The will of John Carpenter, Common Clerk of London from 1417 to 1438, describes an extensive and unusual book collection. His books provided the intellectual framework for his sponsorship of the Dance of Death, his development of the Guildhall Library, and his preservation of London's historical record. Reading Carpenter's career through the prism of his books also demonstrates how lay clerks appropriated a Latinate intellectual inheritance that formerly belonged to elite ecclesiastical administrators and monks. As they assumed priestly roles in the service of secular institutions, lay clerks buttressed their work with the books of their ecclesiastical predecessors.

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