76 results in English
The Defeat of Montaperti
This manuscript is an illustrated account of the events relating to the famous Battle of Montaperti of September 4, 1260, which is mentioned by Dante in The Divine Comedy. The battle resulted in the victory of the armed faction of the Ghibellines, supporting the Holy Roman Emperor and led by Siena, over the Guelphs, supporting the pope and led by Florence. The manuscript was written and illustrated throughout by Niccolò di Giovanni di Francesco di Ventura da Siena, who signed it and stated that he completed the text on December ...
Antiphonary
This antiphonary (a book containing the choral parts of the Holy Office) was transferred to the Biblioteca comunale degli Intronati di Siena in 1811 from its place of origin, the Augustinian monastery of San Salvatore in Lecceto near Siena. By virtue of its specific liturgical function, the antiphonary, designed for the use of the monastic community, contains both the daytime and the nocturnal services. It was illuminated in 1442 as part of an extensive artistic program within the monastery promoted under priors Bartolomeo Tolomei and Girolamo Buonsignori. A bull by ...
Poem Concerning the Departure of the Magi
This 15th-century manuscript, in Renaissance script, contains a poetic composition (De profectione Magorum adorare Christum et de innocentibus interfectis ab Herode) by a "Gabriel Volaterranus." The author was in all likelihood Gabriello Zacchi da Volterra, the archpriest (acting dean, vicar to the bishop) of the cathedral, who was from a culturally sophisticated background and died in 1467 at the age of 33. The author dedicates the work to Tommaso del Testa Piccolomini, the secret assistant of Pope Pius II (folio 132r), to whom Pius had granted the privilege of kinship ...
The Book of Kings
Shahnameh Baysonqori is a copy of Shahnameh (Book of kings) composed by the highly revered Iranian poet Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsī (940–1020). The importance of Shahnameh in the Persian-speaking world is comparable that of Homer’s epics in the West. The book recounts in verse the mythological history of ancient Persia and tales of the famous heroes and personalities of Iranian history, from legendary times to the 7th-century reign of Yazdgerd III, the last king of the Sassanid dynasty. The tales are based on earlier historical works, but are mixed ...
On the Sphere and the Cylinder; On the Measurement of the Circle; On Conoids and Spheroids; On Spirals; On the Equilibrium of Planes; On the Quadrature of the Parabola; The Sand Reckoner
In the middle of the 15th century, a number of manuscripts by the third-century BC Greek mathematician Archimedes began to circulate in the humanistic centers in the courts of Italy. Piero della Francesca (circa 1416–92), the Renaissance artist best known for the frescos he painted for the Vatican and for the chapels in Arezzo, transcribed a copy of a Latin translation of Archimedes’s geometry (a compilation of seven surviving treatises) and illustrated it with more than 200 drawings representing the  mathematical theorems in the texts. This manuscript, long ...
Bucolics, Georgics, and the Aeneid
This 15th-century manuscript, known as the Riccardiana Virgil, includes the texts of the three extant works of the great Roman poet Virgil, the Bucolics, the Georgics, and the Aeneid, and contains 88 miniature paintings in the lower margin of many of the vellum leaves. The miniatures, 86 in the Aeneid and one each in the Bucolics and the Georgics, are attributed to Florentine artist Apollonio di Giovanni and his workshop. Those illustrating the story of Aeneas reflect the influence of Benozzo Gozzoli, who in 1459 completed a suite of frescos ...
Geography
Claudius Ptolemaeus (circa 100–circa 170), known as Ptolemy, was an astronomer, mathematician, and geographer of Greek descent who lived and worked in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. In his Geography, Ptolemy gathered all the geographic knowledge possessed by the Greco-Roman world. He used a system of grid lines to plot the latitude and longitude of some 8,000 places on a map that encompassed the known world at the height of the Roman Empire. Ptolemy’s work was lost to Europe in the Middle Ages, but around 1300 Byzantine ...
City of God
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430) is generally considered one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time. He was born in Thagaste (present-day Souq Ahras, Algeria) in Roman-ruled Africa, the son of a pagan father and a Christian mother (Saint Monica). After studying in Carthage and teaching rhetoric in his native city, he moved to Rome in 383 and to Milan in 384. Under the influence of his mother and Ambrose, bishop of Milan, he converted to Christianity in 387. He was ordained a priest in 391 and rose ...
