Matthias Corvinus and His Library

Matthias Corvinus and His Library

Matthias Corvinus and His Library

Stein, Rose

Hungarian Studies Review, Vol. 1 (Spring 1986)


Hungary in the fifteenth century was threatened by the danger of Turkish invasion. Only a central power, such as that created by King Matthias (Matyas) Corvinus (1440?—90), could muster enough strength to withstand the onslaught of the Turks. Matthias’s whole regal concept since 1458, the year of his coronation, was centred on the unification of European strength against this menace. In his domestic politics he preferred common men of talent to the dissenting oligarchy; abroad he made alliances to build an empire. His great personal qualities, his political concepts, and his pursuit of dynastic policy led him to prefer the humanistic spirit of the Renaissance to that of medieval scholasticism. A love of lavish splendour and culture resulted in a flourishing of royal residences in Buda and Visegrad, both situated on the Danube, and to the establishment of the Bibliotheca Corvina inBuda in 1471.

Matthias Corvinus did not claim any substantial heritage ofmanuscripts as his own; a small number of codices originating from the collections of earlier kings of Hungary formed the nucleus of his library. Louis (Lajos) the Great, of Angevin lineage, ordered the illuminated chronicle of Hungary’s history to be executed by Mark Kalti, a Hungarian canon.

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