Professor Richard Sharpe

  • Michael Casey (?1752–1830/31), herb doctor, his Irish manuscripts, and John O’Donovan

  • Franciscan copies of Lucerna Fidelium. Lóchrann na gCreidmheach in Ireland

  • Génair Pátraicc: Old Irish between print and manuscript, 1647–1853

  • Génair Pátraicc: Old Irish between print and manuscript, 1647–1853’

  • The twelfth-century Translation and Miracles of St Guthlac

  • The manuscripts of Mícheál Óg that were sold to Sir William Betham

  • Subversive acts: The early charters of the borough of Beverley

  • Further hidden manuscripts

  • Humfrey Wanley, Bishop John O’Brien, and the colophons of Mael Brigte’s Gospels

  • Destruction of Irish manuscripts and the National Board of Education

  • More
My Publications

My Publications

Welcome to this presentation of my research as available to read. A list of my publications, complete with abstracts, can be downloaded as a PDF. This is for the seriously curious. It runs to more than 40 pages. Think before you print.

Let us start with something still hot but not yet off the press, a preview of my contribution to a festschrift, which has aired uiua uoce in Oxford, London, and Helsinki:
King Ceadwalla and Bishop Wilfrid’, Cities, Saints and Scholars in Early Medieval Europe. Essays in honour of Alan Thacker, ed. S. deGregorio & P. J. E. Kershaw (Turnhout: Brepols).

Some headings to help navigate:


            charters of William II and Henry I

            mostly charter-based

            medieval book-history

            some medieval Latin

            an early-modern turn

            something on Iona

            Irish manuscripts and printed books

            some Welsh interests

            waifs and strays

            from before the PDF era, mostly Bede and saints

The big project to collect, edit, and interpret around 2000 charters of William II and Henry I has its own webpage.

Click on The Charters and select completed archives from either reign. For some institutions there are beneficiary archive files under both William II and Henry I, though, when complete, the number for Henry I will be four times that for William II.

A particular big one to watch out for is ‘Proclamations, Treaties, Letters’.

For instant gratification here are some articles, most of them fairly recent, with links to other sites in some cases. Work within the field of eleventh- and twelfth-century British history, much of it charter-based, forms the staple diet.

(with D. X. Carpenter) ‘Subversive acts: the forged early charters of the borough of Beverley’, History 103 (2018), 719–36: available at

Banners of the northern saints’, in Saints of North-East England, 600–1500, ed. M. Coombe, A. Mouron, & C. A. Whitehead, Medieval Church Studies 39 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017), 245–303. Read about the book:

Official and unofficial words in eleventh- and twelfth-century England’, in Latin in Medieval Britain, ed. R. Ashdowne & C. White, Proceedings of the British Academy 206 (2017), 247–71.

‘The earliest Norman sheriffs’, History 101 (2016), 485–94: available at

Common carriers in medieval England’, Oxoniensia 81 (2016), 27–61. Centred in the fifteenth century and drawing for the most part on account rolls.

Doing business with William Rufus. The Haddenham narrative’, in Textus Roffensis: Law, Language, and Libraries in Early Medieval England, edited by Barbara Bombi and Bruce O’Brien, Studies in the Early Middle Ages (Turnhout: Brepols, 2015), 363–85. Read about the book:

‘King William and the Brecc Bennach in 1211: reliquary or holy banner?’, Innes Review 66 (2015), 163–90: available at:

Tenere in capite and tenant in chief’, posted with Charters of William II and Henry I. 10pp.

‘Peoples and languages in eleventh- and twelfth-century Britain and Ireland: reading the charter evidence’, in The Reality behind Charter Diplomatic in Anglo-Norman Britain, ed. Dauvit Broun (Glasgow, 2011), 1–119: available at

or try the whole book at

The date of Quadripartitus again’, English Law before Magna Carta. Felix Liebermann and Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen, ed. S. Jurasinski, L. Oliver, and A. S. Rabin (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 81–93. 

‘The last years of Herbert the chamberlain. Weaverthorpe church and hall’, Historical Research 83 (2010), 588–601: available at:

King Harold’s daughter’(Warren Hollister Memorial Lecture, Haskins Society at Georgetown, DC, 3 November 2006),  Haskins Society Journal 19 (2008), 1–27.

Norman Rule in Cumbria 1092–1136 (Surtees Society Presidential Lecture, delivered at the AGM of C&WAAS, Carlisle, 2005), Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, Tract Series 21 (2006). 78pp. Copies of the booklet are still available from the C&WAAS at 

Address and delivery in Anglo-Norman writs and writ charters’, in Charters and Charter Scholarship in Britain and Ireland, ed. M.-T. Flanagan & J. A. Green (London: Palgrave, 2005), 32–52. 

