We are excited to announce an new development for the Wren Digital Library. We have made the decision to license our images under a Creative Commons BY-NC license, meaning that anyone is welcome to share images from the James Catalogue for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the source of the images.*
This is simply the latest in a series of improvements being made to the James Catalogue online. On this blog we have already featured the addition of the new donor search feature, but readers may not have noticed that library staff have also been busy measuring the manuscripts and restructuring the pages to be a bit easier to navigate with a tab system. We are continually looking for ways to improve access to our digitised manuscripts and welcome any comments or suggestions at email@example.com.
As always, anyone wishing to publish images from our collections should please contact the library to arrange for permission. Many thanks to all of our readers for your continued support of this exciting project.
The staff of Trinity College Library, Cambridge
*Note: Our preferred form of credit is, “Copyright the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge”, but we understand that this is not always possible on sites such as Twitter, so a link to the catalogue and/or a reference to Trinity College Library are perfectly acceptable.
Tomorrow’s general election, 7 May 2015, will see Cambridge city once again hotly-contested. The University of Cambridge was given two parliamentary seats in 1603 and this constituency (of two seats) was not abolished until 1950. In 1866 the Rev. Dr William Whewell (1794-1866), Master of Trinity, bequeathed to the college a large collection of papers, mostly printed, and largely related to the Cambridge Elections of 1829-1831 (R.1.76). These elections were also keenly-contested on the major issues of Catholic Emancipation and parliamentary reform, and Whewell’s support was solicited by each candidate.
In June 1829 during the Duke of Wellington’s administration (1828-1830) George Bankes (1787-1856), the anti-Catholic candidate, briefly gave up his Corfe Castle seat to contest his brother’s, William John Bankes, former constituency of Cambridge University. George Bankes had been preparing for a vacancy for several months, but still lacked the requisite ministerial support. He was opposed by the young Whig William Cavendish (1808-91), later 7th Duke of Devonshire, who defeated him by around 150 votes.
After the failure of the first Reform Bill in 1831, parliament was dissolved, a general election was held and Earl Grey’s Whigs, who had been in office since the Duke of Wellington resigned in November 1830, were returned to government. In Cambridge, however, Henry Goulburn (1784-1856), a Tory and close friend of Robert Peel’s stood for the university with Peel’s brother, William. Both professed their support for ‘temperate’ or moderate reform at the end of a month-long campaign against Viscount Palmerston, the foreign secretary, who had been M.P. for Cambridge University since 1811, and William Cavendish. Both Peel and Goulburn were victorious in the only major contest to go against the Whig government.
On 16 June 1831 when Goulburn took his seat in the Commons, he ‘saw many new faces, not very good looking nor yet so bad as I expected’. Despite a landslide victory for the Whigs in the first election under a reformed parliamentary system, Goulburn was re-elected in 1832 and retained the Cambridge University seat until his death in 1856.
With summer just around the corner, outdoor pastimes are the order of the day. Among the most ancient and noble of these is falconry and it is this aristocratic pursuit that is the first of two Labours of the Month for May.
Developed in Mesopotamia perhaps as early as 2,000 BC, falconry is the hunting of wild animals using a specially trained raptor (bird of prey). While falconry is often used to describe hunting using any bird of prey, including hawks and buzzards, it should technically only refer to the flying of falcons, raptors of the genus falco.
Falcons make ideal hunters thanks to their sharp eyesight, speed and manoeuverability in the air, and their powerful talons. However, it is difficult and time consuming to train them owing to their complex needs and the trusting relationship that must exist between the falconer and the bird. Therefore, while some peasants may have flown birds of prey to hunt for food, falconry is most often associated with the wealthy and noble who could afford to employ specialist trainers and keepers. These individuals occupied a prestigious position within the houses they served and the title of falconer to nobles and royals was often hereditary, passed from father to son.
Indeed, medieval falconry was rigidly hierarchical. The Book of St. Albans (1486) details what sort of bird of prey was appropriate for various social ranks, from Emperors, who were said to fly eagles, vultures and merlins, down to knaves or servants, who could only fly kestrels according to the book. Owing to the expense of buying and keeping them, falcons and hawks became symbols of power, prestige and strength used in heraldry. Hunting parties were a chance for nobles to gather and show off the skills of their birds of prey and by the later middle ages these parties had become highly stylized and extravagant rather than a way of acquiring food.
The idea of the thrill of the chase and the associations with chivalry are enough to explain the connection between falconry and courtly love, the second Labour of the Month for May. “Maying”, celebrating May Day, was used as a euphemism for outdoor canoodling by Thomas Morley in the popular balette “Now is the Month of Maying”, published in 1595. Indeed, there seems to be something in the air in May, for in the image from B.11.22, a 13th century Flemish Book of Hours, a couple appears to have abandoned all pretenses at flying the falcon on the young man’s wrist and are paying much more attention to each other than to the wildlife they might be hunting. Medieval courtly literature frequently plays with tension between the rigid hierarchy of society and the wild pleasure of both hunting and romance.
Courtly love is a fitting companion to May’s most famous festival day, May Day, which falls on 1st May. Many of the fertility rites celebrated by ancient pagans on or around the first day of May were absorbed by Christian Europe in the middle ages and have survived to the present day, such as dancing around the May Pole, crowning a May Queen, and giving May baskets. It has also been assimilated by secular Europe as a day of labour strikes and demonstrations known as International Workers’ Day.
Later in the month the zodiac switches to Gemini, the twins. Commonly identified as Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Zeus and Leda, Gemini is frequently represented by idealized versions of the male form. Often, the two figures are shown holding a shield between them, as seen in the full page images above. In B.11.7, however, Gemini is symbolized by conjoined twins, with two torsos sharing a single pair of legs. Along with images of Gemini as two heads sharing one body or of two lovers, this is another common interpretation of Gemini.
Whether or not you’re a noble, a worker, a lover, a falconer or a Gemini, we wish you an auspicious month of May!