Meditations, or the Contemplations of the Most Devout
Meditationes, seu Contemplationes devotissimae (Meditations, or the contemplations of the most devout) by Cardinal Juan de Torquemada (1388–1468) is thought to be the first Italian book illustrated with a series of woodcut images. The first edition was printed in Rome in 1467 by the German printer Ulrich Han. Presented here is a 1479 edition, printed in Mainz by Johann Neumeister (circa 1440–circa 1512), a German cleric and printer who claimed to have been a student of Johann Gutenberg. The designs of the 33 woodcuts, although considered rough by ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Tianyuan Jade Calendar in Verse Prose on the Auspicious and Unusual Signs
The author of this calendar is unknown. Traditionally it was attributed to Liu Ji (1311–75), an early Ming military strategist and statesman. This copy was issued in the 13th year (1477) of the Chenghua reign of the Ming. Several other editions were made, such as the one printed in 1619, a number of which are held by the National Central Library in Taiwan. Presented here is a one-juan handwritten copy, a rare early manuscript that is slightly damaged. The work lists 60 items, with four-character headings, such as “Heaven ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Revised Zhenghe Edition of Classified and Practical Basic Pharmacopeia Based on Historical Classics
The author of this work is the famous Song physician Tang Shenwei, a native of Huayang (in present-day Chengdu, Sichuan province) , who came from a family of many generations of physicians. He was particularly known for his practice of herbal medicine and his collections of prescriptions found in classic works. Si ku quan shu zong mu ti yao (Annotated bibliography of the complete imperial library) lists two works attributed to him: Daguan ben cao (Classified herbal medicine of the Daguan period) in 30 juan, and Zheng lei ben cao (Classified ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Abridged Version of “De arte phisicali de cirurgia”, “Fistula in ano”, Including an Obstetrical Treatise
Manuscript X 188 in the National Library of Sweden dates to around 1425–35 and contains two works by John Arderne (active 1307–70), an abridged version of De arte phisicali et de cirurgia (Of the physical arts and surgery) and Fistula in ano. Also included is a tract on obstetrics by another author, Muscio. De arte phisicali et de cirurgia is a textbook on medicine and surgery; Fistula in ano deals with rectal disorders. The manuscript is written in two long columns on a parchment roll that is 542 ...
Kyiv Gospel
The Kyiv Gospel was created in 1411 by a monk called Makarii in the Pustynno-Mykolaivskyi Monastery in Kiev, by order of the monk Ionah Bolakyrev, as recorded in one of the historic inscriptions on the work. This copy is one of the few 15th-century manuscripts from Kiev that specifies where it was made. The Gospel is known as a paleographic specimen of the “younger” semi-uncial script in Ukraine. Two headpieces of simple composition, headings, and initials are executed in dark-brown ink and vermilion. The manuscript was restored and bound in ...
The Diary of Mansai
Mansai (1378−1435) was an abbot of the Daigo-ji Temple in the early Muromachi period (14th−15th centuries). Born into an aristocratic family, Mansai was adopted by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and ordained into the priesthood. He served three shoguns, not only as a priest but also as a political adviser and close associate. Mansai witnessed many important events in politics, foreign relations, literature, and society and was privy to the top secrets of the nation. Mansai jugō nikki (The diary of Mansai) is thus an important historical source. The National ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Spiritual Rhyming Couplets by Rumi
Masnavi-e Manawi (Spiritual rhyming couplets) is the famous poetic collection of the medieval ecstatic mystic scholar and Sufi, Mawlānā Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (1207−73), known in Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Iran as Mowlana or Mawlānā Jalaluddin Balkhi and in the West as Rumi. This Persian manuscript in nastaliq script is a complete 15th century copy of Masnavi, with all six volumes. Narratives, homilies, and commentaries appear throughout. Many stories have stock characters, such as beggars, prophets, kings, animals. Ethical concerns, traditional wisdom, and stories filled with jokes, including ones about ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Loftie Hours
This mid-15th-century illuminated book of hours is written entirely in Dutch on fine parchment and is remarkable for its 18 grisaille miniatures. This technique, wherein the figures are modeled primarily in a gray wash, became a favorite in the Netherlands. The hand behind the miniatures in this manuscript has been identified with one of a group of artists known as the Masters of the Delft Grisailles. The manuscript has been grouped with more than a dozen related works, including New York, Morgan Library Ms. M.349; London, Victoria and Albert ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Duke Albrecht's Table of Christian Faith (Winter Part)
