Showing posts with label library. Show all posts
Showing posts with label library. Show all posts

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Medieval manuscripts of Batthyáneum available online

The Batthyáneum Library of Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia, Romania) is one of the most important historic libraries in Transylvania. It was founded in 1798 by Ignác Batthyány, the bishop of Transylvania. The library was housed in the former church of the Trinitarian order - first an observatory was created here, and later the library was established in the building (all this was modeled on the Archdiocesan Library of Eger). The library of Batthyány grew from many sources, but the most important among these was the library of Christoph Anton von Migazzi, the bishop of Vác and also the bishop of Vienna. Batthyány bought the 8000 volume library of Migazzi, which included a lot of medieval manuscripts. When established at Gyulafehérvár, the Batthyáneum held about 20.000 volumes - a number which continued to increase throughout the 19th century. In addition to simply being a library, the institution worked as a museum, holding Batthyány's collection of minerals and naturalia, as well as a collection of ecclesiastical art. Finds from the excavations of Gyulafehérvár cathedral carried out by Béla Pósta in the early 20th century are also kept here.

The 20th century history of the library was not free from controversy: some books were sold in the 1930s, but the institution continued too function as a public library even after the Trianon peace treaty awarded Transylvania to Romania. However, in 1949 the collection was nationalized, and later became part of the Romanian National Library. Access to the collections became very limited - a situation which continues to this day. Even though a government decree returned the building and collection of the library to the Roman Catholic Archbishopric of Gyulafehérvár, the Library still functions as part of the state library system, and the court cases going on have so far not clarified the situation.

The library holds today altoghether 927 manuscripts and 565 incunabula, making it the richest collection of this kind of material in all of Romania. The medieval manuscripts are of various origins: Migazzi's library included all kinds of western manuscripts, but Batthyány also bought complete medieval libraries from Hungary, including the holdings of the ecclesiastical libraries of Lőcse (Levoča / Leutschau, Slovakia, see this Hungarian language study with German summary: Eva Selecká Mârza: A középkori Lőcsei Könyvtár, Szeged, 1997.). Several Transylvanian collections were also incorporated into the library, and there are rich holdings of orthodox Romanian manuscripts in the collection. In the framework of a European digitization project, a large number of manuscript are now available in the Manuscriptorium platform. In fact, there is a special section dedicated to manuscripts from the Batthyáneum.

The library holds a large number of first class illuminated manuscripts - many of which can now be consulted online. The following is a selection of a few of the most important of these (providing direct links to pages of this dynamic website is quite complicated. I managed to make direct links to the digital facsimile pages below - but you may start to browse or search from the start page, to get to object descriptions, etc.)

Ms II 1, first part of the Lorsch Gospels (Codex Aureus of Lorsch), from the Palace workshop of Charlemagne, dating  around 810 (on the history of the whole manuscript, see also this overview)

Ms III 87, a nicely illustrated early 15th century Franco-Flemish Book of Hours

Ms II 134, A Missal from Pozsony (Bratislava / Pressburg), dating from 1377, with explicit by Henrik of Csukárd

There is a lot more there - you can start browsing from the start page, Manoscriti qui in theca batthyanyana. Furthermore, you can find some more illuminated manuscripts from the Europeana database - not all of which have been made available in the current digitization effort.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Medieval manuscripts at the National Library

A page from the 14th century Bible
of 'Weceslaus dictus Ganoys'
National Széchényi Library 
The National Széchényi Library preserves Hungary's largest repository of medieval manuscripts, and it is also an important research center in this field. On Monday, January 24th 2011, a series of lectures will be held about various medieval manuscripts and early printed books.The detailed program of these sessions can be studied on the blog of the National Library (in Hungarian). Lectures will be given by researchers working at the library, as well as by art historian Ernő Marosi.

If you would like to know more about the medieval holdings of the library, the 1940 catalogue of Latin medieval manuscripts is available online (Emma Bartoniek: Codices Latini Medii Aevi), to be found among the databases of the National Library (go to Kézirattár). Also, there is a lot of information available on the Bibliotheca Corviniana, as I wrote in a previous post and also on my website. Most important resource is the Bibliotheca Corviniana Digitalis. For other early Hungarian books, you might want to look at another website of the library, dedicated to the earliest Hungarian linguistic records (the full website is largely in Hungarian).

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New research on the Bibliotheca Corviniana (updated)

The Bibliotheca Corviniana, the library put together by King Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490) was one of the largest libraries of medieval Europe. A humanist library, comprised largely of the works of classical authors, as well as modern historical and scientific works, the collection included a vast number of beautifully illuminated manuscripts. The library was dispersed soon after the death of the king, and today just over 200 volumes of it have been identified.

Frontispiece of the Didymus Corvina
 (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library)

In 2005, the Bibliotheca Corviniana was added to the list of the UNESCO Memory of the World heritage. Perhaps not coincidentally, there has been a renewed interest in the library during the last decade, resulting in a number of exhibitions as well as popular and scholarly publications. These include among other the following:


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Library catalogues

When working on the art of the Middle Ages, it can be sometimes hard to find a specific book or article if you are based in Hungary. Online resources such as BHA, Art Index or JSTOR are not always available, and there is no central catalogue for art history libraries.

To find a citation, I suggest the following three free resources:

RI OPAC within the context of the Regesta Imperii Online

Union Catalogue / Art Libraries Network Florence -- Munich -- Rome (

BHA and RILA at the Getty (up to 2007)

Once you know what you need, here are the online catalogues of those libraries in Budapest, where you are most likely to find the book or article:

Library of the Art History Institute of the Hungarian Academy

Library of the Museum of Fine Arts

Library of the Museum of Applied Arts

Library of the Moholy Nagy University of Art and Design

ELTE-CEU Medieval Library

OSZK (Széchényi National Library) OPAC

University Library of Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest - the OPAC includes the holdings of the Library of the Art History Institute

Joint catalogue of other museum libraries

Can't find it in Budapest? The most important specialist library close to Budapest is the Library of the Art History Institute at the University of Vienna