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Carolingian manuscripts from the National Library of France

The Carolingian Manuscripts owned by the Bibliothèque nationale de France form one of the richest collections in the world. The almost 479 manuscripts from the 8th-10th centuries were made in many different centers throughout the realm.

This collection was digitised in the context of the Europeana Regia project. It contains several precious bibles, for example the Charlemagne's Evangeliary (BnF NAL 1203), which had been presented to Napoleon I in 1811 at the birth of his son, was exhibited next to the Psalter, the First Bible of Charles the Bald (an exceptional iconographic cycle with full page miniatures), and the prestigious Purple Lectionary. It gathers works by several Latin authors, for example Augustinus and Plinius, Sententiae and Epistolae morales ad Lucilium by Seneca, Satyrae by Juvenalis, Comoediae by Publius Terentius, Ab urbe condita by Titus Livius and Ars amoris by Ovidius.

The collection also contains various documents related to Carlo Magno (capitularies, laws, letters, etc) as well as scientific works.

The history of the collection is tied to that of the Royal Library. The manuscripts belonging to the Carolingian rulers were never passed on to their descendents, and were thus not part of the first royal library founded by Charles V, which was housed in the Louvre. During the French Wars of Religion, a number of religious institutions were destroyed and their collections sold. Many of their treasures entered the king's library either directly or as donations from private collections.

Further acquisitions of Carolingian manuscripts were made in the following centuries. It was the French Revolution, however, that provided the BnF with the greatest number of manuscripts, confiscated from religious institutions.