The Bodleian Library of Oxford University – one of the oldest and largest in
Europe – is among the most celebrated libraries in the world. Its unrivalled
collections of manuscripts and books have served generations of students, thus
making Oxford a meeting place of international learning and the capital of the
Republic of scholars. With its beginnings in the fourteenth century the library
owes the first phase of its reputation to Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the
youngest son of King Henry IV, who donated his priceless collection of more than
280 manuscripts, including several important classical texts, to Oxford University.
In order to accommodate this major donation the library was moved from its
original location – a room above the Old Congregation House, erected next to St
Mary’s church – to the Divinity School, which was enlarged with a second storey
that was completed in 1470.