey, 268
Hedyan, J., 278
Henry II., 176
Henry VI., 148, 159-160
Hereford Cathedral, 116-117, 162, 186, 266
Herrys, John, 156
Hiberno-Saxon writing, 15, 46
Hild, 30, 31
Hinton Priory, 101, 270
Holcombe, W., 284
Holes, Andrew, 192 n., 277
Holme, Canon N., 129, 280
Holme, Richard, 156
Hopton, J., 273
Hoskyn, Robert, 278
Hugh of Balsham, 158
Hugh of Leicester, 118, 264
Hulne, 273
Humfrey of Gloucester, 139-143, 144, 154, 160, 181, 190-191, 191 n., 192, 277
Hurte, John, 164, 281
Hyde Abbey. See Winchester (New Minster)

Iceland, Irish in, 7
Illuminating, prices for, 255-256
Illumination, Irish, 15;
Winchester, 42
Illuminators, 79, 199 seqq.
Iona, 5, 7, 9, 30, 31
Ireland, English scholars in, 8, 9
Irish illumination, 15
Irish manuscripts on the Continent, 8 n., 11, 11 n.
Irish missal, satchel of, 19
Irish missionaries, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10
Irish monasteries, use of books in, 1 seqq.
Irish satchels, 17, 18, 19
Irish scribes, 12, 12 n.
Irish writing, 13-15
Italian influence in England, 189 seqq.
Italian scholars, 191

James, Dr. M. R., 46, 47, 49, 67, 70, 71, 89, 95, 102, 163, 195, 196
Jarrow, 31, 33, 37
Jerome, St., 2
Jesus College, 164, 284
John, King, 176, 266
John of Beverley, 30
John of Corvey, 38
John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford, 139, 181, 188, 272
John of London, 89, 178, 221-222
John Scotus Erigena, 11, 39

Kells, Book of, 14, 15, 16, 20{295}
Kelso Abbey, 99
Kempe, John, Card., 103, 145, 188, 279
King’s College, Camb., 144, 156, 159-161, 279
King’s Hall, Camb. See Trinity College
King’s Norton Church, 129
Kirkstall Abbey, 94
Kyrkby, R. de, 275

Lacy, Bp., 150
Lane, Dr. T., 162
Lanfranc, 45, 46, 47, 85, 101, 213
Langham, Simon, 90, 178, 271
Langley, Bp. T., 277
Lanthony Priory, 68, 265
Lassehowe, J., 279
Lastingham, 30, 37
Laudian Acts, 26 n., 27
Law books in Middle Ages, 215-217, 226-227
Layton, Dr., 152
Leather, 107, cost of, 257
Leicester Abbey, 282
Leicester Codex, 195
Leland, John, 69, 131
Lending monastic books, 98, 101
Leofric, Bp., 44, 110-111, 113, 263
Leofric Missal, 111
Leominster church, 265
Lérins, 3, 31
Lese, J., 283
Librarian, University, 136, 137
Librarians, monastic, 12, 96-97
Librarii, 199
Libri distribuendi, 166, 169
Lichfield Cathedral, 126, 186, 270
Linacre, Thomas, 197-198
Lincoln Cathedral, 118-119, 186, 264, 278
Lincoln College, 54, 147, 148, 149, 151, 153, 165, 166, 186, 193, 277
Lindau, Gospels of, 21, 108
Lindisfarne, 30, 31, 33, 37
Lindisfarne Gospels (Book of Durham), 15, 17
Litchfield, Dr., 145, 283
Logical text-books, 225
Lombard’s Sentences, 215, 239-240
London book-trade, 207
London, Friars’ libraries, 55-56
London, Guildhall Library, 186-187, 276, 278
London, S. Christopher-le-Stocks, 131, 282
London, S. Mary’s Hospital, Cripplegate, 278
London, St. Michael’s, Cornhill, 131
London, S. Peter’s, Cornhill, 131, 131 n.
London, S. Paul’s, 119-120, 186, 266, 268, 269, 280, 282
London, S. Stephen Magnus, 268
Longarad legend, 6, 7 n., 12, 18 “Losinga,” Herbert, 86, 213
Lovet, Richard, 283
Lowe, Prior, 55
Lytham Cell, 280
Lythe, R., 282
Lyttleton, Sir T., 129, 282

MacRegol, Gospels of, 14, 15
Magdalen College, Oxford, 147, 149, 151, 154, 166, 168, 170, 175, 186, 282
Magdalene College, Cambridge, 164
Malmesbury Abbey, 29, 33, 66, 108
Manthorp, J. de, 277
Mare, Thomas de la, 270
Mare, William de la, 58
Marisco, Adam de, 53, 57, 85, 86
Markaunt, Thomas, 163, 163 n., 277
Marleberge, T. de, 90, 266
Marmoutier, 2, 3
Marshall, Dr. R., 162
Meaux Abbey, 63, 94, 274
Medulla grammatice, 132
Melrose Abbey, 31, 34, 37
Mendicants’ libraries, 52 seqq.
Mertherderwa, R., 278
Merton College, 138, 146, 148, 149, 153, 166, 168, 170, 272
Michelham Priory, 62
Millyng, Thomas, 197
Minstrels, 173 seqq.
Missals, prices of, 244
Molaise’s Gospels, 21
Moling, Book of St., 21
Molyneux, Adam de, 139, 190
Monachism, Eastern, 1
Monachism in England, progress, 48;
decline, 59-60;
dissolution, 65 seqq.
Monachism in Ireland, 1 seqq.
Monastic libraries, English, 45 seqq.;
economy, 73 seqq.;
decline and dispersal, 59 seqq., 100;
saving books, 69 seqq.;
catalogues, 102-107
Monastic libraries, Irish, 5 seqq.
Monte Cassino, 97, 217
Montford, Simon of, 176-177
Moreton, J., 278
Morley, Daniel of, 218
Morton, T., 278{296}

