A gift from Borgia Pope Alexander VI to Christopher Columbus: his book of hours, in which the great explorer immortalized his will

Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus

Italy; Spain — 1506

Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus

Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus

Italy; Spain — 1506

  1. This gorgeous book of hours was gifted to Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) by Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503)

  2. Columbus recorded a Latin testament during the last days of his life in the codex's blank pages

  3. It is recorded in the style of will that would typically be written by soldiers before battle, hence the name

Cristoforo Colombo - Il Libro d'ore - Codicillo militare

Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus

Last Will and Testament

Christopher Columbus wrote an endorsement of his will, which was already written in 1498, in the back of his book of hours. The reason why this is referred to as the “Military Codex” is because it is similar to the style of will that soldiers would write down before battle during the Middle Ages and was written just over two weeks before his death. Written in Latin, the last line informs us of the time and place it was signed, reading “Dated Valladolid 4 May 1506”.

Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus

Alternative Titles:
  • Military Codicil of Christopher Columbus
  • Cristoforo Colombo - Il Libro d'ore - Codicillo militare
  • Stundenbuch und der Militär-Codex von Christopher Columbus
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The famous Military Codex of Christopher Columbus, his codicil from the year 1506: only a few days before his death, the significant explorer of the Americas completed this personal document on the empty pages of a precious book of hours, which was gifted to him by Pope Alexander VI. First discovered in a library in Rome in the 18th century, it has continued to be a hotly discussed and historically significant piece of writing.

Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was probably one of the most significant seafarers in world history. Under the Spanish flag, he discovered a new continent: America. Additional adventurous expeditions and voyages of discovery served to increase this fame. As a historically significant legacy, he left behind two testaments after his death in 1506, one of which is preserved on the empty pages of a precious manuscript that he received as a gift from Pope Alexander VI.
##The Explorer and the Pope
The Book of Hours and Military Codex of Christopher Columbus was discovered at the end of the 18th century in the Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana in Rome, where it is stored to this day. Its title Officium B. Mariae Virginis dono datum ab Alexandro PP. VI Christophoro Columbo already betrays two significant names associated with this gem of illumination. The manuscript originated ca. 1500 at the behest of Pope Alexander VI, who gifted the book of hours to Christopher Columbus. Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgio, who served as pope from 1492-1503, has remained famous up to the present for his dissolute life as a prince of the church and a scrupulous proponent of power politics.

A Precious Manuscript

The book of hours’ 250 pages measuring 13 x 9 cm is gorgeously adorned with lavish, calligraphically-designed initials in red and blue. Furthermore, gorgeous floral ornamentation and friezes in the style of the Renaissance, generously furnished with gold leaf, additionally adorn all of the pages of text. This gorgeous and historically significant gem was additionally loaded with special content: the so-called Military Codex of Christopher Columbus.

An Important Codicil

This document from May 4th, 1506 is a codicil of Christopher Columbus. The famous seafarer died in Valladolid on May 20th, 1506. Columbus had already composed a testament in the year 1498. A few days before his death, he endorsed this testament in the so-called Military Codex, recorded in Latin in the precious book of hours. The concept of the Military Codex is lent to it by the writing, because it is recorded in the style of a will, which the soldiers would write down before battle. Discovered in Rome at the end of the 18th century, it was soon highly coveted by Columbus researchers and its authorship is disputed and hotly discussed.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Military Codicil of Christopher Columbus
Cristoforo Colombo - Il Libro d'ore - Codicillo militare
Stundenbuch und der Militär-Codex von Christopher Columbus
Size / Format
250 pages / 13.0 x 9.0 cm
Date
1506
Language
Illustrations
Calligraphic initials in gold on dark blue and red
Previous Owners
Cristoforo Colombo - Il Libro d'ore - Codicillo militare

Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus

List of Saints with Notes

Saint Stephanie, Saint Clement, Saint Lawrence, Saint Vincent, Saint Fabian, Saint Sebastian…the list goes on and on and is then continued at the bottom in the hand of its famous erstwhile owner, Christopher Columbus. Such lists were usually found in the calendar section of a book of hours, where the feast days for each month would be listed.

This book of hours was gifted to Columbus by Pope Alexander VI, the so-called Borgia Pope, a man who like Columbus is famous and infamous in equal measure. The high quality of its design is evident in the uniformity with which the golden “S” initials have been written in front of alternating red and blue backgrounds, as well as the quality of the floral décor, which is also executed with gold leaf.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus“

Cristoforo Colombo - Il Libro d'ore - Codicillo militare
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
Book of Hours and The Military Codex of Christopher Columbus – 55.K.28 (cors. 1219) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy)
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Cristoforo Colombo - Il Libro d'ore - Codicillo militare

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani – Rome, 2007
Limited Edition
750
Binding
Red velvet
Commentary
1 volume by Juan Gil
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