The Raven King: Matthias Corvinus and the Fate of His Lost Library

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Yale University Press, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 265 pages
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Seizing the Hungarian throne at the age of fifteen, Matthias Corvinus, the "Raven King,” was an effervescent presence on the fifteenth-century stage. A successful warrior and munificent art patron, he sought to leave as symbols of his strategic and humanist ambitions a strong, unified country, splendid palaces, and the most magnificent library in Christendom. But Hungary, invaded by Turkey after Matthias's death in 1490, yielded its treasures, and the Raven King’s exquisite library of two thousand volumes, witness to a golden cultural age, was dispersed first across Europe and then the world.

The quest to recover this collection of sumptuously illuminated scripts provoked and tantalized generations of princes, cardinals, collectors, and scholars and imbued Hungarians with the mythical conviction that the restoration of the lost library would seal their country's rebirth. In this thrilling and absorbing account, drawing on a wealth of original sources in several languages, Marcus Tanner tracks the destiny of the Raven King and his magnificent bequest, uncovering the remarkable story of a life and library almost lost to history.

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The Raven King: Matthias Corvinus and the fate of his lost library

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In this meandering book, British journalist and author Tanner (The Last of the Celts) traces the creation and dissolution of the fabled library of 15th-century Hungarian King Matthias Corvinius. Born ... Read full review


Chapter One Deep inside the palace
Chapter Two Beyond the forest
Chapter Three I delight in everything thats new

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About the author (2008)

Marcus Tanner is a journalist and writer, editor of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, and a leader-writer for the Independent. His previous books include Croatia, Ireland's Holy Wars, and The Last of the Celts, all published by Yale University Press.

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