Military Codex of Christopher Columbus


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Illuminated Facsimiles

Military Codex of Christopher Columbus

Alternative titles
Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis dono datum ab Alexandro PP.VI Christophoro Columbo – Book of Hours and Military Codicil of Christopher Columbus – Livre d’Heures et Codicille Militaire de Christophe Colomb – Stundenbuch und der Militär-Kodizill von Christopher Columbus.
Physical features
Codex on parchment, dimensions 130 x 90 mm, 125 folios (250 pages).
The manuscript was creatd in Spain between the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century.
Patronage and owners
According to tradition, this small book of hours was given by Pope Alexander VI, born Rodrigo de Borja (b. 1431, d. 1503), to Christopher Columbus (b. 1451, d. 1506). See in this regard f. 63v, where between the lines of the document known as Codicillo militare di Cristoforo Colombo one reads: «S(anctissi)mus Alexander Papa vi. me hoc deuotissimo precum libello honorarit» (The Most Holy Pope Alexander VI honoured me with this most devout little prayer book). This donation is reiterated in the 18th-century note on the frontispiece of the codex: «Officium B. Mariae Virginis dono datum ab Alexandro PP.VI Christophoro Columbo» (Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, gift given by Pope Alexander VI to Christopher Columbus).
Present repository
The codex is today kept in Rome, at the Biblioteca dell’Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana.
ChristianityPrivate devotional booksChronicles / History / Laws.
The Corsinian ms. 55.K.28 is first and foremost a book of hours, i.e. a compendium of devotional texts for the use of the laity. The heart of each book of hours consists of the Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis (Office of the Virgin), hence the name «book of hours». The manuscript is further characterised by the presence – on f. 63v – of a document written in a different calligraphy from the rest of the codex: the codicil (i.e. a disposition of last will not subject to the formalities of a will) of Christopher Columbus according to military custom. The authorship of the codicil has been debated since the 18th century, and even today the most important scholars of the Columbus papers have not reached a unanimous solution.

Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles®



Cristoforo Colombo. Libro d’Ore – Codicillo Militare

Publisher – Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana – Treccani (Rome, 2007).
Series – Tesori Svelati.
Limited edition – The unique and unrepeatable edition of the facsimile is 750 copies for the whole world, numbered by hand from 1 to 750. Twenty non-selling copies not numbered are reserved for the Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana.
Type of reproduction – Full-size colour reproduction of the entire original document. The facsimile reproduces the physical characteristics of the original manuscript as closely as possible, with the aim of substituting it in scientific research and in the libraries of bibliophile collectors.
Material – Special like-parchment paper.
Binding – Red velvet cover with cornerpieces on both boards and central boss on front board. The binding might not correspond to that of the original document as it appears at the present moment.
Commentary – Italian language commentary volume, size 145 x 235 mm., 307 pages. Essays: Francesco Paolo Casavola; Juan Gil; Enrica Schettini Piazza; Marianne Mahn-Lot; Francesca Manzari; Marco Cipriani; Francesco Ursini; Marco Guardo.
Slipcase – The facsimile and the commentary volume are housed in an elegant, leather-bound, double-compartment slipcase.
Certificate of authenticity – The certificate on the colophon bears the double signature of Francesco Paolo Casavola (President of the Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana from 1998 to 2009) and Giovanni Conso (President of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei from 2003 to 2009).

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