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Christian Works : MS Ff.1.25.1

Christian Works

<p style='text-align: justify;'>Contains a late twelfth-century copy of the <i>Gesta pontificum Anglorum</i> (<i>The deeds of the English bishops</i>) by the monk and historian William of Malmesbury (c. 1090-c. 1143). The text is an ecclesiastical history of England from the arrival of St Augustine in AD 597 to the 1120s when the work was being written. William saw himself as the successor to Bede, drawing on both Anglo-Saxon and Norman sources and traditions. For the period after the death of Bede in 730, his is "the most important single source for the history of the English church" (Preest 2002:x). He drew on many of the works which he copied and collected for the Malmesbury abbey library and also seems to have travelled widely; the work contains numerous topographical observations.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The text is arranged as a survey of the bishops and saints of all the dioceses of England. Book 1 covers Canterbury and Rochester, Book 2 London, East Anglia and Wessex, Book 3 York, Lindisfarne and Durham and Book 4 Mercia. Book 5 which recounted the history of his own abbey of Malmesbury survives intact in only one medieval manuscript. A sixteenth-century copy of it is found in CUL MS Ff.1.25.2.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The <i>Gesta pontificum Anglorum</i> was popular with William's contemporaries and 19 medieval copies of it survive, including one written by William himself (Oxford, Magdalen College, MS lat. 172). Although the work was completed in 1125, the numerous authorial alterations and corrections to this manuscript show that William continued to revise the text over the next decade or more, often removing the more scurrilous and potentially offensive comments about his contemporaries.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>MS Ff.1.25.1 is an early copy of the text, dating from the late twelfth century. It was the source for the first printed edition of the <i>Gesta pontificum Anglorum</i> produced by Sir Henry Savile in 1596. However, being a copy of a copy of the autograph manuscript, the modern editor comments that in establishing the text, it 'has no virtue apart from its age' (Winterbottom and Thomson 2007:xxv).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Matthew Parker was not only a collector of manuscripts; he also used them - annotating and cross-referencing, rebinding and rearranging. Before giving this copy of the <i>Gesta pontificum Anglorum</i> to Cambridge University Library, he augmented it with additional works by William and other chroniclers, including some copies that he commissioned himself. These works are now CUL MSS <a href='/view/MS-FF-00001-00025-00002'>Ff.1.25.2</a>, <a href='/view/MS-FF-00001-00025-00003'>Ff.1.25.3</a>, <a href='/view/MS-FF-00001-00025-00004'>Ff.1.25.4</a> and <a href='/view/MS-FF-00001-00025-00005'>Ff.1.25.5</a>.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>MS CUL Ff.1.25 is a composite manuscript made up of five different parts of different dates compiled in the sixteenth century. It was donated to the University Library by Archbishop Matthew Parker who gave 25 manuscripts from his collection in 1574. The parts were separated and bound individually in 1862.</p>

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