Renaissance and Reformation Libraries
by
Craig Kallendorf
  • LAST REVIEWED: 03 June 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 June 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0096

Introduction

History records famous libraries as far back as those of Ashurbanipal (in 7th-century BCE Assyria) and Alexandria, and the medieval culture on which the Renaissance was built had its share of renowned book collections as well. But in the history of libraries, the Renaissance proved to be a crucial period. The invention of the printing press led to an explosion in the number of books, allowing the formation of many more libraries than in the past, with many of them becoming much larger than before. Church and university libraries, the mainstays of medieval book culture, were supplemented by collections under government control, with a growing number of individuals forming important libraries as well. Indeed, the very concept of the Renaissance predicates access to a library, because if Antiquity were to be reborn, the guidelines for this rebirth had to emerge from research into the culture of Greece and Rome, which had to take place in a well-stocked library. At the beginning of the Renaissance, libraries were relatively few and small; at the end, there were many large collections, including the foundations of several of today’s national libraries.

General Overviews

Hobson 1970 is the classic introduction to the world’s great libraries, to be supplemented by Baur-Heinhold 1972 and Staikos 2000. De Smet 2002 explores the role of the library in humanist culture, while Wittmann 1984 focuses on library catalogues, and Canone 1993 presents a series of case studies on libraries from this period.

  • Baur-Heinhold, Margarete. Schöne alte Bibliotheken: Ein Buch vom Zauber ihrer Räume. Munich: Verlag Georg D. W. Callwey, 1972.

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    A German-language competitor to Hobson 1970, but with brief entries on many more libraries. Divided geographically, with the best sections being those on England, Italy, and the German-speaking countries.

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  • Canone, Eugenio, ed. Bibliothecae selectae da Cusano a Leopardi. Lessico Intellettuale Europeo 58. Florence: Olschki, 1993.

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    A volume of case studies focused on individual libraries from the 15th to the 18th centuries, including those of Erasmus, Nicolas of Cusa, Francesco Patrizi, and Hugo Grotius.

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  • De Smet, Rudolf, ed. Les humanistes et leur bibliothèque. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2002.

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    A collection of essays, three focused generally on the libraries of Renaissance humanists and ten on the collections of such prominent individuals as Erasmus, Montaigne, Rubens, and Vossius.

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  • Hobson, Anthony. Great Libraries. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970.

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    The standard work on the world’s great libraries, offering histories of more than a dozen libraries with roots in the Renaissance, along with illustrations of their treasures and suggestions for further reading.

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  • Staikos, Konstantinos S. The Great Libraries, from Antiquity to the Renaissance. London: British Library, 2000.

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    A lavish volume intended in many ways to update and replace Hobson 1970. Contains a thirty-page chapter on libraries in the Renaissance, followed by detailed descriptions of a dozen important libraries from the period, along with illustrations of some of their key holdings.

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  • Wittmann, R. Bücherkataloge als buchgeschichtliche Quellen in der frühen Neuzeit. Wolfenbütteler Schriften zur Geschichte des Buchwesens 10. Wiesbaden, West Germany: Harrassowitz, 1984.

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    A collection of essays focused on Renaissance book catalogues, including studies of the libraries of individual humanists, of auction catalogues as sources for the book collections of German Pietists, and of catalogues to public libraries in the early modern period.

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Journals

The journal of record on library history is Libraries and the Cultural Record (published from 1966 onward), which offers good essays but not as much on the Renaissance as one might hope. Regular contributions in this area appear in Bibliotheca (from 2002), The Library (from 1893), and The Book Collector (from 1952).

Libraries: Ideal, Imaginary, and Real

Chartier 1994 sets the parameters for an interesting discussion of how the libraries that were actually assembled in the Renaissance intersect with the ideals devised for them in this period. Goulemot 1988–1991 fixes one limit to this discussion, focusing on libraries that never existed, while Thornton 1997 fixes the other, examining the details of how books were placed in their physical surroundings. Naudé 1990 presents an early treatise written to guide the creation of a library, while Serrai 1990 and Zedelmaier 1992 confront the problem of how ever-growing collections were to be organized.

  • Chartier, Roger. “Libraries without Walls.” In The Order of Books: Readers, Authors, and Libraries in Europe between the Fourteenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Edited by Roger Chartier, 61–88. Translated by Lydia G. Cochrane. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994.

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    An imaginative exploration of the tension between ideally exhaustive inventories of knowledge and necessarily incomplete collections, with an overview of Renaissance proposals for the ideal library and how it might be organized.

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  • Goulemot, Jean Marie. “En guise de conclusion: Les bibliothèques imaginaires (fictions romanesque et utopies).” In Histoire des bibliothèques françaises. Vol. 2. By Jean Marie Goulemot, 500–511. Paris: Promodis for Cercle de la Librairie, 1988–1991.

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    A fascinating meditation on how imaginary libraries, whether serious like those in Sir Thomas More’s Utopia or satirical like those in the works of Rabelais and Cervantes, express cultural aspirations just as real libraries do.

