Sir Thomas Bodley (1545-1613)

Sir Thomas Bodley studied at Magdalen College in Oxford, then became a fellow of Merton College. In 1576 he left Oxford and spent four years exploring Europe. He journeyed through France, Germany and Italy; already proficient in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, he learned French, German and Spanish. On his return to Oxford he became increasingly involved in state foreign affairs, and in 1588, after various diplomatic missions, he became Elizabeth I’s ambassador to Holland. He remained there until his retirement in 1597. Hilliard painted this miniature the following year, and shows Bodley aged fifty-four. For the remainder of his life he would concentrate on the foundation and furnishing of the Library that bears his name. In 1604 he was knighted by James I.