Annual Institute for Medieval Studies and Classics research seminar

Part of the Institute for Medieval Studies 2022-23 events series.

Dr N. Kıvılcım Yavuz (University of Leeds) and Dr Paul White (University of Leeds) presented a paper entitled ‘Exploring the Universal Library: Hernando Colón's 'Book of Epitomes' for the annual IMS-Classics joint research seminar.


In 2019, one of the manuscripts in the Arnamagnæan Collection of the University of Copenhagen, AM 377 fol., was identified as a library catalogue of Hernando Colón (1488–1539), the son of Christopher Columbus. In the early sixteenth century, Hernando set out to build a universal library, one containing “every book on every subject in every language.” In the end, his library comprised over 15,000 printed volumes. Besides keeping a register of accessions, Colón had conceived four inventories: lists of authors, sciences (i.e. subjects), materials (i.e. themes) and epitomes. Known in literature as ‘El libro de los epitomes’ and considered to be lost until recently, AM 377 fol. is a clean copy of the Book of Epitomes and contains summaries of close to 2,000 texts included in the books from Colón’s renowned library. Examining the place of the Book of Epitomes as part of Hernando’s cross-referenced inventory system, Kıvılcım and Paul will discuss both the material aspects of the manuscript and the epitomes it contains, including how it was prepared, who was involved in the preparation, how the contents are arranged, and signs of later use and ownership.

About the speakers

Dr N. Kıvılcım Yavuz is Lecturer in Medieval Studies and Digital Humanities in the School of History and Dr Paul White is Associate Professor of Classics in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies.