97 results in English
Journal of the First Voyage of Vasco da Gama to India, 1497−1499
This manuscript is the only known copy of a journal believed to have been written on board ship during Vasco da Gama’s first voyage to India. The lost original of the journal most often has been attributed to Álvaro Velho, who accompanied Vasco da Gama to India in 1497−99, but who did not return to Portugal with the expedition but remained for eight years in Gambia and Guinea. The manuscript is anonymous and undated, but paleographic analysis dates it to the first half of the 16th century. The ...
The Supreme Method and the Pure Source on the Rules of Notarization
Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyá al-Wansharīsī (1430 or 1431–1508) was a jurist and scholar of the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence. He was born in Jabal Wansharīs, but his family moved when he was a child to nearby Tilimcen in present-day western Algeria, where he studied and later taught Maliki law. His relationship with Tilimcen ruler Sultan Muhammad IV of the Banu Abd al-Wad dynasty soured under circumstances that are unclear, and he consequently fled to Fez, Morocco. With the help of his former student Muhammad ibn al-Gardīs, al-Wansharīsī was able ...
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 ...
Collection of Speeches and Latin Epistles by Renaissance Humanists
This manuscript, dating to the late-15th century, formerly belonged to the Sienese Alessandro Tegliacci, as stated in a note written on the initial page by an unknown later owner: "Dedit mihi Alex(ande)r Tegliaccius die(?) 8 decembris 1581 atque sua humanitate donavit" (Alessandro Tegliacci kindly gave this to me as a gift on December 8, 1581). The decoration on the same leaf bears the coat of arms of the Tegliacci family. Alessandro can perhaps be identified as the scholar who was called by Cosimo II to be professor of ...
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 ...
Codicil of Queen Isabel the Catholic, Executed at Medina del Campo, on November 23, 1504
On November 23, 1504, three days before her death, Queen Isabella of Spain signed, in Medina del Campo, a codicil before the same notary, Gaspar de Gricio, and five of the seven witnesses who had been present on October 12 for the signing of her last will and testament. In the testament, the queen addressed the fundamental aspects of government by the Catholic monarchs. In the codicil, besides reaffirming what she had stipulated in the testament, she addressed questions directly affecting peninsular government and showed her concern for Spanish policy ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
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
Epistles, Gospels, and Popular Readings in the Tuscan Language
This devotional book in Italian ('the language of Tuscany'), published in 1495 by Piero Pacini da Pescia (active, circa 1495-1514), is considered the greatest Florentine illustrated book of the 15th century. It contains 144 large woodcuts, all but eight original to this text, 24 small images of saints and prophets, and a series of 14 different border styles. The large number of images, along with the quality of the designs and execution, make this work a treasure of Florentine design and one of the truly important sources for the study ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Torah with Haftarah Selections
This Hebrew Pentateuch with Haftarot (portions from the Prophets section of the Hebrew Bible, read in synagogue on Sabbaths and holidays following the Torah portion) added at the end was created in Sana'a, Yemen, in 1485. The manuscript includes full vocalization, accentuation, and Masorah annotation. The Haftarot include the Targum, or Aramaic translation, following each verse. Preceding the Torah text itself are two grammatical treatises (comprising 15 leaves in total) common in Yemen. The manuscript is written on paper in Yemenite square script, in two columns per page, with ...
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
Guide to Operations on Irrational Radicals for Neophytes
This mathematical treatise by Muḥammad b. Abi al-Fatḥ Muḥammad b. al-Sharafī Abi al-Rūḥ ‘Īsā b. Aḥmad al-Ṣūfī al-Shāfi‘ī al-Muqrī, was written in 1491-92 (897 AH). It begins with a "General Introduction," followed by two main parts, with a concluding section on the study of cubes and cube roots. Part I, "Operations on Simple Irrational Radicals," is divided into four chapters. Chapter 1 covers simplification of radicals. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 deal respectively with the multiplication, addition and subtraction, and division of radicals. Part II, on "Operations with Compound ...
