Guide to Medieval Manuscript Collections in the National Library of Australia

MST 1

National Library of Australia

Collection Summary

Title
Guide to Medieval Manuscript Collections in the National Library of Australia
Date Range
10th - 15th centuries
Collection Number
MST 1
Extent
33 collections
Language of Materials
Latin
The language used in the medieval manuscript collection materials is predominantly Latin.
Repository
National Library of Australia
Sponsor
The National Library of Australia is extremely grateful for the generous support of the public to its 2014 Tax Time Appeal which raised the money that has enabled the work of preserving, digitising and describing this significant group of collections.

Introduction

Arrangement

For ease of searching, the listing of the Library’s holdings of medieval manuscript material has been grouped as follows:

Individual collections – these comprise the two large collections that make up the bulk of our holdings and smaller collections ranging in size from a single volume to one page.

Binding fragments – medieval manuscript fragments used as bindings in later volumes of published works.

Other holdings – includes online only resources and facsimile editions of significant medieval volumes.

Purpose

The purpose of this guide is to provide researchers with an overview of and links to the National Library of Australia’s medieval manuscript holdings.

Overview

The National Library of Australia holds a small but significant group of individual collections of medieval manuscripts acquired from different sources over a number of years. They range from a missal fragment dating from the 10th century to devotional volumes to legal documents created in the 15th century.

As a whole, the volumes and documents in these collections provide researchers with the opportunity to study a variety of aspects of life from these early times. Legal documents witnessed at Westminster in the Court of Elizabeth I, early forms of musical notation, devotional volumes that provide glimpses of the people who owned them, beautifully crafted medieval scripts, glorious illustrations, book binding techniques – all these and more are there for the discovery.

Two main collections make up the bulk of the Library’s holdings of medieval manuscripts. The largest comprises fragments of medieval manuscripts which were acquired over the course of a lifetime’s collecting by renowned art dealer and collector Sir Rex Nan Kivell for what he referred to as his ‘Calligraphy Collection’. These fragments fall into three main groups: legal documents, musico-liturgical fragments and a miscellaneous group of fragments that had been ‘recycled’ from early works for use as endpapers and pastedowns in the bindings of later, mostly published works. Research has revealed that many of these fragments have a historical significance in their own right.

The second collection comprises 10 volumes from the library of the Clifford Family of Ugbrook Park, Devon, which was acquired from the estate of the 11th Baron Clifford in the 1960s. They include Books of Hours, Psalters, Bibles, Prayer Books and a cartulary from Chertsey Abbey, which is one of five known such volumes and the only to be held in the Southern Hemisphere.

There are several smaller collections which include a 14th century English Psalter with Welsh connections, and a volume containing regulations of the Alcobaça Monastery, Portugal, circa 1400. A small group of rare books containing fragments stitched into their bindings complete the Library’s original holdings.

The Library also holds facsimile copies of two significant medieval volumes – the Book of Kells and the Rothschild Prayer Book, and provides online access, via its catalogue, to a significant early manuscript that describes and illustrates the Southern Cross.

Viewing our holdings

Most of these items are available for viewing in our Special Collections Reading Room. In order to request items you will need to be registered as a reader, which can be done online. Items need to be requested online via the Library's catalogue prior to your visit.

If you are unable to visit the Library in person, you can access information about our holdings via the Library's catalogue. Following is a list of all of the Library’s medieval manuscript holdings. Each entry is linked to the individual catalogue record which provides a description of the holding and a link to finding aids and digitised images, where available.

Contacting us

Have you uncovered new connections or information relating to any of these items? If so, we would like to hear from you.

You can contact us via our Ask a Librarian service.

Item Descriptions

Class 1. Individual collections Show allonly 1

Brief descriptions of individual collections of medieval manuscript materials, together with links to the relevant catalogue record and details guide, where available.

Collection 1. MS 1097 The Clifford Collection, c13th-15th century Show allonly 1

Brief description

Ten volumes consisting of four Books of Hours, two Bibles, one Psalter, one Prayer Book, one Breviary, and one Cartulary.

Link to catalogue record and from there to the finding aid for the whole collection.

Collection 2. MS 4052 The Rex Nan Kivell Collection, c10th century – mid-19th century Show allonly 1

Brief description

235 items comprising legal documents and fragments from manuscripts of theological, biblical, musico-liturgical and literary works.

Link to catalogue record and from there to the finding aid for the whole collection.

Collection 3. MS 4346 The Braga Collection, c14th century Show allonly 1

Brief description

One volume of Regulations of the Alcobaca monastery, Portugal

Link to catalogue record: MS 4346

Collection 4. MS 1172 The Petherick Collection, c14th century Show allonly 1

Brief description

One illuminated Psalter

Link to catalogue record: MS 1172

Collection 5. MS 80 Legenda aurea, [1562?] Show allonly 1

Brief description

One sheet containing part of a later copy of the Legenda aurea of Jacobus de Voragine, in Latin.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 6. MS 5855 The Gladwin Collection, 1438-1891 Show allonly 1

Brief description

Documents relating to the Gladwin family and their property in Essex at Northweald and Nettswell and a note dated December 1764 regarding peace negotiations between Major Henry Gladwin and Indian Chief Pontiac.

