The Florentine Codex, a unique manuscript dating from 1577 preserved in the Medicea Laurenziana Library in Florence, is for the first time available online in digital format, the Library of Congress announced today. The codex, one of the most important sources for the history of pre-Columbian and early post-Columbian Mexico, is among recent additions to the World Digital Library, the Library of Congress’s flagship international digital collaboration.
Digitization of the codex was undertaken in a partnership among the Library of Congress, the Medicea Laurenziana Library, and the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities of Italy. Financial support was provided by the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress.
The WDL, an unprecedented partnership of more than 160 libraries, museums and archives from 75 countries, makes available online the world’s historic treasures. It now features items in 87 languages and about all 194 United Nations member states.
Inclusion of the Florentine Codex in the WDL is part of a project to unite digital versions of the most important documents relating to the early history of Mexico, which are scattered in libraries and museums throughout the world. So far, nine institutions in five countries – Mexico, the United States, Italy, Spain, and Sweden – have contributed to this effort.
“Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva España” (General History of the Things of New Spain), as the Florentine Codex is formally known, is an encyclopedic work about the people and culture of central Mexico compiled over a period of 30 years by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (1499–1590), a Franciscan missionary who arrived in Mexico in 1529, eight years after completion of the Spanish conquest by Hernan Cortés.
The text is in Spanish and Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. Its 12 books, richly illustrated by indigenous artists, cover the Aztec religion and calendar, economic and social life, Aztec history and mythology, the use of plants and animals and the Spanish conquest as seen through the eyes of the native Mexicans.
Direct to Florentine Codex (via WDL)
Direct to World Digital Library Homepage