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List of the West Saxon Kings, in The Liber Vitae of New Minster and Hyde Abbey

List of the West Saxon Kings, in The Liber Vitae of New Minster and Hyde Abbey

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1031

Shelfmark: Stowe MS 944

Item number: f. 14r

Length: 25.4

Width: 14.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

The Liber Vitae ('Book of Life') of New Minster and Hyde Abbey contains a list of names of the members of the community and its associates and benefactors, living and dead, along with two unusual pictures, grants, historical accounts, material for church services, prayers and other devotional material. It is thought that Aelfwine, abbot 1031-1057, had the book made at the beginning of his abbacy and to commemorate the New Minster's associations with royal patrons. The name of the scribe, Aelfsige, a monk and priest who also wrote Aelfwine's prayerbook (British Library), appears on one of its pages. This manuscript is called the Liber Vitae because it was meant as a contribution to the Eternal Book of Life in which the names of the saved were believed to have been written. Every day, at one of the major church services held at Hyde Abbey, names were read aloud from the list at the high altar. In 1110 the New Minster moved from Winchester to Hyde.

The Liber Vitae has many lists and documents which assert the New Minster's royal connections. On this page, a list of the "names of the kings of the West Saxons [Wessex]" was copied in the 11th century. It begins with Cynegils, the first Christian king of Wessex (611-643) and originally ended with Aethelred II (1016) but was continued until Henry V (1413-1422). By Cynegils's name, his baptism by St Birinus is noted, and beginning with Alfred, each king's link to the monastery of New Minster is recorded.

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