Bodley Thomas

(02.03.1545 - 01.28.1613)


English diplomat and scholar of the 16th and 17th centuries, founder of the Bodlian Library in Oxford.

Born in Exeter. His father, John Bodley, was a merchant and supporter of the Anglican Church, who chose to live abroad during the persecutions of Protestants hosted by the Catholic Queen Maria Tudor. The whole family took refuge in the German cities of Wesel and Frankfurt, and then settled in Geneva. There, Thomas had the opportunity to study at the Academy of the French Reformer Jean Calvin, attended lectures by his associate Theodore Beza and the service of the Scottish John Knox. In Geneva, Thomas learned the ancient Greek and Hebrew languages, and these languages ​​remained his lifelong passion.

In 1558, Queen Mary died, young Elizabeth I ascended the throne , and the family was able to return to England, and Thomas entered Magdalen College at Oxford. In 1563 he received his bachelor's degree and soon gave lectures at Merton College, and in April 1565 he was officially appointed the first teacher of the ancient Greek language at the college (later this position became permanent). He worked in several colleges at Oxford and in 1569 was elected one of the junior proctors (overseers) of the university. In 1576, Bodley left Oxford with a college grant in his pocket and with a license to study abroad, and visited France, Italy and Germany. During this trip, Thomas added French, Italian and Spanish to his already solid linguistic baggage.

Upon his return, Bodley was marked by Queen Elizabeth and in 1584 entered parliament as a member of Portsmouth. In 1586 he represented Saint Germain.

In 1587, Bodley went to Denmark to form an alliance with King Frederick II and several German princes to help Henry of Navarre, the future king of France.

Then he went to France with a secret mission, and in 1588 went to The Hague as a minister, whose position demanded great diplomatic art - he had to fight not only for power in Holland with the royal Spanish house, but also with the intrigues of other Queen’s ministers. When in 1596 Bodley was allowed to return to England, he was already waiting for the post of Secretary of State. Finding that his appointment was at the crossroads of interests of influential nobles, among whom were Lord Treasurer William Cecil and Queen's favorite Earl of Essex, Bodley preferred to retire from public life and return to Oxford.

Although Bodley left his job at Oxford a long time ago, he still had many friends there, and in the spring of 1598 Merton College gave a ceremonial dinner in his honor. Possibly, the contacts with old friends that resumed at this dinner served as a stimulus for Thomas Bodley to restore the old Oxford library, which was founded in 1470 and had come to a complete decline by the end of the 16th century. He offered his services to university management, and they were greatly appreciated. Bodley devoted the rest of his life to the library, later named in his honor, and significantly expanded it. Under his leadership, the Bodlian Library became the first public library in Europe. On April 18, 1904, Thomas Bodley was elevated to knighthood.

He died in London, was buried in the chapel of Merton College. His monument, made of black and white marble and with columns of books, is located on the western wall of the north transept of the chapel.

Glacier on the north shore of the Bodley Bay, southeast of the Land of Gustav V, Northeastern Land Island, Spitsbergen. The coordinates are 79° 50'N   21° 32'E.

Bay, the completion of the Wallenberg fjord, Northeastern Land Island, Spitsbergen. The coordinates are 79° 40'N  22° 00'E.


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