This manuscript is a document of the first importance in the history of Dutch manuscript illumination and contains an important medieval Dutch devotional text. The Tafel van den Kersten ghelove (Table of Christian faith) is a compendium of Christian knowledge written by a learned Dominican, Dirc van Delf. The text is in two parts, one for winter, another for summer. This manuscript is of the winter part and is incomplete, omitting the prologue and chapters 13, 14, and 35−57; chapters 23−24 are in inverse order. The arms of ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Book of Hours
In the Byzantine world, this book would have been known as a horologion, or book of hours. Illustrated books of hours in Greek are extremely rare, and this example is one of only two surviving horologia with image cycles. The manuscript includes many full-page miniatures, which show interaction between the late-Byzantine and Gothic artistic styles. The manuscript may have been copied on the island of Crete, which in the 15th century was under Venetian rule. Unlike the images found in Western books of hours, which typically are drawn from the ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Chronicle of the World
Weltchronik (Chronicle of the world) is a German translation of an original Latin text attributed to Joannes de Utino (also seen as Giovanni da Udine, died 1366). This copy was produced in the second half of the 15th century and features extensive decorative colored drawings by an unknown painter. It most likely was created in Bratislava sometime after 1458, during the period of Matthias Corvinus´s accession to the Hungarian throne. It was preserved in the library of the Bratislava Capuchins. The chronicle is a didactic work that would have ...
Contributed by Slovak National Library
Dismantling the Essences of “The Most Wondrous of Existences”
This 40-page manuscript, Tahdim al-Arkan min Laysa fi-al-Imkan Abda’ mima Kan (Dismantling the essences of “The most wondrous of existences”), by Ibrāhīm ibn ʻOmar al-Biqāʻī (1406 or 1407−80) concerns a philosophical dispute in the Islamic world over the possibility of the Creator fashioning a more perfect world than the one that exists. This issue had been raised by the renowned philosopher-theologian al-Ghazzali (1058−1111), who answered in the affirmative. In this text, al-Biqāʻī refutes al-Ghazzali, stating that “it is impossible for God’s creation to be more perfect than ...
Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden
The Revelations of Saint Birgitta (or Bridget) of Sweden (circa 1303–73) is one of the most important and influential works of Swedish medieval literature. According to contemporary sources, Birgitta received her revelations in the form of visions, beginning in the 1340s and continuing until close to her death. Although her revelations related mostly to spiritual matters, they included some messages of a practical and political character, one of which was the command to found a new religious order, which resulted in the establishment of the Order of the Most ...
Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden
The Revelations of Saint Birgitta (or Bridget) of Sweden (circa 1303–73) is one of the most important and influential works of Swedish medieval literature. According to contemporary sources, Birgitta received her revelations in the form of visions, beginning in the 1340s and continuing until close to her death. Although her revelations related mostly to spiritual matters, they included some messages of a practical and political character, one of which was the command to found a new religious order, which resulted in the establishment of the Order of the Most ...
Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden
The Revelations of Saint Birgitta (or Bridget) of Sweden (circa 1303–73) is one of the most important and influential works of Swedish medieval literature. According to contemporary sources, Birgitta received her revelations in the form of visions, beginning in the 1340s and continuing until close to her death. Although her revelations related mostly to spiritual matters, they included some messages of a practical and political character, one of which was the command to found a new religious order, which resulted in the establishment of the Order of the Most ...
The Constellations
The astronomer ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Umar al-Sufi, commonly known as al-Sufi, was born in Persia (present-day Iran) in 903 A.D. and died in 986. He worked in Isfahan and in Baghdad, and is known for his translation from Greek into Arabic of the Almagest by the ancient astronomer Ptolemy. Al-Sufi’s most famous work is Kitab suwar al-kawakib (Book of the constellations of the fixed stars), which he published around 964. In this work, al-Sufi describes the 48 constellations that were established by Ptolemy and adds criticisms and corrections ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Hours of Notre Dame
Books of hours are collections of prayers used for private devotion. They were the most common illuminated works of the Middle Ages. Heures de Notre-Dame (The book of hours of Notre Dame) was made in Bruges (present-day Belgium) around 1470. The manuscript, written in Latin and on vellum, is most likely the work of William Wyelant or his studio. Wyelant, also known by the Flemish spelling of his name, Willem Vrelant, was an influential illuminator who was active in Bruges from 1449 until his death in 1481. The leaves of ...
