Friday, March 16, 2012

Transfer of Power

A deed of indenture. In 1536, the See of Rome Act was passed which effectively removed the last traces of Papal authority in England. This act followed the Act of Supremacy (1533) and the Treasons Act (1534) which first declared Henry VIII to be head of the Church of England and then made it treason to deny any of the king's titles including that of head of the Church of England. Many properties owned by Rome or those associated with the Catholic Church were abandoned or seized by the crown.  These properties were in turn presented to various members of the court as rewards or incentives for continued loyalty.

Both sides of a wax seal.
This document is a deed of indenture from November, 1537 transferring the former priory of St. Mary and St. Sexburgha (dissolved in 1536) and a portion of the associated properties to Sir Thomas Cheney in exchange for his manor of Leigh, with Baron's Grange, in the parish of Iden, Sussex.  Affixed to the document is Henry VIII's standard Great Seal, showing him enthroned on one side and on horseback on the reverse.  Cheney was a powerful member of the court and served as Lord Warden for the Cinque Ports among other responsibilities.  He was also reported to be a favorite of Anne Boleyn, whose marriage to Henry precipitated Henry's break with Rome.

Ask for Lansburgh 13 to see the deed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mathematical Principles

A full page illustration of two figures in the clouds.
Isaac Newton's Principia is arguably one of the most important books in the history of science. Originally written in Latin for a learned audience, it was translated into English in 1729. Our copy of The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (London: Benjamin Motte, 1729) has had a long and varied life. It has four different owner marks (besides Dartmouth's bookplate) and once was part of the "Cambrian Cocoa Room Library," a 19th-century subscription lending library.

An open book of printed text with a fold-out diagram.
The book's content was revolutionary, but on a much smaller scale, the book offers a clever innovation in design. If you have ever struggled with a mathematics book that depended on diagrams, you'll understand. Each diagram of the Principia is tipped in as a separate folding plate. When unfolded, the portion of the plate that matches the book's text block is blank, but the diagram extends out and can be followed as you read. As a result, you don't have to flip back and forth between the discussion and the plate because the illustration is visible outside of the text.

To see the book, ask for Rare QA803.A45 1729.