Neville, Abp., 195
Newcastle, S. Nicholas’ Church, 128, 271
New College, 69, 138, 138 n., 147, 148, 149, 151, 152, 165, 166, 169, 175, 186, 197, 272, 280, 284
Newstead Priory (Notts), 100
Newton, J. de, 125, 162, 178, 275
Nicholas of Bubwith, Bp., 123
Nicholas the Greek, 219-220
Northumbria, learning in, 30, 31, 37
Norwich Priory, 62, 90
Notarii, 199
Nottingham, S. Mary’s Church, 129

Ordericus Vitalis, 80
Oriel College, 54, 135, 138, 146, 148, 151, 154, 166, 168, 169, 271
Osmund, Bp., 117, 263
Oswald of Northumbria, 9, 30, 31
Oxford, academic libraries, 133 seqq.
Oxford, book-trade, 133, 199 seqq.
Oxford, decrease of students at, 152
Oxford, Ewelme Almshouse, 280
Oxford, Friars’ libraries, 53, 54, 58, 75
Oxford, monastic libraries, 51
Oxford, St. Mary’s Church, 129, 133, 134, 153, 275
Oxford scholars’ libraries, 189, 236-237
Oxford University library, 133 seqq., 151-154, 186, 269, 283
Oxford. See also under Names of Colleges

Pachomius, St., 2
Palladius, 3
Parchment, 84;
cost of, 257
Parker Abp., 26, 70, 113
Paternoster Row, 207
Patrick, St., 3, 4, 5, 17;
Gospels of (Domnach Airgrid), 17, 20
Pembroke College, Cambridge, 69, 103, 107, 158, 163, 164, 167, 168, 170, 186, 274
Pennae, 85
Percyhay, John, 177, 273
Peter of Gloucester, Abbot, 48, 264
Peterborough Abbey, 33, 37, 48, 216, 263, 265, 266, 267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 273
Peterhouse College, 100, 158, 162, 164, 165, 166, 167-168, 169, 186, 271, 275
Philobiblon, 179
Piers Plowman, 182, 240
Pius II. (Æneas Sylvius), 120, 277
Plane, Richard, 279
Plegmund, Abp., 38, 38 n.
Poggio Bracciolini, 190, 191
Polaires, 9, 13, 13 n.
Precentor’s duties, 80, 96, 97, 98
Prices of books, 243 seqq.
Processionals, value of, 246
Psalters, value of, 245-246
Pudsey, Hugh, 90, 107
Pynchebek, Thomas, 282

Queen’s College, Oxford, 146, 148, 149, 151, 153, 166
Queens’ College, Cambridge, 162, 164, 186, 281

Ragenhill, R., 125, 276
Ralph de Diceto, 119, 266
Ralph of Maidstone, 116, 266
Ramsey Abbey, 54, 63, 68, 89, 220, 268
Raventhorpe, J., 276
Rayleigh, 131
Reading Abbey, 64, 176, 265, 266
Reading aloud, 173 seqq.
Redmarshall Church, 129
Reed, Bp., 148, 149, 272
Registrum librorum Angliae, 58-59
Reichenau, monastery of, 8 n.
Repyngton, Bp., 139
Rhetoric, books of, 224-225
Richard de Bury, 50, 58, 60-61, 170-172, 178 seqq., 267, 269
Richard de Wyche, bequests to friars, 54-55
Richard of Stowe, 268
Rievaulx, 265
Rochester Priory, 47, 99, 130, 266
Romance literature, 227-231
Roos, Sir R. de, 177, 273
Rotherham, Jesus College, 284
Rotherham, Thomas, 130, 157, 163, 281, 284
Rous, John, 127, 128 n.
Ruddington Church, 130
Runes, 13
Rygge, R., 274

St. Albans Abbey and library, 44, 49 seqq., 63, 73, 78, 88, 91, 96, 98, 105, 108, 179, 219, 263, 264, 267, 269, 270, 276
St. Albans’ chroniclers, 50
St. Catherine’s Hall, 161, 164, 281
St. Gall, 8, 8 n., 10, 21, 73, 94, 97
St. John’s College, Cambridge, 151 n., 164, 186{297}
Salisbury Cathedral, 117-118, 186, 263
Same, Robert, 284
Satchels, book, 6, 17, 18, 19
Scardeburgh, J. de, 273
Scarle, J. de, 274
Scot, Michael, 53, 218
Scotland, monachism in, 5, 7
Scotland, Friars’ libraries, 56-57
Scotus Erigena, John, 11, 39
Scribes, 199 seqq.;
monkish, 73 seqq.;
Irish, 12, 12 n.;
tools, 85
Scriptorium, 50, 51, 73-77, 80, 82, 88
Scrope, Archd. S., 125, 159, 275
Sedulius, 11
Seggefyld, J., 279
Selling, William of, 26, 64, 66, 66 n., 76, 95, 195-197, 280
Semer, R., 277
Servatus Lupus, 85, 87
Sherborne Hospital, 267
Skirwood, Bp., 194, 282
Shrines for books, 4, 12, 19, 19 n.
Signs used for books, 82-83
Simon, Abbot, 50, 91
Skirlaw, Bp., 123 n., 148, 274
Smart, William, 69
Somersett, John, 139, 143
Spray, T., 279
Stafford, Bp. E. de, 150
Stafford, Bp. J. de, 123, 123 n., 276
Stamford Cell, 276
Stationers, 199 seqq.
Stationers Co., 207
Stirling, Friars’ library, 56
Stokys, J., 283
Stow, John, 70
Stowe Missal, 20
Stratford, Abp. J., 177
Symson, Thomas, 283
Syon monastic library, 63, 83, 90 n., 104, 105, 106, 285
Sywardby, Elizabeth, 280