Contributed by Irish College in Paris
Encyclopedic Manuscript Containing Allegorical and Medical Drawings
In the Middle Ages, medicine was very much intertwined with astrology and other nonscientific superstitions. This manuscript on vellum, produced in southern Germany around 1410, contains pen and ink drawings with explanatory texts in German and Latin. The first drawing shows the earth and seven planets. It is followed by Zodiac-man, a naked man shown with the 12 signs of the zodiac, each relating to a specific part of the body. Next are four bloodletting charts of the human body. Such bleeding charts or calendars were widely used in this ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Sixth Map of Asia
Several editions of Ptolemy’s Geographia (Geography), translated into Latin from the original Greek, were published in Europe in the 15th century. This map is from the 1478 edition, which was published in Rome. Ptolemaic atlases included 12 maps of Asia. The “Sixth Map of Asia” covered the Arabian Peninsula. The outlines of this map are crude, but many geographic features, including the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and different features of the peninsula are clearly recognizable.
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Aesop's Fables
This is the second Augsburg edition of the Fables of Aesop, translated from Latin into German by Heinrich Steinhöwel. It is illustrated with 208 woodcuts, cut in the Augsburg style, which is characterized by thick contour lines outlining the figures, a reliance on white space rather than highly detailed embellishment to decorate the image, and little background or landscape to create perspective. The publishing history of the Fables is extensive. Over 150 separate editions of the work were printed between 1465 and 1501. Little is known of Aesop’s life ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
A Guide for the Perplexed on the Drawing of the Circle of Projection
The author of this work, Ibn al-Majdī (1366-1447 [767-850 A.H.]), was a renowned mathematician, geometrician, and astronomer. He was linked with the influential Marāgha School through his teacher, Jamāl al-Dīn al-Māridīnī, who in turn had studied with Ibn al-Shātir al-Dimashqī’. As a descendant of a powerful local family with Mamlūk ties, Ibn al-Majdī served as the official astronomer and timekeeper at Al-Azhar. The work is divided into three chapters and a conclusion. Chapter 1 covers the procedure for projecting the circle of projection (fadl al-dā’ir) onto planes that ...
Treatise for Observers on Constructing the Circle of Projection
This work is a treatise on the important subject of timekeeping. It is a work of technical astronomy, in 19 folios, that begins by emphasizing the religious significance of knowledge of time. It is divided into an introduction, two chapters, and a conclusion. Comprehensive procedures for the construction of tables and their use are provided. The work was completed in 1473 (878 A.H.).
Present-Day Palestine and the Holy Land
This map of Palestine and the Holy Land was published in Florence around 1480 and was included in Francesco Berlinghieri’s expanded edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia (Geography). Berlinghieri, an Italian scholar and diplomat, was the first modern European to interpret, expand upon, and republish the works of the second-century Greek astronomer and geographer. Nicolo Tedesco, a German printer who worked in Florence, printed Berlinghieri’s work as well as engraved the maps. As with all the modern maps of Palestine added to the early printed editions of Ptolemy, this ...
Palestine
This Latin woodcut map of Palestine is from the Rudimentum Novitiorum (A handbook for beginners), which is a history of the world published in Lübeck, Germany, in 1475 and contains what are considered to be the first printed maps. The map was printed by Lucas Brandis de Schass, and is based on an earlier map by Burchardus de Monte Sion (Burchard of Mount Zion), a 13th-century Dominican priest who traveled extensively through the Holy Land and the Middle East in 1274-84. The map is oriented with west at the bottom ...
Yongle Encyclopedia
The Yongle Encyclopedia is a large-scale encyclopedia–the largest in pre-modern China--arranged by subject categories traditionally used in China. The entire work is comprised of 22,877 juan (sections) of text proper and a prolegomenon and index in 60 juan, all bound in 11,095 volumes, amounting to about 370 million characters in all. The encyclopedia preserved textual information from about 8,000 texts of all kinds, from pre-Qin times to the early Ming dynasty, covering the works of famous specialists in such areas as astronomy, geography, human affairs, famous ...
