52 results in English
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 ...
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
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 ...
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
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 ...
"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
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 ...
Huexotzinco Codex, 1531
The Huexotzinco Codex is an eight-sheet document on amatl, a pre-European paper made in Mesoamerica. It is part of the testimony in a legal case against representatives of the colonial government in Mexico, ten years after the Spanish conquest in 1521. Huexotzinco is a town southeast of Mexico City, in the state of Puebla. In 1521, the Nahua Indian people of the town were the allies of the Spanish conqueror Hernando Cortés, and together they confronted their enemies to overcome Moctezuma, leader of the Aztec Empire. After the conquest, the ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Adam and Eve in Paradise
Lucas Cranach, the Elder (1472-1553) was a leading artist of the German Renaissance. He served as court painter at Wittenberg to Frederick the Wise of Saxony and was a friend and advocate of Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation. He was also a master printmaker. This 1509 woodcut depicts Adam and Eve beneath an apple tree, surrounded by animals, with Eve being tempted by the serpent. Man’s fall from grace was a popular theme in the Reformation era. Between 1510 and 1540 Cranach painted Adam and Eve ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Small Passion. The Expulsion from Paradise
Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) is generally considered Germany’s greatest artist. In addition to being one of the monumental figures in the history of Western printmaking, he was a painter and wrote important early works of artistic theory dealing with such topics as geometry, perspective, and the measurements of the human body. Much of his work was religious. From his early 20s until his death at the age of 57, Dürer worked on at least six different versions of the Passion--the story of Christ's suffering between the Last Supper and ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Splendid Narrative of Ferdinand Cortes About the New Spain of the Sea and Ocean Transmitted to the Most Sacred and Invincible, Always August Charles Emperor of the Romans, King of the Spaniards in the Year of the Lord 1520: In Which is Contained Many Things Worthy of Knowledge and Admiration About the Excellent Cities of Their Provinces…Above All About the Famous City Temixtitan and Its Diverse Wonders, Which Will Wondrously Please the Reader
Between July 1519 and September 1526, Hernando Cortés (1485-1547), the soldier and adventurer who in 1519-21 conquered for Spain what is now central and southern Mexico, sent five extended letters to Emperor Charles V in which he described his exploits and placed himself and his actions in a favorable light. This book contains the first Latin edition of Cortes’s second letter. In it, Cortés gives an account of his first meeting with the Aztec emperor, Montezuma II. Dated October 30, 1520, the letter was translated from Spanish into Latin ...
Contributed by John Carter Brown Library
Newspaper About the Country that the Spaniards Found in 1521, Called Yucatan
This small tract contains one of the first European descriptions of the Aztec civilization of Mexico and the earliest known European attempt to picture the city of Tenochtitlán (present-day Mexico City). Most likely published in Augsburg in 1522, the work is a translation into German of an earlier Spanish account of Hernando Cortes’s expedition to Tenochtitlán in 1519-20. The city is pictured rather fancifully as having five towers and five bridges. Another woodcut shows an Aztec religious ceremony involving human sacrifice. Cortés first reached Tenochtitlán in November 1519. He ...
Contributed by John Carter Brown Library
Map of the Entire World
This early-16th century map by Martin Waldseemüller (1470-1521) is the only known copy of this particular world map, and contains an early appearance of the name “America.” The map is generally known as the “Admiral's Map,” because at one time it was believed to have been the work of Columbus, often referred to as “the Admiral.” Waldseemüller was a German scholar and cartographer who, in 1507, published Cosmographiaie Introductio (Introduction to cosmography) in which he suggested that the New World be called “America.” In the same year, Waldseemüller and ...
Contributed by John Carter Brown Library
Royal Writ of the Foundation of the City of Tlaxcala
This royal writ or decree, by order of the Emperor Charles V, confers upon the city of Tlaxcala, Mexico, a coat of arms and the title of "Loyal City," in recognition of the services "which the noblemen and towns of the said province have accomplished for us." It was the first of only three such titles given by the emperor to cities in New Spain. This direct recognition by the emperor of the indigenous noblemen of Tlaxcala went on to determine the course of Tlaxcalan history, as the indigenous province ...
Testerian Catechism
This early-16th century manuscript, known as a Testerian catechism, is one of the more notable documents in the archives of the Center for the Study of the History of Mexico. In the early period of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, before religious instructors had learned the languages of the indigenous peoples, they used pictorial stories describing basic teachings to spread the Christian Gospel. These catechisms were called Testerians, after Father Jacobo de Testera, a Franciscan priest who pioneered this method of teaching.
In the Name of the Holy... (Papal Bull of Pope Paul III)
This Papal Bull of 1537, in Latin, was issued by Pope Paul III, who was pope from 1534 to 1549. Best known for calling the Council of Trent in 1545, Paul III also was concerned with the role of the church in America. The bull discusses evangelization and conversion, including the proper way to apply the sacraments, in particular baptism. This was especially important in the early days of colonial rule, when hundreds and sometimes thousands of indigenous people were baptized every day. One interesting aspect of this bull is ...
