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A: Canterbury, England, United Kingdom, B: Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

Book Collector Matthew Parker Donates his Library to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge


In 1574, the year before his death, Archbishop of Canterbury Matthew Parker donated his library of about 480 manuscripts and about 1000 printed books to the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Parker was an avid book collector, salvaging medieval manuscripts dispersed at the dissolution of the monasteries. He was particularly intent on preserving materials relating to Anglo-Saxon England, motivated by his search for evidence of an ancient English-speaking Church independent of Rome. Parker's extraordinary collection of documents remains at Corpus Christi College, and consists of items spanning from the sixth-century Gospels of St. Augustine to sixteenth century records relating to the English Reformation.

"The Parker Library's holdings of Old English texts accounts for nearly a quarter of all extant manuscripts in Anglo-Saxon, including the earliest copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (c. 890), the Old English Bede and King Alfred´s translation of Gregory the Great´s Pastoral Care. The Parker Library also contains key Anglo-Norman and Middle English texts ranging from the Ancrene Wisse and the Brut Chronicle to one of the finest copies of Chaucer´s Troilus and Criseyde. Other subjects represented in the collection are music, medieval travelogues and maps, bestiaries, royal ceremonies, historical chronicles and Bibles. The Parker Library holds a magnificent collection of English illuminated manuscripts, such as the Bury and Dover Bibles (c. 1135 and c. 1150) and the Chronica maiora by Matthew Paris (c. 1230-50)" (Parker Library on the Web [Beta] accessed 11-27-2008).

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