The Bible. First Volume of the Bible
This codex is the first volume of a three-volume Bible commissioned in Italy by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–90) for his library. The manuscripts were copied by Antonio Sinibaldi or his pupil Alessandro Verazzano, probably in 1489−90. The illuminations have been attributed to Attavante Attavanti. All three volumes were left unfinished, at least as far as the illuminations are concerned. At Matthias Corvinus’s death, Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as Lorenzo il Magnifico, incorporated the books into the Medici collection. This volume contains the Old Testament in ...
The Bible. Second Volume of the Bible
This codex is the second volume of a three-volume Bible commissioned in Italy by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–90) for his library. The manuscripts were copied by Antonio Sinibaldi or his pupil Alessandro Verazzano, probably in 1489−90. All three volumes were left unfinished, at least as far as the illuminations are concerned. At Matthias Corvinus’s death, Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as Lorenzo il Magnifico, incorporated the books into the Medici collection. This volume contains the Apocrypha, in the Latin translation of Saint Jerome (died 419 or ...
Psalms of David. Third Volume of the Bible
This codex is the third volume of a three-volume Bible commissioned in Italy by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–90) for his library. The manuscripts were copied by Antonio Sinibaldi or his pupil Alessandro Verazzano, probably in 1489−90. All three volumes were left unfinished, at least as far as the illuminations are concerned. At Matthias Corvinus’s death, Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as Lorenzo il Magnifico, incorporated the books into the Medici collection. This volume, which is known as Corvinian Psalter, contains the complete New Testament, preceded by ...
Three Books on Life
Marsilio Ficino (1433−99) was an Italian Renaissance philosopher, theologian, priest, and physician, best known for his translations and exegeses of the works of Plato. His most important original writings include Theologia Platonica (Platonic theology, 1469−74) and Liber de Christiana religione (Book on the Christian religion, 1474). Presented here is the codex of one of Ficino’s later works, De triplici vita (Three books on life, 1489), from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. The colophon on the verso of folio 174 indicates that the ...
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
Collection of the Essential Medical Herbs of Materia Medica
Ben cao pin hui jing yao (Collection of the essential medical herbs of materia medica) was compiled and illustrated by imperial order of Emperor Xiaozong (ruled 1487−1505) of the Ming dynasty. The manuscript was completed in the 18th and last year of his reign, called Hongzhi (1505). It was the only officially published work on materia medica. After Emperor Xiaozong died, the manuscript was kept in the imperial court and not printed for more than four centuries. However, a number of expertly copied manuscripts with color illustrations did appear ...
Contributed by National Library of China
Map of the Island of Cuba and Surrounding Territories
José María de la Torre y de la Torre (1815−73) was an illustrious Cuban geographer, archaeologist, historian, and educator who devoted a great part of his intellectual life to the study of local Cuban history. This cartographic work of 1841 by José María de la Torre is important from a historical as well as a geographical point of view. It describes in detail the itineraries of the voyages of Christopher Columbus to the Americas. The map shows the routes of each of Columbus’s three voyages, giving the dates ...
Compendium of the Art of Arithmetic
Suma de la art de arismetica (Compendium of the art of arithmetic) is the first arithmetic printed on the Iberian Peninsula and possibly the second printed in Europe. Very little is known about the author, Francesc Santcliment, other than that he lived in the 15th−16th centuries. Where he was born and where he died are unknown.  As he indicates in his text and in the bibliography and reference works, he seems to have worked in the Catalan territories, in Barcelona and Perpignan. Some authors also place him in Zaragoza ...
Book for Women
Francesc Eiximenis (circa 1340–1409) was a Franciscan monk and a prolific writer. He studied in Catalonia, Oxford, and Toulouse, and probably in Paris. Considered a prestigious intellectual, he maintained good relations with the court of the kingdom of Aragon and with the municipal authorities of Barcelona and Valencia, the city where he wrote most of his works. In 1396 he finished writing Llibre de les dones (Book for women). The book avoids the misogynist tendency of its times. It is intended as a work of moral instruction, which it ...