Talbot, R., 69
Textus Roffensis, 47
Theodore, 8, 26, 26 n., 28, 31
Theological books in monasteries, 210-212
Thomas, Abbot, 178
Thomas of England, 191, 273
Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, 274
Thompson, Mr. Yates, 107
Thoris, R. de, 54, 267
Tiptoft, John, Earl of Worcester, 139, 192, 279
Titchfield Abbey, 95, 105, 274
Tobias, Bp., 28
Trevaur, Bp., 270
Trinity College (King’s Hall), Cambridge, 159, 164, 273
Trinity College, Oxford, 150 n.
Trinity Hall, Cambridge, 138 n., 158, 164, 169, 216, 270
Twyne, Brian, 70
Twyne, John, 69
Tynemouth, 37
Tywardreath Priory, 268

University College, Oxford, 138, 145-146, 148, 149, 165, 167, 168, 170, 186, 274, 281
University Hall, Cambridge. See Clare College
University libraries. See Oxford and Cambridge

Vellum, 84;
cost of, 257
Vercelli Book, 87, 87 n.
Vicario, 216
Vitelli, Cornelius, 197

Wallets, book, 17, 18, 19
Walter of Evesham, 47, 264
Waltham, William de, 275
Warham, Abp., 284
Warkworth, J., 162, 282
Warwick, S. Mary’s Church, 127, 280
Wax tablets, 9, 13, 13 n., 18, 83, 84
Wearmouth, 31, 33, 37
Wells Cathedral, 110, 121-124, 186, 276
Werfrith, Bp., 37, 38, 114
Westminster Abbey, 64, 71, 88, 90, 99, 112, 271
Wetheringsett Church, 130, 284
Whalley Abbey, 94
Whelpdale, Roger, 148, 276
Whethamstede, Abbot, 49, 51-52, 139, 153, 181
Whitby Abbey, 30, 37, 48, 88, 265
White Friars’ libraries, 54, 55
Whitherne (Candida Casa), 7
Whittington, Richard, 55, 186-187
Whittlesey, Abp., 271
Wigmore Abbey, 62
Wilfrid, St., 31
William of Waynflete, 143, 147, 282
William of Wykeham, 147, 272
Willibrord, St., 9
Willoughby, Sir R., 129, 280
Wimborne nunnery, 33
Winchelsey, Dr. T., 56
Winchester College, 175, 276
Winchester (Hyde Abbey, New Minster), 38, 42, 86, 174{298}
Winchester (S. Swithin’s, Old Minster), 42, 88, 96, 175
Winchester illumination, 42
Windsor Collegiate Church, 126, 271
Wodelarke, Dr. R., 162
Wolveden, R., 125, 276
Woollaton Church, 129
Worcester College, 51
Worcester Priory (Cathedral), 76, 92, 96, 114-116, 162, 234
Worthington, T., 281
Writing: Irish, 13;
Hiberno-Saxon, 15, 46;
payments for, 254-255
Writing-rooms, 50, 51, 73-77, 80, 82, 88
Wyche, R. de, 54-55, 267
Wymondham Abbey, 62

York Abbey and Cathedral, 33, 35, 36, 124-125, 186, 263
York, All Saints, Peseholme, 129
York, Austin Friars’ library, 56, 67, 68, 103, 271
York, Holy Trinity, Goodramgate, 128
York, S. Mary’s, Castlegate, 128, 273

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Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:
not of sufficent worth and importance=> not of sufficient worth and importance {pg 170}
and made Nìccolò Perotti=> and made Niccolò Perotti {pg 192}


[1] Healy, 46.

[2] Healy, 50.

[3] Sandys, i. 245.

[4] On the connection between Eastern and Celtic monachism, see Stokes (G.T.).

[5] Stokes (W.), T. L., i. 30; ii. 446.

[6] Ib. ii. 421; ii 475.

[7] D. N. B., xliv. 39; Stokes (W.), T. L., i. 191.

[8] Abgitorium, abgatorium; elementa, elimenta. Stokes (W.), T. L., i. cliii.; also i. 111, 113, 139, 191, 308, 320, 322, 326, 327, 328.

[9] In 536, fifty monks from the Continent landed at Cork.—Montalembert, ii. 248n. Migrations from Gaul were frequent about this time.

[10] Bury, 217; cp. 220.

[11] Joyce, i. 478.

[12] Adamnan, lib. ii. c. 29, iii. c. 15 and c. 23.

[13] Dr. Skene says the Psalter incident “bears the stamp of spurious tradition”; so does the Longarad story; but it is curious how often sacred books play a part in these tales.

[14] Henderson, Norse Influence on Celtic Scotland, 5-6.

[15] Moore, Hist. of Ireland, i. 266.

[16] Healy, 379; Stokes (M.)2, 118. Ergo quotidie jejunandum est, sicut quotidie orandum est, quotidie laborandum, quotidie est legendum.

[17] A ninth century catalogue of St. Gall mentions thirty-one volumes and pamphlets in the Irish tongue—Prof. Pflugk-Harttung, in R. H. S. (N. S.), v. 92. Becker names only thirty, p. 43. At Reichenau, a monastery near St. Gall, also famous for its library, there were “Irish education, manuscripts, and occasionally also Irish monks.” “One of the most ancient monuments of the German tongue, the vocabulary of St. Gall, dating from about 780, is written in the Irish character.”

[18] D.C.B. sub nom.

[19] Stokes (G. T.), 221.

[20] Ib. 220.

[21] Haddan, 267.

[22] Hyde, 221.

[23] Joyce, Short Hist. of I., 165.

[24] Bede, H. E., iii. 27; Healy, 101; Stokes (G. T.), 230.

[25] Camb. Lit., i. 66.

[26] Healy, 272.

[27] Alcuin, Willibrord, c. 4.

[28] See full account, R. H. S. (N. S.), v. 75.

[29] Sandys, i. 480.

[30] R. H. S. (N. S.), v. 90.

[31] Sandys, i. 480; Stokes (M.)2, 210.


“Sancte Columba tibi Scotto tuus incola Dungal
Tradidit hunc librum, quo fratrum corda beentur.
Qui leges ergo Deus pretium sit muneris, oro.”—Healy, 392.

