ALDHELM (SAINT) (vers 639-709)

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ALDHELM (SAINT) (vers 639-709)
Bishop of Sherbourne, Latin poet and scholar. Two leaves from De laude virginitatis [In Praise of Virginity]. In Latin, in Insular Southumbrian minuscule, decorated manuscript on parchment [Southern England (probably Glastonbury or Worcester), circa 800] Bifolium, each leaf 180 x 135 mm, 22 lines in black ink in a fine and early Insular Southumbrian minuscule, text in a single column, initials and simple paragraph marks once touched in red (now oxidised to silver), a few small early corrections, 17 tiny glosses in Anglo-Saxon (dated by Ker to the second half of tenth-century), translating words in the main text, one large combined initial “gl” (opening “gloriosas itidem...”) in insular style with sweeping fishhook-like ascenders surrounded by tiny dots in faded red (with some damage primarily caused by oxidisation), slight spotting in places, overall in outstanding condition. Leaves bound in a reddish-brown morocco binding by C. & C. McLeish, back sewn on 5 raised bands with gilt lettering “Aldhelm”, parchment pastedowns, gilt double frame on inner boards, placed in a fitted cloth articulated folder, inserted in a leather and cloth slipcase (nota bene, slipcase contains a second folder, here empty). Earliest witness to the text, written within a century of the author’s death. These leaves contain no less than 17 glosses in Anglo-Saxon (20 words in all), datable to the tenth century, translating the original Latin. Aldhelm was born circa 639, a relative of Ine, king of Wessex. He was educated at Malmesbury, where he was abbot, and after 705 was elected the first bishop of Sherbourne (that see eventually transferred to Sarum). He died in 709. He was praised by both Bede and King Alfred as a scholar and had an international reputation as an energetic evangelist and founder of monasteries in the first century of English Christianity. He was convinced that learning should not be limited to men, and the present work, on the praise of virginity and
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