Antiphonarium Bratislaviense
This illuminated folio with Metz Gothic musical notation comes from the liturgical codex of Canon Jan Han, who was a client of the Bratislava Chapter and the purchaser of this antiphonary. The illuminated initial “S” (Sanctum) with the first two martyrs of the Christian Church, Saint Stephen and Saint Lawrence, accompanied by Saint Vitus, is supplemented by the label Illorum effusus nos in patientia firmet (Their patience enabled us to stream forth), which dates the fragment to 1487. The bottom part of the acanthus decoration on the left margin contains ...
Contributed by Slovak National Library
Canonical Book of Hours
This book of hours from Slovakia originated in France. Features that reflect French influence and provenance include the script, its decoration, and the initial letter “D” (Domine) with the motif of the Virgin Mary holding a book, and a heraldic shield bearing the arms of the white cross with the heart (the arms of the Order of Crucigeri) carried by two angels. Similarly, the content of the codex, mainly the structure of its calendarium, indicates that it arose within the milieu of an Augustinian monastery or of the Crucigeri Friars ...
Contributed by Slovak National Library
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 ...
Collection of Five Tracts on Various Subjects by al-Suyuti
This undated manuscript contains five short essays by the prolific scholar Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (1445−1505). The longest work in the volume is a 20-page collection of hadiths (sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) pertaining to dreams, visions, and other extraordinary occurrences. The shortest work is a two-page note on al-hamd (praise), its grammar, and usage. Other titles pertain to various grammatical points in the form of questions and answers. The treatises are ordered as follows: 1. Tanwīr al-ḥalak fī imkān ruʼyat al-nabī wa al-malak (Shedding light on the possibility ...
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 ...
Fatwa on the Millennium
Kashf ‘an mujawazat hadha al-ummah al-alf (Fatwa on the millennium) is a portion of a more comprehensive genealogical work, Lubb al-Lulab fi Tahrir al-Ansab (The essence of constructing genealogies). It treats the Last Days in Sunni eschatology. The fatwa (legal opinion) was stimulated by a question brought to the author, al-Suyuti (1445−1505), regarding the resurrection of the Prophet Muhammad within a thousand years of his death. Al-Suyuti states that many people are interested in the question of the millennium. He dismisses this belief, saying that it ...
Book of Hours of Simon de Varie. Part 2
Books of hours are prayer books for the personal use of laymen, often beautifully illuminated, dating from the late-medieval period. The National Library of the Netherlands has a large collection of these works, one of the most beautiful of which is the Book of Hours of Simon de Varie. The illuminations in the manuscript are largely by artists whose identity is unknown and who therefore are referred to by a name derived from their work. The Book of Hours of Simon de Varie contains illuminations by the Master of Jean ...
Book of Hours of Simon de Varie. Part 1
Books of hours are prayer books for the personal use of laymen, often beautifully illuminated, dating from the late-medieval period. The National Library of the Netherlands has a large collection of these works, one of the most beautiful of which is the Book of Hours of Simon de Varie. The illuminations in the manuscript are largely by artists whose identity is unknown, and who therefore are referred to by a name that is derived from their work. The Book of Hours of Simon de Varie contains illuminations by the Master ...
Trivulzio Book of Hours
The Trivulzio Book of Hours is one of the most important, and certainly the most costly, gifts ever presented to a Dutch cultural institution. Given in 2001 by a donor who wished to remain anonymous, the manuscript represents the return of a spectacular item of cultural heritage that had been presumed destroyed. The manuscript formerly belonged to the collection of the princes of Trivulzio in Milan, but by the early 20th century its whereabouts were no longer known. The manuscript was made in about 1470 in Flanders, probably in Bruges ...
