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Posts Tagged ‘medieval’

Looking at the Acta Sanctorum – Life of St Cuthbert

Acta Sanctorum Martii, vol. iii, (Antwerp, 1668), pp. 117

Acta Sanctorum Martii, vol. iii, (Antwerp, 1668), pp. 117

We welcomed University of Edinburgh MSc Medieval History students today for a tour of New College Library and the chance to see one of the texts they were studying, the Life of St Cuthbert, in New College Library’s first edition of the Acta Sanctorum,  which was on display in the Funk Reading Room. Published in the seventeenth century, the Acta Sanctorum, which contains the first printed edition of this work, is a huge Latin work in sixty-eight volumes examines the lives of saints, organised according to each saint’s feast day in the calendar year. This image shows the large folio volume, still in its original leather binding with metal clasps, open at the Life of St Cuthbert. The Acta Sanctorum is also available online to University of Edinburgh users.

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Online resources for Byzantine research on trial now

Two research resources for Byzantine history and culture are now on trial until 8 July for University of Edinburgh users.

ByzantineByzantinische BibliographieThe Prosopographie der mittelbyzantinischen Zeit Online/Prosopography of the Middle Byzantine Period Online (PMBZ Online) is a comprehensive biographical dictionary for the Byzantine Empire in the early Medieval Period (641-1025 AD) documenting more than 20,000 persons. PMBZ Online is based on the print edition of the Prosopographie der mittelbyzantinischen Zeit which appeared in two parts 1998 and 2013. PMBZ Online documents all persons mentioned either by name or anonymously in the relevant Byzantine and non-Byzantine sources, and secondly all persons mentioned in the Byzantine sources both from Western Europe and from the Arabic and Slavonic areas, together with those from the Christian East.

The Byzantinische Bibliographie Online includes the bibliographic sections of the Byzantinische Zeitschrift from volume 98 (2005) up to the present day. It contains around 30,000 entries in total, and each year about 4,000 entries will be added. The entries are organized systematically by subject area and enriched by short discussions and references to relevant review articles.

Access to the database is via http://www.ed.ac.uk/is/databases-trials. University of Edinburgh users have IP based access on campus, or off campus via the VPN.

Early printed works of St Anselm on display at New College Library

Inc 27New on display in the Funk Reading Room is the Works of St Anselm,  Opuscula beati Anselmi archiepiscopi Ca[n]tuarie[n]sis ordinis Sancti Benedicti, printed in 1497.

April 21 is the Feast Day of St Anselm (1033-1109). A Benedictine monk who lived during the reigns of William the Conqueror and William Rufus, he became the abbot of the monastery at Bec in  Normandy, France. Named as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093  by William Rufus, under the rule of Henry I Anselm faced the challenges of preserving the secular and spiritual rights of the Church in the face of the authority of the King. Despite these political difficulties, Anselm held two great ecclesiastical councils at Lambeth and York  where many decrees for church reform were made.

Anselm’s prayers and meditations (accessible online to University of Edinburgh users in the Patrologia Latina)  had a lasting influence through the middle ages, but his writings also made a significant contribution to theological debate into the twentieth century and beyond.

New College Library holds two copies of Anselm’s works in the Incunabula Collection, which was recently catalogued online as part of the Funk Cataloguing Projects.

Sources

D.H. Farmer, ‘Anselm (1033-1109)’, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Oxford University Press, 2011; online edn 2012 [http://www.oxfordreference.com, accessed 17 April 2013]

The medieval monk who gave his name to Ockham’s Razor

De Sacramento Altaris

Tractatus venerabilis Inceptoris Guilgelmi Ocka[m] de sacramento altaris. William, of Ockham. Paris, [1495].

New College Library holds this copy of William of Ockham’s  De Sacramento Altaris,  a treatise on the Eucharist, in the Incunabula collection.

William of Ockham was born at Ockham, near Guildford in Surrey in 1287 and he died on the night of April 9 1347 in Munich. The future theologian and  philosopher entered the Franciscan order before the age of fourteen. He was educated at the Franciscan convent in London, and developed an academic career as a  lecturer and theological writer in Oxford and London. His unconventional views attracted attention within the Church and in1324 Ockham was apparently summoned to Avignon to have his writings examined for heresy, but in the end no formal condemnation took place. However his life came to a crisis after he challenged the doctrine of  Pope John XXII, saying that Jesus and the apostles owned no property but,  like the Franciscans,  lived by begging and the generosity of others. Along with other Franciscans he fled to Munich where he ended his days.

The methodological principle known as “Ockham’s Razor” states that among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected. It is described as a razor because it distinguishes between hypotheses by “shaving away” unnecessary assumptions.

Sources:

(1) Spade, Paul Vincent and Panaccio, Claude, “William of Ockham”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2011/entries/ockham/>.

(2) W. J. Courtenay, ‘Ockham, William (c.1287–1347)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2010 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/20493, accessed 8 April 2013]

Historic Papal politics : Platina’s Lives of the Popes

Platine historici liber de vita Christi ac pontificum omniu : qui hactenus ducenti et vigintiduo fuere. New College Library, Inc. 66

Platine historici liber de vita Christi ac pontificum omniu : qui hactenus ducenti et vigintiduo fuere, 1481. New College Library, Inc. 66

Bartolomeo Platina, (1421-1481) was a writer and member of the College of Abbreviators in Rome, a body of writers in the papal chancery who prepared the Pope’s bulls, briefs and decrees before they were formally written out by scribes. Deprived of his office and imprisoned by Pope Paul II, he left a lasting vengeance for his enemy in his Vitæ Pontificum Platinæ historici liber de vita Christi (1479). As well as being a polemic against his enemy, Platina’s Lives of the Popes was an invaluable early handbook of papal history which had an enduring influence on historical opinions.

New College Library holds this 1481 edition of Platina’s Vitæ Pontificum in the Incunabula Collection, catalogued online as part of the Funk Cataloguing Projects. A manuscript note records the original owner as F. Sargent, the donor of other rare and valuable items to New College Library.

Brepols Medieval Bibliographies on trial now

Brepolis-Medieval-BibliographyBrepols Medieval Bibliographies are now available on trial access to University of Edinburgh Users. Access is available on campus and off campus via the VPN. The trial ends on 5 April. See the eresources trials web page for more information.

The Bibliographie de civilisation médiévale aims to provide a comprehensive, current bibliography of monographs. The database currently comprises 40,000 titles from 1958 to 2003; i.e. the whole of the relevant elements from the famous bibliography in the Cahiers de civilisation medieval.

The International Medieval Bibliography is the leading bibliography of articles concerning the European Middle Ages (c. 450-1500), drawn from the regular coverage of over 4,500 periodicals and miscellany volumes. Not only does the IMB provide full bibliographical information to the entries from the publications, but it provides a comprehensive cataloguing and indexing system to assist the user in identifying all relevant entries.

Brepols Medieval Encyclopedias on trial now

Brepols Medieval EncyclopediaBrepols Medieval Encyclopedias are now available on trial access to University of Edinburgh Users. Access is available on campus and off campus via the VPN. The trial ends on 5 April. See the eresources trials web page for more information.

Based upon the most important encyclopaedia in the world for medievalists, the International Encyclopaedia for the Middle Ages and Lexikon des Mittelalters contain articles written by 3,000 authors covering all aspects of medieval studies within the period 300 to 1500. Their geographical scope covers the whole of Europe, part of the Middle East, and parts of North Africa to document the roots of Western culture and those of its neighbours in the Byzantine, Arab and Jewish worlds.