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Medieval Studies

Includes medieval topics in all Arts and Humanities disciplines.

Incunabula and Festival Books at Rutgers

Incunabula & Festival Books

Incunabula (or incunables, or Wiegendrucke in German) are books printed between 1455 and 1500. Festival books are heavily illustrated books documenting European monarchs' entrances, coronations, weddings, and funerals published during the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries.

Incunabula at Rutgers

The Rutgers University Libraries Special Collections hold roughly 50 incunabula. These include the Scrutinium Scripturarum, printed in Strassburg no later than 1470, and an astronomic compilation of Avienus and Aratus printed in Venice in 1488. These works were donated by Professor Karl Morrison, while other holdings are described in Adventure and art : the first one hundred years of printing : an exhibition of books, woodcuts, and illustrated leaves printed between 1455 and 1555 : November 17, 1998-April 15, 1999 (Alex, Art, and Special Collections Z240.A1R98 1999).

Incunabula in the Special Collections of Rutgers are listed in Quicksearch.

We hold two units of this large microfiche collection: Hellinga, L., Incunabula: The printing revolution in Europe, 1455-1500 . Research Publications International, 1991. Unit 34. Law, part 1 [48 incunabula]; Unit 74. Romances, part 3 [69 incunabula] .  The two binders in which the fiche are stored reside in the Library Annex and can be ordered via Quicksearch for consultation in another RUL library

Other Collections:

The world's largest incunabula collection is at the Bavarian State Library in Munich, with ca. 9700 editions in more than 20,000 copies. The collection is rapidly being digitized with support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

Two of the largest collections in the US are at Princeton and Stanford.

Festival Books at Rutgers


The Libraries held an exhibit of our festival books in 1994, curated by Professor Karl Morrison who donated many of them and helped select most of the others.

Here is a list of the exhibited works:

1520, England, manuscript about ceremoniesincluding  the Field of the Cloth of Gold (no illustrations). Anon., The Meting of the King of England [and] the Emperor....

1549, Antwerp, entry of Philip II of Spain and Charles V into Antwerp. Graphaeus, Cornelius, Spectaculorum in susceptione ... Antwerp: Gilles Van Diest, 1550.

1565, Florence, festival of the gods at the marriage of Francesco de'Medici with Joanna of Austria (no illustrations). Baldini, Baccio, Discorso supra la mascherata della geneologia degli' iddei de' Gentili... Florence: i Giunti, 1565/66.

1571. Entry of Charles IX into Paris; coronation and entry of Queen Elizabeth a few weeks later. One of the most important fete books of the Franch Renaissance. Bouquet, Simon. Bref et sommaire recueil de ce qui a este faict, & de l'order tenue a la ioyeuse & triumphante Entree de tres-puissant, tres-magnanime & tres-chretian Prince charles IV....le Mardy sixiesme iour de Mars. Avec le Couronnement de tres-haute, tres-illustre & tres-excellente Princesse Madame Elizet d'Austriche son espouse, le Dimanche vingtcinquiesme. Et Entree de ladicte Dame en icelle ville le Jeundi xxix, dudict mois de Mars, M.D. LXXI. Paris, Denis du Pre for Olivier Codore, 1572.

ca 1575, England, manuscript about creation of nobles (no illustrations). A Record of Creations during the Reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary

1577, Paris, Antoine Estienne against the women of France because of their extravagant dress and toilettes. Estienne, Antoine, Remonstrance charitable aux dames.... Paris: Sebatien Nivelle, 1577.

1587, Florence, funeral of Francesco de Medici (no illustrations). Strozzi, Giovanni Battista, Essequie del Serenissimo don Francesco Medidi, Gran Duca di Toscana II. Florence, Case de'Sermartelli, 1587.
Accaiacioli-Ubaldini, Giovambatista di Lorenzo. Istoria della Casa de gli Ubaldini, e de' fatti d'alcuini di quella Famiglia. Florence, Bartolommeo Sermartelli, 1588.

1602, Antwerp, entry of Albert and Isabella into Belgium (lavish illustrations). Bochius, Joannes, Historica Narratio profectionis.... Antwerp: Officina Plantiniana, 1602.

1610, England, manuscript, creation of Henry Frederick as Prince of Wales

1630, Amsterdam, entry of Marie de Medicis into Amsterdam (lavish ilustrations). Barlaeus, Caspar, Marie de Medicis, entrant dans Amsterdam.... Amsterdam: Jean and Corneille Blaeu, 1638.

