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‘Tabula librorum de histories antiquitatum’

Drawn up in the summer of 1528, when the sweating sickness was raging, this list gives the titles of almost 100 books in religious houses in Lincolnshire that might pertain to Henry’s ‘Great Matter’ (divorce). Those books that were to be transported to the Royal Library were marked with a cross. 

More revealingly, there is a note beside a list of three titles from the Gilbertine priory of St Catherine in Lincoln in Henry’s own hand to the effect that all of the books or at least the older of them were worthy of examination (uel omnes uelantiquior istorum). 

It is clear that Henry was closely involved in the search for evidence, overseeing what was going on and determining what might be most useful to him. 

The majority of the manuscripts that were singled out – there were 37 in all – survive in the modern Royal Library, including one from the Lincoln Gilbertines, a glossed copy of books of the Old Testament, misattributed to the medieval theologian William de Montibus, carrying the Westminster Inventory Number, No. 503.

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