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Cataloguing the manuscripts from the library of Matthias Corvinus in Austria

Hosting organisations
Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (ÖNB)
Responsible persons
Andreas Fingernagel and Katharina Kaska

The so-called Bibliotheca Corviniana in Buda, named after the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus (1443-1490), was one of the first royal libraries north of the Alps and one of the most important book collections of its time. It was included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme in 2005.

King Matthia’s library stood out among other 15th century libraries for several reasons:

  • He collected the works of Classical authors in Latin as well as Greek.
  • He had lavishly illuminated manuscripts made in in Italian workshops and later also installed a workshop in Buda.
  • His books had richly decorated Renaissance-bindings with his coat of arms.
  • His library attracted many Humanist scholars who left their annotations in the books and also took manuscripts with them to their home towns.

After the king’s death, the library survived for some decades until it was finally dispersed and destroyed by the Ottoman invasion in the 16th century. About 220 manuscripts still exist in libraries around the world, 40 of which are today kept in the Austrian National Library.

The Hungarian National Library (Országos Széchényi Könyvtár) has dedicated years of research into the library’s fate and collected descriptions of many of the surviving manuscripts on their website To support this effort, the Austrian National Library has launched a two-year project on the Corvina-manuscripts today kept in Austria. An international and interdisciplinary team of philologiss, art historians and specialists for medieval bindings will provide in-depth manuscript descriptions in TEI-P5 format. These will be presented on a new digital platform together with digital images for better usability and easier data exchange with other projects and data bases.

Project Partners

Austrian National Library Austrian Academy of Science Hungarian National Library (Országos Széchényi Könyvtár)

Project Team

Andreas Fingernagel (ÖNB) Ivana Dobcheva Christian Gastgeber (ÖAW) Katharina Kaska (ÖNB) Roszondai Marianne Friedrich Simader (ÖNB) Maria Theisen (ÖAW) Zsupán Edina (Országos Széchényi Könyvtár)