111 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 Oztoticpac Lands Map
Dated at approximately 1540, this map, a Mexican pictorial document with writing in Spanish and Nahuatl, relates to a lawsuit concerning the estate of Don Carlos Ometochtli Chichimecatecotl, an Aztec lord and one of the many sons of Nezahualpilli, ruler of Texcoco. Don Carlos was charged with heresy and publicly executed by the Spanish authorities on November 30, 1539. Litigation began on December 31, 1540, when a man identified as Pedro de Vergara petitioned the Inquisition to return to him certain fruit trees taken from the property of Don Carlos ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
General History of the Things of New Spain by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún: The Florentine Codex. Book XII: The Conquest of Mexico
Historia general de las cosas de nueva España (General history of the things of New Spain) is an encyclopedic work about the people and culture of central Mexico compiled by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (1499–1590), a Franciscan missionary who arrived in Mexico in 1529, eight years after completion of the Spanish conquest by Hernan Cortés. Commonly referred to as the Florentine Codex, the manuscript consists of 12 books devoted to different topics. Book XII recounts the Spanish conquest of Mexico, which took place between 1519, when Cortés landed on ...
Account of the Composition of the Human Body
Juan Valverde was a Spanish medical anatomist who was born in Amusco, in the present-day province of Palencia, around 1525. He left for Italy around 1542, and later practiced medicine and taught in Rome. He was the great Spanish follower of the new anatomy established by Andreas Vesalius in 1543 with his work De humani corporis fabrica (On the fabric of the human body). Vesalius was responsible for a new vision of the human body in the modern world. Valverde helped to spread this vision through the 16 editions in ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
The Book of Calixto and Melibea and of the Old Whore Celestina
La Celestina is undoubtedly one of the greatest bestsellers in Spanish literature. It is said to have been printed in more than 200 early editions, although fewer than half of these have survived. The work, by Fernando de Rojas (died 1541), began as a comedy in 16 acts, which was extended to 21 acts in the tragicomedy, which became the popular version. In addition to being published throughout Spain, the Spanish text was printed in Lisbon, Rome, Venice, Milan and Antwerp. Early translations into Italian, French, German, English, and Dutch ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
Complutensian Polyglot Bible
The Complutensian Polyglot Bible is the first multilingual printed edition of the entire Bible. The project to produce the Bible was conceived, led, and financed by Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros (circa 1436−1517), who early in the 16th century spearheaded the revitalization of the old University of Alcalá de Henares (founded in 1293) with the establishment of a new university, the Universidad Complutense, in 1508. (Complutense refers to Complutum, the ancient Roman settlement at the site of Alcalá de Henares). With the aid of important figures, such as Antonio ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
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
Treatise on Field Fortifications
Giovan Battista Belluzzi (1506–54) was a San Marino native who served as chief military engineer to Cosimo I de' Medici (1519–74), duke of Florence. This manuscript, believed to be in Belluzzi’s own hand, was written for Stefano IV Colonna, a Florentine general also in the employment of the Medici family. The manuscript contains instructions for building military fortifications in remote areas, using only local resources such as earth and wood as structural elements. The text includes a discourse on how to evaluate the condition of the soil ...
