A Book Concerning the Nature of Things. Natural Questions in Seven Books


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 the short treatise De natura rerum, composed by the Venerable Bede, the well-known Anglo-Saxon monk and scholar, at the beginning of the eighth century. The text, copied in the last decade of the 15th century, is bound with another treatise on a similar subject, the Naturales quaestiones by the Roman statesman and philosopher L. Annaeus Seneca (died AD 65). The text appears in a humanistic book script and is richly illuminated, bearing the crests both of Corvinus and of his successor, Wladislav II. The Bibliotheca Corviniana Collection was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2005.

Last updated: October 17, 2017