[33] Stokes (M.)2, 206-7, 247.

[34] Sandys, i. 463.

[35] Moore, Hist. of I., i. 299; Boll. Iul. t. vii. 222.

[36] The following, among others, are still on the Continent: Gospels of Willibrord (Bibl. Nat. Lat. 9389, 739), Gospel of St. John (Cod. 60 St. Gall c. 750-800); Book of Fragments (No. 1395, St. Gall, c. 750-800); The Golden Gospels (Royal library, Stockholm, 871); Gospels of St. Arnoul, Metz (Nuremberg Museum, 7th c.).—Cp. Maclean, 207-8; Hyde, 267.

[37] Adamnan, 365n.

[38] Hyde, 220; Stokes (M.), 10, “Connachtach, an Abbot of Iona who died in 802, is called in the Irish annals ‘a scribe most choice.’ ”—Trenholme, Iona, 32.

[39] Tech-screptra; domus scripturarum.

[40] Leabhar coimedach. Adamnan, 359, note m.

[41] Joyce, i. 483.

[42] At vero hoc audiens Colcius tempus et horam in tabula describens.—Adamnan, 66. Columba is said to have blessed one hundred pólaires or tablets (Leabhar Breac, fo. 16-60; Stokes (M.), 51). The boy Benen, who followed Patrick, bore tablets on his back (folaire, corrupt for pólaire).—Stokes (W.), T. L., 47. Patrick gave to Fiacc a case containing a tablet. Ib. 344. An example of a waxed tablet, with a case for it, is in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy. The case is a wooden cover, divided into hollowed-out compartments for holding the styles. This specimen dates from the thirteenth or fourteenth century. Slates and pencils were also in use for temporary purposes.—Joyce, i. 483.

[43] See Thompson, 236, where Irish calligraphy is fully dealt with; Camb. Lit., i. 13.

[44] Trans. R. I. Acad., vol. xviii. 1838.

[45] Stokes (W.), T. L., 75. The terms used for satchels are sacculi (Lat.), and tiag, or tiag liubhair or teig liubair (Ir.). There has been some confusion between pólaire and tiag, the former being regarded as a leather case for a single book, the latter a satchel for several books. This distinction is made in connection with the ancient Irish life of Columba, which is therefore made to read that the saint used to make cases and satchels for books (pólaire ocus tiaga), v. Adamnan, 115. Cf. Petrie, Round Towers, 336-7. But the late Dr. Whitley Stokes makes pólaire or pōlire, or the corruption folaire, derive from pugillares = writing tablets.—Stokes (W.), T. L., cliii. and 655. This interpretation of the word gives us the much more likely reading that Columba made tablets, and satchels for books.

[46] Stokes (M.), 50.

[47] Curzon, Monasteries of the Levant, 66.

[48] Mr. Allen, in his admirable volume on Celtic Art, p. 208, in this series, says cumdachs were peculiar to Ireland. But they were made and used elsewhere, and were variously known as capsae, librorum coopertoria (e.g. ... librorumque coopertoria; quædam horum nuda, quædam vero alia auro atque argento gemmisque pretiosis circumtecta.—Acta SS., Aug. iii. 659c), and thecae. Some of these cases were no doubt as beautifully decorated as the Irish cumdachs. William of Malmesbury asserts that twenty pounds and sixty marks of gold were used to make the coopertoria librorum Evangelii for King Ina’s chapel. At the Abbey of St. Riquier was an “Evangelium auro Scriptum unum, cum capsa argentea gemmis et lapidibus fabricata. Aliae capsae evangeliorum duae ex auro et argento paratae.”—Maitland, 212. In 1295 St. Paul’s Cathedral possessed a copy of the Gospels in a case (capsa) adorned with gilding and relics.—Putnam, i. 105-6.

[49] Leborchometa chethrochori, and bibliothecae quadratae.—Stokes (W.), T. L., 96 and 313.

[50] Stokes (M.), 90.

[51] Stokes (M.), 92-3.

[52] See La Bibliofilia, xi. 165.

[53] Acta SS. Ap., iii. 581c.

[54] Healy, 524.

[55] Other instances are cited in Adamnan, book ii., chap. 8.

[56] Hist. mon. S. Augustini, Cant., 96-99, “Et haec sunt primitiae librorum totius ecclesiae Anglicanae,” 99.

[57] H. E., i. 29.

[58] Stanley, Hist. Mem. of C. (1868), 42.

[59] Hist. mon. S. Aug., xxv.

[60] B. M. Reg. I. E. vi. may be a part of the Gregorian Bible, or the second copy of the Gospels mentioned above, if this second copy is not Corpus Christi, Camb. 286. Corpus C. 286 is a seventh century book, certainly from St. Augustine’s; it was probably brought to England in the time of Theodore, and though it may be one of the books referred to above, is, therefore, not Augustinian. The Psalter bearing the silver images is “most likely” Cott. Vesp. A. 1, an eighth century manuscript; it is, therefore, not Augustinian, although it may be a copy of the original Psalter given by Gregory.—James, lxvi.

[61] Known as Codex E, or the Laudian Acts (Laud. Gr. 35). Bede refers to a Greek manuscript of the Acts in his Retractationes; possibly this is the actual copy. The last page of the book bears the signature “Theodore”; did Archbishop Theodore bring the volume to England? “It is at least safe to say that the presence of such a book in England in Bede’s time can hardly be entirely independent of the influence of Theodore or of Abbot Hadrian.”—James (M. R.), xxiii.

[62] H. E., iv. 2, tr. Sellar.

[63] Ib. v. 20.

[64] Ib. v. 23.

[65] This copy was still at Malmesbury in the twelfth century.—W. of Malmesbury, Ang. Sacr., ii. 21.

[66] Sandys, i. 466; Camb. Eng. Lit., i. 75.

[67] Camb. Eng. Lit., i. 45.