The Threefold Lily of Practical Arithmetic
Johannes Huswirth (Sanensis) was a German arithmetician who flourished around 1500. Nothing is known of his life. That he is sometimes referred to as Sanensis suggests that he may have come from Sayn, Germany. Arithmetice Lilium Triplicis Practice (The threefold lily of practical arithmetic) presents basic arithmetic operations such as addition and multiplication for whole numbers and fractions. It treats much of the same material that Huswirth had covered in an earlier work, Enchirdion Algorismi (Handbook of algorithms). The work includes two woodcut illustrations; one of God the Father and ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Imperial Calendar in the Third Year of Emperor Jia Jing’s Reign in the Ming Dynasty
The Da Ming Jiajing san nian datong li (Imperial calendar, or great universal system of calculating astronomy) is based upon the system of calendrical astronomy developed by the astronomer Guo Shoujin during the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). It was officially adapted by the Ming Bureau of Astronomy in 1384. It specified the phases of the moon and contained predictions of when lunar and solar eclipses would occur. The great Chinese navigator Zheng He used Guo Shoujing's methods to determine latitude and longitude on his voyages to the Pacific and Indian ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Collection of Persian Poetry and Prose
This manuscript in Persian is an untitled Sufi text on meditation containing both poetry and prose. It was completed in early 1520, probably in Herat (present-day Afghanistan) or Mashhad (present-day Iran). The colophon, which is in Arabic, gives the name of the scribe, Mīr 'Alī Ḥusaynī Haravī (circa 1476−1543). The manuscript is on a firm cream-colored paper inlaid into light cream (folios 1−8) or pale greenish-blue margin paper, with the writing enclosed within alternating gold and cream (or green) bands with black ruling. The margin paper is profusely ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Book of Fridays
The first book printed in Armenian was the Urbathagirq (The book of Fridays), which was published in Venice in 1512 by Hakob Meghapart (Jacob the Sinner). Little is known about Hakob Meghapart, or why he styled himself “the Sinner” (or “the Sinful”). Armenia was at that time under the rule of the Ottoman Turks, and the Diaspora community played a critically important role in keeping alive the Armenian language and literary tradition. Written in Grabar (Classical Armenian), the book consists mainly of prayers and remedies for the sick, together with ...
Armenian Liturgical Calendar
Parzatumar (Armenian liturgical calendar) was the second book printed in Armenian, after the Urbathagirq (The book of Fridays). Both books were published by Hakob Meghapart (Jacob the Sinner), who in 1512 settled among the Armenian community in Venice and established the first Armenian press. In this copy, from the National Library of Armenia, the two works are bound together. Little is known about Hakob Meghapart, or why he styled himself “the Sinner” (or “the Sinful”). Armenia was at this time under the rule of the Ottoman Turks, and the Diaspora ...
Song Book by Hakob Meghapart
Tagharan (Song book), a collection of odes for the soul and the body, was one of the first five books published by Hakob Meghapart (Jacob the Sinner), who established the first Armenian printing press in Venice in 1512. Little is known about Hakob Meghapart, or why he styled himself “the Sinner” (or “the Sinful”). Armenia was at that time under the rule of the Ottoman Turks, and the Diaspora community played a critical role in keeping alive the Armenian language and literary tradition. The book is written in Grabar (Classical ...
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
Treatise on the Craft of Weight Measurement
This work is a treatise on the construction and use of the weighing balance (qabān, also qapān). It brings together geometric, mechanical, and arithmetic knowledge needed to construct and utilize measuring devices for weighing heavy and irregularly-shaped objects. The author’s name is unknown, but excerpts from another work by an already-deceased Shaykh ‘Abd al-Majīd al-Shāmulī al-Maḥallī are quoted in the treatise. The last page of the manuscript contains a sheet of verses that describe the basics of using a weighing balance, in a form that is easy to remember ...
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 ...
Almugavar Hours
This book of hours was produced circa 1510−20 for a member of the Almugavar (or Almogàver) family of Catalonia, whose coat of arms appears throughout the manuscript in the borders of the lavish full-page miniatures. There are 26 full-page polychrome miniatures (three are missing), of which six were removed from the original quire structure after portions of the miniatures were excised, and then returned to the manuscript, having been pasted onto heavy card-stock folios. There are also 18 full-page incipits, of which three include historiated vignettes, and numerous folios ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Prayer Book
This illuminated prayer book, made in the Netherlands in the early 16th century, contains Latin prayers and passages from the Gospels. Although small in scale, it is notable for its abundance of illuminations, with nearly 60 extant small miniatures. Full-color portraits embellish the prayers to the Virgin and suffrages, while the images within the Gospel narrative are rendered primarily in grisaille, a nearly entirely gray monochrome technique. The last folios include a trompe-l'oeil foliate margin and a Crucifixion that seems to be a later addition. Throughout the book, gold ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Ethiopian Gospels
This large Ethiopian Gospel book was made in the first half of the 16th century and is written in Gǝ‛ǝz, the traditional liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Containing 11 full-page miniatures, six canon tables, and five elaborately ornamented ḥarägs (headpieces), this manuscript represents the golden age of what has been termed the Gunda Gunde style, named after a monastery in the district of Agame. The Gunda Gunde style is characterized by bold blocks of color defined by detailed, and often delicate, linear motifs. Figures are highly stylized ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Flemish Paintings on Tables
In the late 15th and first half of the 16th centuries, the cultivation, refining, and marketing of sugar became a major part of the expanding economy of the Canary Islands. The main drivers of the sugar economy were landowners, agents, and traders from Flanders, which at that time was part of the Spanish Empire. Antwerp became the great receiving and distributing center for Canary Island sugar in Europe. One result of this economic activity was the introduction of Flemish art into the Canaries. Art became a means by which the ...
