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Richard de Thorpe's Astronomical Kalendar and the Luxury Book Trade at York John B. Friedman University ofIllinois R,dm of Ch.um', T,cati;e on the Astrolabe m,y rernll the poet's allusion to a now missing third part ofit based on the "kalenders of the reverent clerkes, Frere]. Somerand Frere N. Lenne."1 john Somerwas a Franciscan at Bridgewater, writing in 1380, while Nicholas ofLynn was a Carmelite active at Oxford, whose Kaiendarium (1386) has recently been sumptuously edited.2 These authors have long been important to histo­ rians ofscience because oftheir contributions to the development ofsolar timekeeping and the study ofeclipses. Their astronomical kalendars, with brightly colored and gilded charts of solar and lunar eclipses, red-and­ black checkerboard tables of the reigning planets, and full-page mini­ atures of phlebotomy and zodiac menl were designed as presentation copies for noble patrons: Joan, princess ofWales and mother ofRichard II, andJohn of Gaunt. Each author originally prefaced his kalendar, naming himself and his order, giving his reasons for writing, and praising his patron. In their hands the astronomical kalendar ceases to be an anony­ mous utilitarian compilation and emerges as a distinct new mendicant 1 A Treatise on the Astrolabe, Prologue 85-86, in Geoffrey Chaucer, The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. ed. F. N. Robinson (Boston: Houghton Miffiin, 1957). 2 A convenient discussion of Somer's work and a list of manuscripts containing it may be found inSigmund Eisner, ed., The Kalendanum ofNicholas ofLynn (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1980) pp. 8-9. On these two men see also R. Gunther, Early Science at Oxford (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1923) 2:60-64, as well as). A. W. Bennett, Chaucer at Oxford and Cambndge (Oxford, 1974) pp. 75-78; and Lynn Thorndike, "Eclipses in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries," Isis 48(1957):51-54. 'See Charles W. Clark, "The Zodiac Man in Medieval Medical Astrology" (Ph.D. diss., University of Colorado, 1979); Peter Murray Jones, Medieval Medzcal Miniatures (London: British Library, 1984). 137 STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER literary genre in the south ofEngland by the late fourteenth century. The extant copies4 show the growing interest ofEnglish nobility in beautifully illuminated scientific works, an interest which parallels that of Charles V andJean de Berry on the Continent. 5 That this process was also occurring at the same time in Yorkshire on a far more modest scale is indicated by a horae in the collection of Dr. I. J. Pincus, Beverly Hills, California, which contains an astronomical kalendar based on that ofJohn Somer made by Richard de Thorpe, an Augustinian friar of York, who appears to have been a northern counterpart of the worldly friar-astronomers already mentioned. There is some evidence that Richard's kalendar was combined with a horae text ofYork use in the hope of interesting a patron or purchaser of the book.6 The library of his convent, with 646 volumes one ofEngland's richest collections at the time, has all but disappeared. A detailed catalogue, however, remains, and item 378, an "equatorium quondam magistri Richard Thorpe,"7 may be a 4 Seetheespeciallyluxurious SomermanuscriptnowB.L.Royal2.B.viii,madeabout1463. ' See generally F. Avril, Manuscript Painting at the Court ofFrance (New York and Paris: 1978); Millard Meiss, French Painting in the Time ofjean de Berry: The Late X!Vth Century and the Patronage of the Duke (London: Phaidon, 1967); Donal Byrne, "The Boucicaut Master and the IconographicalTradition ofthe 'Livre des proprietes des choses,'" Gazette des Beaux-Arts 91(1978):146-64; Donal Byrne, "Rex imago Dei: Charles V of France and the 'Livre des proprietes des choses,'"Journal ofModem History 7(1981):97-113; and Vicky A. Clark, "The Illustrated 'Abridged Astrological Treatise of Albumasar,' Medieval Astrological Imagery in the West" (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1979). 6 On horae and che way they were ordered, seeJohn Hanhan, Books ofHours and Their Owners (London: Thames and Hudson, 1977); L. M.J. Delaisse, "The Importance of Books of Hours for the History of the Medieval Book," in Ursula E. McCracken et al. eds., Gather­ ings in Honor ofDorothy Miner(Baltimore, Md.:Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974), pp. 203-25; Victor Leroquais, Les livres...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 137-160
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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