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Richard of Bury


Bishop, royal official, bibliophile; b. near Bury-St.-Edmunds, Jan. 24, 1287; d. Durham, April 14, 1345. Born of a landowning family, Richard of Bury or Richard Aungerville studied at Oxford from 1302 to 1312, when he received the first of the enormous number of ecclesiastical benefices that he was to enjoy during the rest of his life, many of them being held in plurality by virtue of royal favor and papal provision. In the same year (1312) his appointment as clerk in the royal treasury set him on a career of service to Edward II and Edward III as a financial expert and diplomat. As diplomat he constantly visited the courts of Europe, including the papal court at avignon (1333) where he met petrarch. Even after becoming bishop of durham in 1333 he was continuously engaged in the King's affairs (e.g., he served as chancellor, 133435), yet proved himself a kindly and conscientious pastor in his diocese. During his last years, he was able to devote himself more completely to collecting books, the real passion of his life, as witness his Philobiblon, a work remarkable in its use of the cursus, every clause being laced together in a concatenation of some 19,000 clausulae. He also compiled a Libor epistolaris, a formulary of belles lettres collected by Richard and including treatises of otherwise unknown Italian dictatores.

Bibliography: r. aungerville, The Philobiblon, ed. a. taylor (Berkeley 1948); Liber epistolaris, ed. n. denholm-young (Oxford 1950). n. denholm-young, "Richard de Bury," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 4th ser., 20 (1937) 135168. a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the Scholars of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 v. (Oxford 195759) 1:323326.

[d. nicholl]

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