[68] These foundations were regarded as one house, the inmates being bound together by “a common and perpetual affection and intimacy.”

[69] “Innumerabilem librorum omnis generis copiam apportavit.”—Vitae Abbatum, § 4.

[70] “Copiosissima et nobilissima bibliotheca.”—Ib. § 11.

[71] Lanciani, Anc. Rome, 201.

[72] Ceolfrid, Benedict Biscop’s successor, added a number of books to the library, among them three copies of the Vulgate, and one of the older version. One copy of the Vulgate Ceolfrid took with him to Rome (716) to give to the Pope. He died on the way. The codex did not go to Rome; now, it is in the Laurentian Library, Florence, where it is known as the Codex Amiatinus. The writing is Italian, or at any rate foreign, so it must have been imported, or written at Jarrow by foreign scribes. This volume is the chief authority for the text of Jerome’s translation of the Scriptures.

[73] H. E., v. 24.

[74] Bede frequently quotes Cicero, Virgil, and Horace; usually selecting some telling phrase, e.g. “caeco carpitur igni” (H. E. ii. 12). In his De Natura rerum he owes a good deal to Pliny and Isidore. In his commentaries on the Scriptures he displays an extent of reading which we have no space to give any idea of. His chronologies were based on Jerome’s edition of Eusebius, on Augustine and Isidore. In his H. E. he uses “Pliny, Solinus, Orosius, Eutropius, Marcellinus Comes, Gildas, probably the Historia Brittonum, a Passion of St. Alban, and the Life of Germanus of Auxerre by Constantius”; while he refers to lives of St. Fursa, St. Ethelburg, and to Adamnan’s work on the Holy Places. Cf. Sandys, i. 468; Camb. Lit., i. 80-81. Bede also got first-hand knowledge: the Lindisfarne records provided him with material on Cuthbert; information came to him from Canterbury about Southern affairs and from Lastingham about Mercian affairs. Nothelm got material from the archives at Rome for him.

[75] Tr. in Morley, Eng. Writers, ii. 160.

[76] Tr. in West, Alcuin, 34-35.

[77] Tr. in King’s Letters, ed. Steele (1903), 1. Cf. Bodl. MS. Hatton, 20; Cott. MS. Otho B 2; Corpus C. C., Camb. MS. 12.

[78] MS. Cott. Tib. B xi.—a copy of Alfred’s version of the Cura, or what is left of it—has been connected with Archbishop Plegmund, the evidence being a Saxon inscription on the manuscript. Wanley, however, doubted the conclusiveness of this evidence, which, together with most of the text, was lost in the fire of 1731.—James, xxiii-iv.

[79] Sandys, i. 484.

[80] Hunt, Hist. of Eng. Church, i. 326.

[81] Strutt, Saxon Antiq., i. 105, pl. xviii. The picture is in a large volume containing part of a grammar and certain other pieces used at Glastonbury.—MS. Auct. F. iv. 32. Over the picture is the inscription: Pictura et scriptura hujus paginae subtus visa est de propria manu Sci. Dunstani.

[82] Stubbs, Mem. of Dunstan, cx.-cxii.

[83] Chron. Mon. de Abingdon, ii. 263.

[84] Ibid., ii. 265.

[85] Archaeologia, xxiv. 19.

[86] B. M. Cott. Vesp., A. viii., written 966.

[87] Hook, Archbishops, i. 453 (1st ed.).

[88] Chron. Abb. de E., 83.

[89] James1, 5-6.

[90] Most old English poems are preserved in unique manuscripts, sometimes not complete, but in fragments; two fragments, for example, were found in the bindings of other books.—Warton, ii. 7. In 1248, only four books in English were at Glastonbury, and they are described as old and useless.—John of G., 435; Ritson, i. 43. About fifty years later only seventeen such books were in the big library at Canterbury.—James (M. R.), 51. A striking illustration of the disuse of the vernacular among the religious is found in an Anglo-Saxon Gregory’s Pastoral Care, which is copiously glossed in Latin, in two or three hands. This manuscript, now in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, No. 12, came from Worcester Priory.—James17, 33.

[91] Becker, 199, 257.

[92] In an eleventh century manuscript in Trinity College Library, Cambridge (MS. B. 16, 44), is an inscription, perhaps by Lanfranc himself, recording that he brought it from Bec and gave it to Christ Church.

[93] At the end of the manuscript of Cassian is written: “Hucusque ego Lanfrancus correxi.”—Hist. Litt. de la France, vii. 117. At the end of the Ambrose (Hexaemeron) the note reads, “Lanfrancus ego correxi.”

[94] James (M. R.), xxx.

[95] Chron. Abb. de Evesham, 97.

[96] Library of Ste. Geneviève, Paris, MS. E. l. 17, in 40, fol. 61. The note reads: Quia autem apud Bequefort victualium copia erat, scriptores etiam ibi habebantur quorum opera ad nos in Normaniam mittebantur.—Library, v. 2 (1893).

[97] Stevenson, Grosseteste, 149.

[98] Gesta R. Angl., lib. v.; Camb. Lit., i. 159-60.

[99] Surtees S., lxix. 341.

[100] Merryweather, 96-7.

[101] Joh. Glaston, Chronica, ed. Hearne (1726), ii. 423-44; Merryweather, 140.

[102] Librariam fecit optimum pulcherrimum et copiosum.—Holmes, Wells and Glastonbury, 229.

[103] MS. Twyne, Bodl. L., 8, 272.

[104] James, and James1.

[105] In the fine MS. Cott. Claud. E. iv. (Gesta Abbatum) is a series of portrait miniatures of the abbots, and in most cases they are represented as reading or carrying books, or with books about them.

[106] Fecit etiam scribi libros plurimos, quos longum esset enarrare.

[107] Some of the books were restored, others were resold to the abbey.

[108] A lot of forty-nine, with prices attached, is given in Annales a J. Amund., ii. 268 et seq.

[109] Gloucester House, now Worcester College.

