Night and Dawn in the Library
Nearly a hundred years of wars set back the entire European civilization for hundreds of years, and entered the long dark age of the early Middle Ages. In this era, the highly developed urban public facilities are destroyed, and most of the knowledge is forgotten. Fortunately, those libraries, in the long night of civilization, preserve the gleam of knowledge for human beings.
medieval university library
From the 11th century to the 13th century, European culture gradually prospered, and universities began to appear. Among the oldest universities in Europe, the libraries of Oxford University and the University of Coimbra in Portugal were all created during this period, with only a few dozen to one or two hundred books at the earliest. These medieval universities trained batches of secular intellectuals, especially doctors and lawyers, to serve the court and the nobility.
The earliest collection of books in the Oxford University Library is a private collection of 281 volumes donated by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, younger brother of King Henry V of England. In the 1580s, the upper floor of the lecture hall of the Divinity School of Oxford University was converted into a library, called the Duke Humphrey Library, which was the predecessor of the Baudrian Library of Oxford University.
There is such a legend: When the library was built decades ago, it caught up with the British Civil War. King Charles I was fighting with the Parliamentary Army. He passed by Oxford and was stationed here. He wanted to borrow two books from the library, but the Oxford librarians turned down the king. ! Therefore, in the ancient library, you will see rows of wooden desks, and the large ancient books on the desks are tied with iron chains to prevent people from stealing the books.
The most beautiful classical library in universities all over the world should be the library of the University of Coimbra in Portugal. The University of Coimbra ranks seventh in the ranking of the oldest universities in the world. Built in the 18th century, the main library was designed in the Baroque style that was popular at the time, making it the most beautiful university library in Europe: the inside of the library is surrounded by dark-painted oak bookshelves, which look darker to the naked eye than in the photos. Darker. The bookshelves are as high as the ceiling, and there are gilt decorations above the bookshelves and the ceiling, and there are frescoes painted on the ceiling. The library has a collection of 200,000 volumes, all of which are pre-18th century books, which are very precious. The summer in Portugal is very hot, so the walls of this library are very thick, the interior space is high, and the ceiling is made into a vault, which can achieve a constant temperature effect like a cave.
Confinement and popularization of knowledge
By the time of the Renaissance, two major currents in the intellectual world fought fiercely. These struggles, on the one hand, spread knowledge to the common people in some European countries; on the other hand, the royal library monopolized knowledge and became a bastion of knowledge.
Some people may say: Ordinary citizens were illiterate in that era, they couldn’t understand! It doesn’t matter, Martin Luther had friends—painter Cranach and others to help him make prints. Prints can be printed in large quantities, and citizens can watch the prints and listen to explanations.
In the 15th century, the royal families of some European countries left many beautifully decorated libraries, such as the Escorial Palace Library surrounded by mountains northwest of Madrid, Spain.
There are at least 3 libraries in the entire palace building, and tourists visit the most exquisite palace library. The building connects the palace and the monastery. It is 54 meters long. The bookshelves have only one floor on the ground. They are placed against the wall and are in a calm maroon color. mural. These murals symbolize several categories of knowledge, such as astronomy, geography, arithmetic, geometry, rhetoric, etc. You can take the library’s explanatory text and compare and identify them one by one. There are about 40,000 volumes of books in this hall, and the order of arrangement is also particular: one end close to the palace contains worldly knowledge, such as history, geography, zoology and botany, etc., and the closer to the direction of churches and monasteries, the more “scientific” the subjects are. Metaphysics”, such as grammar, mathematics and other books.
Libraries in the Age of Enlightenment and Despotism
In the 18th century, civilian education became more and more popular in major European countries, and the Age of Enlightenment came. In terms of art, this is the era of the late Baroque and Rococo. Libraries in this era are more and more brightly decorated, and they no longer insist on confinement of knowledge, but are engaged in the popularization of knowledge.
There are three most beautiful libraries of this era: the Weblingen Abbey Library in Ulm, Germany, the St. Florian Abbey Library and the Edmont Abbey Library in Austria.
The library of Weblingen Abbey shows the sophistication and opulence of the Rococo style, and its colors are extremely bright. The library is divided into two floors. The railings on the second floor are wavy, and the pillars supporting the aisle on the second floor are red and blue marble with gold-plated capitals. The floor of the hall is marble mosaic. There are many white marble goddess sculptures on the first floor, with charming postures and gold-plated accessories.
The town of Edmont, hidden in the deep mountains of Austria, has the largest monastery library in Europe. There are 70,000 volumes in three halls, the most precious of which are 1,400 volumes of ancient manuscripts, of which 500 volumes were before printing was popularized in 1500. Ancient books, the earliest one was produced in more than 700 AD. The library is very well lit with 60 windows. The walls are curved, because the three halls are all oval, so the bookshelves are also curved, not square. The bookshelves here are gold and white, reflecting the sunlight, filling the room with brilliance, perfectly illustrating the typical Rococo aesthetic taste.
Speaking of the master of libraries in the enlightened and autocratic era in Europe in the 18th century, there is nothing better than the Habsburg Royal Library in the Vienna Palace, which is today the National Library of Austria.
The most impressive thing about this library is the word “magnificence”: it is 80 meters long, longer than any other classical library except the map gallery of the Pope’s Palace in the Vatican, but it does not feel like the whole library It is long and narrow because of the huge volume of the central hall of the library. People who enter the door from one end of the corridor will be directly drawn to the oval hall in the middle.
Another reason for not feeling the length of the corridor is its very high ceiling and wide open space. The second floor here has the same height as the first floor, and there is more space above the bookshelves on the second floor for mural decoration. The central hall is as high as 20 meters, and there are murals inside the big dome. Around the base of the dome are 8 skylights, which cast light to make the atrium bright.
In addition to the inevitable decorations such as sculptures and murals, the ancient Roman royal library also uses marble and a large number of gilded ornaments to match the colors of the surrounding bookshelves. The color tone is harmonious and elegant, and the library has its own order of books: from the entrance At first, facing the central axis, the left hand side is full of books about war, and the right hand side is full of books about peace.
In the palace library, in addition to looking at the decoration of the library, there are many royal books in the glass showcases placed along the sides of the aisle, using high-end materials such as velvet and sheepskin, and a lot of gold jewelry on them. Just looking at these “Emperor’s Books” is already pleasing to the eye.