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28 New Renaissance Corvina Codices Available Online

Hungary Today 2024.05.20.
Pages of the Philostratos Corvina

Digital copies of 28 items from the former Corvina Library of Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490) are now available on the National Széchényi Library’s Corvina website, bringing the total number of codices on the site to 93.

According to Magyar Nemzet, during a press conference, Dávid Rózsa, Director-General of the National Széchényi Library (OSZK), highlighted the significance of this development. He emphasized their commitment to making as many Corvinas as possible accessible through their content service, continuously acquiring and uploading digital copies.

King Matthias’ portrait in the Chronica Hungarorum. Picture: Wikipedia

Mr. Rózsa noted the success of the Corvina Program, relaunched in May 2022, which had acquired 46 digital copies by May 2024, with authorization obtained to publish 19 items already acquired. The 28 codices made available to OSZK came from institutions in eight countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

The Corvina Library collection is not only significant for Hungarian culture but also for international humanism and Renaissance studies.

With more than 2,000 volumes at its peak, today, OSZK holds 37 of these precious works. The Corvina website, established in 2002, serves as a virtual representation of these invaluable pieces of humanistic heritage. Rózsa stressed the importance of making the library’s vast collection accessible online, highlighting OSZK’s role as Central Europe’s largest digitization center. Their capabilities include large-scale digitization and preservation of highly protected works of art, with the capacity to digitize 13 million pages annually.

János Nagy, State Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, underscored the historical importance of Matthias Corvinus’ library, dispelling the notion that it was assembled through plunder. He emphasized that while the Bibliotheca Corviniana was once the second largest library of its time, only ten percent of the collection survives today, scattered across 44 collections in 14 countries.

Each Corvina is considered an exceptional, priceless work of art.

The State Secretary expressed hope that digitizing the Corvinas would fulfill the long-standing dream of having the Hungarian king’s library in Buda once again.

Edina Zsupán, the chief researcher and editor of the Corvina Project, highlighted the institution’s century-and-a-half-old goal of collecting the scattered Corvinas from around the world. The meticulous reprocessing of surviving codices began two decades ago, with the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel (Germany) being the first foreign collection to contribute a complete digital copy of nine Corvinas to the website.

The OSZK organized a major exhibition of Corvinas in 2018-2019, focusing on Matthias Corvinus’ library, with an emphasis on Buda’s codification. Further efforts are underway to obtain and publish missing digital copies of Corvinas on the website.


The Bibliotheca Corviniana was the Buda library of King Matthias I of Hungary. The collection was one of the most important in Renaissance Europe and contained about 2,500 codices. Only the Vatican had a more important collection of codices. The individually produced books are called Corvinas after the Latin name of the library.

The Codex in the Batthyaneum in Alba Iulia Could Be Added to the World Heritage List
The Codex in the Batthyaneum in Alba Iulia Could Be Added to the World Heritage List

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Via Magyar Nemzet; Featured Image: Wikipedia

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