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  • Naudé, Gabriel. Advis pour dresser une bibliothèque. Paris: Aux Amateurs de Livres, 1990.

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    Reproduction of the 1644 edition. Advice to the collector on how to select books and put together a library in the early 17th century, along with specific recommendations for works Naudé considers indispensable. Includes a valuable introduction by Claude Jolly, “L’Advis, manifeste de la bibliothèque erudite.”

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  • Serrai, Alfredo. Conrad Gesner. Edited by Maria Cochetti; bibliography of Gesner’s works by Marco Menati. Rome: Bulzoni, 1990.

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    A detailed study of the life and works of the 16th-century scholar Conrad Gesner (1515–1565), focusing on his Bibliotheca Universalis, which was intended as a complete compendium of works published, to date, and valued as a guide for purchasing and ordering the books in a library.

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  • Thornton, Dora. The Scholar in His Study: Ownership and Experience in Renaissance Italy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997.

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    An interesting analysis of the study as a place for refuge and work, interwoven with information on how books were collected, displayed, and used in the accompanying library.

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  • Zedelmaier, Helmut. Bibliotheca Universalis und Bibliotheca Selecta: Das Problem der Ordnung des gelehrten Wissens in der frühen Neuzeit. Cologne and Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 1992.

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    A study of early modern efforts to organize and structure the library as a repository of knowledge whose parameters were expanding to a frightening extent as a result of the development and expansion of the printing press.

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Church and Monastic Libraries

Grafton 1993 begins at the top, showing how the development of a papal library in Rome proved crucial to Renaissance culture. Humphreys 1978 explores a monastic collection in Italy, Renzi 1993 discusses a school library, and Buzzi and Ferro 2005 and Pinto 1932 trace the development of two of Italy’s largest libraries that began under church control. Barr 1977 analyzes an English church library. Ullman and Stadter 1972 and Serrai 2004 present conflicting claims as to which of the church collections the authors describe can lay claim to being the first public library in Europe.

  • Barr, C. B. L. “The Minster Library.” In A History of York Minster. Edited by G. E. Aylmer and Reginald Cant, 487–539. Oxford: Clarendon, 1977.

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    A history of one of England’s oldest libraries, which extends back into the early Middle Ages but manifests extensive development in the Renaissance.

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  • Buzzi, Franco, and Roberta Ferro, eds. Federico Borromeo fondatore della Biblioteca Ambrosiana: Atti delle giornate di studio 25–26 novembre 2004. Studia Borromaica 19. Rome: Bulzoni, 2005.

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    A set of conference proceedings containing twenty-three articles on the development of humanist libraries in various countries, the role of Cardinal Federico Borromeo in the founding (1609) of the Ambrosiana and its early years, and other important scholarly libraries.

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  • Grafton, Anthony, ed. Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library and Renaissance Culture. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993.

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    A lavishly illustrated volume that first summarizes the history of the Vatican Library then shows how the papal collection influenced the development of Renaissance culture.

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  • Humphreys, K. W. The Library of the Franciscans of the Convent of St. Antony, Padua at the Beginning of the Fifteenth Century. Amsterdam: Erasmus Booksellers, 1978.

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    Prints two lists of books held by the library of the Franciscans of the convent of St. Antony in Padua, one from 1396 to 1397, the other from 1449, preceded by a brief study of the books collected for theology students working at the Franciscan house of studies near the famous University of Padua at the beginning of the Renaissance.

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  • Pinto, Elena. La Biblioteca Vallicelliana in Roma. Miscellanea della R. Società Romana di Storia Patria. Rome: R. Società Romana di Storia Patria, 1932.

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    An account of the origins and early development of the Biblioteca Vallicelliana in Rome and its associations with the congregation of the Oratorio di S. Filippo, from its beginnings in the library of the Portuguese humanist Achille Stazio.

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  • Renzi, Paolo. I libri del mestiere: La Biblioteca Mureti del Collegio Romano. Siena, Italy: La Nuova Italia, 1993.

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    A list of the books that passed from the library of Marc-Antoine Muret Sr. (b. 1526–d. 1585, a famous humanist scholar) to the College Romano, with an introduction discussing the nature of the collection and its place in the educational program of the Jesuits running this famous school.

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  • Serrai, Alfredo. Angelo Rocca, fondatore della prima biblioteca pubblica europea. Milan: Edizioni Sylvestre Bonnard, 2004.

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    A study of the library of the Augustinian Angelo Rocca, which became the core of the Biblioteca Angelica in Rome, whose roots extend back into the 16th century.

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  • Ullman, B. L., and P. A. Stadter. The Public Library of the Renaissance in Florence: Niccolò Niccoli, Cosimo de’ Medici and the Library of San Marco. Padua, Italy: Antenore, 1972.

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    A history of the library of the convent of San Marco in Florence, established in the 15th century by Cosimo de’ Medici with books collected by the humanist scholar Niccolò Niccoli. Also contains an early catalogue of the library.

