Royal Treasures at Lambeth Palace Library Many items on display in 'Treasures of Lambeth Palace Library: 400th Anniversary Exhibition, 1610-2010', opening in London on Monday 17 May 2010, have a royal connection.
News-Antique.com - May 09,2010 - The Archbishops of Canterbury, whose office is older than that of the monarch or prime minister, have been of exceptional importance in national affairs. As well as leading the Church and playing a key role in the religious concerns and conflicts which dominated past centuries, the Archbishops often also held the highest secular offices of state and have moulded British history in areas far beyond the more limited fields now associated with the Church.
The wealth and power of the Archbishops in past centuries enabled them to collect books and manuscripts of the highest significance, and on a lavish scale. Many of the books on display in the exhibition originally came from the collections of prominent figures from whom the Archbishops had acquired them either as presentation copies, by gift, or in other ways. In 1610 Archbishop Richard Bancroft bequeathed his books 'to my successor, and unto the Archbishops of Canterbury successively forever'. His rich collection of over 6,000 early books and manuscripts included a large number of volumes which had belonged to royalty, including Richard III's Book of Hours, which was in his tent at the Battle of Bosworth; Thomas Abell's Invicta Veritas (Antwerp, 1532), a treatise on the divorce of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon which contains Henry's own annotations; Edward VI's Latin grammar; and a tract with angry comments by James I. The entwined cipher signatures of Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester appear on the title pages of the Aldine Aristotle (Venice, 1495-98).
Lambeth Palace Library holds outstanding collections of manuscripts for the Tudor and Stuart periods: the papers of the Talbot family, Earls of Shrewsbury contains letters from each monarch from Henry VIII to James I. On display in the exhibition is a 1572 letter from Elizabeth I to George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury informing him of her recovery from smallpox. In a beautiful postscript in her own hand, Elizabeth I assures the Earl that ‘ever I had bin touched with suche a maladye.' One of the jewels of the Fairhurst Papers which were removed from Lambeth Palace on the fall of Archbishop Laud and only recovered in recent decades is the copy of the warrant for the execution of Mary Queen of Scots at Fotheringhay Castle, dated 3 February 1587.
Monarchs are represented in two of the Library's most celebrated items: a beautiful manuscript copy of the Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, dated December 1474. The manuscript contains a miniature showing the presentation of the manuscript to Edward IV by the translator, Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers, who is kneeling before the King, Queen and Edward, Prince of Wales. Another person depicted in the miniature is Richard Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III. The 1569 personal prayer book of Elizabeth I is also on display, containing a frontispiece portrait of Elizabeth at prayer. The portrait was possibly designed by Levina Teerlink, the Flemish miniaturist who served as painter to the court of Edward VI, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I.