Omne Bonum

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Miniature for the entry etas "age" (Royal MS 6 E VII, fol. 67v) showing children playing with toys and catching butterflies.

Omne Bonum is a 14th-century encyclopedia compiled in London. It survives in four volumes in the manuscripts BL Royal 6 E VI and VII, written by James le Palmer (b. before 1327, d. c. 1375), identified on the basis of a colophon in the same hand in Bodleian Library Laud Misc. 165 (Iste liber est liber jacobi le palmere quem scripsit manu sua propria deo gratias, fol. 585), clerk of the Exchequer mentioned between 1357 and 1375. The MSS. had the inventory number 1226 in the English Royal Library. It was acquired by the Upper Library at Westminster between 1542 and 1666 and was presented to the British Museum in 1757.

The encyclopedia extends to 1100 folia and includes more than 650 illustrations. It is notable as the earliest work of this kind where the topics are arranged in alphabetical order. The work is unfinished, containing only one entry each under the letters N to Z. Royal 6 E VI contains entries for A to D, the first volume of Royal E VII contains E to H, and the final volume contains I to M plus the "single-entry" letters N to Z:

  • Royal 6 E VI volume 1 (ff. 1–268): AbsolucioCircumcisio
  • Royal 6 E VI volume 2 (ff. 269–562) CircumcisioDona Spiritui Sancti
  • Royal 6 E VII volume 1 (ff.1–224) EbrietasHumanus
  • Royal 6 E VII volume 2 (ff. 225–532) JacobZacharias

Sandler (1996) is an extensive treatise from the point of view of art history, but the full text of the encyclopedia remains unedited.[1]


  1. ^ One chapter of the text, "On Ministration by a Disabled Cleric" (London, British Library, Royal 6 E. VI, vol. 2, fols. 301rb– 302ra), is edited and translated in Green, Monica H.; Walker-Meilke, Kathleen; Muller, Wolfgang P. (2014), "Diagnosis of a "plague" image: a digital cautionary tale" (PDF), The Medieval Globe, 1: 309–326, ISBN 978-1-942401-04-9
  • Lucy Freeman Sandler, 'Notes for the Illuminator: the Case of the Omne Bonum', The Art Bulletin, 71 (1989), 551-564.
  • Lucy Freeman Sandler, 'Omne bonum: Compilatio and Ordinatio in an English Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Fourteenth Century', in Medieval Book Production: Assessing the Evidence, ed. Brownrigg, Proceedings of the Second Conference of The Seminar in the History of the Book to 1500, Oxford, July 1998, Los Altos Hills, California: Anderson-Lovelace, 1990, pp. 183-200.
  • Lucy Freeman Sandler, Omne Bonum: A Fourteenth-Century Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge: British Library MSS Royal 6 E VI-6 E VII, 2 vols, London: Harvey Miller, 1996, ISBN 9781872501758.
  • Penn R. Szittya, review of Sandler (1996), Speculum 74, No. 2 (April 1999), 491-493.

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