Manuscript Catalogue of Thomas Jefferson's Library

Throughout his life, Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) collected books on a wide array of topics and in many languages. While serving as the United States minister to France during the American Revolution, he acquired thousands of books for his library at Monticello. By 1814, the final year of the War of 1812 in which the British burned Washington and the Library of Congress, Jefferson owned the largest personal collection of books in the United States. He offered to sell his library to Congress as a replacement for the collection destroyed by the British. Congress accepted the offer, and Jefferson was paid $23,950 for 6,487 volumes. In the 18th century, most libraries were arranged alphabetically. But Jefferson chose to organize his library using a modified version of a system created by British philosopher Francis Bacon (1561–1626). He classified his books according to the categories of Memory, Reason, and Imagination, which Jefferson translated as History, Philosophy, and Fine Arts, and further divided these categories into 44 chapters. Presented here is a catalog of Jefferson’s library, copied at his request by Nicholas Trist, who studied law with Jefferson, married one of his granddaughters, and served as an executor of his estate. Trist apparently worked from a copy of the printed 1815 Catalogue of the Library of the United States, prepared by George Watterston, Librarian of Congress, which Jefferson marked in order to restore, in place of its alphabetical arrangement of each subject category, the original order of entries that Jefferson preferred. Trist reported completion of the task in a letter from Louisiana dated October 18, 1823. A fire on Christmas Eve of 1851 destroyed nearly two-thirds of the 6,487 volumes Congress had purchased from Jefferson.

Program of Mr. Noverre's Great Historical, Heroic, National, Moral and Allegorical Ballets, Volume 1. Costume Dress For the Execution of Mr. Noverre's Ballets, Volume 2

French choreographer and dance theorist Jean-Georges Noverre (1727–1810) is known as “the Grandfather of the Ballet.” He introduced the ballet d’action (dramatic ballet), in which all the elements of production (e.g., choreography, set design, and costuming) are subordinate to the plot and theme. According to Noverre, the ballet should involve expression of character and emotion through the bodies and faces of the dancers, rather than through elaborate costumes and form-pleasing patterns. Noverre presented his ideas in Lettres sur la danse, et sur les ballets (1760). At the end of the 18th century Noverre sought employment at the Stockholm Opera. At that time Stockholm was considered a dynamic and interesting place for new trends in ballet. Noverre was 64 years old and had had a long career as ballet master in France. In his application for the position, he donated to King Gustavus III two signed volumes containing various documents, some previously printed, concerning his contributions to the art of ballet, his observations on building a new opera house in Stockholm, as well as his Reflexions sur le costume. The volumes also contain 147 sketches made by Louis René Boquet, the costume designer at the Paris Opera and the marshal at the royal court, for the costumes for 19 ballets. After a nine-month delay, Gustavus sent a letter to Noverre expressing his gratitude for the gift, but the king chose not to appoint the Frenchman ballet master at the Stockholm Opera. The manuscript was deposited at the National Library of Sweden in 1882 and eventually acquired by the library.

Bible in Old Swedish with Commentaries

This manuscript contains an abridged version in Old Swedish of the Pentateuch with three connecting short tracts, accompanied by the books of Joshua, Judges, Judith, Esther, Ruth, Maccabees, and Revelation. Translation of the Pentateuch—or paraphrase, as translation in the modern sense of the word occurred only marginally in the Middle Ages—goes back to the early 13th century. The paraphrast is unknown. The three connecting historical and philosophical tracts in the manuscript are by Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas. Like the biblical texts, they are equally loose paraphrases of their Latin originals. The other Old Testament books in the manuscript were translated in the late 14th century (circa 1500): Joshua and Judges by Nicolaus Ragvaldi (died 1514), the confessor general at Vadstena monastery in Sweden, and Esther, Ruth, Judith, and Maccabees by Jöns Budde (circa 1437‒91), a monk at the Birgittine monastery of Nådendal in Finland. The translator of the Book of Revelation is unknown. The manuscript is the first known translation into Swedish of the Bible or a large part of the Bible. The colophon states that it was produced at the expense of the Vadstena nun Ingegärd, daughter to Torsten Bowastason. Ingegärd’s mother donated the parchment and an anonymous Vadstena nun was the scribe. She asks in the colophon to be remembered by readers in their prayers. The manuscript is decorated by two hand-colored woodcuts, one of which, attributed to the German artist Hans Sebald Beham (1500‒1550) or his school, is the only known copy of this print. The manuscript was in the possession of the Birgittine Monastery in Vadstena and was acquired by the Royal Library (National Library of Sweden) in 1780.

