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HIST 1061, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Rome (Jobin) - Rare Books Collection

A look at Roman history and its legacy from documents in the Rare Books Collection.

Early Christianity in a Medieval World


Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend

Special Collections, CU Boulder Libraries

Early Christian figures, such as those seen here, served as a focus for late medieval piety.  Unlike the lavishly illuminated medieval manuscript bibles, psalters, and breviaries created for the Church, and unlike higher-end Books of Hours affordable by only the well-to-do, early printed pieces such as the Golden Legend were tailored to those of somewhat lesser means, a population of an increasingly literate common man and woman.  

Books printed within the first fifty years of printing, such as Jacobus de Voragine's Legenda Aurea and Thomas a Kempis' Imitatio Christi, are, like Gutenberg's Bible and Schedel's Nuremberg Chronicle, termed incunabula - essentially, in the cradle of printing. 

Jacobus de Voragine (1230-1298) entered the Order of St. Dominic in 1244, later serving as Archbishop of Genoa.  He is best known for his lives of the saints,  a book of devotion written for common people, first titled, Legenda Sanctorum, later known as Legenda Aurea, or the Golden Legend, worth its weight in gold.  Special Collections' leaves of the Golden Legend were printed by Wynkyn de Worde, apprentice and heir to the first print established in Britain by William Caxton. 

For late medieval manuscript copies of the Legenda Aurea, or the Golden Legend, see the Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Library

For the first edition printed in Westminster by Wynkyn de Worde, with downloadable, fairly high-resolution jpegs, see the British Library.  


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Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend

Special Collections, CU Boulder Libraries


Thomas a Kempis, Imitatio Christi


Thomas a Kempis, Imitatio Christi

Special Collections, CU Boulder Libraries


Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471) was a follower of Devotio Moderno, a late medieval spiritual movement led by Gerard Groote that focused on apostolic renewal through the practice of humility and the leading of a simple life. 

Imitatio Christi focuses on an interior life of piety and devotion to the Eucharist.  It was enormously popular, with over seven hundred editions printed before 1650. Special Collections' copy was published in 1501. 


Hans Schaufelein, Doctrina, Vita, et Passio Jesu Christi


Hans Schaufelein, Doctrina, Vita, et Passio Jesu Christi, 1537

                                                                                                 Special Collections, CU Boulder Libraries                                                                                          

Hans Schäufelein (c. 1480-1539) was part of the workshops of Northern Renaissance artists Albrecht Durer, Nuremberg, and Hans Holbein the Elder, Augsburg.  Schäufelein's works also included painting:  the high altarpiece for the Benedictine abbey at Auhausen and the Ziegler altarpiece (1521) in Nördlingen.  His Doctrina, Vita, et Passio Jesu Christi reflects his interest in depicting sacred stories, here a depiction of the life and Passion of Christ, with both Latin and German titles.   

For a full text version, see Google Books.  For other works attributed to Hans Schäufelein, see the British Museum.





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Rare and Distinctive Collections


Classroom: Norlin M350B

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