British Library, MS Arundel 38 f. 65
Graduate work on BL manuscripts published
The Electronic British Library Journal is starting a new series of 'Notices and Extracts from BL Manuscripts'.
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The following extract summarises one of the first papers that will appear:
"Royal MS. 8 A. XVIII is an early fifteenth-century Cistercian MS of Oxford origin. A scholar’s handbook, it contains scholastic and legal tracts: a florilegium ( primarily comprising sententiae from the Corpus Aristotelicum) and a series of short or abridged works on natural philosophy, juxtaposed with brief tracts on canon law procedure and numerous legal forms linking the book to a Cistercian abbey in the diocese of Lincoln. Despite its small size and nowadays fairly disheveled appearance, this MS is uniquely placed to allow comment, in one sitting, first upon the traditional assumption that in the fifteenth century arts learning in Oxford had developed a distinctive, innovative character (following the work of the ‘Merton School’), clearly setting it apart from that on the Continent, and secondly upon the nature of English Cistercian intellectual culture following educational reforms introduced one hundred years previously. A close analysis of the content and distribution of the scholastic tracts demonstrates a strong sense of continuity in basic learning in the arts, both from the late thirteenth century to the fifteenth, and between Oxford and the Continent. As the only identified English Cistercian MS containing texts covering the range of the Oxford arts ‘curriculum’, our book demonstrates that despite accommodation and funding difficulties faced by Cistercians at this time, and in stark contrast to the antipathy to this kind of learning evident in the Order’s formative years, Cistercians could and did take full advantage of training in the arts. Cistercian educational reform had renewed the traditional prohibition on the study of canon law. Yet our MS demonstrates vividly both Cistercian scholarly enthusiasm for canon law, and the exhaustive (and perhaps unsurprising) extent to which Cistercian social life was structured by rules and regulations, in line with the legal formalism dominating procedure in contemporary ecclesiastical and secular government in western Europe."
BL Documents on Papal History
The BL is particularly if not predictably rich in documents on medieval papal History. The following may be mentioned by way of example:
~ Add. 24057: '"Formularium Penitentiarie Domini Papae" forms of dispensations and absolutions, f. 3.
~ Add. 18368: Bulls available at the papal court.
~ Add. 8873: interesting collection of papal letters.
~ Add. 28475: early seventeenth century discussions on the dispensing power.
~ Add. 4458 notes on papal dispensations.
~ Add. 18931-2: documents bearing on the annulment of Henri IV of France's marriage.
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