Nautical Astrolabe
This nautical astrolabe is thought to be among the earliest surviving nautical astrolabes and dates from about 1500−1520. Most nautical astrolabes had a carved mater (graduated circular element), unlike the solid and compact instrument shown here, which bears a resemblance to the astrolabes of Diogo Ribeiro (died 1533), a Portuguese cartographer and inventor who spent most of his life in Spain. The purpose of nautical astrolabes was to measure the altitude of the sun or a star above the horizon. Navigators could determine a ship’s latitude by knowing ...
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 ...
Maritime Regulations
Libre appellat Consolat de mar (Maritime regulations) is a collection of maritime and commercial ordinances and decrees of medieval origin that once had legal authority. The text comes from the ancient Costumes de la Mar, of Barcelona, written between 1260 and 1270. It integrates Catalan norms as well as those from other sources, including Pisan, Genoese, Venetian, and Marsilian. The definitive writing was done in the 14th century in Barcelona, with the addition of other legal texts. The work was widely circulated. Among the numerous editions printed in Catalan, two ...
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 ...
Catechism, that is: A Brief Overview and an Exposition of the Foremost Articles of Faith and the Christian Religion, Which Catechumens, and Especially Children in Schools, Learn Initially. D. Martin Luther
Katechysmus, To geʃt: Kratičke obʃazenij a wyklad přednich Cžlankůw Wyrij a Náboženʃtwij Křestianského čemuž ʃe Lidé Křestianʃʃtij a zwlaʃʃte Dijtky w Sʃkolách počátečné wyvčugij (Catechism, that is: a brief overview and an exposition of the foremost articles of faith and the Christian religion, which catechumens, and especially children in schools, learn initially), published in 1581, is the first work printed in the territory of Slovakia in the Slovak language. It is the famous “small catechism” by Martin Luther (1483−1546), the great leader of the Protestant Reformation in Germany. The ...
Contributed by Slovak National Library
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 ...
Panorama of Genoa, 1553
This panoramic view of Genoa in 1553 is from the collection of cityscapes and broadsheets that once belonged to the Swedish statesman Count Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie (1622−86). ‏In the upper left is a brief description of the work and of the city, in Italian, by the artist, Anton van den Wyngaerde (died 1571). The Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie collection consists of 187 engravings from the late 1500s and early 1600s. The prints originally were bound, ordered, and assigned a number. The early provenance of the collection ...
A New, More True and Complete Description of the Whole World, First Published by Alonzo de Santa Cruz, Principal Cosmographer to Emperor Charles V, 1542
Alonzo de Santa Cruz (1505–67) was a well-known Spanish cartographer. As cosmographer at the Casa de contratación, the business enterprise in Seville that had a monopoly on the trade with the New World, he was responsible for the Padrón Real, a map documenting the newly discovered countries across the Atlantic. This world map, published by Alonzo de Santa Cruz in 1542, bears the title Nova verior et integra totivs orbis descriptio nvne primvm in lvcem edita per Alfonsvm de Santa Cruz Cæsaris Charoli V archicosmographvm, A.D. MDXLII (A ...
Prayer Book of Emperor Maximilian I
There are six known copies of this prayer book, which was printed on parchment in an edition of only ten copies at the behest of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (1459−1519) for knights of the Order of Saint George. Presented here is the Munich copy, which is thought to have been the emperor’s personal copy and which is distinguished by the colored line drawings in the margins of the leaves. The drawings are the work of the most important German artists from the time of Albrecht Dürer (1471 ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Trilingual Manuscript Copy of Part Two of Antonio de Nebrija’s “Dictionarium ex Hispaniensi in Latinum Sermonem”
Fray Bernardino de Sahagún was a Franciscan missionary who arrived in Mexico from Spain in 1529 and stayed until his death in 1590. He worked with the indigenous peoples of the area to document their cultures and religions, in large part motivated by the conviction that better understanding of their beliefs and practices would improve the efforts to convert them to Christianity. His methods have led some scholars to consider him the first ethnohistorian, and he is remembered today as much for his ethnographic and linguistic documentation of the Nahua ...