1088—William II and the rebels’, Anglo-Norman Studies 26 (2004), 139–57. 

The use of writ-charters in the eleventh century’, Anglo-Saxon England 32 (2003), 247–91. 

The obituary from the British Academy's Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of my predecessor Pierre Chaplais (1920-2006), who made a distinguished contribution to Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman diplomatic - available at


In the area of medieval book-history there is less I am able to post:

'John Eyton alias Repyngdon and the Sermones super Evangelia dominicalia attributed to Philip Repyngdon', Medium Aevum 83 (2014), 254–265. 

Anselm as author. Publishing in the late eleventh century’ (J. R. O’Donnell Memorial Lecture, PIMS, Toronto, 31 October 2007), Journal of Medieval Latin 19 (2009), 1–87. 

(with Teresa Webber) ‘Four early booklets of Anselm’s works from Salisbury. Cambridge, Trinity College, MS B. 1. 37’, Scriptorium 63 (2009), 58–72.

The present and future of incunable cataloguing II’ [review article], The Library 7th ser. 9 (2008), 210–24. 

‘Library catalogues and indexes’, in The History of the Book in Britain 2 The Manuscript Book c. 1100–1400, ed. N. J. Morgan & R. M. Thomson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 197–218. (subscription access)

The contribution of manuscript catalogues to identifying medieval Latin texts’, in Die Katalogisierung mittelalterlicher Handschriften in internationaler Perspektive, ed. C. Fabian & B. Wagner (Munich: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, 2007), 51–60. 

‘The Medieval Librarian’, in A History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland 1 From the beginnings to 1640, ed. M. T. J. Webber & E. S. Leedham-Green (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 218–41. (subscription access)

The English bibliographical tradition from Henry de Kirkestede to Thomas Tanner’, Britannia Latina, ed. C. S. F. Burnett & C. N. J. Mann, Warburg Studies (London: Warburg Institute, 2005), 86–128. 90

‘Monastic reading at Thorney abbey (1323–1347)’, Traditio 60 (2005), 243–78 - available at

‘Thomas Tanner (1674–1735), the 1697 Catalogue, and Bibliotheca Britannica’, The Library 7th ser. 6 (2005), 381–421: available at

‘Books stolen from Ely cathedral priory and found in Paris, c. 1330’, The Library 7th ser. 6 (2005), 76–9: available from

Richard Barre’s Compendium Veteris et Noui Testamenti’, Journal of Medieval Latin 14 (2004), 128–46: available from

Titulus. Identifying medieval Latin texts: an evidence-based approach  (Turnhout: Brepols, 2003). pp. 301. Italian translation by Marco Palma: Titulus. I manoscritti come fonte per l’identificazione dei testi mediolatini, Scritture e libri del medioevo 3 (Rome: Viella, 2005). pp. viii, 252.


There has been and will be some more Medieval Latin, mainly from Britain. 

(with Robert Easting) Peter of Cornwall’s Book of Revelations (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of  Mediaeval Studies, 2013). xvi + 615pp.

The second half of the book (pp. 355–549) provides a calendar of the contents of Lambeth Palace, MS 51, Peter’s Liber reuelationum, put together in 1200 and comprising nearly 1100 stories of visions, in most cases excerpted from other sources. This allows ready access to visions of the otherworld and stories of contact between the dead and the living, which Peter was able to cull from existing literature. The material first written down by Peter himself is edited and translated with separate introductory essays for each original story or group of stories. With an introduction on Peter’s life and works and an analysis of the manuscript, eight chapters make up the first part of the book. An argument is made that Peter, at the priory of Holy Trinity, Aldgate, was able to draw on libraries in London and on professional scribes for hire in the city. His work provides early evidence for the London book trade as well as for the library resources available in the capital. Peter’s collection is a considerable resource for studying the understanding of vision literature at the end of the twelfth century, but his purpose, set out in the prologue (pp. 74–115) was to convince his readers of the immortality of the soul and therefore of the existence of God and the four last things.

 These two papers are still imminent in August 2019:

‘Peter of Blois and Abbot Henry de Longchamp’, in Guthlac of Crowland; celebrating 1300 years, ed. Jane Roberts & Alan Thacker (Donnington, Lincs: Shaun Tyas), 448–72.

‘The twelfth-century Translation and Miracles of St Guthlac’, Guthlac of Crowland; celebrating 1300 years, ed. Jane Roberts & Alan Thacker (Donnington, Lincs: Shaun Tyas, 2019), 485–554. Latin text with English translation, introduction, and notes.


The book on Roderick O’Flaherty was the result of an early-modern antiquarian turn, which started with Edward Lhwyd on books containing Pictish and spread to other things.