Great Miracle of the Apparition of the Queen of Heaven, Saint Mary Our Beloved Mother of Guadalupe, Near the Great City of Mexico in the Place called Tepeyácac
Known also as Nican mopohua (Here it is said), this document is the report in Nahuatl of the history of the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe, on the hilltop of Tepeyac, to the humble Indian Juan Diego, between December 9 and 12, 1531. It is considered the central document of the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which is part of the fundamental identity of Mexicans. Luis Lasso de la Vega, its author, was the vicar of the shrine to the Virgin. The report may be based upon a ...
Letter to Guillaume Budé, March 4, 1521
François Rabelais (1494?-1553) was a French Renaissance writer remembered for his comic masterpiece, Gargantua and Pantagruel. This letter is the first known text by Rabelais. It was written in 1521, when Rabelais was a young monk at the Franciscan monastery of Fontenay-le-Comte, and deeply immersed in the study of Greek and the humanities. The letter is addressed to Guillaume Budé, a classical scholar whom Rabelais admired. Intended to attract Budé’s attention and elicit his encouragement, the letter employs the conventional motifs of classical humanism. Rabelais left the cloister ...
Journal of Magellan's Voyage
This manuscript volume, dating from around 1525, details Ferdinand Magellan's voyage around the world in 1519-22. The work is attributed to Antonio Pigafetta, a Venetian scholar who was born in Vincenza, Italy, around 1490 and who accompanied Magellan on the voyage. Pigafetta kept a detailed journal, the original of which is lost. However, an account of the voyage, written by Pigafetta between 1522 and 1525, survives in four manuscript versions: one in Italian and three in French. This version, in French, is from the library of Yale University, and ...
Contributed by Yale University Library
Tribute Roll
The Matrícula de tributos (Tribute roll) records in pictographic writing the tributes that subject towns paid to Mexico-Tenochtitlan, the center of the triple alliance of Mexico, Tetzcoco, and Tacuba in the period just before the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish. The roll was very likely copied or elaborated on from a pre-Hispanic original circa 1522-30 by order of the conqueror Hernán Cortés, who wanted to learn more about the economic organization of the alliance's empire. Each page of the Matrícula represents one of 16 tributary provinces. The main ...
The muscles of the left leg, seen from the front, and the bones and muscles of the right leg seen in right profile, and between them, a patella. Drawing by Michelangelo Buonarroti, ca. 1515-1520.
These drawings of the human leg are by the artist Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), whose studies of anatomy are recorded by his earliest biographers, Vasari (1550) and Condivi (1553). Michelangelo reportedly first dissected a cadaver in Florence around 1495, after he had been commissioned to sculpt a crucifix of wood for the church of Santo Spirito. The prior of the church gave him rooms in which he could, by dissection, learn how to render convincingly the muscles of the dying Christ. His last witnessed dissection occurred in Rome in 1548. Such ...
Contributed by Wellcome Library
Book of Hours
The Book of Hours was a prayer book for the laity that developed in late medieval Europe and that was used for private devotion. These works were often personalized for individual patrons and illuminated with miniature paintings depicting the life of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and individual saints. The text included a calendar of liturgical feast days and a series of prayers to be recited eight times a day, according to established practice. By the early Renaissance period the popularity of the Book of Hours demonstrated the growing interest of ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Preface of Nicolas Gerbelius to Sophianos’s Description of Greece
Nikolaos Sophianos was a 16th-century Greek priest, scholar, translator, and publisher. He was born on Corfu and sent to Rome at an early age, where he studied at the Greek school on the Quirinal. He completed the first grammar of the Modern Greek language and translated works from ancient into Modern Greek. At some point he left Rome to settle in Venice, where by 1545 he had set up a press. Sophianos’s only known cartographic work is this map of his native country. Known as the Hellados perigraphe (Description ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The First Map of the Strait of Magellan, 1520
The first circumnavigation of the globe was the voyage of 1519–22 by the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan (1480–1521), undertaken in the service of Spain. The only known first-hand account of the voyage is the journal by Venetian nobleman and scholar Antonio Pigafetta (circa 1480–1534). Four manuscript versions of Pigafetta’s journal survive, three in French and one in Italian. Pigafetta also made 23 beautiful, hand-drawn color maps, a complete set of which accompanies each of the manuscripts. Shown here is Pigafetta’s map of the Strait of ...
Contributed by National Library of Chile
A Modern and Complete Map of the World by the Royal Mathematician Oronce Fine of the Dauphiné
An astronomer and mathematician, from 1531 the first chair of mathematics in the Collège Royal (the present-day Collège de France), Oronce Fine (1494–1555) was one of the first French scholars to work with cartography. His world map in the shape of a heart belongs to a group of 18 heart-shaped projection maps published between 1511 and 1566. Inspired by one of the projections described by the second-century geographer, Ptolemy, this projection system was codified by a mathematician in Nuremberg, Johannes Werner (1468–1522), in an opus written in 1514 ...
