A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval Manuscripts of Merton College, Oxford

June 2009
51 colour, 107 black and white illustrations
440 pages
31.2x23.7 cm
ISBN: 9781843841883
Format: Hardback
BISAC REF004000, LCO003000, LIT007000

A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval Manuscripts of Merton College, Oxford

with a description of the Greek Manuscripts by N. G. Wilson

R. M. Thomson

Descriptive catalogue provides a crucial guide to one of the most important repositories of medieval manuscrips.
Merton College, Oxford, one of the oldest colleges in the University, was founded in 1264. Its library contains some 328 complete medieval manuscript books (plus several hundred fragments in, or extracted from, the bindings of early printed books), dating from the ninth to the late fifteenth century. Most of them came to the College before the Reformation, and are the remains of its medieval collection, part of which was chained in the library, part in circulation amongst the Fellowship. Together with the College's surviving medieval archive, which includes no fewer than twenty-three book-lists, this material provides an important window on intellectual life at the University of Oxford between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, and on the manufacture, acquisition and use of the books that supported it.

This first catalogue of the medieval manuscripts since 1852 offers full and detailed descriptions of each item, supported by a colour frontispiece, 50 colour plates, and 107 black and white plates. Its introduction provides the first detailed history of Merton's medieval library, including an account of the building and design of the College's 'Old Library', built in the 1370s, western Europe's oldest library room still in use today; and the volume is completed with four appendices (including a comprehensive set of extracts from the College's medieval account rolls referring to its books and library) and two indexes.

RODNEY M. THOMSON is Professor of History and Honorary Research Associate in the School of History and Classics, University of Tasmania.

Table of Contents

Appendix A: The Greek Manuscripts
Appendix B: Extracts from the Merton account rolls relating to books and the library
Appendix C: Merton College books in John Bale's Index
Appendix D: The section on Merton manuscripts in Thomas James' Ecloga
Index of Manuscripts
General Index


At the centre of the volume stand what Thomson always provides, a sequence of impeccable and very detailed descriptions; one can be assured that Merton books and their contents are now superlatively publicized. MEDIUM AEVUM

Conveys a vivid picture of the intellectual world of medieval Oxford, not only in terms of what texts were available but of how books were produced, acquired and cared for. [It] proves so informative about the lives of books that it will surely become a fruitful resource for future scholars, and not only those concerned with the medieval university. ASSOCIATION for MANUSCRIPTS and ARCHIVES in RESEARCH COLLECTIONS NEWSLETTER
A substantial amount of information is provided for each manuscript in a format which is easy to understand and concise. The catalogue is also well illustrated, with a number of colour and black-and-white plates. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

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