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Testaments, Donations, and the Values of Books as Gifts

A Study of Records from Medieval England before 1450


Janika Bischof

Why were books considered valuable in the Middle Ages? This study focuses on medieval testaments and donation records from England before 1450 to investigate this question. The primary sources and datable records from before and after the Norman Conquest show that contemporary attitudes can be examined surprisingly closely. Semantic fields as indicators of value help us to discover the material and immaterial values associated with books in the manuscript period, and to trace changes and developments in book ownership and book production. This systematic and statistical analysis of the records shows the varied and multi-facetted nature of medieval books as gifts as seen by givers and recipients.
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Appendix A: Descriptions of Books in Testaments


All entries are cited from Susan Cavanaugh, “Study of Books Privately Owned in England” (1980) and organised according to the semantic and lexical fields discussed and suggested in the main part of this thesis, and then sorted alphabetically according to their contents and chronologically within these categories. The individual entries are presented in the following format:

Year of Testament, Testator, exact reference, page reference (Cavanaugh).

Note that the distinction between breviarium, Breviary and Portiforium is kept throughout the appendix, as breviarium can potentially refer to an (abbreviated) text different from the Breviary, and as the originally intended contents cannot be ascertained (many testaments survive in transcripts or abbreviated forms), combining the data was deemed too simple.

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