Bibliotheca Corviniana
January 6, 2011 2:56 PM   Subscribe

The library of King Matthias I of Hungary, the Bibliotheca Corviniana, was "the second greatest collection of books in Europe in the Renaissance period, after that of the Vatican." Destroyed following the 15th century Turkish invasion of Hungary (despite the efforts of Matthias' vassal Vlad III the Impaler), a few surviving codices have been digitized by the National Széchényi Library and the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

The Bibliotheca Corviniana Digitalis contains some beautiful and damaged books and scrolls, but even the covers have a grimoirish quality to them.

The site is mostly in Hungarian and uses frames - click on "Corvinák" for the index, and on the yellow circles to see the scanned codices in their entirety.
posted by Paragon (7 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I've heard the story and wept inside, never knew anything survived. This is nice, many thanks.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:54 PM on January 6, 2011

If this post was about a Turkish library destroyed by Crusaders it would already have 100+ comments....
posted by TSOL at 6:59 PM on January 6, 2011

Ironic TSOL
'In 1204, the library became a target of the knights of the Fourth Crusade. The library itself was destroyed and its contents burned or sold. The great part of the library that was saved later became absorbed into the Ottoman Sultan's library after the Muslim forces of Mehmed II, Sultan of the Ottoman Turks, captured Constantinople at the end of the siege of 1453.'

nice post.
posted by clavdivs at 7:45 PM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

You know, it always breaks my heart just a little bit in action movies when historic building gets blown up or a priceless vase gets smashed over someone's head or somesuch, because, history. This breaks my heart a lot.

I am very glad that some of that collection is making its way out now, though. Very cool post.
posted by wandering steve at 8:07 PM on January 6, 2011

Thanks for the informative references. It is always good to learn new (to me) things about history. And yes, it is always disheartening to learn what has been lost to posterity through wars and invasions... nothing new there sadly.
posted by binturong at 9:19 PM on January 6, 2011

Great project. Thanks for the pointer.

Me too, wandering steve. Just experienced some book horror when playing a Call of Duty game with my son, where our unit fought through a library. (shudder)
posted by doctornemo at 7:25 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Shocking to think that the library had a copy of the orations of Hyderides, if that's true. I had no idea that a copy survived into post-classical times. Too bad it's lost now.
posted by dd42 at 10:20 PM on January 8, 2011

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