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England

Irwin 1958 contains the essential overview of library development in Renaissance England. Jayne 1956 and Fehrenbach and Leedham-Green 1992– provide access to the key research tool in this area: the lists of books in private libraries of the period. De Ricci 1930 is still valuable as a source for basic information on major collectors, while Barker 2003 offers a lavish account of one of the great English private libraries, that of the dukes of Devonshire. Birley 1970 gives the history of the library of one of England’s great public schools, and Blatchly 1989 recounts the story of one of England’s oldest town libraries.

  • Barker, Nicolas. The Devonshire Inheritance: Five Centuries of Collecting at Chatsworth. Alexandria, VA: Art Services International, 2003.

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    An account of the library of the dukes of Devonshire, along with other artistic treasures from their ancestral home at Chatsworth, from their origins in the 16th century through the present. Lavishly illustrated.

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  • Birley, Robert. The History of Eton College Library. Eton, UK: Provost & Fellows of Eton, 1970.

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    A general account of the library of one of England’s great public schools, with information on the riches accumulated during the 16th and 17th centuries.

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  • Blatchly, John. Town Library of Ipswich. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 1989.

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    A history of one of England’s oldest town libraries, one that was in operation at the beginning of the early 17th century as a resource for parish priests. Also contains a list of early books in the collection.

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  • de Ricci, Seymour. English Collectors of Books and Manuscripts 1530–1930. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1930.

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    Includes basic information on important English book collectors of the 16th and 17th centuries, with indications when possible of what happened to their books. Reprinted (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1960).

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  • Fehrenbach, Robert J., and E. S. Leedham-Green, eds. Private Libraries in Renaissance England: A Collection and Catalogue of Tudor and Stuart Book-Lists. Marlborough, UK: Adam Matthew, 1992–.

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    An ongoing series (seven volumes as of 2012) designed to make available in print form the most-important information from a large computer database of lists of books owned by individuals, famous or not, in Renaissance England, with whatever information modern scholarship can glean about each book in the lists.

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  • Irwin, Raymond. The Origins of the English Library. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1958.

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    A discussion of the development of libraries in England, including a chapter on the dissolution of monastic libraries in the 16th century and another on English private libraries from Sir Thomas More to Samuel Pepys.

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  • Jayne, Sears. Library Catalogues of the English Renaissance. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1956.

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    Surveys extant records from English libraries from 1500 to 1640, describing 850 catalogues that show precisely what books were available in the institutional and private libraries of this period.

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Cambridge

As one of the centers of English intellectual life, Cambridge University has had great libraries from its origins. Bush and Rasmussen 1986, Gaskell 1980, and Page 1993 offer histories of three key college libraries, while Oates 1986 gives an account of the central university library. Munby 1960 offers brief accounts of each college library, from which the skeleton of its history can be constructed.

  • Bush, Sargent, Jr., and Carl J. Rasmussen. The Library of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 1584–1637. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

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    A history of one of the larger English college libraries in the Renaissance, during the years of its great initial influence at the end of the 16th century and beginning of the 17th.

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  • Gaskell, Philip. Trinity College Library: The First 150 Years. The Sandars Lectures 1978–1979. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1980.

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    A history of the greatest of the Oxford and Cambridge college libraries, from its founding in 1546, through the period of its unusual influence on English intellectual life, to the removal of the books to the Wren Library in 1695.

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  • Munby, A. N. L. Cambridge College Libraries. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: W. Heffer & Sons, 1960.

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    A guide to the college libraries for research students that gives information on major bequests, from which the important events in the history of each library can be reconstructed.

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  • Oates, J. C. T. Cambridge University Library, a History: From the Beginnings to the Copyright Act of Queen Anne. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

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    An exhaustive account of one of England’s great university libraries from its medieval beginnings into the 18th century, with a special focus on how and when important materials entered the collection in the Renaissance.

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  • Page, R. I. Matthew Parker and His Books. Sandars Lectures in Bibliography, 1990. Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publishers, 1993.

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    A study of the library of Matthew Parker (b. 1504–d. 1575), archbishop of Canterbury to Queen Elizabeth I, which came to form the core of the college library at Corpus Christi, Cambridge.

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Oxford

Macray 1890 offers a detailed, year-by-year history of the growth of the Bodleian Library, the central collection at the other of England’s great historic universities, which should be supplemented by Rogers 1991. Craster 1971 and Wilkinson 1922–1926 give accounts of two important college libraries.

  • Craster, H. H. Edmond. The History of All Souls College Library. Edited by E. F. Jacob. London: Faber and Faber, 1971.

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    A general history of the college library from its beginnings in the 15th century through the shift from manuscripts to early printed books, followed by chapters on the library during the Reformation and on 16th-century donors.

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  • Macray, William Dunn. Annals of the Bodleian Library. 2d ed. Oxford: Clarendon, 1890.

