Henry Batman (d. 1571) and the Corpus Christi College library

Zwolle-born Henry Batman (d.1571) left Holland in 1543 and settled in Somerset. One of his eight sons was Stephan Batman [Stephen Bateman] (c.1542-1584), a Church of England clergyman and author, who became a member of Archbishop Matthew Parker’s household. Batman was a great collector of books, even trying to save ‘papisticall’ publications from the destructive hands of Protestant zealots. He claimed to have collected 6,700 books for Parker, who subsequently gave some of those to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Batman also collected and annotated some twenty-three medieval manuscripts for himself, including texts by Chaucer and Middle English religious literature. Batman’s own publications demonstrate a wide range of interest and a moral impulse towards Protestant edification. He enjoyed a high reputation among contemporary scholars for his work. His Golden Booke of the Leaden Goddess (1577) in which he describes and identifies the symbols of ancient art, is the first handbook of iconography printed in English. His major contribution to late Elizabethan literature was his ability to demonstrate how to use images and concepts derived from either medieval piety or pagan antiquity without compromising Protestant teaching.

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