Roderick O’Flaherty’s Letters to William Molyneux, Edward Lhwyd, and Samuel Molyneux 1696–1709. (Dublin: RoyalIrishAcademy, 2013). xx + 540pp.

Roderick O’Flaherty (1629–1716) was a remarkable person, dispossessed heir to a Gaelic chiefdom, who engaged in writing history from medieval Irish sources and corresponded with men of new scientific learning, among them the Welsh polymath Edward Lhwyd in Oxford and in Dublin William Molyneux, who began the Dublin Philosophical Society, and his son Samuel. The body of the book prints and annotates fifty-six letters, most of them written by Roderick O’Flaherty from his home in Cois Fhairrge, Co. Galway; a few letters to him from Samuel Molyneux are included. Using this body of evidence to complement O’Flaherty’s learned writings, the Introduction provides a new biography of O’Flaherty, a survey of his works in Latin and English, and an investigation on the one hand of his involvement with the critical reading of Edward Lhwyd’s Irish–English dictionary and on the other of his attempts to publish his own Ogygia Vindicated. Appendices set out the evidence for O’Flaherty’s wide reading, including a detailed examination of his use of older Irish texts in manuscripts such as the Book of Lecan and the Book of Uí Mhaine.

‘Selling books at the Sheldonian Theatre 1677–1720’, The Library 7th ser. 11 (2010), 275–320: designated ‘Editor’s choice’ and available at

Henry Ellis, Richard Gough’s protégé’, Bodleian Library Record 22 (2009), 191–211. 

‘In quest of Pictish manuscripts’, Innes Review 59 (2008), 145–67: available at

Lhwyd on Pictish and O’Flaherty on Irish take me back to Celtic roots. Iona and St Columba is a very long-standing interest.

Lachlan Campbell’s letters to Edward Lhwyd, 1704–7’, Scottish Gaelic Studies 29 (2013), 244–281. 

‘Iona in 1771. Gaelic tradition and visitors’ experience’, Innes Review 63 (2012), 161–259: available at

(with John Reuben Davies and Simon Taylor) ‘Comforting sentences from the warming room of Inchcolm abbey’, Innes Review 63 (2012), 260–66: available at

and you can now read the sequel by Chris Nighman in the same journal, ‘Walter Bower's reception of the Manipulus florum (1306) in composing he Scotichronicon (c. 1440)’, Innes Review 70 (2019), 55–64: available as featured article at


Other recent delvings into Irish manuscripts and printed books are in some cases concerned with the old, in other cases with more recent matters.

(with Mícheál Hoyne) Clóliosta. Printing in the Irish language 1571–1871. An attempt at a narrative bibliography (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 2020), well over 800 pages: available on line since November 2018 at

‘The first printing of Merriman’s Cúirt an Mheadan Oidhche’, National Library of Ireland blogdate 30 January 2019.

‘Michael Casey (?1752–1830/31), herb doctor, his Irish manuscripts, and John O’Donovan’, Éigse 40 (2019), 1–42.

‘Génair Pátraicc: Old Irish between print and manuscript, 1647–1853’, Ériu 68 (2018), 1–28: available at

‘The manuscripts of Mícheál Óg that were sold to Sir William Betham’, Leabhar na Longánach. The Ó Longáin family and their manuscripts, edited by Pádraig Ó Macháin & Sorcha Nic Lochlainn (Cork: Cló Torna, 2018), 259–332, 347–58. available at

Humfrey Wanley, Bishop John O’Brien, and the colophons of Mael Brigte’s Gospels’, Celtica 29 (2017), 251–92.

Destruction of Irish manuscripts and the National Board of Education’, Studia Hibernica 43 (2017), 95–116: available at

Richard Plunket (fl. 1772–1791), “a neglected genius of the county of Meath’, Ríocht na Midhe 28 (2017), 191–203.

The duke of Sussex’s Irish manuscript (Rylands Irish MS   22)’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 93 (2017), 121–9: available from

Irish poetry in print in Cox’s Irish Magazine, 1808–1810’, Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 121 (2016), 64–80, plates.

Manuscript and print in Gaelic Scotland and Ireland 1689–1832’, Cànan & Cultar: Language & Culture, ed. W. McLeod, Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig 8 (2016), 33–55.

‘Gulide, Guile, Gulinus: an Irish type for a twelfth-century Latin story’, Ériu 66 (2016), 199–201: available from

‘Manuscript by subscription? Muiris Ó Gormáin and the Annals of the Four Masters’, Éigse 39 (2016), 199–208.

Medieval manuscripts found at Bonamargy friary and other hidden manuscripts’, Studia Hibernica 41 (2015), 49–85, with a follow-up on something missed, ‘Further hidden manuscripts’, Studia Hibernica 44 (2018), 127­–­32. More information now collected.

