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Cambridge University Archives : Liber Gratiarum Alpha

Cambridge University Archives

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This book was used to record the Proctors' annual accounts; that is, receipts and expenditure of great variety from the Chest, 1454-89. Receipts were from fees, including <i>communae</i> paid on the occasion of academic acts, <i>visum compote</i> and cautions. It was also used to record graces granted; commissions (that is, appointments of syndicates for special purposes); decrees of congregations; and occasionally as a register of documents. The 'grace' was originally a personal exemption from statutory requirements granted by the Regent House to those aspiring to a degree. It came to serve wider and more general purposes. From the fifteenth century degrees became increasingly 'gratuosi' rather than 'rigorosi' and the series of Grace Books therefore, of which this is the earliest surviving, provide what is virtually a register of degrees. Note that entries of fees become admissions with names, 1464-5 (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(103);return false;'>f.31r</a>) and that long lists of cautions appear, 1466-7 (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(121);return false;'>ff.40r-40v</a>). In 1533, John Mere, Esquire Bedell, used the volume (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(145);return false;'>ff.52r-55v</a>) to record a diary of events during the year, including the <i>Magna Congregatio</i> or Black Assembly (the annual ceremony at which the town authorities were obliged to swear obedience to those of the university), subsequently transcribed by Joseph Romilly (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(138);return false;'>ff. 48v-50v</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(383);return false;'>164r-168r</a>).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Jacqueline Cox, Keeper of the University Archives and Dr James Freeman, Medieval Manuscripts Specialist</p>

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