[110] Dugdale, iv. 405.

[111] For St. Albans see Gesta Abbatum, i. 58, 70, 94, 106, 179, 184; ii. 200, 306, 363; iii. 389, 393.

[112] Mon. Fr., ii. lviii.

[113] Bryce, i. 440 n., 29.

[114] Clark, 62.

[115] These works would be Latin translations based upon Arabic versions. Opus Majus, iii. 66; Camb. Lit., i. 199; Gasquet3, 156.

[116] Close roll, 10 Hen. III, m. 6 (3rd Sep.); Trivet, Annales, 243; Mon. Fr., i. 185; Stevenson, 76; O. H. S., Little, 57.

[117] Wood, Hist. Ant. U. Ox. (1792), i. 329.

[118] There is an imperfect catalogue of their library in Leland, iii. 57.

[119] Leland3, 286.

[120] Oliver, Mon. Dioc. Exon., 332, 333.

[121] Sussex Archaeol. Collections, i. (1848), 168-187.

[122] Mon. Fr., ii. 18.

[123] Cal. of Pap. Letters, iv. 42-43.

[124] Leland, iii. 53.

[125] Camb. Mod. Hist., i., 597.

[126] For date see Stow (Kingsford’s ed.), i. 108; i. 318; Mon. Fr. i. 519.

[127] Stow, i. 318.

[128] Camb. Mod. Hist., i. 591

[129] The catalogue is edited by Dr. M. R. James in Fasciculus Ioanni Willis Clark dicatus, 2-96.

[130] Bryce, i. 369.

[131] Mon. Fr., i. 391.

[132] Ibid. i. 366.

[133] But see O. H. S., Little, 56; Mon. Fr., ii. 91—Libri fratrum decedentium....

[134] Mon. Fr., i. 114.

[135] Bodl. MS. Twyne, xxiii. 488; O. H. S., Little, 60.

[136] R. Armachanus, Defensorium Curatorum; cf. Wyclif’ English Works, ed. Matthew, 128, 221.

[137] R. de B., Thomas’ ed. 203.

[138] Stevenson, 87.

[139] Gasquet3, 140, q.v. for full description of these Correctoria.

[140] MS. Bodl. Tanner, 165.

[141] Camb. Mod. Hist., i. 592; James, xlix.

[142] Hist. et Cart. Mon. Glouc., iii. lxxiv.

[143] R. de B., c. v. 183.

[144] Whitaker, Hist. of Craven, (1805), 330; another computus, discovered later, does not refer to books (ed. 1878).

[145] Morris, Chester during Plantagenet and Tudor Reigns, 128-129.

[146] James, M. R.1, 109-110.

[147] Bateson, Med. Eng., 339.

[148] Gasquet4, 49.

[149] E. H. R., xxv. 122.

[150] Bateson, vii.

[151] Synesius de laude Calvitii, MS. Bodl. 80.

[152] Gasquet2, 36-37.

[153] Sandys., ii. 225; and see post, p. 195.

[154] Gasquet2, 37; Rashdall and Rait, New Coll. (1901), 251.

[155] A few volumes escaped: a copy of Basil’s Commentary on Isaiah, presumably in Greek, and some others. “Among them must in all probability be reckoned the first copy of Homer whose presence can be definitely traced in England since the days of Theodore of Tarsus.”—Camb. Mod. Hist., i. 598. Cp. James, li.

[156] Aubrey, Lett. of Em. Per. from the Bod., i. 278.

[157] Laboryouse Journey and Serche of Johann Leylande for Englandes Antiquitees, by Bale, 1549. Cf. Strype, Parker (1711), 528.

[158] Accounts of John Scudamore (kings receiver), detailing proceeds of sale of goods from Bordesley Abbey, and other monasteries.—Cam. Soc., xxvi. 269, 271, 275.

[159] Fasciculus I. W. Clark dicatus, 16, and cf. 96.

[160] Fasciculus I. W. Clark dicatus, 16, 17.

[161] C. A. S. 8vo. Publ., No. 33 (1900), Dr. James on MSS. in the Library of Lambeth Palace, pp. 1, 2, 6.

[162] See Dr. James’ view of the dispersion of Bury Abbey Library.—James1, 9-10.

[163] Monasticon, Dugdale, ii. 586-587.

[164] Ath. Ox. (1721), 82, 83.

[165] James (M. R.), lxxxi.

[166] Leland, Itinerary (1907), i. xxxviii.

[167] James (M. R.)1, 11.

[168] Notes and Q., 2. i. 485; James (M. R.), lvii, lxxxii.

[169] Strype, Parker (1711), 528.

[170] James (M. R.), Sources of Archbishop Parker’s MSS. (Camb. Antiq. Soc.).

[171] James (M. R.), 505-534.

[172] James (M. R.)1, 42; ibid. xciv. But later Dr. James was less certain of some of his identifications. See James (M. R.)10, viii.

[173] Robinson.

[174] See also Macray’s Annals of the Bodleian.

[175] Maitland, 404-405.

[176] Stat. selecta Cap. Gen. O. Cisterc., A.D. 1278, Martène, iv. 1462; Maitland, 406.

[177] O. H. S., Little, 55.

[178] Surtees Soc., xv., Durham Rites, 70-71.

[179] Chron. abb. de Evesham, 301.

[180] James (M. R.), li.; Cox, Canterbury, 199.

[181] Windle, Chester, 171-172; Library, ii. 285.

[182] Géraud, Essai sur les livres, 181.

[183] Sandys, i. 266.

[184] Cp. Du Cange, Gloss. art. Scriptores; citation from Const. of Carthusians.

[185] Maitland, 56.

[186] Chron. mon. de Abingd., ii. 371.

[187] Gesta abb. m. S. Albani, i. 57-58.

[188] From the Porkington MS.; this treatise has been printed in Early English Miscellanies, ed. J. O. Halliwell, for the Warton Club (1855), p. 72. Other treatises are in Mrs. Merrifield’s Arts of Painting (1849).

