500 Years: Treasures from the Library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford
- Includes important manuscripts and printed first editions by such ‘household names’ as Aristotle, Homer, Chaucer, Galileo and Isaac Newton.
- The collection encompasses spectacular illuminated manuscripts from medieval 12th-century Ireland to 16th-century Renaissance France, 13th- and 14th-century England to 15th-century Italy.
- Includes several items from what has been called ‘the most important collection of Anglo-Jewish manuscripts in the world’.
Corpus Christi College, Oxford, was founded 500 years ago, in 1517; to mark the anniversary, this catalogue provides a varied selection of some of the greatest treasures in the College Library.
Unlike Oxford’s older colleges, Corpus Christi was founded with Renaissance ideals: it would promote the ‘new learning’ current in Europe, and would equip its students to read Hebrew and Greek – the original languages of the Bible – as well as Latin. To this end the College’s Founder and its first President began to fill the Library with an astonishing collection of illuminated manuscripts and early printed books in these three languages.
Most of the books included date from the 12th to the 16th centuries, of which a significant proportion represent the Bible in a variety of different translations and versions. Others are later, including unique works that represent scientific discoveries made by astronomers including Galileo and Sir Isaac Newton.
Richard Carwardine is an historian and was President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, from 2010 to 2016.
Peter Kidd is a freelance researcher who specialises in medieval illuminated manuscripts.