The history and geography of Asia: Christopher Columbus' personal copy of the cosmographic masterpiece for Pope Pius II

Historia rerum ubique gestarum

Venice (Italy) — 1477

Historia rerum ubique gestarum

Historia rerum ubique gestarum

Venice (Italy) — 1477

  1. The cosmographic work by the eventual Pope Pius II (1405-1464) concerns itself with the history and geography of Asia

  2. This is the personal copy of Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) with comments and notes from his hand

  3. Considered today to be a masterpiece of typography and the anthropology of Asia

Historia rerum ubique gestarum

Alternative Titles:
  • Historium rerum ubique gestarum
  • La Historia rerum ubique gestarum del papa Pio II y el descubrimiento de América
Historia rerum ubique gestarum – Biblioteca Capitular y Colombina (Seville, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The cosmographic work by Eneas Silvio Piccolomini, who would become Pope Pius II, concerns itself with the continent of Asia and assembles the historical and geographic knowledge of its time. A special edition of the papal work is housed in the Biblioteca Capitular y Colombiana in Seville: the personal copy of Christopher Columbus with comments and notes from his hand. The great explorer relied on the knowledge of the Historia rerum ubique gestarum during preparations for his expeditions!

Historia rerum ubique gestarum

The cosmographic work by Eneas Silvio Piccolomini, who would become Pope Pius II, concerns itself with the continent of Asia and assembles the historical and geographic knowledge of its time. A special edition of the papal work is housed in the Biblioteca Capitular y Colombiana in Seville: the personal copy of Christopher Columbus with comments and notes from his hand. The great explorer relied on the knowledge of the Historia rerum ubique gestarum during preparations for his expeditions!

A Typographical Masterpiece

The Historia rerum ubique gestarum was printed in 1477 in Venice by Johann von Köln and Johann Manthen, two Venetian book printers in the last quarter of the 15th century. Then 15th century incunabula comprises 224 pages measuring 28.4 x 21.6 cm. Today, the book is considered to be “a typographical masterpiece”. Alongside the text, it contains illustrative and explanative plans, diagrams, and drawings, which helpfully support reading and study.

The Papal Cosmographer

The composer of the Historia rerum ubique gestarum was Eneas Silvio Piccolomini (1405-1464). This Italian humanist and politician was known as Pope Pius II (1458-1464). He also composed a comprehensive cosmographic work, of which only two volumes concerning Europe and Asia were realized, in addition to his humanistic writings. Under the title Historia rerum ubique gestarum cum locorum descriptione non finite Asia Minor, this text has long served as a fundamental work of Asian geography.

A Comprehensive Description of Asia

In this historical-geographical text, Piccolomini assembles the scientific and geographical knowledge of his time. The Historia rerum ubique gestarum cum locorum descriptione non finite Asia Minorcontains a description of Asia with the most contemporary knowledge of the time concerning the continent. At the same time, the most recent events between the Turks and the Christians are accounted for in a most elegant and objective way. Geography, history, and anthropology are assembled here together with other interesting descriptions and a comprehensive encyclopedia.

The Explorer of the Americas

This particular specimen of the Historia rerum ubique gestarum from the Biblioteca Capitular y Colombina in Seville possesses additional historical significance: it is the personal copy of Christopher Columbus! This significant explorer of the Americas relied on the work by Piccolomini while preparing for his expeditions to America at the behest of the Spanish crown. The numerous comments and notes from his hand, which cover the pages of the book, impressively convey how intensely Columbus grappled with the text.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Historium rerum ubique gestarum
La Historia rerum ubique gestarum del papa Pio II y el descubrimiento de América
Size / Format
300 pages / 22.0 x 20.0 cm
Date
1477
Language
Artist / School

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Historia rerum ubique gestarum“

Historia Rerum Ubique Gestarum
Historia rerum ubique gestarum – Biblioteca Capitular y Colombina (Seville, Spain)
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Historia Rerum Ubique Gestarum

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1991
Limited Edition
980
Binding
Case in gray velvet. Contains facsimile and additional study. The binding is leather in Mudejar style with tacks and brads gold plated.
Commentary
2 volumes (386/372 pages) by Antonio Ramírez de Verger and Juan Pérez de Tudela
Language: Spanish
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