The Most Fearsome Life of the Great Gargantua, Father of Pantagruel
François Rabelais (circa 1494–1553) published his comic masterpiece Pantagruel, most likely in 1532, under the pseudonym Alcofribas Nasier (an anagram of the author’s real name). Prompted by the immediate success of this work, Rabelais went on to write the life and adventures of Pantagruel’s father, Gargantua. The events of the later book thus take place before those narrated in the first book. The character of Gargantua was already known in popular literature, but Rabelais composed a new tale that reworked the themes of Pantagruel. Through the story ...
The Defense and Illustration of the French Language
Joachim Du Bellay was born in Anjou, western France, in about 1522. In 1549, he published l'Olive (The olive), his first collection of sonnets and the first cycle of love sonnets in the French vernacular. That same year, he put forward his ideas on the French language and poetic practices in this work, La Deffence, et illustration de la langue francoyse (The defense and illustration of the French language). Du Bellay shared his essay with friends, who later formed the group of 16th-century poets known as the Pleiades. His ...
Modern and Complete Map of the Entire World
Oronce Fine (1494–1555), also known by his Latinized name of Orontius Finaeus Delphinatus, was born in Briançon, France and trained as a medical doctor at the University of Paris. He was appointed to the chair of mathematics at the Collège Royal in Paris in 1531 and, like many mathematicians of his day, applied his knowledge to cartography. In addition to mapmaking, Fine published a multivolume work on mathematics, astronomy, and astronomical instruments, and he was an expert on military fortifications. Fine’s Nova, et integra universi orbis descriptio of ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Zhejiang Provincial Civil Examination Records
This book is a collection of civil examination records from Zhejiang Province, dated the eighth year of the Zhengde reign (1513) of the Ming dynasty. The civil examination system in China officially began in the first half of the seventh century and continued with various modifications until its abolition in 1905 in the late Qing dynasty. Its purpose was to train and select qualified officials to form an efficient bureaucracy to administer the vast nation under the emperor. The system was designed to reward merit in any male candidate, rather ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Guizhou Provincial Civil Examination Records
This is a collection of Guizhou provincial civil examination records dated the 25th year (1546) of the Jiajing reign (1522–66) of the Ming dynasty. The civil examination system in China began in the first half of the seventh century and continued with various modifications until its abolition in 1905 in the late Qing dynasty. Its purpose was to train and select qualified officials to form an efficient bureaucracy to administer the vast nation under the emperor. The system was designed to reward merit in any male candidate, rather than ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Tenochtitlán, 1521
This topographical map of Mexico City and its surroundings dates from around 1550, some three decades after the conquest of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán by Hernán Cortés in 1521. Tenochtitlán was founded in the 14th century on an island in the salt lake of Texcoco. Upon occupying the city, the Spanish pulled down its central parts and replaced the Aztec temples with buildings constructed in the Spanish style, but they left the street layout virtually intact. The map shows the new buildings. The cathedral (Iglesia Major) is in the ...
Royal Coin, Francis I. Sample Teston
This gold sample teston (16th-century French silver coin) representing the King Francis I (1494–1547; reigned, 1515–47) of France is one of the most characteristic monetary expressions of the Renaissance. The realistic portrait, classical inspiration, significant relief, and weight of the piece are all features that represent a break from the money of medieval times. The 19th-century numismatist, Henri de La Tour, showed that this 1529 coin was the work of Matteo del Nassaro (circa 1490–1547), an Italian artist from Verona who first entered the service of Francis ...
The Boban Aztec Calendar Wheel
This Aztec pictorial calendar wheel, commonly known as the Boban calendar wheel, is printed on amatl (fig bark) paper. Initially dated to approximately 1530, it has now been more accurately dated to 1545–46. The initial dating derived from the identification of two figures shown in the document, one said to be Hernán Cortés and another said to be Don Antonio Pimentel Tlahuitoltzin, depicted as the son of Ixtlilxochitl. The scholar Patricia Lopes Don has argued for the date of 1545–46 based on the fact that Don Antonio Pimentel ...
Contributed by John Carter Brown Library
World Map on Double Cordiform Projection
This world map on two sheets is an early work of the famous Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator (1512–94). Only two copies of the map are extant: this one from the American Geographical Society Library, and one at the New York Public Library. This is also the first map to apply the name America to the North American continent as well as to South America and to differentiate North and South America as separate continents. In using the term “America” in this way, Mercator shares responsibility with Martin Waldseemüller for ...
The Shishan Medical Records
This work, in three juan with a supplement and in three volumes, was written by Wang Ji (1463–1539), famed physician and member of a Ming dynasty medical family, and originally published in 1520. The manuscript was put together by his disciple, Chen Jiao. This edition was printed by Chen Jiao in the tenth year of the Jiajing reign (1531). The preface was written by Cheng Zeng and is also dated 1531. Included are two portraits of the author, inscriptions by Li Fan, Cheng Wenjie, and Chen Jiao, and the ...
Contributed by National Central Library