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An Illyrian Armorial in the Society's Collection

  • John A. Goodall
Extract

Since the eighteenth century the Society has acquired many heraldic manuscripts, mainly English; but there are also several continental books, mostly from the Franks Bequest. Among the foreign books the most important is MS 54 which was bequeathed to the Society by Charles Lyttelton, Bishop of Carlisle when he died in office, as President in 1768. In the old catalogue of the Society's manuscripts the Latin half of the title page was quoted but it omitted to mention that the text was partly written in Cyrillic script. The Minutes, recording the important bequest of Lyttelton's books and manuscripts, described it adequately as: ‘A Book containing the Shield (sic) of Arms of all the Princes of Illyria, finely illumind. Vellum Qto.’ While Illyria does not occur on modern maps of Europe, the classical name for the province on the eastern shores of the Adriatic comprising the later territories of Bosnia, Croatia, Dalmatia and Hercegovina was revived in the sixteenth century by the local humanists and conveniently describes the scope of the collection.

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