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 was dispersed and much of the collection was destroyed, with the surviving volumes scattered all over Europe. This codex, one of eight manuscripts originally in the Corvinus Library and now preserved in the Bavarian State Library, contains Books I-V of The Histories by the Greek historian Polybius, a part of the only known work by the third century Greek historian Herodianus, and the text of Aethiopica, a third-century Greek romance attributed to Heliodorus of Emesa, which recounts the Ethiopian adventures of Theagenes and Chariclea. The codex is believed to have survived the siege and capture of Constantinople in 1453, after which it came into the possession of Corvinus. After his death it is recorded to have belonged to the Nuremberg doctor Joachim Camerarius II, who gave it to Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria as a gift in 1577. It has remained in the Bavarian State Library ever since. The Bibliotheca Corviniana Collection was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2005.

Last updated: May 24, 2017