George Gömöri

Best Friends Forever

The Album Amicorum and the London of Shakespeare’s Time


The British Library 220pp £45 order from our bookshop

The fashion to keep an album amicorum – a book for students and theologians to collect the signatures, comments and suggestions of the noteworthy people they met on their travels – started around the middle of the 16th century. The Protestant reformer Philipp Melanchthon advised students and theologians to carry two such books: one for high-ranking persons and one for lesser mortals. Most people, however, kept only one, and the entries cut across social differences, though generally the more illustrious names are to be found in the first half of the albums. Contributors could include kings, princes, and aristocrats, academics and humble students, and other travellers whom the owners stumbled upon in their journeys across Europe and as far away as Constantinople. 

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