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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 ...
Contributed by
Municipal Library Intronati
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 ...
Contributed by
V.I. Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine
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
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
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
Curiosity Abated by Wonders of Old Related
This manuscript, Mushtaha al-‘Uqul fi Muntaha al-Nuqul (Curiosity abated by wonders of old related), is a list of extraordinary facts, or marvels, compiled by al-Suyuti (1445−1505), one of the most prolific Muslim authors of late medieval times. The facts concern religion and history. The first entries cover the wondrous size and power of angels. These are followed by entries on such disparate topics as a census of Baghdad, the size and expense of the Umayyad army, the feats of learning and preaching of early Muslim scholars, and short ...
Contributed by
National Library and Archives of Egypt
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 ...
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Library of Congress
Compendium on Using the Device Known as the Almucantar Quarter
This work, by a timekeeper at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, is an important and comprehensive textbook on timekeeping. It introduces the useful device of dividing a quarter of a circle of projection into sections known as almucantars (muqanṭarāt). The work, comprising 100 folio pages, contains 30 chapters and a conclusion. The work was composed in 1440-1 (844 A.H.) and was copied in 1757 (1170 A.H.).
Contributed by
National Library and Archives of Egypt
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 ...
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Bavarian State Library
The Removal of the Veil in the Description of the Quadrants
This manuscript in 12 folios is a mid-18th-century copy of Kašf al-Qinā‘ fī rasm al-arbā‘ (The removal of the veil in the description of the quadrants), a treatise devoted to the description of the astronomical instrument known as the quadrant. The treatise originally was compiled by Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad Ibn al-Aṭṭar in the first half of the 15th century on the basis of the teachings of his predecessors, al-Mājidī and Nūr al-Dīn al-Naqāš. The treatise is a precious source for understanding the degree of refinement reached by astronomical instrument making ...
Contributed by
Library of Congress
Chronicle of Knights in Armor
This book on the proper mode of conduct for a knight was written in French in around 1410 by Christine de Pisan, Europe's first prolific and respected female author. It was translated into English and printed by William Caxton (1422?-91) in 1489 at the behest of Henry VII, who wished to make it available to English soldiers. The book contained not only rules of conduct, such as how a victorious knight should treat a prisoner of war, but also practical information that Pisan had gleaned from several classical ...
Contributed by
Library of Congress
Itzcóatl, the Fourth Aztec King (Reigned 1427–40)
The Tovar Codex, attributed to the 16th-century Mexican Jesuit Juan de Tovar, contains detailed information about the rites and ceremonies of the Aztecs (also known as Mexica). The codex is illustrated with 51 full-page paintings in watercolor. Strongly influenced by pre-contact pictographic manuscripts, the paintings are of exceptional artistic quality. The manuscript is divided into three sections. The first section is a history of the travels of the Aztecs prior to the arrival of the Spanish. The second section, an illustrated history of the Aztecs, forms the main body of ...
Contributed by
John Carter Brown Library
The Battle of Azcapotzalco
The Tovar Codex, attributed to the 16th-century Mexican Jesuit Juan de Tovar, contains detailed information about the rites and ceremonies of the Aztecs (also known as Mexica). The codex is illustrated with 51 full-page paintings in watercolor. Strongly influenced by pre-contact pictographic manuscripts, the paintings are of exceptional artistic quality. The manuscript is divided into three sections. The first section is a history of the travels of the Aztecs prior to the arrival of the Spanish. The second section, an illustrated history of the Aztecs, forms the main body of ...
Contributed by
John Carter Brown Library
Mappamundi
Little is known about the 15th-century Venetian geographer and cosmographer Giovanni Leardo, beyond the fact that three of his world maps have survived from late-medieval times, signed by their creator. This is the oldest world map held in the library of the American Geographical Society, and it is considered the finest example of a medieval mappamundi in the Western hemisphere. Leardo’s two other maps, similar but not identical, are in Italy, at the Biblioteca Comunale in Verona and the Museo Civico in Vicenza. The map depicts the parts of ...
Contributed by
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries
Gutenberg Bible
The Gutenberg Bible is the first great book printed in Western Europe from movable metal type. It is a monument that marks a turning point in the art of bookmaking and in the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern world. The Bible was completed in Mainz, Germany, probably in late 1455. Johann Gutenberg, who lived from about 1397 to 1468, is generally credited with inventing the process of making uniform and interchangeable metal type and developing the materials and methods to make printing possible. This Bible, with its ...
Contributed by
Library of Congress
Bible of the Ratisbon Dominican Order
This manuscript containing the books of the prophets and other biblical texts forms the second volume of a Bible formerly in the possession of the Dominican Order at Ratisbon (Regensburg). It contains extraordinary miniatures by the noted German Renaissance painter Berthold Furtmeyr (active 1460–1501). Furtmeyr and his followers were important contributors to the ancient Ratisbon School of Illumination. An artist of great renown, Furtmeyr illuminated many impressive works, including this manuscript, the Furtmeyr Bible, the Salzburg feast missal in five volumes (all now at the Bavarian State Library in ...
Contributed by
Bavarian State Library
Commentary on the Forms of Foundation
This work is a commentary on Ashkāl al-ta’sīs (Forms of foundation), a geometrical tract by Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad b. Ashraf al-Ḥusaynī al-Samarqandī. The author of the commentary, Qāḍīzāda al-Rūmī (Ṣalāh al-Din Mūsā ibn Muḥammad, 1364–1436) was one of the principal astronomers at the celebrated Samarkand observatory. He was a native of Bursa, where his father Maḥmūd served as a prominent judge (hence the appellation Qāḍīzāda, which means "born to a judge" in Persian). The commentary was completed in 1412 (814 AH) and, judging from the many surviving copies ...
Contributed by
Qatar National Library
Leaf from a Benedictine Psalter
The 1459 Psalterium Benedictinum cum canticis et hymnis (Benedictine Psalter with canticles and hymns) was the third major project from the cradle of printing in Mainz, and the earliest example of a Benedictine printed book. After Johann Gutenberg printed his famous Bible of circa 1455, his principal creditor, Johannes Fust (1400−66), sued to recover his investment and was awarded Gutenberg's press and its accoutrements. Fust and Peter Schöffer of Mainz then went into business together, printing a Psalter arranged for the Roman Divine Office in 1457, and a ...
Contributed by
Hill Museum & Manuscript Library