[189] Madan, 37.

[190] Pez, Thesaurus, i. xx.

[191] Bede, Works, ed. Plummer, xx.

[192] O. V., pars II. lib. iv.

[193] Hardy, iii. xiii.

[194] Surtees Soc., vii. xxv.

[195] Lecoq de la Marche, 103.

[196] In a MS. of Joh. Andreas, Super Decretales, Peterhouse, Camb.—James3, 29.

[197] MS. on surgery, Peterhouse, Camb.—James3, 137.

[198] Du Cange, Gloss., art., Scriptorium.

[199] Martène, De Ant. Mon. Ritibus, v. c. 18, § 4.

[200] E. H. R., xxv. 121.

[201] Thompson, pp. 19 ff., 322.

[202] Customary of St. A. (H. Brads. Soc.), i. 401. These tablets were called ceratae tabellae, tabellae cerae, or simply cerae. The name of a book, caudex, codex, was first given to these tabellae when they were strung together to form a square “book.”—V. Antiquary, xii. 277.

[203] James1, 7; ibid.17, 3.

[204] Works, ed. Skeat, i. 379.

[205] Mon. Fr., i. 359.

[206] Epp., 8. 69; Sandys, i. 487-488.

[207] James (M. R.)10.

[208] Stevenson, Suppl. to Bentham’s Ch. of Ely.

[209] Warton, i. 213.

[210] Mon. Fr., i. 206.

[211] O. H. S., Little, 135; best account of Adam in this book.

[212] C. A. S. (N.S.), 8vo ser. vii. 187 (1909). The story of the connexion between Chesterton and Vercelli is most interesting. A list of the books is in Lampugnani, Sulla Vita di Guala Bicchieri, Vercelli (1842), 125 et seq.; but I have not been able to see the book. See further Bekynton’s Correspondence, ii. 344 (Rolls Ser.); and Kennedy, Poems of Cynewulf (1910), 6.

[213] O. H. S., 27 Boase, xxxvii n.

[214] Sandys, i. 486-489, q.v. for other interesting facts about this abbot.

[215] Gesta Abbatum, i. 57.

[216] Chron. mon. de Abingd., ii. 153. A list of the precentor’s rents, applied to expenses of the writing-room and the organ, will be found in ii. 328.

[217] H. Mon. S. A., 392.

[218] Stewart, Ely Cath., 280; Surtees Soc., lxix. 15-20; Robinson, I.

[219] Chron. abb. de Evesham, 208-210.

[220] Full document in Edwards, i. 283.

[221] Chron. abb. Rameseiensis, 356.

[222] James, 535-544.

[223] Chron. abb. de Evesham, 267.

[224] Robinson, 4.

[225] O. H. S., 27, Boase, 19.

[226] Rymer, Foedera, viii. 501; cf. James17, 153.

[227] Cam. Soc., Bury Wills (1850), 105. Many of the gifts to Syon monastery came from priests.—Bateson, xxiii-xxvii. Cf. also lists of donors in James (M. R.), 535 et seq.

[228] Cf. James (M. R.), lxxii n.

[229] Customary of Barnwell (Harl. MS. 3061).

[230] Surtees Soc. xv., Durham Rites, 70-71. The library would be that built by Wessington in 1446.

[231] But see Robinson, 3.

[232] Sandys, i. 266.

[233] Archæol. Jour. (1848), v. 85.

[234] Lancs. and Ches. Hist. Soc., xix. 106.

[235] Chron. mon. de Melsa, iii. lxxxiii.

[236] James (M. R.), xliv.

[237] Anglia Sacra, i. 145-6; James (M. R.), l-li.

[238] MS. Arundel 57, Brit. Mus. See James (M. R.), lxxvii. “This boc is dan Michelis of Northgate, y-write an englis of his ozene hand. thet hatte: Ayenbyte of Inwyt. And is of the bochouse of Saynt Austines of Canterberi. mid the letters CC.” “Ymende, thet this boc is volveld ine the eve of the holy apostles Symon an Judas, of ane brother of the cloystre of Sauynt Austin of Canterberi, ine the yeare of oure lhordes beringe (birth) 1340.”

[239] Surtees Soc., xv., Durham Rites, 26.

[240] C. 1429-45. Most likely over the cloister. The books seem to have been arranged flat on sloping desks, to which they were chained.—James (M. R.)1, 41.

[241] Chron. mon. de Abingd., ii. 373.

[242] Hardy, iii. xiii.

[243] Chron. mon. de Abingd., ii. 371; Customary of St. August., Cant. (H. Brads. Soc.), introd.

[244] Customary of St. August., i. 96; ii. 36.

[245] Panni, camisiae librorum.

[246] Stat. ant. ord. Carthus., c. xvi. § 9.

[247] MS. Lat. 12296, Bibl. Nat., Paris.

[248] Bibl. Cluniacensis, lib. i.; Maitland, 440.

[249] James (M. R.)10, 171.

[250] B. M. MS. Reg. 12 G. ii.; Warton, i. 182.

[251] Harl. MS. 2798.

[252] See anathema in Trin. Coll. Camb. MS. B. S. 17.

[253] James17, 126.

[254] Mon. Fr., ii. 41.

[255] Bryce, i. 27.

[256] Hist. MSS., 6th Rept. 296b.

[257] Records of the Borough of Nottingham, i. 335.

[258] C. A. S. (N.S.), iii. 397.

[259] See particularly James (M. R.), xlv-xlvi, 146-149.

[260] Delisle, Bibl. de l’École des chartes, iiie ser. i. 225.

[261] Hist. MSS. 6th Rept. 296a.

[262] Literae Cantuarienses, ii. 146.

[263] Mon. Fr., ii. 91.

[264] Literae Cantuarienses, ii. 146; James (M. R.), 146.

[265] James (M. R.), xlv, 502-503; Camb. Univ. Lib. MS., Ff. 4. 40, last fol.