1660. Betio, Jordano. I.H.S. Processionale juzta ritum sacri Ordinis FF. Praedicatorum, ad usum F. Simonis Goetz, Ordinis Praedicatorum. Music Manuscript, formerly in the monastery of St. Maria Cecilia, Reihingen (?). Spinoza, Benedictus de. Renati des Cartes Principiorum... Amsterdam: J. Riewaerts, 1663.

1691. A sumptuously illustrated record of the ceremonial entry of William III and Mary into the Hague for a victory celebration to be remembered. Bidloo, Govert. Kmoste van Zyne Majesteit Willem III. Koning van Groot Britanje, enz. In Holland; ofte Omstandelyke Beschryving van alles, het welke op des zelfs komste en geduurende Zyn verblyf, in's Graavenhaage en elders. The Hague, Arnhoud Leers, 1691.

1692. William III, King of England (engravings of medals and medallions). Chevalier, Nicolas, Histoire de Guillaume III...contenants ses Actions les plus memorables, depuis sa Naissance jusques a son Elevation sur le Trone, & ce qui s'est passe depuis jusques a l'entiere Reduction du Royaume d'Irland. Par Medailles, Inscriptions, Arcs de Triomphe, & autres monumens Pulics. Amsterdam, 1692.

1714. A volume celebrating the marriage of Philip V, King of Spain, and Elizabeth Farnese, of Parma, with a carriage procession of fantastic elegance. Ragguaglio delle nozze delle maesta di Filippo Quinto e di Elisabetta Farnese...solennemente celebrate in Parma l'anno 1714. Parma, Stamperia di S.A.S., 1717.

1740, Austria, entry of Maria Theresa into Vienna (lavish illustrations). Kriegl, Georg Christoph, Erb-Huldigung, Welche der...Mariae Theresiae, zu Hungarn, und Boeheim Koenigen, als Ertz Herzogin zu Oesterreich..... Vienna: Johann Baptist Schilgen, 1742.

1745. (Fireworks!) Perrienet d'Orval, Jean Charles, Essay sur les feux d'artifice pour le spectacle et pour la guerre. Paris, Coustelier, 1745.

1749. (More Fireworks!). Alberti, Giuseppe Antonio. La Pirotechnia, o sia trattao dei fuochi d'artificio. Venice, Giovanni Battista Recurti, 1749.

1752/1755. William IV of Orange (funeral, detailed and splendid illustrations). Afbeelding van de zaal en 't praalbed Waar op her lyk van zyne doorluchtige hoogheid den heere Willem Karel Hendrick Friso, Prinse van Oranje en Nassau...geduurende verscheide dage, in de maanden November en December des jaars MDCCLI, ten toon is gesteld geweest...Naauwkeuriglyk nageteekend door den Heere de Swart...en in het Kooper gebragt Door Jan Punt. Amsterdam, Francois Changuion, 1752. Bound with: Lyk-staetsie van zyne doorluchtigste hoogheid den heere Willem Carel Hendrik Friso, Prince van Orange en Nassau....Gehouden den IV. Februari MDCCLII. Naeuwkeuriglyk nagetekent door P. van Cuyk, Junior, en in het Kooper gebragt door J. Punt. The Hague, Daniel Monnier for Pieter Goss, Jr. & Nicolaes van Daalen, 1755.]

Professor Morrison has published an article on our festival books in the Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries.

Additional Resources


For access to early modern books, including festival books, published in England, consult Early English Books Online (EEBO), which will provide page images of 125,000 books from 1475 to 1800 when complete, and the following microform sets:

Bibliotheca Palatina: Druckschriften = Stampati Palatini = Printed books / Leonard Boyle, Elmar Mittler.
München; New York : K.G. Saur, [1990]-. microfiches : ill.
Alex Microforms 415

Bibliothek der deutschen Literatur: Mikrofiche-Gesamtausgabe nach Angaben des Taschengoedeke. Bearbeitet unter der Leitung von Axel Frey.
München : K.G. Saur, 1995.
Alex M/FICHE 457
Alex Reference PT85.A12B5 1995 Guide to the microfiche collection.


The British Library has digitized a collection of 253 Renaissance festival books.


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