‘Seán Ó Cléirigh and his manuscripts’, in Early Medieval Ireland and Europe: chronology, contacts, scholarship. A Festschrift for Dáibhí Ó Cróinín (Turnhout: Brepols, 2015), 645–70. Read about the book:

‘Tadhg Gaelach Ó Súilleabháin’s Pious Miscellany: editions of the Munster bestseller of the early nineteenth century’, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 114C (2014), 235–93: available at

 ‘Muiris Ó Gormáin’s book lists and T. F. O’Rahilly’, Celtica 27 (2013), 86–90. 

Máel Mhuire Ó hUiginn’s poem Slán uaim don dá aoghaire’, Éigse 38 (2013), 267–8. 

‘Books from Ireland, fifth to ninth centuries’ (50th O’Donnell Lectures, Oxford, 20–21 May 2004), Peritia 21 (2010) [2011], 1–55: available at


Recent years have also seen me revisit some Welsh interests, including one excursion into medieval Welsh literature.

Claf Abercuawg and the voice of Llywarch Hen’ (53rd O’Donnell Lectures, University of Wales, 18–30 April 2007), Studia Celtica 43 (2009), 95–121: available at;jsessionid=d1h8mta6cofh.x-ic-live-03

Which text is Rhygyfarch’s Life of St David?’, in St David of Wales. Cult, Church, and Nation, ed. J. W. Evans & J. M. Wooding, Studies in Celtic History 24 (Woodbridge, 2007), 90–105. 

(with John Reuben Davies) ‘Vita beati Dauid qui et Dewi episcopi et confessoris’ (text and translation), in St David of Wales (as above), 107–155. 


Accidents happen, as I sometimes pick something up along the way.

‘Tommaso Giordani, Gregorio Ballabene’s Messa a dodici cori con organo, and sacred music in late-eighteenth-century Dublin’, Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland 11 (2015–16), 25–35: available at


And finally, some references from before the PDF-era to papers on Bede and on early British saints.

‘The varieties of Bede’s prose’, Aspects of the Language of Latin Prose, ed. J. N. Adams & M. Lapidge, Proceedings of the British Academy 129 (2005), 339–55. Read about the book at

King Ceadwalla’s Roman epitaph’, Latin Learning and English Lore. Papers for Michael Lapidge, ed. K. O’Brien O’Keeffe and A. Orchard (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005), i. 171–93. 

 (Editor, with A. T. Thacker) Local Saints and LocalChurches in the Early Medieval West (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002). pp. xii + 581.

‘Martyrs and local saints in late antique Britain’, in Local Saints and Local Churches (as above), pp. 75–154.

‘The naming of Bishop Ithamar’, EHR 117 (2002), 889–94: available at

'The late antique Passion of St Alban', in Alban and St Albans: Roman and medieval architecture, art, and archaeology, British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions XXIV (1999), ed. M. Henig & P. G. Lindley (2001), pp. 30–37. This paper proposed a new textual relationship between the three pre-Bedan passiones, arguing for the priority of what Wilhelm Meyer called the Excerptum (E), which I dated to the mid-5th century. I printed an English translation, but Michael Winterbottom has now reconstructed the original Latin: ‘The earliest passion of St Alban’, Invigilata lucernis 37 (2015), 113–27. 


Current DPhil Students

  • Hugh Brodie

I would be willing to hear from potential DPhil students regarding anything related to my broad range of research interests

I currently teach:


Introductory courses for masters candidates studying within the area of the Latin West in the middle ages, providing instruction in palaeography and diplomatic, and practice in reading documents from medieval england. 
Advanced courses in English Royal Diplomatic and in Books and Libraries in the Middle Ages.
In the Media

Podcast: Magna Carta in the Bodleian. A talk given during the exhibition of four engrossments of Magna Carta in the Divinity School on 11 December 2007. Richard Sharpe explains that the seventeen surviving original manuscripts of the Magna Carta are engrossments, not copies: official documents from Royal Chancery bearing the ruler's seal. Prof. Sharpe also reveals why so many examples of the Magna Carta survive.

 A version of a presentation about the late-eleventh-century Wadham Gospels, the oldest manuscript in Wadham College library, recorded in April 2014 (6mins 22secs).

 A presentation - Irish Manuscripts and the Complex Page, from The book: history and practice workshop which took place on March 12 2012 at the UCD Humanities Institute of Ireland.

 Le bibliothécaire médiéval - the text of a lecture delivered at the Sorbonne, 18 September 2003, under the auspices of Prof Jean-Philippe Genet and the organisation APICES.

 The text of the Latin Sermon delivered in the University Church on Sunday, 19 January 2003.