About the program

Bibliotheca Corvina – Library of King Matthias Hunyadi, part of the Memory of the World

Launched in November 2018, the content service is a renewed version of the corvina website created by National Széchényi Library in 2002, and is also part of the complex Corvina Program that has been going on for decades under the management of the Hungarian national library.

The long-term aim of the thematic service is a virtual reconstruction of Bibliotheca Corvina, the Royal Library of King Matthias Hunyadi of Hungary (1458–1490). In addition to providing a full visual presentation of the codices and, to a smaller extent, of the incunabula, the content service also aims at serving as a platform for corvina research, which has gained new momentum lately. Remarkable even it its fragments, this humanist manuscript collection is one of the constant and significant source groups of both Hungarian and international Humanism and Renaissance research. Also, it is one of the cultural ambassadors of Hungary in the world. Bibliotheca Corvina was recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2005.

Agathias: De bello Gothorum, OSZK Cod. Lat 413. (Photo by Máté Török )
Agathias: De bello Gothorum, OSZK Cod. Lat 413. (Photo by Máté Török )

Surviving pieces of the Corvina Library ‒ approximately 220 corvinas ‒ are kept in libraries across Europe and the United States.  (Our website displays 235 items, since included in our register were also the codices, about which it was convincingly proved by Angela Dillon Bussi some years ago that they might be identical with the codices that had been made for King Matthias in Florence, but they had not reached Hungary because of the king’s death, and later they made their way to the library of the Medici family.) Fifty-five corvinas are kept in five public collections in Hungary, thirty-seven out of which are in the possession of National Széchényi Library. (The so far widely known number, thirty-five was increased by the corvina duplicate to the Thuróczy Chronicle [Inc. 1143b] and by the fragment of Bonfini’s History of Hungary, which was discovered in 1975, and which is treated as a separate item [Cod. Lat. 542.].)

In addition to data sheets of all the corvinas, a continuously expanding bibliography, and several other curiosities, corvinas kept in Hungary, as well as those kept in Wolfenbüttel (Herzog August Bibliothek) will be displayed in the first phase of the renewal of our service. We also collected availability information on all the corvinas – some eighty items –, that have been published by international keeper collections on their own websites.

Hereby, we would like to express our gratitude to the Hungarian fellow collections – University Library of Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest), Library and Information Centre of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Budapest), Cathedral Library of Esztergom and Győr Diocesan Treasury and Library –, and to Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel for their cooperation.

In cooperation with members of the Hungarian and international corvina research communities and corvina keeper collections, in the coming years National Széchényi Library would like to keep on updating information and data displayed on our website, and would like to display, as part of this service, as many virtual versions of corvina codices kept in Europe and the United States as possible.