Books 1–5 of the Histories


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 Corvinian, 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 a Latin translation of De bello Gothicorum (Concerning the Gothic war). The text is an account of the years from 552 to 559 by the Greek author Agathias (sixth century AD); the translation is by Cristoforo Persona (1416–1485), the prefect of the Vatican Library from 1484 onward. The Latin text appears in humanistic book script, richly illuminated by Joachinus de Gigantibus, and is dedicated by Persona to Corvinus. The Bibliotheca Corviniana Collection was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2005.

Last updated: October 17, 2017