Queen Elizabeth's Book of Oxford was made in 1566 as a gift for Elizabeth I on the occasion of her first royal visit to Oxford. It was made, however, not just out of reverence for the Queen, but with the aim of getting her to endow the foundation of a new college. This sophisticated tour guide is presented as a dialogue between the Queen and her guide, in which the monarch asks questions which allow the guide to extol the generosity of the founders of each college they visit.
The book failed. Queen Elizabeth founded no new institutions, but the exercise has left us with a fascinating insight into ideas of patronage and endowment in Elizabeth's day.This unique manuscript contains a Latin verse account of the famous buildings of the University illustrated by a series of beautiful pen drawings, and conceived by its scholarly producers as an imaginary progress through these locations. The complete manuscript is now made available for the first time in actual-size facsimile with full-text translation, a commentary on the images, and an analytical essay which places the manuscript in its historical context.
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