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    An account of the university library in Oxford, beginning with a summary of early holdings and moving to a year-by-year account starting in 1601, after Thomas Bodley provided the decisive push forward.

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  • Rogers, David. The Bodleian Library and Its Treasures, 1320–1700. Henley-on-Thames, UK: Aidan Ellis, 1991.

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    An updating of Macray 1890, with chapters on the library’s beginnings through 1598, Sir Thomas Bodley and the re-foundation of the library, its growth during the next hundred years, and the two great catalogues that were prepared at the end of the 17th century. Nicely illustrated.

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  • Wilkinson, C. H. “Worcester College Library.” Oxford Bibliographical Society Proceedings and Papers 1 (1922–1926): 262–320.

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    Begins with the history of a collection that goes back to the Middle Ages, then discusses the principal strengths of the library, with a focus on English books.

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French-Speaking Europe

The Patrimoine des bibliothèques de France (Ministère de la Culture 1995) offers an exhaustive overview of French libraries, in which the history of each collection is supplemented by information on its most important treasures. Scholarly attention has been focused on the royal library that eventually evolved into the Bibliothèque Nationale, with Quentin-Bauchart 1891 offering the classic account and Balayé 1988 supplying an important updating. Dogaer and Debae 1967 provides information on a rival collection, that of the dukes of Burgundy, while Adam 1987 and Jammes and Barker 2010 describe the libraries of two important scholars of the French Renaissance.

  • Adam, Paul. “Histoire de la bibliothèque humaniste.” In L’humanisme à Sélestat: L’école, les Humanistes, la bibliothèque. 2d ed. Edited by Paul Adam, 75–94. Sélestat, France: Imprimerie Alsatia, 1987.

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    An account of the famous Bibliothèque Humaniste, beginning with the earliest bequests, focusing on the library of the classical scholar and editor Beatus Rhenanus (b. 1485–d. 1547), and concluding with the library’s later fortunes and misfortunes, as part of a broader study of humanism in Sélestat.

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  • Balayé, Simone. “Naissance de la Bibliothèque du Roi: Du manuscript a l’imprimé.” In La Bibliothèque Nationale des origines à 1800. Edited by Simone Balayé, 1–55. Geneva, Switzerland: Droz, 1988.

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    An account of the French royal library from its earliest beginnings to the point in the early 17th century when one could see the transformation from a personal collection of the king to a larger institution.

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  • Dogaer, Georges, and Marguerite Debae. La Librairie de Philippe le Bon. Brussels: Bibliothèque Albert Ier, 1967.

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    The catalogue of an exhibition at the Bibliothèque Albert Ier, 9 September–12 November 1967, of manuscripts from the collection of Philippe le Bon, Duke of Burgundy, whose library rivaled that of Nicholas V, Cosimo de’ Medici, and Cardinal Bessarion.

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  • Jammes, André, and Nicolas Barker. “Jean de Gagny: A Bibliophile Re-discovered.” The Library, 7th ser. 11.4 (2010): 405–446.

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    An important article about an unduly neglected figure, a Christian humanist who served as chancellor of the University of Paris, started his own private press, and collected a significant personal library whose contours are just beginning to come into focus.

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  • Ministère de la Culture. Patrimoine des bibliothèques de France. 11 vols. Paris: Payot, 1995.

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    A magnificent reference work, organized geographically, offering a history and survey of all the public libraries in France, which includes information on the Renaissance collections that were incorporated into them.

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  • Quentin-Bauchart, Ernest. La bibliothèque de Fontainebleau et les livres des derniers Valois à la Bibliothèque Nationale (1515–1589). Paris: Ém. Paul, L. Huard et Guillemin, 1891.

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    A historical survey of the royal library at Fontainebleau during the 16th century, with catalogues of books belonging to François I, Henri II, François II, Charles IX, and Henri III.

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German-Speaking Europe

Buzás 1976 offers a broad survey of library history in Germany during the early modern period, while Corsten, et al. 1992–2000 gives access to an account of how each major library in Germany developed from its beginnings to the present. Hartig 1917 recounts the early history of what would eventually become the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich, while Kusukawa 1995 offers information on an important university library, and Mittler 1986 discusses the Palatine Library. Wagner 2008 discusses the movement of books from Venetian presses to German libraries. Lang 1994– does the same thing for Austria as Corsten, et al. 1992–2000 did for Germany, while Stummvoll 1968 traces the early history of the most important library in Austria, the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna.

  • Buzás, Ladislaus. Deutsche Bibliotheksgeschichte der Neuzeit (1500–1800). Wiesbaden, West Germany: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1976.

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    An indispensable overview of German libraries in the eras of humanism, the Reformation, the Counter-Reformation, and the Enlightenment, treating not only various types of collections in the early modern period but also such topics as library buildings, catalogues, and the duties of the librarian.

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  • Corsten, Severin, Bernhard Fabian, and Karen Kloth. Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Deutschland. 27 vols. Hildesheim, Germany, and New York: Olms-Weidmann, 1992–2000.

