Over the past 11 months, we have examined the College’s collection of all things medieval: manuscripts, incunabula bound in manuscript waste, and uncatalogued documents.  Features of our medieval materials that I’ve written about include catchwords, ink (here and here), illuminations (here, here, and here), scripts (here, here, here, and here), and parchment.  But what’s the point?  Why study these books, leaves, and documents that are over 500 years old?


f. 2r. A tonsured scribe, likely Bede. Bede, Prose Life of Cuthbert; extracts from the Historia Ecclesiastica. Durham, England, 12th c. British Library, Yates Thompson MS 26.

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Ad nonum sic proceditur

The text on this binding is part of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae.  The front cover contains a section of the Third Part [Christ], Question 68 [Of Those Who Receive Baptism], Articles 8 [Whether faith is required on the part of the one baptized] and 9 [Whether children should be baptized].  The back cover contains a section of the Third Part [Christ], Question 72 [Of The Sacrament of Confirmation], Articles 4 [Whether the proper form of this sacrament is: “I sign thee with the sign of the cross,” etc.] and 5 [Whether the sacrament of Confirmation imprints a character].


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A Golden Legend

This manuscript dates to circa 14th century, based on the script (a Gothic book-hand), and the composition of the actual text.

The volume was catalogued in our system with the note “Bound in a leaf from a medieval Latin ms. (paragraph marks supplied in alternating red and blue, and capital strokes supplied in red) of a religious text on purgatory; over paper boards.”  Even without the acknowledging the script, a text referring to purgatory gives us a place to start, as the word purgatorium is believed to have first appeared in the 12th century.


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