Codex Aureus

Codex Aureus is one of the most opulent of all surviving English medieval manuscripts. It was produced around the year 750 in the south of England, probably at Canterbury. The manuscript was written on alternate purple and uncolored leaves in uncial script in black, red, white, gold, and silver inks. Two of the four full-page portraits of the Evangelists have survived, made in Anglo-Saxon style with strong Byzantine and Italian elements. The uncial script, arranged on certain pages in patterns known as carmina figurata (figure poems), the miniatures of the Evangelists, and the use of purple parchment all emulate the splendor of imperial manuscripts from late antiquity. Three of the leaves are mutilated; half or the major part of each has been cut away, but without any missing text. The manuscript originally had at least a further five, and probably more, leaves. One endleaf is at the front, added perhaps after medieval times; the back endleaf is missing. According to an Anglo-Saxon inscription from the ninth century, the Codex Aureus was carried off by Vikings during a raid, but about a century later it was restored to Christ Church Cathedral in Canterbury. It is presumed that the codex subsequently remained at Canterbury Cathedral throughout the Middle Ages. Its postmedieval history is unknown until almost the end of the 17th century, when Johan Gabriel Sparwenfeld (1655‒1727), Swedish envoy and distinguished linguist and philologist, bought the manuscript in Madrid in 1690 from the famous library of Gaspar de Haro, seventh Marqués del Carpio (1629‒87). Sparwenfeld donated the Codex Aureus to the Royal Library (National Library of Sweden) in 1705.

Collection of Laws

This manuscript of Fuero Juzgo from the collections of the National Library of Sweden dates from around 1300 and is one of the oldest extant manuscripts of this text in Castilian. The Fuero Juzgo (“collection of laws”) was in principle a translation of the former Visigothic law code Liber Iudiciorum, or Lex Visigothorum, from 654, which after the Reconquista was first applied as local law in the reconquered regions. It was promulgated by King Ferdinand III of Castile in 1241 and used until the end of the 19th century, when it was replaced by the Spanish Civil Code. The Visigoths had a long and, for all of the regions they influenced, important history as lawmakers. The foundation for their written law was Roman law, but Visigothic law also was strongly influenced by Roman Catholic Canon law. Even during the centuries of Muslim rule, Christians were permitted to use Visigothic law, as long as it did not conflict with Muslim law. The Stockholm manuscript is on paper and comprises 169 leaves. It is decorated with two miniatures, one showing the Visigothic king Sisenand (reigned, 631‒36) as legislator and another illustrating a violation of the right of asylum. The manuscript was bought in Madrid in 1690 by the Swedish philologist, linguist, and diplomat Johan Gabriel Sparwenfeld (1655‒1727). It previously was owned by the Spanish statesman Conde-Duque de Olivares (1587‒1645). Sparwenfeld had been charged by the king of Sweden to acquire in foreign countries remnants from the time of the Goths, as they were considered ancestors of the Swedes. When Sparwenfeld did not receive reimbursement for his expenses, he retained the books he acquired, which he donated in 1705 to the Royal Library (National Library of Sweden) and to the University Library in Uppsala.

"Hortus Regius" or Queen Christina’s Genealogical Tree with Political Emblems

Hortus Regius (The royal garden) was given to the Swedish queen Christina about 1645 by its creator, the diplomat Shering Rosenhane (1609‒63). With this elegant manuscript, Rosenhane wanted to celebrate the first year of the queen’s reign. The volume is introduced by a full-length portrait of Queen Christina. Hortus Regius is an emblem book, in which each emblem consists of textual and pictorial elements. Elements from classical, medieval, and contemporary literature of a sententious character useful to a queen are combined with illustrations by the Dutch painter Pieter Holsteyn the Younger (circa 1614–73). The Hortus Regius is intended as a kind of mirror for princes—a book of instruction for a sovereign, in which the tone is set by virtue and where the essential principles are patience and prudence. Whereas the manuscript is largely based on other international emblem books, the illustrations are to some extent adapted to a Swedish context. The subtitle of the work, “Queen Christina’s Genealogical Tree with Political Emblems,” indicates the importance of genealogy in the emblematic genre. The manuscript is bound in red morocco and consists of two main parts, of which the first contains many illustrations alternating with genealogical trees and emblems. The emblems are accompanied by quotations in Latin, Italian, French, and Spanish. The second part of the volume is a list of contemporary princely houses in Europe. The manuscript was later in the possession of J. Alströmer, who in 1769 presented it as a gift to the future King Gustav III of Sweden. It was acquired by the National Library of Sweden at the end of the 18th century, along with the rest of the king’s library.

