COTTON, Sir Robert Bruce

(1571-1631)
Robert Bruce Cotton was an English antiquary and book collector who, through the acquisition and interpretation of an unprecedented mass of historical material, greatly influenced politics and the study of history in early-seventeenth-century England. Born in Huntingdonshire, England, Cotton was the eldest son of Thomas Cotton of Connington, a rich country gentleman. Cotton began his education at Westminster School, and his interest in antiquities was encouraged and refined by the school's second master, William Camden.* After Westminster he proceeded to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he received a bachelor of arts in 1585, and then entered the Middle Temple in 1588. By age seventeen he had begun his historical researches, collecting materials toward establishing a history of his home county of Huntingdonshire. Cotton assisted Camden in founding the Society of Antiquaries in 1586, along with other lawyers and heralds who were interested in antiquities, such as Henry Spelman, John Stow,* Francis Thynne, John Speed, and Richard Carew. Cotton presented himself at court in 1603 and was knighted by James I,* primarily as a reward for Cotton's efforts to legitimize the new king's claim to the throne through his antiquarian research.
Cotton's growing collection of manuscripts, books, public and private records, coins, and other historical artifacts became a valuable resource in the years 1604-28. Figures such as Ben Jonson,* John Dee,* Sir John Davies,* and Fran­cis Bacon* often used the library, and Cotton was increasingly consulted to legitimize various political agendas. His advice was sought on everything from ceremonial tradition to legal history and precedents in state policy. After the death of James I and the succession of Charles I in 1625, Cotton and his library became the target of envy, suspicion, and political maneuvering. Charges that he had circulated a tract supporting absolute monarchy were brought against him; he was confined, and his library became closed to him. Although he was released soon after, Cotton was banned from his own library until late 1630; by the time Charles relented, Cotton had fallen ill, and he died in May 1631.
Cotton's library was his greatest achievement, both as a contemporary re­source for national and international scholars, politicians, men of letters, and antiquaries and as a material legacy. His collecting and scholarly activity pro­vided a model and a catalyst for the major advances in historical and historio-graphical methods in late-seventeenth-century England.
Bibliography
K. Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, 1586-1631: History and Politics in Early Modern England, 1979.
Richard J. Ring

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cotton, Sir Robert Bruce — born Jan. 22, 1571, Denton, Lancashire, Eng. died May 6, 1631, London? English antiquarian. From с 1585 Cotton collected ancient records, manuscripts, books, and coins and welcomed scholars to his library. He entered Parliament in 1601 and was… …   Universalium

  • Cotton, sir Robert Bruce — (22 ene. 1571, Denton, Lancashire, Inglaterra–6 may. 1631, ¿Londres?). Anticuario inglés. Desde 1585 se dedicó a coleccionar registros, manuscritos, libros y monedas antiguos, y solía acoger a los estudiosos en su biblioteca. Ingresó al… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • COTTON, SIR ROBERT BRUCE —    a distinguished antiquary, and founder of the Cottonian Library, now in the British Museum, born at Denton; was a friend of Camden, and assisted him in his great work; was a great book collector; was exposed to persecution for his presumed… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Cotton, Sir Robert Bruce — (1571 1631)    Antiquary, b. at Denton, Hunts, and ed. at Camb., was a great collector of charters and records throwing light upon English history, and co operated with Camden (q.v.). Among his works are a history of the Raigne of Henry III.… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Cotton, Sir Robert Bruce, 1st Baronet — ▪ English antiquarian born Jan. 22, 1571, Denton, Lancashire, Eng. died May 6, 1631, London?  English antiquarian, the founder of the Cottonian Library, and a prominent Parliamentarian in the reign of Charles I. The collection of historical… …   Universalium

  • Sir Robert Cotton, 1st Baronet, of Connington — Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, 1st Baronet (22 January 1570/1 ndash; 6 May 1631) was an English politician, founder of the famous Cotton library.He was of a Huntingdonshire parentage and educated at Westminster School, where he became interested in… …   Wikipedia

  • Robert Bruce Cotton — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Cotton. Portrait de Robert Cotton, réalisé en 1626 et attribué à Cornelius Johnson (ou Janssen), (1593 1661). Sir Robert Bruce Cotton (22 janvier …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cotton — Cotton, Robert Bruce * * * (as used in expressions) Cotton Belt Cotton Club Cotton, John Cotton, sir Robert Bruce King Cotton Mather, Cotton …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Robert — /rob euhrt/, n. 1. Henry Martyn /mahr tn/, 1837 1923, U.S. engineer and authority on parliamentary procedure: author of Robert s Rules of Order (1876, revised 1915). 2. a male given name: from Germanic words meaning glory and bright. * * * (as… …   Universalium

  • Robert — (as used in expressions) Adam, Robert Aldrich, Robert Altman, Robert (B.) Ashe, Arthur (Robert), Jr. Baden Powell (de Gilwell), Robert Stephenson Smyth, 1 barón Bakewell, Robert Baldwin, Robert Ballard Robert D(uane) Bly, Robert (Elwood) Borden,… …   Enciclopedia Universal


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