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A Catalogue of the Printed Books in the Library of the Dean and Chapter of York (Classic Reprint)

A Catalogue of the Printed Books in the Library of the Dean and Chapter of York (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from A Catalogue of the Printed Books in the Library of the Dean and Chapter of York

The reader will very naturally expect some account of the beginning and growth of the Library, but this must necessarily be brief. Books would arrive in York at an early time. We may be sure also that Wilfrid, who filled Northumbria with treasures in the seventh century, would bring books with him from Italy and France, of which the church of York would have its share. So late as 1517 there were preserved and honoured in the treasury at York two texts, or copies of the Gospels, which had belonged to Wilfrid. One of these had the back and sides ornamented with silver and gold; on the front there was a crucifix with Mary and John in the lower part, with the Trinity and two Angels above, all wrought in ivory. The other, which was similarly ornamented, had the crucifix in the lower part, and the Saviour in glory, with Peter and Paul above. Other texts, no doubt of a very early date, were also in the Treasury, which has, I need not say, been long empty.

With the promotion of Egbert to the See of York in a.d. 735, a new era began in the history of that church. Egbert established a school or university, with the advice and assistance of Bede, which obtained a world-wide reputation. The teaching devolved upon Egbert and his friend and successor Albert, under whose fostering care the genius of Alcuin was cultivated. In due time, Alcuin himself became master of the school, which then arose to the very height of its reputation. The Letters of Alcuin tell us much of his work and aspirations, whilst in a Poem, which may justly be ascribed to his pen, we have a rough list of the authors whose works were then in the library at York, which will be considered more at length in the Catalogue of mss. Suffice it to say, that even in the eleventh century no one place in Britain or France possessed such a store of books.

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