Contributed by National Library of China
Jewish Antiquities
Jean Fouquet (141?-80?) was the greatest French painter of the 15th century. His genius is reflected in his illustrations of Jewish Antiquities, which Fouquet created for Jacques d’Armagnac, the Duke of Nemours. Fouquet traveled to Italy as a young man, where he learned to paint with great precision of detail and to use aerial perspective, but he continued to draw upon his native Touraine for many aspects of his art, especially forms and color. In these illustrations, his depiction of the siege of Jericho evokes a city on ...
Book of Nature
Das Buch der Natur (Book of nature) is a Medieval Latin compendium of science that was edited and translated into German in the 14th century by Konrad von Megenberg, a German scholar and writer who was probably born at Mainberg (Megenberg), near Schweinfurt, Bavaria, in 1309, and died at Ratisbon (Regensburg) in 1374. He studied at Erfurt and then at the University of Paris, where he taught philosophy and theology from 1334 to 1342. In 1342 he moved to Ratisbon, where he was a parish priest and a preacher. Later ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Apocalypse of Saint John
This work, printed in Germany in 1470, includes part of the text of the Apocalypse of Saint John, the last book of the Christian Bible, also known as the Book of Revelation. The book is based on letters written to church members in Asia Minor that describe Saint John’s heavenly visions and revelations. It tells the story of the great heavenly warfare between good and evil, Christ’s return to earth, the punishment of the wicked, and the reward of righteousness. This edition of the Apocalypse is a superb ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Illuminated Leaf from Avicenna's Canon of Medicine
Abū ‘Alī al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Sīnā (980–1037), commonly known as Avicenna, was born at Afshaneh, near Bukhara in Persia (present-day Uzbekistan). By the age of 10, he was well versed in the study of the Qur’ān and various sciences. He was the most famous and influential of the many Islamic scholars, scientists, and philosophers of the medieval world. He was foremost a physician but was also an astronomer, chemist, geologist, psychologist, philosopher, logician, mathematician, physicist, and poet. A prolific writer in all of these fields ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Life of Animals
This manuscript is a copy of the long version of al-Damīrī’s Hayāt al-hayawān (Life of animals), an encyclopedic work that was widely disseminated in the Islamic world in three versions or recensions—long, intermediate, and short. Muhammad ibn Musā ibn Isā Kamāl al-Din Ibn Ilyās ibn Abd-Allāh al-Damīrī (circa 1342–1405) was an Egyptian tailor who became an author and scholar. Building upon earlier work on animals by Jāhith (780–868), al-Damiri combined the Arabic and Persian literary tradition of animal tales with the legacy of Greece and Rome ...
Gutenberg Bible
Johann Gutenberg was born in Mainz, Germany, around 1400, the son of an aristocratic family with ties to the local metalworking industry. He lived in Strasbourg (in present-day France) for a time, where he carried out experiments with moveable metallic type made from a mold. By the mid-1450s, he had perfected a system of printing with moveable type that he used to create what became the world’s most famous book, the Latin translation of the Bible (Vulgate), generally known as the Gutenberg Bible. Scholars have thoroughly researched all aspects ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Letter to Philocrates
Under the influence of Italian humanism and of his book-collector tutor János Vitéz, the Archbishop of Esztergom, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–1490), developed a passion for books and learning. Elected king of Hungary in 1458 at the age of 14, Matthias won great acclaim for his battles against the Ottoman Turks and his patronage of learning and science. He created the Bibliotheca Corviniana, in its day one of Europe’s finest libraries. After his death, and especially after the conquest of Buda by the Turks in 1541, the library ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Books 1–5 of History. Ethiopian Story. Book 8: From the Departure of the Divine Marcus
Under the influence of Italian humanism and of his book-collector tutor János Vitéz, the Archbishop of Esztergom, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–1490), developed a passion for books and learning. Elected king of Hungary in 1458 at the age of 14, Matthias won great acclaim for his battles against the Ottoman Turks and his patronage of learning and science. He created the Bibliotheca Corviniana, in its day one of Europe’s finest libraries. After his death, and especially after the conquest of Buda by the Turks in 1541, the library ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Speeches
Under the influence of Italian humanism and of his book-collector tutor János Vitéz, Archbishop of Esztergom, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–1490) developed a passion for books and learning. Elected king of Hungary in 1458 at the age of 14, Matthias won great acclaim for his battles against the Ottoman Turks and his patronage of learning and science. He created the Bibliotheca Corviniana, in its day one of Europe’s finest libraries. After his death, and especially after the conquest of Buda by the Turks in 1541, the library was ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library