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204Reviews Matthew Parker and His Books. 1993. R. I. Page. Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University. 133 pp., 63 plates, bibliography. $40.00 U.S. "The chief Retriever of that our ancient Native Language, the Saxon I mean": so Matthew Parker (the Archbishop of Canterbury under Queen Elizabeth), antiquarian and librarian, was described by his 18th-century biographer, John Strype (The Life and Acts of Matthew Parker [London, 1711], 528). Parker was, according to Strype, a "mighty Collector of Books," a retriever of "many antient Authors, Saxon and British, as well as Norman," who through his learning restored "a great deal of the antient History of this noble Island" and prevented "the antient Monuments of the learned Men of our Nation from perishing" (524, 528). Parker's name, indeed, continues to be a household word among students of early English language, literature and history, who refer to the earliest manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as the "Parker Chronicle": this manuscript, along with many other books, owes its survival to its good fortune of having been included in the Archbishop's collection of books left to the care of Corpus Christi Library, Cambridge, after his death in 1575. In Matthew Parker and His Books, R. I. Page, the custodian of Parker's library at Corpus Christi College for the last quarter-century, has given us an assessment of this library and the Archbishop's relation to it. Page makes three salient points on this topic. First, Parker was a collector and lover of books throughout his career as Bible Clerk, Fellow, and then Master in Corpus Christi College, and finally as Archbishop of Canterbury. Like any bibliophile, he obtained his books from a variety of sources over many years, but the majority of them were bequests that he inherited and had charge of as Cambridge Master and then as Archbishop. The Parker library included 75 books bequeathed to Corpus Christi College in 1439 by Thomas Markaunt, Fellow (how these ended up in Parker's personal library is a mystery), and also some 188 books and manuscripts bequeathed to Corpus Christi by Peter Nobys, who was Master of the College from 1516 to 1523. When Parker became Master of Corpus Christi College in 1544, he found the Nobys collection to be "much out of order" and he instructed its keepers to take better care of it. From the study of these bequests it would seem that the distinction between books owned by the College and those owned by Parker was not as clear as it would be among such collections today. A second point: during his career, Parker's books constituted his personal "working" library, used in his research on theological and public policy issues such as the marriage of priests, the theology of the eucharist, and the independence of the English Church from Rome. Certain Old English homilies and sermons, in particular those by ALUric, were thought by the antiquarians to represent an Anglo-Saxon religious reformation that anticipated and justified the Protestant movement in England. In pursuit of this theme, Reviews205 Parker often underlined passages in his Anglo-Saxon manuscripts and books with red crayon, and wrote comments in the margins. In several instances, Page has been able to show that marginalia or red underlining in Parker library books was the work of Parker himself and not one of his associates: the marginal comments or underlined material sometimes reappear in Parker's own writings. Third, Parker's work as a collector and student of Old English manuscripts was an important early step in the development of modern lexicography . During the Renaissance, antiquarians who confronted Old English manuscripts often met with words that were unknown to them, but they had access to early medieval Latin-English glossaries, to Latin texts with English glosses, and sometimes to Latin and English versions of the same text, and thus were able to understand and translate Old English words by consulting their Latin counterparts. The most important of the former was the Corpus Glossary, MS CCCC [Corpus Christi College, Cambridge] 144, a ninth-century alphabetical glossary of Latin words glossed variously with English or with other Latin words. Among the Parker manuscripts...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 204-207
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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