Over 25,000 books were looted from the Czech lands by the Swedes at the end of the Thirty Years War. Today these valuable prints and manuscripts are scattered in libraries all around Sweden, but also elsewhere in Europe. A new project by the Czech Academy of Sciences attempts to trace all the books that have survived and create a digital catalogue accessible both to researchers and the general public.
The so-called Devil’s Bible, created in a Bohemian monastery in the 13th century, has returned from Prague to its permanent home at the Royal Library in Sweden’s Stockholm. Over 60,000 people saw the gigantic medieval book during a three-month exhibition in the Czech capital. The bible – which features a striking painting of the devil on its cover – was stolen from Prague by the Swedish army in the Thirty Years’ War of the 17th century.
On Sunday several hundred people took the last opportunity to view the original Devil’s Bible or Codex Gigas, one of the largest manuscripts in the world completed sometime in the 13th century. The tome, once considered the eighth wonder of the world, is the oldest Czech chronicle written in Latin. The priceless bible was stolen by the Swedish army from the Czech lands during the Thirty Years War in the mid 17th century and is now permanently housed in Sweden. It has only been exhibited abroad on three occasions – it was lent to New York, Berlin and most recently Prague. Over 61,000 people turned up to see it at the National Library in Prague.
The Czech National Library has announced that, due to public interest, it
would like to prolong the exhibition of the Devil’s Bible, or Codex
Gigas. It was originally meant to be shown in Prague until January 6, but
due to the interest the book has generated, the library would like to
continue exhibiting it until March of next year. Over 35,000 people have
bought a ticket to see the bible since it was put on display in September,
and ticket sales have been limited to no more than 60 per hour. The Swedish
state, which owns the bible, has agreed to loan out the manuscript for
longer. A spokesperson for the library said it was now up to the Czech
Ministry of Finance to decide whether to fund the exhibition for an
extended period of time.
The Devil’s Bible originates from the turn of the 13th century, it was written near Chrudim, eastern Bohemia. It was taken by Swedish soldiers at the end of the Thirty Years’ War, and has belonged to the Swedish state since that time.
The largest historical book in the world is to go on show at Prague's Klementinum Gallery on Wednesday. Known as the 'Devil's Bible', it was written in what is now the Czech Republic in the early thirteenth century, and during the Middle Ages was regarded as a wonder of the world. Plundered from Prague by Swedish soldiers during the Thirty Years War, it is now to return to the city temporarily after an absence of over 350 years. Joshua Singer has more.
This week, a Prague microbrewery makes a new beer from an unusual ingredient: potatoes. What's causing a commotion in Czech kitchens, if it isn't washing machines? Prague's woods can't cope with the number of people using them for recreation, while ramblers shouldn't be too surprised if they see hedgehogs with antennas sticking out of their backs. And the innovative 1960s "automatic cinema" is to be revived.
The Codex Gigas, also known as the Devil's Bible, is the biggest book in the world. Made at the start of the 13th century in a Bohemian monastery, it was one of the country's most prized works of art. In medieval times, its uniqueness was even put on a par with the wonders of the world. But at the end of the Thirty Years' War, it was taken by the Swedes and has been Swedish property since then. The National Library in Prague has now been allowed to borrow it for an exhibition that opens later this year.
The Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek was in Sweden this week, and he made a most unusual request. He surprised his host, Prime Minister Goran Persson, by asking to borrow the Devil's Bible, one of the artefacts that was stolen by the Swedish army from the Czech lands during the Thirty Years War in the mid 17th century.
In this edition of the Arts we get to see two remarkable manuscripts stolen from the Czech Lands by the Swedes during the Thirty Years War. The first is the intriguingly named Devil's Bible. The second is a religious text in the hand of the great Czech reformer Jan Hus (in Latin but with anti-German jibes written in Czech in the margins). We also learn about the circumstances under which the manuscripts and other artworks were stolen by the Swedish Army in the mid-17th century, and whether there is any chance it might some day be returned.