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Ana Sáez-Hidalgo, Associate Professor at the University of Valladolid, Spain,R. F. Yeager, Professor of English and World Languages and chair of the department at the University of West Florida
My focus is on the history of the provenances of the volumes in what was once the private library of the kings of Spain, now housed in the Royal Palace in Madrid. The objective is two-fold: first, to demonstrate, using three events in the history of the Real Biblioteca [Royal Library], how the sense of “treasure” or “royal representation” could be achieved by the display of manuscripts or printed books taken from collections of diverse owners and libraries where they held a completely different meaning; and second, to offer an example of provenance research of special interest to British medievalists: the significant case of the Livro do amante (Real Biblioteca MS II-3088), a fifteenth-century manuscript containing a translation of John Gower's Confessio Amantis into Portuguese.
The Real Biblioteca, one of the most significant bibliographical collections in Europe, has the fortune of counting among its treasures a Portuguese translation of Gower's Confessio Amantis. Although this manuscript bears witness to the fundamental nature of Gower's contribution to the cultural history of Europe, its history and provenance were unknown. Tracing the path followed by this manuscript into the kings' collection became a real challenge to us in the Real Biblioteca as part of our own on-going work in provenance research. For years, we have made great progress in this field, and as a result we have been able to reconstruct the libraries of nobles, scholars, convents, and princes that eventually came together in the private Real Biblioteca.
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