16 June 2018
Cotton manuscripts quiz
Last week we announced that the manuscript collection of Sir Robert Cotton, held at the British Library, has been added to the UNESCO Memory of the World UK Register. To celebrate, we've decided to test our readers' knowledge of the Cotton library. Some of these questions are easier than others, we hope. There are no prizes up for grabs but please let us know how you get on via Twitter, @BLMedieval, using the hashtag #cottonquiz, or by the comments field below. Good luck!
The answers are now given below (no peeking!).
1. On which manuscript does Sir Robert Cotton rest his hands in this portrait?
2. From whom did Cotton reportedly acquire his two copies of the 1215 Magna Carta?
3. The diary of which English king is found in the Cotton library?
4. Which Roman emperor connects Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Lindisfarne Gospels?
5. How old was Sir Robert Cotton when he acquired his first manuscript? (And for a bonus point, what was the manuscript in question?)
6. In 1602–03, Robert Cotton presented a dozen manuscripts to whom, one of the earliest donations for which other great collection?
7. The Reculver charter is written in what script?
8. Name the English monarch for whom this map was made.
9. How many volumes were destroyed in their entirety in the 1731 fire?
10. The plan for which famous battle was identified in a fire-damaged Cotton manuscript?
Here are the answers:
The Cotton Genesis (Cotton Otho MS B VI)
King Edward VI (Cotton MS Nero C X)
Seventeen (Cotton MS Vespasian D XV is inscribed on f. 83v, 'Robertus Cotton 1588 Æ 17')
Sir Thomas Bodley, founder of the Bodleian Library in Oxford
Uncial (Cotton MS Augustus II 2)
King Henry VIII (Cotton MS Augustus I i 9)
Thirteen, plus three more in the 1865 British Museum bindery fire (as noted by Andrew Prescott, ‘“Their present miserable state of cremation”: the restoration of the Cotton library’, in C. J. Wright (ed.), Sir Robert Cotton as Collector: Essays on an Early Stuart Courtier and his Legacy (London, 1997), pp. 391–454, at pp. 392, 421)
Agincourt (the French battle-plan is found in Cotton MS Caligula D V, ff. 43v–44r)
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