Tuesday, 5 March 2013

New technology meets an old manuscript

A digital version of a manuscript about Henry VIII has been produced by a team of postgraduate students, scholars and technical advisors from Royal Holloway University of London and the British Library. It allows readers to make the link between the original handwritten text in Greek and Latin and online dictionaries and editorial comments including footnotes. Highlighted text in the original text corresponds with highlighted text in the transcription and translation, allowing readers to follow the content line by line on each page. All these innovations help the reader to understand more about how and why the text was written.

The manuscript  is about Henry VIII and is held at the British Library. It was written by George Etheridge. and was intended for Henry VIII's daughter Elizabeth. Etheridge, was a classical Oxford scholar, physician and an ardent Catholic. As a result of his faith, he was expelled in 1559 from his position as Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, following Henry VIII's removal of papal authority and establishment of Royal control of the Church.

Ref: AWNS-19020515, Reverend of the Catholic Church, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The manuscripts or encomium (meaning a work which is written in praise of a person or thing) is a work of flattery and includes details on Henry VIII's qualities as a monarch and his military achievements.  Etheridge presented it to Queen Elizabeth I when she visited Oxford in 1566. On the face of it, this was to prove his loyalty to the Crown but it was also a veiled attempt to advance his own position.

The new digital version has been dedicated to the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II to mark her Diamond Jubilee. 

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