Contributed by The Newberry Library
Portolan Atlas Dedicated to Hieronymus Ruffault, Abbot of Saint Vaast and Saint Adrian
Battista Agnese, one of the most important Italian Renaissance cartographers, was born in Genoa. He worked in Venice in the period 1536−64, and in about 1544 he produced this sumptuous and well-executed manuscript atlas in pen-and-ink and watercolor with silver and gold illumination on vellum. The atlas reflects the latest geographic knowledge, gained primarily from voyages by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the first half of the 16th century. A mere 50 years after Columbus's historic voyage of 1492, new information based on direct observation was rapidly changing ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Codex Vergara
Codex Vergara is an Aztec cadastral document, drawn up in 1539 by the Spanish conquerors of Mexico, on behalf of the king of Spain, in order to facilitate the collection of taxes from the native population. The document records the landholdings of the Aztec villages of Calcantloxiuco, Topotitlan, Patlachiuca, Teocatitla, and Texcalticpac. These villages and their locations and sizes are represented on the document. The first seven pages show the genealogy of the families of landowners and their connections to the various plots of land. In the upper-left corner of ...
Codex Ixtlilxochitl
Codex Ixtlilxochitl is a ritual calendar that presents all the main ceremonies and holidays that were celebrated at the great teocalli, the terraced pyramid of Tenochtitlan (forerunner of present-day Mexico City) during the Mexican year. The Aztec calendar consisted of two systems. This codex presents the Xiuhpohualli (the first, or solar, calendar) of 365 days, divided into 18 months of 20 days, plus an additional period of five empty or unlucky days at the end of the year, called the Nemontemi. The manuscript begins with the first month of the ...
"Munajat" of 'Abdallah Ansari
This calligraphic fragment includes a maxim drawn from the Munajat (Supplications) of the great Persian mystic and scholar Khwajah 'Abdallah Ansari (died 1088). The two lines describe the benefits of prayer and generosity. The two lines of text are executed in black nasta'liq script on beige paper and framed by delicate cloud bands on a gold illuminated background. The text panel is framed by a variety of borders and pasted to a sheet of purple paper decorated with gold interlacing flower motifs. Between and below the two main lines ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
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
Eulogy to a Ruler
This calligraphic fragment includes a central panel with a eulogy to a king written in the "hanging" ta'liq script. Except for one line in black ink, all other horizontal and diagonal lines are written in white and outlined in black. Above the text panel appears, divided into two columns, a bayt (verse) by the great Persian poet Niẓāmī Ganjavī (died 1202 or 1203) about the power of miracles. The bayt is in black nasta'liq script on beige paper. Around the text panel is a blue border inscribed with ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Verses by Hilālī
This calligraphic fragment includes three distinct text panels all executed in Nasta'liq script: one written in black ink on blue paper, another in white ink on beige paper with two illuminated triangles (or thumb pieces) in the upper and lower corners, and a third (lowest on the page) written in black ink on beige paper. All three panels were cut out and placed together, provided with a gold frame, and pasted to a larger sheet of paper decorated with flecks of gold. The blue text panel includes verses composed ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Three Bayts (Verses) to a Loved One
This calligraphic fragment includes three bayts (verses) of poetry in the main text panel and ten verses around this panel, creating a textual frame decorated with gold vine and leaf motifs. The entire calligraphic piece is pasted to a paper decorated with blue geometric and vegetal motifs highlighted in gold. The central text panel is topped by an illuminated rectangular panel and includes a decorative triangle in the upper left corner. The verses in the central panel are written in nasta'liq script on a white ground decorated with ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Garden of the Virgin Mary
The 1510 manuscript Jungfru Marie örtagård (The Garden of the Virgin Mary) is the work of an anonymous nun at the Brigittine monastery at Vadstena in eastern Götaland, Sweden, and is the sole surviving source for the Swedish psalms, collects and lessons, hymns, and commentaries used in daily office by the nuns at the monastery. From the late 14th century to about 1530, the Vadstena monastery contributed significantly to the development of a nascent Swedish cultural identity, largely through the language that developed and was taught there. Most of the ...