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The Earls of Kildare and their Books at the End of the Middle Ages


The two surviving inventories of the library of the Fitzgerald Earls of Kildare bear witness to a particularly large and diverse collection of books in the Earls' castle at Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Between them, the lists record well over one hundred separate items in four languages: Latin, French, English and Irish. This paper traces the history of the library and analyses the Fitzgeralds' particular interests as book collectors and as readers. It provides the first full published set of suggested identifications and bibliographical details for the books at Maynooth. It also includes a fresh transcription of the library lists and a discussion of the manuscript context in which they are preserved. Sources like the Kildare library lists provide valuable evidence for the potential circulation of a wide range of non-native manuscripts and prints in late-medieval Ireland.

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