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Precious Royal Manuscripts Make Online Debut

Rare documents can be examined in detail and compared

Illuminated manuscripts once owned by Carolingian Emperors, French King Charles V and the Aragonese kings of Naples are now available in stunning detail online, thanks to an exciting virtual exhibition: Manuscripts and Princes in Medieval and Renaissance Europe.

The digitisation was done by the Europeana Regia project (a collaboration between five major libraries), with the support of the European Commission.

“For the first time, this collection of outstanding royal manuscripts is virtually available in its whole. The most emblematic of them can thus be displayed for each of us, through us through the new European Library interface,” says Isabelle le Masne de Chermont, Head of the Manuscript Department, Bibliothèque nationale de France.


Visitors to the exhibition can flip through the manuscripts page by page, zoom in on the high-resolution scans and compare manuscript pages.

The documents featured in the exhibition are among the most significant from a total collection of more than 1000 manuscripts. The entire collection is being made fully accessible via the websites of Europeana, The European Library, and partner libraries.

“This new exhibition reconstructs, in the form of a virtual library, the most important European royal collections of documents from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and provides a convenient way to access these rare and precious documents,” says Louise Edwards, General Manager of The European Library.

The manuscripts cover European cultural activity during three distinct historical periods: the Bibliotheca Carolina (7th to 10th centuries), the Library of Charles V and Family (14th and 15th centuries) and the Library of the Aragonese Kings of Naples (15th and 16th centuries).

Eminent European scholar Michel Pastoureau, a French specialist in medieval history, said the exhibition was a valuable resource for the academic community:

This groundbreaking, online exhibition presents a wonderful sample of the most representative manuscripts from three famous royal collections."


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