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English Medieval BooksThe Reading Abbey Collections from Foundation to Dispersal$
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Alan Coates

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198207566

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207566.001.0001

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The Dispersal of the Books at the Dissolution

The Dispersal of the Books at the Dissolution

(p.122) 8 The Dispersal of the Books at the Dissolution
English Medieval Books

Alan Coates

Oxford University Press

What happened to the book collections of monasteries at the Dissolution? From the large number of monastic houses in England in the 1530s, and the small numbers of surviving manuscripts listed by Ker in Medieval Libraries of Great Britain, it must be assumed that many books did not survive. Although the provenances of a great many manuscripts have been identified, how these books actually survived is not always clear. Some were the property of individual monks. Others were abstracted from monasteries by the departing religious. Richard Hart, the last prior of Lanthony, took away about 150 manuscripts from his monastery. In many cases, books were simply left to await removal by interested parties or, if not, to disintegrate. There were also problems of theft. Andrew Watson has distinguished a number of different categories of book collectors in the years following the Dissolution. These include the Crown, Archbishop Matthew Parker of Canterbury, scholars, professionals such as heralds, gentleman bibliophiles, and civil servants.

Keywords:   Dissolution, monasteries, England, manuscripts, book collections, monks, book collectors, Matthew Parker, theft, bibliophiles

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