14 Apr 2017

A Greek First Edition and its Manuscript Exemplar

In addition to books that are overtly "treasures", the exhibition includes a number that require the visitor to look closely in order to understand why they are so special, unusual, or important. The great interest of two such books only becomes apparent when they are placed side by side.

2 Mar 2017

The Trilingual Library: Latin

MS 50 and MS 84, as exhibited together at the Folger
Printed books and manuscripts in Latin occur in every section of the exhibition, except those devoted exclusively to Greek and Hebrew books, so it did not seem necessary to include many in Section II, specifically devoted to "Latin", one of the three main languages of the Trilingual Library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

In the Folger arrangement this section consists of two pairs of books. I hope to devote a blog post to each pairing, of which this is the first.

18 Feb 2017

"Pray for the soul ..."

A large number of the books listed in the 1589 catalogue of the Library (to be the subject of a later blog post) can be conclusively identified with books still in the collection today, thanks to the fact that they include inscriptions recording that they were given by Richard Fox, who died in 1528: they ask readers to pray for the soul of Richard Fox, former bishop of Winchester, founder of Corpus Christi College, who is recorded as having given the book. 

5 Feb 2017

St Jerome and the Three Languages of the Bible

A theme that runs through much of the exhibition is the ambition of Richard Fox, the College's Founder, and John Claymond, its first President, to form a tri-lingual library, just as one had been founded at Alcalá de Henares, Spain, about a decade earlier in 1508. (At exactly the same time that Fox was founding the College, Erasmus was helping to found the Collegium Trilingue at Leuven, in the Netherlands, in 1517-18; Melancthon became the first professor of Greek at Wittenberg, Germany, in 1518; and a similar trilingual college would be founded in Paris in 1530.)

The importance of Greek, in addition to Latin, was obvious in the new intellectual climate of Renaissance England, with its increased interest in Classical texts and the increased availability of such texts in relatively inexpensive printed editions. Greek is also the language of the New Testament. Similarly, Hebrew is the original language of most of the rest of the Bible: if Christian scholars wanted to properly understand and edit the text, or if they wanted to understand Jewish interpretations of the Scriptures, they needed to learn the language.

30 Jan 2017

Contemplacyon of Sinners, by William Touris, 1499

The Contemplacyon of Sinners
The Contemplacyon of Sinners is an Anglicised version of a work written in Scots by William Touris, a Franciscan Observant, printed at Richard Fox’s expense in 1499, while Bishop of Durham. The College’s copy is included in the exhibition as an example of his religious patronage, and because its frontispiece represents the earliest visual representation of Fox. The text of the prologue, facing the woodcut, begins:
At the devoute & dylygent request of the ryght reverende fader in god & lorde Rycharde bysshop of Dureham and lorde pryveseall of Englonde, this lytell boke named Contemplac[y]on of synners is compyled & fynysshed ...

Although the decorative printer's device at the end of the text, with the letters "W" and "C", is a version of William Caxton's, the colophon tells us that this book was printed by his colleague and successor, Wynkyn de Worde, several years after Caxton's death:

"... Emprentyd at Westmynster by Wynken de worde the .x. daye of July, the yere of our lorde .M.CCCC.lxxxxix.", i.e 10 July 1499" (a Thursday)
This copy was given to the College in 1708 by a former Fellow, Nathaniel Ellison, in 1708, as recorded on the first page, on which is printed a second impression of the same woodcut.
The inscription in the upper margin, presumably crossed-through by Ellison, is discussed in a separate blog post here.

Call-number: Phi.C.1.6

Further Reading
Entry in the SOLO online catalogue: http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/OXVU1:LSCOP_OX:oxfaleph019437697

21 Jan 2017

Three-Lock Chest

There is, in the Archives at the College, an oak box, approximately 300×375×235mm (approx. 12×15×9 inches), around the outside of which three iron bands pass, each secured at the front with a lock.

Each key-hole is a distinctly different shape:

19 Jan 2017

Bishop Richard Fox's Ablution Basin

The exhibition includes one of two surviving ablution basins made for Richard Fox, which he would have used when he was officiating at mass:

It is normally on display at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, together with other items that belonged to him, including his crosier, discussed in the previous post:

15 Jan 2017

Bishop Richard Fox's Crosier

[Image © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford]
Richard Fox's probably commissioned this crosier (also spelled crozier) on becoming bishop of Winchester in 1501; within the circular section at the top St Peter, patron of the cathedral, is enthroned holding a book and his symbol, a large key.
[Image © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford]

8 Jan 2017

Portrait of Richard Fox

Portrait of Richard Fox by Johannes Corvus (Jan Rav), c.1530s
The exhibition includes a reproduction of the portrait of Richard Fox by Jan Rav, alias Joannes Corvus (Wikipedia), who was Flemish, but active in England in the 1530s and ’40s.