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UCLA Library Receives Richard and Mary Rouse Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts


RichardRouse, UCLA professor emeritus of history, and Mary Rouse, former editor ofViator and, with Richard, author of five books and numerous articles onmedieval manuscripts and libraries, have given the first installment of theircollection of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts to the Charles E. YoungResearch Library Department of Special Collections. The gift of 113manuscripts, 78 manuscript leaves and documents includes examples of nearlyevery type of manuscript and offers scholars a broad picture of manuscriptculture in the later Middle Ages and Renaissance.

"Weare deeply honored by the gift of this stunning collection from Richard andMary Rouse," said University Librarian Gary E. Strong. "Its contents will beinvaluable to researchers exploring the history of the book and printing aswell as subjects ranging from literature to science."

Individualitems come from Bohemia, England, France,Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, with texts in Latin as wellas in Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Middle English. They coversubjects including history, law, medicine, music, pastoral care, philosophy,science and theology. The earliest item dates from the ninth century and thelatest from the 17th century, with the majority coming from the period 1200 to1500.

"Havingstudied and written about the production of medieval manuscripts and about thelibraries through which they passed, we feel that we are very fortunate to havebeen able to form a collection of medieval manuscripts ourselves," the Rousessaid. "We have always shared its contents with our students and wish that itcontinue to be useful for teaching as well as for research. It is a pleasurefor us to know that our gift will be cared for at UCLA. And we look forward toadding to it."

Amongthe more remarkable manuscripts in the gift is an illuminated parchment rolleight feet long containing the genealogy of the kings of England from Aethelbert, first king of Kent(589–610), to Richard II (1377–99). It was written in England shortly after Richard II'saccession and probably was meant to be displayed on a wall.

Thecollection contains a number of significant individual sheets. Among these is arare survival of a German calligrapher's advertisement dated 1568 including,next to a text written in a flamboyant script brushed with gold, the Lord'sPrayer written in German in a space the size of a nickel to show off thecalligrapher's skill.

Thegift also includes a number of charters and a substantial number of leaves from12th‑ and 13th-century manuscripts that were cut up and recycled asbinding reinforcement and pastedowns in early printed books.

Illuminatedmanuscripts are represented in both codices and leaves, including the work oftwo 13th-century Italian illuminators of Bibles, the late-14th-century Italianpainter known as the Master of the Brussels Initials and the Genoese painterUgo Alexandrinus. Examples of illuminations from England,France, Germany and the Netherlands also are included.

Almostevery manuscript in the collection illustrates some aspect of manuscriptproduction, since that was a theme of the Rouses' graduate teaching, researchand publication during their long careers at UCLA. Significant among these arean Italian bifolium from the early 14th century with a corrector's record ofpayment in the margin and an early 13th-century collection of sermons inunbound, unsewn quires to show the leaves of a manuscript as a scribe wouldassemble it. A rare itemized account on the back of a charter records the costto the donor of the parchment, the ruling and the writing. An officialmanuscript, perhaps unique, of a grant in 1467 by Louis XI permits thebooktrade confraternity to raise their annual dues after the Hundred Years' Warto meet the expenses resulting from the "great wars famines, deaths, and otherpestilences in our said city of Paris."

Manyof the manuscripts in the gift can be seen in the online exhibit of selectionsfrom the Rouse Collection at

Aboutthe Department of Special Collections

The UCLA Department of Special Collections was created in 1946 toadminister the UCLA Library's rare and unique materials in the humanities andsocial sciences. Recognized today as one of the country's topspecial-collections departments, it is supported by the circulating holdings ofthe Charles E. Young Research Library, where the department now resides.

The department provides primary resources for instruction andresearch in the humanities and social sciences. The principal academic programsit serves are art history; classics; comparative literature; English; French;Germanic languages; history; Italian; lesbian, gay and bisexual studies; NearEastern languages and cultures; philosophy; political science; sociology; urbanplanning; and world arts and cultures.

Thedepartment's collections and programs encompass rare books and pamphlets fromthe 15th through the 20th centuries; extensive manuscript holdings; drawings,including original architectural drawings; early maps and atlases; andphotographs, prints and paintings.

Collections also contain artifacts, audiotape and videotaperecordings, oral history transcripts, phonograph records, postcards, andposters.



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