Legends of Saints

The codex Helgonlegender (Legends of the saints) consists of fragments of 26 different legends in Old Icelandic, written by two different scribes. The Legends of the Saints genre represents a major part of early Nordic literature, particularly in the 14th century. The codex is bound in stout wooden boards and is rather badly worn by soot and smoke. It was bought in Iceland in 1682 by Jón Eggertsson (1643‒89) on behalf of the Swedish Antikvitetskollegium (College of Antiquities) and was brought to Stockholm in 1683. Since 1780 it has been part of the manuscript holdings of the National Library of Sweden. The codex contains the following texts: 1. The Saga of Archbishop Thomas; 2. The Saga of Bishop Martin; 3. The Saga of Archbishop Nicholas; 4. The Saga of Bishop Ambrose; 5. The Saga of Dionysius; 6. The Saga of Sylvester; 7.The Saga of Gregory; 8. The Saga of Augustine; 9. The Saga of Blaise; 10. The Saga of Stephen; 11. The Saga of Lawrence; 12. The Saga of Vincent the Deacon; 13. The Saga of Benedict; 14. The Saga of Paul the Hermit; 15. The Saga of Maurus; 16. The Saga of Mary of Egypt; 17. The Saga of Martha and Mary Magdalene; 18. The Saga of Catherine; 19. The Saga of Barbara; 20. The Saga of Lucy; 21. The Saga of Cecilia; 22. The Saga of Agatha the Virgin; 23. The Saga of Agnes the Virgin; 24. Faith, Hope, and Charity; 25. Flagellation of the Cross; and 26. The Saga of Maurice.

East Indian Journey during the Years 1748 and 1749

Ost-Indisk Resa 1748 och 1749 (East Indian journey during the years 1748 and 1749) is a journal written by Gustaf Fredrik Hjortberg (1724‒76). It is one of the remaining extant journals and shipping records from the Svenska Ostindiska Companiet (SOIC—Swedish East India Company), which existed from 1731 to 1813. The Dutch, British, and Portuguese were the first naval powers to trade profitably with the East Indies, and from its beginning the SOIC was also very successful. It was the largest mercantile company of its day in Sweden, trading primarily in tea, but also in porcelain, silk, spices, and other wares. Hjortberg was a ship’s doctor on three of the company’s journeys between 1748 and 1753. He left reports from his journeys to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; among the reports are some zoological observations. After Hjortberg’s return to Sweden, he was appointed vicar in Vallda, a parish in the south of Sweden. The manuscript is bound in a red speckled paper volume of quarto size. It consists of 179 pages, among which are three maps. It was formerly a part of the library of Drottningholm Palace (catalogue number 50), the private residence of the Swedish royal family. It was at some point transferred to the library of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It has been a part of the manuscript collection of the National Library of Sweden since 1942.

Rålamb Book of Costumes

Rålambska dräktboken (The Rålamb book of costumes) is a part of the Rålamb Collection in the manuscript holdings at the National Library of Sweden. The founder of the collection was Baron Gustaf Rålamb (1675‒1750), one of the most well-known manuscript collectors of the 18th century. The book of costumes was bought by Gustaf Rålamb’s father, Claes Rålamb (1622‒98), in Constantinople in 1657‒58. The Rålamb Collection was donated to the National Library in 1886. The book of costumes is a muraqqaʻ, a type of picture album usually put together from several different sources. This type of album was popular among collectors. The manuscript contains 121 colorful miniature drawings of Turkish officials, people of various occupations, different ethnic groups, and so forth. The drawings are in India ink with gouache and some gilding. Most of the leaves have notes in Swedish, French, Italian, or Latin describing the miniature in question as well as notes made by Claes Rålamb himself. After the miniatures is one leaf with portrait drawings in six medallions. Four of the portraits are of Sasanian rulers, and one is probably of a Byzantine ruler (whose name has been erased, but it is likely that it shows Heraclius, who was the eastern Roman emperor when Islam emerged in Arabia). The remaining painting is that of ‘Abd Manaf (an ancestor of the Prophet Muhammad).

Runic Almanac, 1560

The Runic almanac at the National Library of Sweden belongs to an exclusive group of illustrated almanacs on parchment dating from the late Middle Ages to the 16th century. It has the character of a perpetual calendar, and its content is similar to that of medieval calendars. However, some astronomical data and calculations are written in runes, linking the almanac to the tradition of Nordic runic calendars, or rune-staffs. The form of the almanac is similar to that of an accordion book; it is folded both lengthwise and crosswise and has opening flaps for each month. The months are illustrated by pictures showing the different kinds of agricultural work typical for each month. In addition to each picture, there is a wheel with spokes that indicate the hours of the day. Red spokes indicate the daylight hours, black spokes the night time. At the end is a picture of the Crucifixion. This almanac is closely related to another almanac, from 1513, which is held at the Royal Library in Copenhagen (shelfmark NKS 901 8:o). Both almanacs probably originated in Scania, which is now a part of southern Sweden but which at that time belonged to Denmark. The Runic almanac belonged to King Ericus XIV (1533–77) of Sweden. It was acquired by the National Library together with the Rålamb Collection in 1886.