Early European Books Collections 3 and 4

The University Library is delighted to announce that the JISC has negotiated with ProQuest to make available to UK HE institutions collections 1-4 of the Early European Books resource.   This extends the access for Cambridge to include collections 3 and 4.

Collection 3 is substantially larger than the previous collections, containing 3 million pages in total, from more than 10,000 volumes scanned at four different libraries. It encompasses works in all major European languages, printed in the cities which led the explosion of the print industry in the early modern era, such as Nuremberg, Basel, Leiden, Paris and Venice. This breadth of scope gives a wide-ranging overview of the intellectual life and historical upheavals of early modern Europe. The collection contains the founding works of modern sciences such as botany, anatomy and astrology, together with accounts of travel, exploration and warfare, and influential works of literature, philosophy and humanist thought. In the field of religion, users will find editions of the works of the Church Fathers, early Bible editions in Latin, Greek, Hebrew and vernacular translations, missals, psalters and breviaries, Protestant sermons and tracts, and Counter-Reformation publications of the Catholic Church.

The volumes for Collection 3 are taken from the following libraries:

  • Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (National Central Library of Florence, Italy)
  • Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands)
  • The Wellcome Library, London
  • Det Kongelige Bibliotek (Royal Library, Copenhagen)

Highlights of Collection 3 include:

  • History of Science: the Wellcome Library’s collection ranges from scholarly editions and translations of the works of Galen, Galileo, Dioscorides, Fuchs and Aldrovandi to books on alchemy, demonology, falconry and cookery (La Varenne’s Le cuisinier françois, 1656, is the founding text of modern French cuisine), so-called books of secrets (containing recipes for medicines and household remedies, including Latin, Italian, Spanish and German editions of Alessio Piemontese’s De Secretis) and books of prodigies (such as Pierre Boaistuau’s illustrated catalogue of monsters, demons, deformities, natural disasters and miraculous events, Histoires prodigieuses, 1568).
  • Philosophy: works by René Descartes (Principia Philosophiae, 1644; Les Passions de l’ame, 1650), Baruch Spinoza (editions of the Tractatus theologico-politicus in Latin, 1670 and French, 1678) and key humanist and Renaissance authors.
  • History: pamphlets from the Koninklijke Bibliotheek relating to the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule, the persecution of the Huguenots, and the assassination of William of Orange.
  • Fine art and illustrations: Albrecht Dürer’s Four Books on Human Proportion (Arnhem, 1622), and volumes with engravings by Jacob de Gheyn (Waffenhandlvng, or The Exercise of Arms; Amsterdam, 1608), Johan Bara (Emblemata amatoria, Netherlands, c.1620) and Jöst Amman (Panoplia, Frankfurt, 1568).
  • Fine examples of the art of printing, from Nicolas Jenson’s Venetian imprints of the 1470s and examples of Dutch ‘prototypography’, to Christophe’s Plantin’s prolifically illustrated editions of Monardes’ survey of plants of the New World (1574) and the House of Elzevir’s editions of the Classics and the Greek New Testament (Leiden, 1624).
  • The Age of Exploration: several editions of Theodor de Bry’s America (from 1595 onwards), and Joannes de Laet’s History of the New World (Leiden, 1625), together with surveys, chronicles and illustrated natural histories of Brazil, Peru, Ethiopia, India, Persia and the Portuguese East Indies (in Spanish, Italian, French, Dutch and Latin).
  • Literary works from throughout Europe, including Molière’s L’avare (Paris, 1693), Torquato Tasso’s Gierusalemme liberata (Paris, 1678), Sebastian Brant’s Ship of Fools (Latin edition; Basel, 1498), Juan de Mena’s Las trescientas (Seville, 1499), Joost van Vondel’s Maria Stuart (1647) and Philipp von Zesen’s Adriatische Rosemund (1645).
  • Like its immediate predecessor, Collection 4 contains almost 3 million pages and includes works from the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (BNCF), the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the Wellcome Library and the Kongelige Bibliotek; in addition, Collection 4 sees the first inclusion of volumes (c.1,700) from the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF).

Works from the BnF in Collection 4 include the first Protestant Bible in French (published in Lyon in 1544) as well as editions and translations of the Fathers of the Church, bearing testimony to the importance of the Christian Humanist movement in France, in the wake of Erasmus. A number of works also illuminate the rites and ceremonies of religious life: the celebration of festivals such as Christmas, marriage and funeral rites, practices relating to prayer, fasting, giving alms and processions. Texts of laws and regulations, as well as editions of the customs of the French provinces, jurisprudential treatises on specific matters (such as contract law or feudal law, etc.) and compendia of jurisprudence along with their commentaries also feature. Philosophy is represented by, amongst others, Plato’s Republic and contemporary works such as the Six books of the Republic by Jean Bodin as well as French translations of Italian authors such as Machiavelli and Giovanni Botero (a leading theorist of the ‘raison d’Etat’ at the end of the 16th century).

The contents of Collection 4 as a whole are as wide-ranging as previous collections, including important works of science, art, medicine, travel and popular miscellanies from the Wellcome Library (including many items from William Morris’s personal collection), scholarly works of history and theology from the BNCF, literary translations and legal texts from the Netherlands’ Koninklijke Bibliotheek (including a substantial number of volumes from the Elzevir press), and texts relating to the Reformation from the Kongelige Bibliotek in Copenhagen.

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