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    Butler, Emily 2014. Recollecting Alfredian English in the Sixteenth Century. Neophilologus, Vol. 98, Issue. 1, p. 145.

  • Print publication year: 2002
  • Online publication date: March 2008

15 - Monastic collections and their dispersal

John Dee, magus and book collector, proposed the establishment of a Library Royal and commissioners who would go about the country retrieving ancient books. Dissolutions and removal of books from the monasteries did not begin with Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy. Although many books were destroyed, thousands did survive and began to surface in collections in the second half of the sixteenth century. Ushering in the golden age of collecting, 1560 - 1640, are three important documents: a letter from Bale to Matthew Parker, in response for a request for information 'concernyne bokes of antiquite, not printed'; a list of texts relating to Anglo-Saxon history prepared by John Joscelyn and a list of writers on medieval English history. Although the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century antiquaries were anxious to salvage manuscripts their concerns did not stretch to preservation. Ironically, it was the very destruction of the monasteries which led ultimately to the enshrinement of the libraries as cultural icons.
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