Book of Hours for Use in Paris: The Hours of René of Anjou
This book of hours was written around 1435−36 in the workshop of the Rohan Master in Paris for René of Anjou (1409−80), the second son of Louis II of Anjou. The portraits of Louis II and René are to be found on folios 61 and 81 respectively, along with René’s coat of arms and emblems. These are death wearing a crown, the eagle holding the Cross of Lorraine (in reference to his first wife, Isabelle of Lorraine, from whom he inherited the duchy in 1431), and the ...
The Book of the Love-Smitten Heart
Written in 1457, Le livre du Coeur d'amour épris (The book of the love-smitten heart) is an allegorical romance by King René of Anjou (1409−80). The text in verse and prose recounts the quest for love of the knight Heart who, in a dream, leaves with Desire in search of his lady, Mercy. This amorous journey combines the knight’s studies and his personal memories. The tone is that of a disenchanted man at the end of his life, for whom courtly love and desire both amount to ...
The Armorial of Conrad von Grünenberg
The Armorial of Conrad von Grünenberg is a splendid manuscript containing several hundred colored coats of arms. It was written on parchment and seems to be a contemporary copy from the original version on paper written in 1483, preserved today in Berlin. It formed part of the library of the dukes of Bavaria and was probably in the possession of Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria (1493−1550). Depicted are the coats of arms of barons, dukes, margraves, archbishops, free cities and towns, and orders of knights from throughout Germany, as ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Passover Haggadah
This manuscript is a Haggadah. This Hebrew term is derived from a Hebraic root meaning a tale, particularly an edifying tale or story. Jewish law commands its followers to retell each year, from generation to generation, how the Jews fled Egypt as well as the miracles performed by God at the time. The Haggadah is a collection of chosen texts from the Bible and the Talmud that facilitates the celebration of the family liturgy on the first two nights of Passover during holiday meals. This manuscript is embellished with 76 ...
Grammar of the Castillan Language
Presented here is the first grammar of the Castilian language. This is also the first grammar of any vernacular language to be printed in Europe. The book was published in 1492, at a time when Castilian was still not considered a “language of culture.” The author, Antonio de Nebrija (circa 1444−1522), had previously written an Introductiones latinae (Introduction to Latin). He concluded that students would be better able to study Latin if there were established rules for their native language of Castilian and if they were taught these rules ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
Flemish Psalter
This Flemish Psalter from the library of the Irish College in Paris was made in Bruges (present-day Belgium) around 1500. The manuscript is written in Latin on vellum, and it has a 19th-century binding. Psalters are religious books, especially popular in the Middle Ages, containing the psalms (poems that are sung) from the Bible, often with other devotional texts. Richly decorated, the Psalter includes a fully illuminated page depicting the Tree of Jesse and a miniature of King David, the main author of the psalms. Twelve illuminations, each composed of ...
Contributed by Irish College in Paris
World Chronicle with the Descent of the Kings of England from Adam and Eve to Richard III
This manuscript, produced in London around 1500, traces the genealogy of the kings of England from Adam and Eve to Richard III. The manuscript was made in the manner of William Caxton (circa 1422–92), the first English printer. Written in English, on vellum, the volume still has its original brown calf binding. Illustrations are mostly large compositions in pen and ink and include images of the Last Judgment and the fall of the rebel angels, the Creation, the fall of Adam and Eve, and Noah’s ark. Also included ...
Contributed by Irish College in Paris
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
The Lesser Compilation of Hadiths of the Consecrated Messenger
This manuscript dating from the late 17th century is a collection of hadiths, or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, by the Egyptian polymath Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (1445−1505). The work is carefully written in naskh script. The title is enclosed in a decorative headpiece, not exquisitely drawn but nonetheless colorful yet restrained. In contrast to his comprehensive Jamiʻ al-jawamiʻ  (Compilation of compilations), in this work al-Suyuti promises “the short, abbreviated essence of hadiths and early records, ignoring the shell and taking only the nut.” He accomplished this objective by providing ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
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