Matthias Hunyádi, called Corvinus (1443-1490), king of Hungary from 1458, founded a library at his court in Buda, which to this day enjoys a legendary reputation. Nearly all literary works of Greek and Roman antiquity had been collected and were displayed in two halls. Moreover, the works of humanist scholars with whom the educated king was in personal contact were added. He commissioned the leading Italian artists of his time with the magnificent décor of many books. He sought further acquisitions in particular in Italy but also in Greece for his steadily increasing collection. All books received a splendid binding in leather or silk with the coat of arms of the king of Hungary, which today facilitates the reconstruction of his substantial library.
After the death of Matthias the “Corvinae”, an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 volumes, were dispersed or lost. Only one tenth is preserved today. 232 of these Corvinus-manuscripts may be traced today in about 50 libraries in Europe and in the US. The singular renown of the Bibliotheca Corviniana was emphasised by its inclusion among the UNESCO world documentary heritage in 2005.
The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München (Bavarian State Library Munich) owns eight of these valuable “Corvinae”. Six of these were written in Latin (Clm 69, 175, 294, 310, 341 and 627) and two in Greek (Cod.graec. 157 und 449). The Latin Corvinae belong to the early collections of the Munich Hofbibliothek (court library), where they had arrived as part of the book collection of Johann Jakob Fugger (1516 – 1575) in 1571. They had been composed in Italy during the second half of the fifteenth century and were illuminated by Italian artists.
Claudia Fabian , Edina Zsupán : Ex Bibliotheca Corviniana. Die acht Münchener Handschriften aus dem Besitz von König Matthias Corvinus (Bavarica et Hungarica I), Budapest 2008.