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    An exhaustive survey of the older libraries in Germany, arranged by regions and offering a history of those libraries whose origins go back to the Middle Ages or the Renaissance.

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  • Hartig, Otto. Die Gründung der Münchener Hofbibliothek durch Albrecht V. und Johann Jakob Fugger. Munich: Verlag der Königlich Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1917.

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    A detailed study of the creation by Albert V of what would eventually become the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich, with a special focus on books obtained from Johann Jakob Fugger.

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  • Kusukawa, Sachiko, ed. A Wittenberg University Library Catalogue of 1536. New York: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1995.

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    A study of the books in the library of the University of Wittenberg in the time of Melanchthon and Luther, showing both the impact of the new humanism on the old learning and an attempt to classify the books there as a universal library, anticipating the great bibliography of Conrad Gesner. (See Serrai 1990, cited under Libraries: Ideal, Imaginary, and Real.)

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  • Lang, H. W., ed. Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Österreich. Hildesheim, Germany, and New York: Olms-Weidmann, 1994–.

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    Offers an overview of the older libraries in Austria, divided by regions and presenting a history of those libraries whose origins go back to the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. Four volumes published as of 2012.

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  • Mittler, Elmar. Bibliotheca Palatina: Catalogue of an Exhibition Held at the Heiliggeistkirche Heidelberg, 8 July–2 November 1986. 2 vols. Heidelberg, West Germany: Edition Braus, 1986.

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    A detailed, extensively illustrated catalogue describing the history and contents of the Palatine Library, one of the most important collections of Renaissance Germany, which was taken en masse from Heidelberg to Rome in 1623, where it remains as part of the Vatican Library.

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  • Stummvoll, Josef, ed. Geschichte der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, pt. 1: Die Hofbibliothek (1368–1922). Vienna: Prachner, 1968.

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    A history of the Austrian National Library in Vienna and its previous iterations, with the sections on the Renaissance focused on Hugo Blotius, who served as librarian from 1575 to 1608.

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  • Wagner, Bettina. “Venetian Incunabula in Bavaria: Early Evidence for Monastic Book Purchases.” In The Books of Venice / Il libro veneziano. Edited by Lisa Pon and Craig Kallendorf, 153–177. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll for Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana and La Musa Talìa, 2008.

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    A study of how two Bavarian religious institutions, the Premonstratensian monastery of Windberg and the Benedictine monastery of Tegernsee, procured their books at the end of the 15th century, using changing intellectual interests and new trade routes to add printed books to existing manuscript collections.

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Italy

Biblioteche d’Italia (Ministero per i beni culturali e ambientali 1993) serves as an introduction of sorts to Italian Renaissance libraries, although it is limited to those that are now controlled by the state. De Marinis 1947–1952 and Pellegrin 1955 provide detailed lists of the books in the libraries of two important rulers of the period, while Simonetta 2007 is an overview of the collection of another such figure. The remaining books in this section give the histories of important Italian libraries with Renaissance roots: Baldacchini 1992 on the Biblioteca Malatestiana in Cesena; Morandini, et al. 1986 on the Laurentian Library in Florence; Fava 1925 on the Biblioteca Estense in Modena; and Zorzi 1987 on the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice.

  • Baldacchini, Lorenzo, ed. La Biblioteca Malatestiana di Cesena. Rome: Editalia, 1992.

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    A scholarly, attractively illustrated account of one of the more interesting Renaissance libraries, that formed by Malatesta Novello in 15th-century Cesena, including accounts of the formation of the collection, the erection of a suitable building to house it, and the transformation of the library from a signorial collection to a public one.

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  • de Marinis, Tammaro. La Biblioteca Napoletana dei Rè d’Aragona. 4 vols. Milan: Ulrich Hoepli Editore, 1947–1952.

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    A catalogue of the manuscript library formed by Alfonso il Magnanimo in Naples (Vol. 2), preceded by an extensive introduction (Vol. 1) and followed by two vols. of plates (Vols. 3–4). With Supplemento, 2 vols. (Verona: Stamperia Valdonega, 1969).

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  • Fava, Domenico. La Biblioteca Estense nel suo sviluppo storico con il catalogo della mostra permanente. Modena, Italy: Libreria Editrice G. T. Vincenzi e Nipoti, 1925.

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    An older but detailed account of one of Italy’s finer second-tier libraries, that formed by the Este rulers of Ferrara in the 15th-century Quattrocento, with the early years in particular being treated in detail.

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  • Ministero per i beni culturali e ambientali. Biblioteche d’Italia: Le biblioteche pubbliche statali. 2d ed. Rome: Ministero per i beni culturali e ambientali, 1993.

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    A survey of the major state-owned libraries in Italy, many of which have Renaissance roots, tracing the development of their collections and offering extensive suggestions for further reading.

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  • Morandini, Antonietta, Guglielmo De Angelis d’Ossat, and Mario Tesi. Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana: Firenze. Florence: Nardini, 1986.

