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Library Catalogue, in a Collection of Writings by St Augustine

Library Catalogue, in a Collection of Writings by St Augustine

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1202

Shelfmark: Royal MS 5 B.xii

Item number: f.3r

Length: 26

Width: 17

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

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The priory of the cathedral of St Andrew, Rochester, possessed a great number of books, most of which became the medieval manuscripts section of Henry VIII's library when the bishop of Rochester's belongings were confiscated in 1534 or upon his execution in 1535. The clerics, monks and canons at the cathedral would have need for many types of books: for study, conducting church and prayer services and for personal devotion. This manuscript, copied in the early 12th century, contained St Augustine's 'On Christian Doctrine' and 'On True Religion'. In the late 12th or beginning of the 13th century, the monastery's cantor, Alexander, wrote out a catalogue of all the books owned by the priory on the flyleaves at the front of this manuscript.

The range of books in the library was stunning. The entries on this page begin with a 'Life of St Etheldrithe' (Aetheldreda) and include many other saints' lives, biblical commentaries, law books, philosophy, medical books, herbals and a 'mappa mundi' (map of the world). Alexander, the cantor, was clearly involved as a librarian. His name appears in several places, including in the left margin indicating several of the entries as "Alex's books". In the second column another librarian later noted that the organisation and cataloguing were the work of "Alexander the cantor". Another later revision of Robert (?) de Waltume is written below that.

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