Monday, November 21

Royalit: What Did Medieval Kings Read? -

Such a curious question kids. But there's a serious point to this question. When you're in high positions, you need to read not only to improve yourself but also to entertain yourself. 
The problem with YouTube and tv is that it forces you to take whatever they are phasing on you. You are a vase to be filled rather than a fire to be lit. 
I've seen kids and students and even adults spend their time in front of the tv. They become flabby in their minds kids. 
Read. Whatever you want but read. That makes you interesting. Not boring. 
Have a lovely week

Royalit: What Did Medieval Kings Read? -
(via Instapaper)

Great medieval kings
I was recently reading an interesting article called by Nicholas Vincent, which looked at what we know about the books kings owned in the Middle Ages. Interestingly, there is a stretch of two centuries in which we can't prove any specific books that have survived the Middle Ages were indisputably owned by any English king (Vincent, p.73). (Later kings helpfully signed their names into a bunch of books, or wrote ex libris – "from the library of" – so that their ownership can be pretty easy to demonstrate.) But even though we can't prove their ownership, we know that kings and queens did read. The question of the day is: what did they read?
Perhaps it's obvious, but one of the big things kings read about was kingship, as in how-to books, starting with the Old Testament. If a king was expected to be as wise as Solomon, then he'd better read up on Solomon, and King David, for that matter. Edward IV had a not-so-subtle how-to book in his collection which was referred to in his accounts as "Le Gouvernement of Kings and Princes" (McKendrick, p.173). Royals wished to know more about the world they were ruling over, too, evidently, since Henry II was said to be interested in learning both European and Arabic knowledge (Vincent, p.83), and John read Pliny the Elder, a medieval encyclopedist (Vincent, p.85). John also read Valerius Maximus, whose Memorabilia, as Vincent points out, deals with "the vexed question of relations between religion and the secular authorities, between the Caesars and 'the wisdom of pontiffs'" (Vincent, p.85). Vincent also points out that John received this book mere days after the papal interdict of England went into effect in March, 1208. (Coincidence? I think not.) Royals read about themselves and their histories, as well. Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine seem to have been responsible for commissioning histories of the Normans and of Britain (Vincent, p.88); Edward the Confessor's widow (Edith) commissioned the Vita Edwardi ("Life of Edward") to commemorate her husband (Vincent, p.75); and Queen Adela did the same for her husband, Henry I (Vincent, p.88). Edward IV held a copy of Froissart's work, which would have outlined the history of the fourteenth-century kings (McKendrick, p.165). As far as administration goes, we know that William the Conqueror ordered the creation of The Domesday Book, but seems it wasn't until King John that royal correspondence was copied and kept on hand for kings to read. But, "from 1215," Vincent says, "we even have the name of the first recorded royal archivist, William 'Cuckoo Well' (Kukku Wel)" (Vincent, p.82). Rounding out the books necessary to being a good king were the moral works of the classical authors and the church fathers like Origen, Augustine, and Peter Lombard (Vincent, p.85). Oh, and also horoscopes (Vincent, p.88), because even kings need to hedge their bets.
Aside from books and records necessary to kingship were books necessary to the soul. Vincent writes,
In 1239 … to furnish the chapel of Sherborne castle, the King [Henry III] ordered a Missal, a Gradual with Troper, a Breviary (portehors) with Antiphonary, a Legendary, a Psalter, a book of collects, a Capitulary (or book of short readings) and a Hymnary (p.90).

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