[266] Clark, 133.

[267] Surtees Soc., vii. 85.

[268] See also Bateson, vi-vii.

[269] Bateson, vii.

[270] Pemb. Coll., Camb., MS. 180.

[271] Madan, 7, 8.

[272] Bateson, 202. Ut scilicet prima particula de numero et perfecta voluminum cognicione loci precentorem informet, secunda ad solicitam leccionis frequenciam ffratres studiosos provocet, et tercia de singulorum tractatuum repercione festina scolaribus itinera manifestet.—James, 407.

[273] James (M. R.), 410. For further information on monastic catalogues consult Surtees Soc., vii; Becker; James (M. R.); Bateson; Zentralblatt; Gottlieb.

[274] Bateson, Med. Eng., 86.

[275] Now in Mr. Pierpont Morgan’s library. Illustrated in La Bibliofilia, xi. 169.

[276] Cf. Register of S. Osmund, ii. 127. Textus unus aureus magnus continens saphiros xx., et smaragdos [emeralds] vi., et thopasios viii., et alemandinas [? carbuncle or ruby] xviii., et gernettas [garnets] viii., et perlas xii. Also i. 276; ii. 43. Jerome, Ad Eustoch, Ep. 18.

[277] MS., 41; James17, 81.

[278] C. A. S., 8vo. publ. No. 33 (1900), 25.

[279] MS. Bodl., Auct. D. 2. 16 fo. 1ª; Dugdale, ii. 527; Oxford Philol. Soc. Trans., 1881-83, p. 2.

[280] Full inventory in Oliver, Lives of the Bps., 301-310.

[281] C. A. S. (N.S.), 8vo. ser. iv. 311.

[282] Ego I. de G. Exon., do Eccle. Exon librum istum cum pari suo, in festo Annuntiationis Dominice. Manu mea, anno consecrationis mee xxxix.—Oliver, Lives of the Bps., 85.

[283] Lego eisdem libros meos episcopales, majorem et minorem, quos ego compilavi.—Ibid. 86.

[284] In 1329 he wrote to Richard de Ratforde from Chudleigh: “Regraciamur vobis quod Librum Sermonum Beati Augustini pro nobis, prout Magister Ricardus filius Radulphi, ex parte nostra, vos rogavit, retinuistis, nobisque et condiciones ejusdem significastis et precium. Et, quia ipsum Librum habere volumus, lx solidos sterlingorum Magistro Johanni de Sovenaisshe [Sevenashe], Magistro Scolarum nostre Civitatis Exoniensis, pro ipso Libro tradi fecimus, ut nobis eundem, quamcicius nuncii securitas affuerit, transmittatis. Libros, eciam, Theologicos Originales, veteres saltem et raros, ac Sermones antiquos, eciam sine Divisionibus Thematum, pro nostris usibus exploretis; scribentes nobis condiciones et precium eorundem.”—O.H.S., 27 Boase, 2.

[285] Robinson, 63.

[286] Building accounts in C. A. S. (N.S.), 8vo. ser. iv. 296.

[287] Oliver, 366-375.

[288] Between 1385 and 1425 the bishops giving books to Exeter College, Oxford.

[289] Oliver, 359, 360, 366-375.

[290] List in Oliver, Lives, 376; C. A. S. (N.S.), iv. 306 (8vo. ser.).

[291] Oliver, 376.

[292] C. A. S. (N.S.), iv. 312.

[293] I have to thank my friend Mr. Tapley Soper, F.R.Hist.S., for his willing help in sending me information about this library.

Our account of church libraries will appear inadequate if it is not borne in mind that we do not propose to go beyond the manuscript age. An excellent account of modern church libraries is given in English Church Furniture, in this series. Also see Clark, 257.

[294] Reliquary, vii. 11 (Floyer).

[295] Reliquary, vii. 14 (Floyer).

[296] Ibid., 17.

[297] The best account of Worcester Cathedral Library is in Reliquary, vii. 11, by the Rev. J. K. Floyer, M.A.

[298] Havergal, Fasti Heref. (1869), 181-182.

[299] W. of Malmesbury, Gesta Pont., 184.

[300] Register of St. Osmund, i. 8, 214.

[301] Register of St. Osmund, i. 224.

[302] Cox and Harvey, English Church Furniture, 331.

[303]See list in Giraldus Cambrensis, vii. 165-166.

[304] Archaeologia, l. 496.

[305] Hist. MSS., 9th Rept., App. 46a.

[306] Ep., 126; Creighton, Papacy, iii. 53n.

[307] Stow, i. 328.

[308] Dugdale, Hist. of St. Paul’s, 392-398.

[309] Ibid., 399.

[310] Stow, i. 328.

[311] Ibid., ii. 346; Simpson, Reg. S. Pauli, 13, 78, 133, 173, 227.

[312] Pp. 1, 325-327.

[313] In the fifteenth century the bishops of Wells were good friends of learning: Skirlaw gave books to University College, Oxford; Bowet left a large library; Stafford gave books; Bekynton was the companion of the most cultivated men of his time. Dean Gunthorpe is well known as a pilgrim to Italy, who returned laden with manuscripts (see p. 192).

[314] Hist. MSS. Rept. 3, App. 363a.

[315] Mun. Acad., 649.

[316] Mun. Acad., 652-653.

[317] L. A. R., viii. 372; Canon Church’s account of the library, in Archaeologia, lvii. pt. 2, is very full and interesting.

[318] Surtees Soc., xxxv. 36-40.

[319] Hunter, Notes of Wills in Registers of York, 15.

[320] Surtees Soc., xxxv., 45-46.

[321] Ibid., iv. 385; xlv. 89, 91.

[322] W. Salt Arch. Soc., vi. pt. 2, 211.

[323] Capit. Acts, v. 3.

[324] Harwood, Hist. and Antiq. of the Ch.... of Lichfield (1806), 109.

[325] Vict. County Hist. of Berkshire, ii. 109.