Link to catalogue record

See also microfilm copy

Collection 57. MS 6099 Certificate of Manumission, c1275-1300 Show allonly 1

Brief description

Relates to Robert, William and Richard, sons of Richard Tret of Newtown, Lancashire, England who acquired, via Ralph le Massy, their freedom from Robert Banastre, Lord of Makerfield.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 8. MS 6182 Leaf from a Psalter, c1225-1230 Show allonly 1

Brief description

Written in England; twenty long lines.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 9. MS 6183 De Arithmetica, first half of the 12th century Show allonly 1

Brief description

Later copy taken from Boethius' "De Arithmetica", made by an anonymous scribe in a Caroline hand.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 10. MS 8044 The Hone Collection, c1455-1475 Show allonly 1

Brief description

Music fragment from a Breviary.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 11. MS 8533 Music manuscripts, [14--?] Show allonly 1

Brief description

Four sheets of medieval music manuscript.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 12. PIC/14340/1-51 Medieval fragment, 1450-1475 Show allonly 1

Brief description

Historiated initial of St Martin and the beggar, cut from an antiphonal Northern Italy (possibly Savoy).

Link to catalogue record

Class 2. Binding fragments Show allonly 1

Brief descriptions of and links to catalogue records for individual volumes containing fragments of medieval manuscript materials within their bindings.

Collection 1. MS 4351 The Braga Collection, 14th century Show allonly 1

Brief description

18th century volume bound with a 14th century medieval manuscript on vellum which includes a reference to King Alfonso of Aragon (possibly Alfons IV of Aragon).

Link to catalogue record

Collection 2. RBRS 20 The Hone Collection, nd Show allonly 1

Brief description

15th century volume covered with medieval music manuscript used as front and back covers.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 3. RB ALS 1004 Medieval fragment, 14th century Show allonly 1

Brief description

17th century volume with a 14th century [vellum?] Netherlandish medieval manuscript fragments used as endpapers.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 4. RB Cli 908 Medieval fragments, 15th century Show allonly 1

Brief description

17th century volume with two small [vellum?] fragments from a single early 16th century English charter relating to Thomas Blanch used as pastedowns at the front and back of the volume.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 5. RB Cli 3336 Medieval fragment, 13th century Show allonly 1

Brief description

19th century volume bound in a leaf of a vellum manuscript, comprising a 13th Century fragment of a poem in Latin by Ovid.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 6. RBF Cli 4289 Medieval fragments, c1300 Show allonly 1

Brief description

16th century volume with two medieval manuscript vellum fragments c1300 from England or northern France used as pastedowns.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 7. RBRS FITZ 97 Medieval fragment, 13th century Show allonly 1

Brief description

15th century volume with a fragment of a 13th century English Medieval manuscript on vellum used as an end pastedown.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 8. RBRS FITZ 127 Medieval fragment, nd Show allonly 1

Brief description

15th century volume with medieval manuscript paste-downs.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 9. RB FITZ 148 Medieval fragments, late 13th-late 14th century Show allonly 1

Brief description

16th century volume with two English manuscripts (late 13th and late 14th century) on parchment used as pastedowns on inside front and back covers.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 10. RB Misc 305-6 Medieval music fragment, nd Show allonly 1

Brief description

18th century volume with medieval music manuscript fragment used in binding.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 11. RBRS CLI 2042 Medieval fragments, nd Show allonly 1

Brief description

16th century volume with two fragments from the same medieval manuscript stitched into inside front and back binding.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 12. RB DNS 7357 Medieval fragments, nd Show allonly 1

Brief description

16th century volume with fragments of manuscript on vellum used as fly-leaves.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 13. RB De Vesci 1442 Medieval fragment, 15th-16th century Show allonly 1

Brief description

17th century volume with fragment of medieval manuscript vellum stitched on inside back cover of binding; text in secretary cursive script, possibly 15th-16th century.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 14. RB 223.2 B436 Medieval fragment, possibly 15th century Show allonly 1

Brief description

17th century volume with medieval manuscript fragment bound in inside front cover; written in black ink in a secretary cursive script.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 15. RB Misc 3278 Medieval fragments, nd Show allonly 1

Brief description

16th century volume with two fragments from a single medieval manuscript used as pastedowns on inside front and back covers.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 16. RBq MISC 200 Medieval fragments, nd Show allonly 1

Brief description

17th century volume with two fragments from a medieval document on vellum; stitched into inside front and back covers; appear to be from a single folio.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 17. RB CLI 3072 Medieval fragments, nd Show allonly 1

Brief description

16th century volume with two vellum fragments which appear to be from the same medieval manuscript stitched in inside binding.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 18. RB De Vesci 1405/1 Medieval music fragments, nd Show allonly 1

Brief description

16th century volume with two fragments from a single medieval music manuscript on vellum stitched in inside front and back binding; includes part of a decorated initial 'R' and a four-line stave.

Link to catalogue record

Class 3. Other holdings Show allonly 1

Brief descriptions of and links to catalogue records for online only resources and facsimile editions of significant medieval volumes.

Collection 1. The Book of Kells, c1990 Show allonly 1

Brief description

This feacsimile edition reproduces the Book of Kells for the first time in its entirety and in full colour.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 2. Rothschild Gebetbuch : facsimile and commentarium, 1979 Show allonly 1

Brief description

Facsimile volume in Latin : commentary in German.

252 leaves in full colour. The Rothschild Prayer Book is an acknowledged masterpiece of Renaissance manuscript illumination, written in Ghent and decorated by a group of illuminators active there around 1501-1510.

Link to catalogue record

Collection 3. MS 7860 The Corsali manuscript, 1523 Show allonly 1

Brief description

Contemporary copy of a letter by Andrea Corsali which provides the only known narrative of a Portuguese voyage in 1515 in which he described and illustrated the Southern Cross for the first time.

Link to catalogue record