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Over 55,000 Pages of Medieval Manuscripts now available online

The Greek manuscripts and mixed Greek and Latin manuscripts collected by Isaac Vossius (1618-1689) are digitised and now available as an online publication. It is the latest joint undertaking of Brill and Leiden University Libraries.

Isaac Vossius

Isaac Vossius was a Dutch classical scholar and manuscript collector born in Leiden. In the early 1640s, he visited many European libraries during his Grand Tour. He lived and worked in Sweden for many years as Queen Christina's librarian, after which he lived in England. When he died in Windsor in 1689, he was the owner of one of the greatest and finest private libraries of his time. In 1690 his heirs sold the entire library of printed books and medieval and early modern manuscripts to Leiden University for ƒ 33,000 guilders. The Vossius Collection is one of the most eminent in the University Library.

Codices Vossiani Graeci et Miscellanei Online

The Graeci series (containing manuscripts in Greek) and Miscellanei series (containing manuscripts in both Greek and Latin) comprise 216 manuscripts in total, counting over 55,000 pages. The codices range in date from high medieval to early modern, cover a variety of genres, including classical texts, religious writings, legal sources, historical material, and scientific, mathematical, and medical texts. The collection demonstrates, in particular, the transmission and reception of ancient Greek and Byzantine ideas and concepts on a wide range of subjects, from theology, to rhetoric, to engineering.

Brill’s platform comprises a range of other digital heritage collections, including other selections from Leiden University Library's heritage collections. Among these are selections from its extensive Oriental manuscripts collection, the archive of the Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens, and the Latin-language manuscripts from the Isaac Vossius collection (comprising 363 codices and counting over 80,000 pages), which were digitized and published in the Codices Vossiani Latini Online (2015). With the publication of Codices Vossiani Graeci et Miscellanei Online over three-quarters of the famous Isaac Vossius manuscript collection is now available in digital format.

The 'Codex Sarravianus', named after its first known owner, Claudius Sarravius (died 1651), is part of the Codices Vossiani Graeci et Miscellanei Online. Through its dimensions, calligraphic script on very thin parchment leaves, it expresses like no other manuscript in the Leiden collections the triumph of the codex over the scroll.
Greek Bible: part of the Old Testament. Manuscript on parchment. Egypt (?), fifth century (VGQ 8).

Dr André Bouwman, Curator of Western Manuscripts at Leiden University Library: “The Graeci and Miscellanei codices collected by Isaac Vossius open up interesting paths into the vast world of classical textual culture. These digital versions bring many important manuscripts directly to the desks of scholars and students who are interested in exploring the texts, as well as their materiality and history.”

Acquisitions Editor for Medieval Studies at Brill, Dr Kate Hammond, adds: “This collection of manuscripts offers a wealth of material on a range of themes, reflecting the broad scholarly interests of Vossius himself, and we are delighted to collaborate once again with Leiden University Library in bringing this fascinating collection into the digital age.”

Online access

Students and staff within Leiden University (that is, holders of a ULCN account) have free access to the Codices Graeci and Miscellanei through the online catalogue and BrillOnline Primary Sources. Other users are requested to contact Brill for access.

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