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Rare manuscript

Illustrated Chronicle of Ivan the Terrible gifted to Libraries

Research

By Kristine Power

Memorial University Libraries has received a donation of a 34-volume facsimile manuscript of The Illustrated Chronicle of Ivan the Terrible from the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Canada.

The manuscript offers a glimpse into an intriguing chapter in Russian history.

One of three boxes that holds the 34 volume manuscript of The Illustrated Chronicle of Ivan the Terrible.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

‘Important new resource’

“This beautifully produced facsimile is one of only two in Canada,” said Patrick Warner, special collections librarian with Memorial University Libraries.

“It is a remarkable gift, one that will provide our students and faculty with an important new resource for the study of Russian history, the medieval period and art history.”

The Illustrated Chronicle of Ivan the Terrible is the largest compilation of historical information ever assembled in medieval Russia. The set of manuscripts was commissioned by Ivan the IV for his royal library, specifically for the education of his children and future tsars, says Mr. Warner.

The compilation, created between 1568 and 1576, consists of 10 volumes and contains about 10,000 sheets of rag paper. It is illustrated with more than 16,000 small illustrations known as miniatures. The chronicles, or “Tsar Book” as it became known, documents biblical history, Roman history, Byzantium history, and Russian history of Rome to 1576.

“The Libraries would like to extend our deepest gratitude for such a beautiful addition to our special collections,” said Susan. E. Cleyle, university librarian.

From left, Susan E. Cleyle, university librarian, and Alexander N. Darchiev, the Russian ambassador to Canada.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“We are also very happy that we could host Ambassador Darchiev recently in the QEII Library to mark this special milestone occasion.”

The manuscript is available for viewing in the QEII Library.


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