This book is one of the initiatives undertaken by the Vatican Library on the occasion of its reopening after refurbishment; it attempts to offer a collaborative synthesis of the history of the oldest and most prestigious of the great libraries of Europe. It is intended as a work of scholarship for a wide readership, which will be useful to scholars and experts and at the same time may be useful to anyone who is interested in the history of the Library of the Popes. It will offer a vast panorama, taking the Vatican Library as a starting point for a more general study of the critical junctions in the relationship between the Holy See and the development of culture and scholarship in the West.
The first volume, edited by Antonio Manfredi, whose title may be translated The Origins of the Vatican Library, from Early to Late Renaissance, is dedicated to the years running from High to Late Renaissance, more specifically from the pontificate of the founder Nicholas V (1447-1455) to the death of the Medici pope Clement VII (1533). Starting from the revival of the papal library after the return of the Popes to Rome and following the events of its early development in the context of the Roman Renaissance, the book examines, from various angles, the specific features which immediately made the Vatican Library a model for European culture. A Foreword by Cardinal Raffaele Farina and an Introduction by the Prefect, Mons. Cesare Pasini, are followed by chapters on The Library of Popes from Antiquity to the High Middle Ages (Marco Buonocore); The Papal Library in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries (Agostino Paravicini Bagliani); Rome and the Papacy in Renaissance Rome (Ambrogio M. Piazzoni); The Birth of the Vatican Library in the Humanistic Age, from Nicholas V to Sixtus IV (Antonio Manfredi, with contributions by Christine M. Grafinger); For a History of the Vatican Library in the Early Renaissance (Andreina Rita, with contributions by Christine M. Grafinger); The Renaissance Library Seen through its Inventories (Assunta Di Sante, a contribution by William Sheehan); The Papal Documents for the New Institution (Maria Giuseppina Cerri); The Vatican Library in the Palace of Nicholas V (Flavia Cantatore); Books, Illuminators and Artists at the Origins of the Vatican Library, from Nicholas V to Sixtus IV (Francesca Pasut); The Origins of the Oriental Book Collections (Delio V. Proverbio); The Origins of the Vatican Library in the Bibliography (Massimo Ceresa). The final chapters are devoted to The First Four Custodes of the Vatican Library and to The Portrait Gallery (Filippo Sassòli), and are followed by Indices (Maria Elena Bertoldi).
The texts are accompanied by thematic analysis (contained in special “windows”) and many high-quality reproductions.