Bonfini: Rerum Hungaricarum decades

Antonio Bonfini (1427‒1502) gained invaluable merits in the history-writing of Hungary with this work. Up until the end of the 18th century, this had been the primary source for Hungarian history in the European academic thought. The Italian Humanist Bonfini arrived at King Matthias’s court in 1486; the king assigned him this great project in 1488. As Matthias’s successor Vladislaus II also recognized the importance of the work, Bonfini could continue it intermittently until 1497. The accounting book of Vladislaus II records that the manuscript in 1494‒95 was already near completion: there are entries of purchasing parchments for clear copies to be made for the Corvina Library and of the salary of master Johannes, the copyist. By the end of the century, the volume had provenly been completed and placed into the Library. 16th century sources testify that several copies were made of its excerpts, and there is knowledge of an entire copy made by several hands. The printed copy of the entire work was not published until 1568. The whereabouts of the entire original codex of the Corvina Library have been unknown for centuries, and we cannot reconstruct its afterlife. We only know of three fragments, the first of which arrived at the National Library in 1872, the second in 1923 and the third in 1975. The extent of the entire Bonfini Corvina is assumed to be of four volumes, something more than two thousand pages. As the decoration is scarce, we can hardly tell anything of its one-time title-page. We suppose that if this volume, in a sense the most important one of the Corvina Library, had been completed in King Matthias’s lifetime, an exquisite decoration and binding would have been added similarly to the Philostratus Corvina. However, as a result of the financial problems in Vladislaus’s time and the overall decay of the Buda workshop, it received a decoration too modest for its valuable contents. (Ferenc Földesi)

Source: The Corvina Library and the Buda Worskhop: [National Széchényi Library, November 6, 2018 –February 9, 2019] A Guide to the Exhibition; introduction and summary tables: Edina Zsupán; object descriptions: Edina Zsupán, Ferenc Földesi; English translation: Ágnes Latorre, Budapest: NSZL, 2018, p. 174


Shelfmark: Cod. Lat. 434.
Country: Hungary
City: Budapest
Keeper location: National Széchényi Library
Author: Antonio Bonfini
Content: Rerum Hungaricarum Decades, fragmenta (Fragment 1: [ff. 1–2] I.IX; Fragment 2: [ff. 3–4] IV. V.) See more: Budapest, NSZL, Cod. Lat. 542.
Writing medium: parchment
Number of sheets: 4 fol.
Sheet size: 1. 255 × 190 ; 2. 262 × 170; 3. 230 × 241; 4. 240 × 172 mm
Place of writing: Buda, for the Royal Library
Date of writing: between 1496 and 1499
Scriptor: Johannes
Possessor, provenience: The fragments originate from a decorative copy made for the Royal Library of Buda. The first bifolio was donated to National Széchényi Library by A. Essenwein, Director of Germanisches Museum in Nuremberg in 1872, while the second bifolio was discovered in 1923 in the Franciscan Monastery of Szeged, and it was donated to the Hungarian national library by Ferdinánd Kaizer, Franciscan monastery chief in Szeged in 1924. See also: Budapest, OSZK, Cod. Lat. 542
Language of corvina: Latin
Hungarian translation(s) of work(s) included in the corvina: Magyar történelem tizedei / Antonio Bonfini ; ford. Kulcsár Péter; Budapest : Balassi, 1995 ([Budapest] : Zrínyi)