The Third Annual Medievalists @ Penn Graduate Student Conference
Unto Philadelphia: The Multiple Genealogies of the Rosenbach Erasmus Novum Testamentum (1519)
Alexander Devine (University of Pennsylvania)
Alexander catalogues medieval manuscripts in Baltimore, Maryland.
This paper dealt with the dispersal of the medieval library during the Dissolution of the 16th century and the transfer of Erasmus’s book from Basel to Durham Cathedral to York Minster to Philadelphia.
Readers are a part of the genealogies of books and books become part of our genealogies. Duraham Cathedral has one of the finest, perfectly preserved, medieval libraries. Of the 1,500 – 2,000 books in England, 300 manuscripts and books are still owned by Durham Cathedral. Durham is world famous for being the most intact medieval library, but also housed many books dispersed during the Dissolution. Erasmus’s Novum Testamentum (1519), was one of the books removed during this period. The book bears markings of being chained. It also bears an inscription on the top of the vellum which is possibly the mark of institutionalization but it is difficult to read as the vellum is a bit warped. The book was removed to the York Minster where it remained for three centuries until the 1920’s. The book made the journey to the Rosenbach museum in Philadelphia after a sale where the books were purchased for 20,000£ in order to aid in repairs to the Minster.