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    A sumptuously illustrated coffee-table book that belies its scholarly underpinnings, which include an essay by Antonietta Morandini on the history of the library founded by Cosimo de’ Medici and opened in 1571, and another by De Angelis d’Ossat on the library building designed by Michelangelo.

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  • Pellegrin, Elisabeth. La bibliothèque des Visconti et des Sforza, ducs de Milan, au XVe siècle. Paris: C.N.R.S., 1955.

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    A detailed list of the books in the library of the Sforza dukes of Milan in the 15th century, preceded by a discussion of the formation and dispersal of the library, its early inventories, and the manuscripts formerly in it that have been identified by modern scholars. With Supplément (Florence: L. S. Olschki, 1969).

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  • Simonetta, Marcello, ed. Federico da Montefeltro and His Library: Catalogue of an Exhibition Held at the Morgan Library and Museum, 8 June–30 September 2007. Milan: Y. Press, 2007.

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    An excellent exhibition catalogue, giving the history of one of the great collections of the Italian Renaissance, along with in-depth studies of thirteen treasures from the library.

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  • Zorzi, Marino. La libreria di San Marco: Libri, lettori, società nella Venezia dei Dogi. Milan: Arnaldo Mondadori, 1987.

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    The definitive account of the great state library in Venice, founded in effect with a donation from Cardinal Bessarion in the 15th century and enriched from the libraries of Venetian patricians throughout the Renaissance.

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Low Countries

The history of libraries in the Low Countries during the Renaissance reflects the complicated history of the region during that period. Debae 1987 describes the library of Marguerite of Austria, who exercised political power as regent, while Derolez 1979 examines the library of an upper-class churchman. Berkvens-Stevelinck 2001; Coppens, et al. 2005; and Grosheide, et al. 1986 describe the development of three key university libraries in the region, while Koch 1985 and Klein 1994 recount the histories of two important Dutch town libraries. Blok 1974 offers three essays on the library of the scholar Isaac Vossius (b. 1618–d. 1689).

  • Berkvens-Stevelinck, Christiane M. G. Magna Commoditas: Geschiedenis von de Leidse Universiteitsbibliotheek 1575–2000. Leiden, The Netherlands: Primavera, 2001.

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    A history, both scholarly and well illustrated, of the university library at Leiden, with good information on early humanists associated with it: Janus Dousa Sr. and Jr., Merula, Daniel Heinsius, and J. J. Scaliger.

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  • Blok, F. F. Contributions to the History of Isaac Vossius’s Library. Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie van Wetenschappen, Afd. Letterkunde, Nieuwe Reeks 83. Amsterdam and London: North-Holland, 1974.

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    Three studies of the library formed by the Dutch scholar Isaac Vossius, covering his manuscripts on experimental science, the auction catalogue of the sale he organized in 1656, and the volumes in his collection previously owned by Hugo Grotius (b. 1583–d. 1645).

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  • Coppens, Chris, Mark Derez, and Jan Roegers. Sapientia aedificavit sibi domum: Leuven University Library 1425–2000. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, 2005.

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    A lavishly produced volume that contains a chapter on books spread out through the monasteries, faculties, and colleges of one of Europe’s oldest universities prior to the construction of a central library building in 1636.

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  • Debae, Marguerite. La librairie de Marguerite d’Autriche: Catalogue of an Exhibition Held at the Bibliothèque Royale, 18 Sept.–5 Dec., 1987. Brussels: Bibliothèque Royale Albert Ier, 1987.

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    Catalogue of an exhibition devoted to the library of Marguerite of Austria, mother of Charles V and regent of the Netherlands in the first quarter of the 16th century. A rare look at a collection formed by a woman, in this case one who was accomplished in poetry, dance, and music.

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  • Derolez, Albert. The Library of Raphael de Marcatellis, Abbot of Saint Bavon’s, Ghent, 1437–1508. Ghent, Belgium: E. Story-Scientia, 1979.

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    A scholarly study that examines all the known manuscripts of Raphael de Marcatellis, abbot of St. Bavon’s, Ghent, from the textual and codicological viewpoint, with descriptions of individual manuscripts preceded by a general account of the library collected by a churchman of the highest social rank.

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  • Grosheide, Daniël, A. D. A. Monna, and P. N. G. Pesch. Vier eeuwen Universiteitsbibliotheek Utrecht, Part I: De eerste drie eeuwen. Utrecht, The Netherlands: Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht, 1986.

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    A history of the formation of the university library in Utrecht, beginning with the monastic confiscations at the end of the 16th century and extending through the end of the 19th century.

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  • Klein, J. W. E. Geen vrouwen ofte kinderen, maar alleenlijk eerbare luijden: 400 jaar Goudse librije, 1594–1994. Delft, The Netherlands: Uitgeverij Eburon, 1994.

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    A history of libraries in the Dutch city of Gouda, from their creation during the dissolution of dispersal in the medieval religious and educational institutions to their consolidation in the city library in the late Renaissance.

