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Thomas Lydiat’s Scholarship in Prison: Discovery and Disaster in the Seventeenth Century

Haugen, Kristine Louise (2012) Thomas Lydiat’s Scholarship in Prison: Discovery and Disaster in the Seventeenth Century. Bodleian Library Record, 25 (2). pp. 183-216. ISSN 0067-9488.

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Like so many early modern intellectuals, Thomas Lydiat (1572-1646) found himself in prison for a stretch of years and decided there could be no better place for continuing his scholarly work. This article both explains the chronological arguments Lydiat devised--he presented a new interpretation of the Biblical prophecy of Daniel, which was thought to prove the divinity of Jesus, on the basis of a newly discovered Greek inscription--and argues that his series of writings had the very material purpose of attracting attention and setting him free. Lydiat's story also reveals that at this time individual prisoners remained well respected by their peers, yet the actual experience of prison could seem like a personal stain: in his posthumously published works, Lydiat's imprisonment is never mentioned, and we learn about it only from his original manuscripts in Oxford.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:© 2012 Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. I am extremely grateful to Anthony Grafton for alerting me to Lydiat's prison work and to Mordechai Feingold for continuous and copious assistance as I researched Lydiat's strange story. Noel Swerdlow kindly discussed historical chronology with me, and Rhodri Lewis, William Poole, and Nicholas Hardy provided help as well; thanks also to a reader for this journal for acute comments. But this project would have been entirely impossible without the generous support of the Renaissance Society of America's Bodleian Library Research Grant and the Bodleian Library's Centre for the Study of the Book, which enabled me to visit Oxford and study Lydiat's manuscripts and related materials in the summer of 2011.
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Renaissance Society of America. Bodleian Library Research GrantUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20161126-145127257
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:72286
Deposited By: Kristine Haugen
Deposited On:28 Nov 2016 19:58
Last Modified:28 May 2021 19:39

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