Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Omne Bonum: A Fourteenth-Century Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Omne Bonum: A Fourteenth-Century Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge

Article excerpt

Lucy Freeman Sandler, Omne bonum: A Fourteenth-Century Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge (London: Harvey Miller, 1996). z vols. zo8 pp. + 118 plates; 27z pp. + 760 plates. ISBN i-8725-3. zzo.oo.

Lucy Freeman Sandler has produced an absorbing account of an extraordinary work. The Omne bonum is an unfinished encyclopedic compilation, written by a single scribe, which survives in an incomplete form in what are now two manuscripts, London, British Library, Royal 6 E VI-VII. These manuscripts together comprise nearly i,loo leaves, containing well over a million words and (in different forms) over 8oo illustrations.

The first volume of this work examines Omne bon itself and its author, whom Sandler is able to identify as James le Palmer, a clerk of the Exchequer in the third quarter of the fourteenth century. She carefully reconstructs his biography and argues that the surviving form of the work is James's holograph, compiled from a wide range of sources, canon law, biblical, patristic, and theological, as well as works by Bartholomaeus Anglicus, William of Pagula, and Richard Fitzralph. This material is organized in an alphabetical sequence, albeit, as Sandler shows, in changing formats as the work evolved during the several different stages in which Palmer worked on it. She also establishes the processes of collaboration between the various artists and flourishers who were involved in the massive decorative programme and analyses their styles. …

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