The Story of Books
by Gertrude Burford Rawlings
New York D.Appleton and Company 1901
Book Florentine Book
Grolier Book
Renaissance Book
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The rich and cultured of Italy were also busily collecting books and forming libraries. A library was made
by Cardinal Bessarion at a cost of thirty thousand sequins, and afterwards became the property of the
church of St. Mark at Venice. Venice already possessed a small collection of books given to it by Petrarch,
but the gift was so little thought of that it lay neglected in the Palazzo Molina until some of the volumes
had crumbled to powder, and others had petrified, as it were, through the damp.

Of English collectors of this period Richard de Bury was the most famous. As has already been stated, he
possessed the largest number of books in the country, and these he bequeathed to the University of
Oxford. The Aungervyle Library, as it was called, was destroyed at the Reformation. Guy de Beauchamp,
Earl of Warwick, also had a very fine collection. He preferred romances, however, to theology or law, and
his library contained many such works. At his death he bequeathed it to the Abbey of Bordesley, in

The English kings had not as yet paid much attention to books. Eleven are mentioned in the wardrobe
accounts as belonging to Edward I., and not until the time of Henry VII. was any serious consideration
given to the formation of the Royal Library.

Among the more famous continental book collectors of a later period were Matthias Corvinus, King of
Hungary, and Frederick, Duke of Urbino. The library of the King of Hungary perhaps excelled all others in
its size and splendor. It is said to have contained nearly fifty thousand volumes, but only a comparatively
small number survived the barbarous attack of the Turks, who stole the jewels from the bindings and
destroyed the books themselves. The Duke of Urbino's library was scarcely less magnificent, and was
distinguished by its completeness. All obtainable works were represented, and no imperfect copies
admitted. The duke had thirty four transcribers in his service.

After the monastic libraries had been destroyed, and when old ideas were beginning to give place to new,
the restrictions formerly placed on the reading of the Scriptures by the people at large were withdrawn.
In an Injunction, dated 1559, Elizabeth ordered that the people were to be exhorted to read the Bible,
not discouraged, and she directed the clergy to provide at the parish expense a book of the whole Bible
in English within three months, and within twelve months a copy of Erasmus' Paraphrases upon the
Gospels, also in English.

These books were to be set up in the church for the use and reading of the parishioners. The chain is not
mentioned in the Injunction, but was probably adopted as a matter of course. Chained books in churches
thus became common, and besides the Bible, very generally included copies of Fox's Book of Martyrs and
Jewel's Apology for the Church of England. The chained books at St. Luke's, Chelsea, consist of a
Vinegar Bible, a Prayer Book, the Homilies, and two copies of the Book of Martyrs.

The custom of chaining books, as we have seen, was followed in the college libraries, and obtained also in
church libraries in England and on the continent. Among the still existing libraries whose books are thus
secured are those of Hereford Cathedral and Wimborne Minster in England, and the church of St.
Wallberg at Zutphen, in Holland. The last, however, was not always chained, and thereby hangs a tale.
Once upon a time the Devil, having a spite against the good books of which it was composed, despoiled it
of some of its best volumes. The mark of his cloven hoof upon the flagged floor gave the clue to the
identity of the thief, whereupon the custodians of the books had them secured by chains sprinkled with
holy water, by which means the malice of the Evil One was made of none effect.
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