Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Liber Vitae of the New Minster and Hyde Abbey, Winchester (British Library Stowe 944) Together with Leaves from British Library Cotton Vespasian A.viii and British Library Cotton Titus D.xxvii

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Liber Vitae of the New Minster and Hyde Abbey, Winchester (British Library Stowe 944) Together with Leaves from British Library Cotton Vespasian A.viii and British Library Cotton Titus D.xxvii

Article excerpt

As one of only three surviving confraternity books containing extensive Anglo-Saxon material, the New Minster Liber Vitae (hereafter LV) is a manuscript of manifest importance. Its preface provides rare information about the precise liturgical contexts in which such books were used. Compiled in 1031 and updated at frequent intervals until the Reformation, LV's lists of benefactors and friends who were to be remembered in prayer comprise a precious mine of prosopographical data, while the rare practice of noting the clerical rank of monks permits a unique insight into the structure of monastic societies and changing patterns of recruitment in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. LValso preserves a diverse range of narrative sources, the foremost of which is its pictorial frontispiece, which depicts an event of great political significance when England's first Danish king, Cnut, and his English queen, Emma, presented a monumental gold cross to the Minster.

A facsimile edition is essential, since the complexities of extracting the various groups of names from the jumbled layout cannot easily be grasped from the edition by Walter de Gray Birch (1892), who did not always distinguish them correctly, or from the more recent discussion in Jan Gerchow, Die Gedenkuberlieferung der Angelsachsen (1988). Rosenkilde & Bagger are to be praised for adding this manuscript to their distinguished series along with a generous allocation of plates for related materials from the New Minster Foundation Charter and the Prayerbook of Abbot AElfwine - the commissioner and, perhaps, illustrator of LV. …

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