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Posted on Monday October 5, 2015

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

The Library of Charles V preserved in the National Library of France

The collection gathers several precious items, for example the first French encyclopedia in the vernacular language 'Image du monde' by Gossuin de Metz and the wonderful richly illustrated atlas of Nautical Charts by Abraham Cresques.

This collection was digitised in the context of the Europeana Regia project and contains manuscripts from the 13th to the 15th centuries from the old library assembled by Charles V (r. 1364-1380). Several classic and modern authors translated into French: Aristotéles, Giovanni Boccaccio, Titus Livus as well as the Justinianus law code in French.

Worth mentioning are the bibles translated into French and the bibles owned by the French kings: the Bible of Louis IX, the Bible of Charles V and the Petite Bible historiale of Charles V which was the predominant medieval translation of the Bible into French.

Furthermore there are works by famous French authors: Guillaume de Digulleville (Latin poems), Guyart des Moulins, Christine de Pisan (the first European professional writer), Gérard de Montaigu who wrote the Compilation of Perpetual Pontifical Privileges accorded to French Kings and Queens.

The library assembled by Charles V and lodged in the Falconry Tower at the Louvre was more than a fabulous collection of books (over 900 volumes in 1380) put at the disposal of the king and his counsellors. It was quite extraordinary for its time in having nearly 2500 texts in French, thus illustrating the promotion of French as the language of learning and government. The library was a sign of royal authority, a prerogative of the king of France, and was, in this sense, already a State library.