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  • Koch, A. C. F. “De collectives van de Deventer Stads- of Athenaeumbibliotheek in historisch perspectief.” In Stads- of Athenaeum-bibliotheek Deventer, 1560–1985. Edited by J. C. Bedaux, A. C. F. Koch, D. A. S. R. P. Heikens, and A. J. Hovy, 30–95. Deventer, The Netherlands: Stads- of Athenaeumbibliotheek Deventer, 1985.

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    A nice account of the library in Deventer that begins with a study of the core collection obtained from Johannes Phoconius and continues through the library’s various iterations as a city and school collection, with a good treatment of the early years.

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Spain and New Spain

Eustasio Esteban 1892 is the classic account of the founding of the royal library at the Escorial, which Kamen 2010 expands as part of a modern meditation on power and how it was exercised. Cátedra García 2002 is an exhaustive study of the library of an important Spanish nobleman, while Lilao Franca and Becedas González 2006 explores the renowned collection at the University of Salamanca. Huntington 1967 lists the books owned by Ferdinand Columbus, the explorer’s son, while Cátedra García and Rojo Vega 2003 extends the discussion to the libraries of Spanish women. Biblioteca Palafoxiana 2003 explores the riches of one of the largest Spanish colonial collections.

  • Biblioteca Palafoxiana. Palafoxiana Museo Biblioteca. Artes de México 68. Mexico City: Artes de México, 2003.

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    Places the history of the library founded in 1646 by Bishop Juan de Palafox y Mendoza in Puebla, the richest in Hispanic America, into the development of library collections in New Spain.

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  • Cátedra García, Pedro Manuel. Nobleza y lectura en tiempos de Felipe II: La biblioteca de don Alonso Osorio, Marqués de Astorga. Valladolid, Spain: Junta de Castilla y León, 2002.

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    A detailed account of the library of an important 16th-century Spanish noble, covering the formation and dispersal of the library, the space where it was stored, and its contents, with transcriptions of two inventories made in 1573 and 1593.

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  • Cátedra García, Pedro Manuel, and Anastasia Rojo Vega. Bibliotecas de mujeres (siglo XVI). Madrid: Instituto de Historia del Libro y de la Lectura y Biblioteca Nueva, 2003.

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    An inventory of more than 250 inventories of books belonging to women in the 16th century, an invaluable source for the study of the intellectual, spiritual, and liturgical life of Spanish women in this period.

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  • Eustasio Esteban, P. “La Biblioteca del Escorial, apuntes para su historia.” La Ciudad de Dios 27 (1892): 182–192, 414–424, 596–606.

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    An account of the founding of the famous Escorial library, with a discussion of source material and a focus on the early years of the library, in its relationship to other aspects of Philip II’s cultural program. Continued in La Ciudad de Dios 28 (1892): 125–138; 31 (1893): 591–596.

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  • Huntington, Archer M. Catalogue of the Library of Ferdinand Columbus. New York: Kraus Reprint, 1967.

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    A facsimile reproduction of a manuscript in Seville written by Christopher Columbus’s son, which describes his father’s library and the books in it. Reprint of the 1905 edition.

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  • Kamen, Henry. The Escorial: Art and Power in the Renaissance. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010.

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    Places discussion of the library at the Escorial (see especially pp. 101–116) in the larger analysis of Philip II’s cultural and political goals in Golden Age Spain.

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  • Lilao Franca, Óscar, and Margarita Becedas González. “La biblioteca general universitaria: Evolución histórica y fondos.” In Historia de la Universidad de Salamanca. Vol. 3, Saberes y confluencias. Edited by Luis Enrique Rodríguez-San Pedro Bezares, 879–953. Salamanca, Spain: Universidad de Salamanca, 2006.

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    Places the development of the library within the broader history of the University of Salamanca, discussing purchases and donations along with the mechanics of how the library has operated through the centuries.

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Other European Libraries

Kinane and Walsh 2000 contains information on the largest library in Ireland, that of Trinity College, Dublin. Other entries focus on central and eastern Europe, with Monok 2005 offering an introduction to collections in this region. Berkovits 1963 and Csapodi 1969 describe what was one of the finest libraries in 15th-century Europe, that of Matthias Corvinus in Hungary, while Zimmer 1963 offers an introduction to the greatest of the early Polish libraries, that of the Jagellonian University in Kraków. Gazi Husrev Bey Library, Sarajevo offers information on the history of this little-known collection.

  • Berkovits, Ilona. Corvinen Bilderhandschriften aus der Bibliothek des Königs Matthias Corvinus. Berlin: Herbig, 1963.

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    A translation into German of a book originally published in Hungarian (1962) about the history and importance of one of the most famous libraries of the Renaissance, that of Matthias Corvinus (b. 1443–d. 1490, king of Hungary 1458–1490) in late-15th-century Hungary.

