Wednesday, April 25, 2007

John Leland - Kings Antiquarian

While John Guillim was commendable in writing a book on heraldry, his book is not yet available as a whole.

John Leland (on the other hand) was more well known as an Antiquarian. Indeed, Leland was (and still is) the ONLY man to ever be named as the Kings Antiquarian.

John Leland was born in London about 1506, educated at St Paul's School, London, and at Christ's College, Cambridge. He seems to have been a difficult character. After lowly posts as a tutor, he was made Royal Librarian at Windsor, then 'King's Antiquary' to Henry VIII, 1533. This post never existed before or since. Leland had orders to search every college and religious house in the country for rare manuscripts for Henry VIII's library; or rather, perhaps, for evidence to enable Henry to reunite to the crown goods which churchmen held of it; this is the time of the second wave of commissioners closing down religious houses; these are the final days of the Middle Ages.

Leland travelled through England, and later wrote a book about the Antiques he discovered after the Dissolution of the Monastaries in 1539-1540. His book is still available - although these days it is more of an antiquarian book itself.

The Itinerary of John Leland Antiquary, in Nine Volumes. Oxford, 1769-70.

John Leland’s Itinerary was begun in 1538 at the request of Henry VIII. The antiquarian provided an illuminating record of the state of towns, villages, and the remains of monastic communities in the process of dissolution. Leland’s work influenced antiquarians and historians for centuries to come. That did not prevent John from repeating the oft told stories.

"Along on the left honde, ? miles of betwixt Milburne and Feribridge, i saw the woodd and most famous forest of Barnsdale, where thay say that Robyn Hudde lyvid like an outlaw." Itinerary, V.101.

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I love books, I love reading them, I love owning them. I love History and Maps, Genealogy, Archaeology, and Sci Fi (Star Trek & Stargate) and Biographies.