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  • Csapodi, Csaba. “The History of the Bibliotheca Corviniana.” In Bibliotheca Corviniana: The Library of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary. Edited by Csaba Csapodi and Klara Csapodi-Gárdonyi, 11–34. New York and Washington, DC: Frederick A. Praeger, 1969.

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    Describes the creation and destruction of the first great humanist library outside Italy, that of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary. Reprint of 1967 edition (Budapest: Magyar Helikon).

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  • Gazi Husrev Bey Library, Sarajevo.

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    An introduction to one of the great libraries of eastern Europe, founded by Gazi Husrev Bey in 1537, which contained manuscripts from throughout the Islamic world, early printed books, court records, and archives from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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  • Kinane, Vincent, and Anne Walsh, eds. Essays on the History of Trinity College Library Dublin. Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts, 2000.

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    A collection of essays focused on the mechanics of how the foremost library in Ireland has functioned over the more than four hundred years of its history.

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  • Monok, István, ed. Blue Blood, Black Ink: Book Collections of Aristocratic Families from 1500 to 1700: Catalogue of an International Travelling Exhibition, Zagreb, Martin, Bratislava, Budapest, Burg Forchtenstein, Fall 2005–Fall 2007. Debrecen, Hungary: Alföldi, 2005.

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    A valuable overview of Renaissance private libraries in modern-day Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, and Croatia, along with suggestions for further reading and scholarly aids such as a concordance of eastern European place names.

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  • Zimmer, Szczepan K. The Jagellonian University Library in Cracow. 2d rev. ed. Los Angeles: Czas, 1963.

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    Basically a large pamphlet, with a few pages on the early history of the library and references to longer works for those who can read Polish.

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Individual Libraries

For many years, scholars of the Renaissance have maintained an interest in the libraries that were formed by prominent individuals during the period. Jean Grolier comes to mind first for many people, with Austin 1971 now supplemented by Hobson 1999, which also examines the library of Diego Hurtado de Mendoza. Lehmann 1956–1960 focuses on a family at the center of power in Germany, the Fuggers, while Arents 2001 describes the collection of Peter Paul Rubens, painter of the rich and famous. Nolhac 1887 and Roberts and Watson 1990 focus on scholars, while Radcliffe 1791–1826 shows what kind of books interested an English merchant of the period, and Grendler 1980 offers information on the library of a wealthy Italian.

  • Arents, Prosper. De bibliotheek van Peter Pauwel Rubens: Een reconstructie. Gulden passer, jaarg. 78-79. Antwerp, Belgium: Verenigeng der Antwerpse Bibliofielen, 2001.

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    A painstaking reconstruction of the library of the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, drawing on sources ranging from sale records of the Plantin press to references in Rubens’s correspondence.

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  • Austin, Gabriel. The Library of Jean Grolier. New York: Grolier Club, 1971.

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    An excellent introduction to the library of Jean Grolier, a French government official of the 16th century, whose books are still valued for their elegant bindings. Also contains a catalogue of the library, with information on the then-current whereabouts of the books.

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  • Grendler, Marcella T. “A Greek Collection in Padua: The Library of Gian Vincenzo Pinelli (1535–1601).” Renaissance Quarterly 33.3 (1980): 386–416.

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    Comments on Pinelli’s scholarly collecting and gives a short history of the library, which formed the core of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana; also identifies an additional seventy-four Greek manuscripts in the Ambrosiana that came from the Pinelli collection.

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  • Hobson, Anthony. Renaissance Book Collecting: Jean Grolier and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, Their Books and Bindings. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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    Studies and compares two 16th-century libraries, those of the bibliophile Jean Grolier and the scholar-diplomat Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, the latter of whom set out to form for Spain a collection of Greek manuscripts to rival those of Cardinal Bessarion in Venice and King François I in France.

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  • Lehmann, Paul. Eine Geschichte der alten Fuggerbibliotheken. 2 vols. Tübingen, West Germany: J. C. B. Mohr, 1956–1960.

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    A scholarly study of an important family of Renaissance book collectors, the Fuggers, with a volume of analysis followed by another of source materials on their libraries.

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  • Nolhac, Pierre de. La bibliothèque de Fulvio Orsini. Paris: F. Vieweg, 1887.

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    A study of a humanist library that remains exemplary after more than a century, beginning with information on the life and works of Orsini (b. 1529–d. 1600), then going on to a detailed study of his books.

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  • Radcliffe, John. Bibliotheca Chethamensis. 3 vols. Manchester, UK: J. Harrup, 1791–1826.

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    The catalogue of a library founded by a successful Manchester businessman and public figure, Humphrey Chetham (b. 1580–d. 1653), showing what kinds of books were considered important in such a collection.

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  • Roberts, R. J., and A. G. Watson. John Dee’s Library Catalogue. London: Bibliographical Society, 1990.

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    A study of the library of the noted alchemical scholar John Dee, with an extensive introduction focused on the growth of the library, followed by a facsimile of the 1583 catalogue and transcriptions of several other book lists of Dee’s.

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