Collections of Cretan Manuscripts – The Library of Antonios Kallergis
During the Late Byzantine and Post-Byzantine era, Crete was a centre of the production and circulation of books with a plethora of Cretan copyists active in scriptoria in Crete and in the Byzantine territories, as well as in monasteries and royal courts of the West. This contribution of Crete to letters and to European civilization has not been adequately presented to the wider public, but remains within the boundaries of the academic community. Τhe Paleography Laboratory of the University of Crete is duty-bound to play a leading part in the study of this tradition. The research project has as its primary goal the reconstruction of the collection of manuscripts, printed books and the family archive of Antonios Kallergis (mid-16th century). Antonios and Matthaios Kallergis, direct descendants of Alexios Kallergis (1300), played a major role in the history of Crete during the 16th century. They were also leading players in the penetration of the Western intellectual currents into the island. Their Library constitutes an excellent piece of evidence concerning education and culture in Crete and in the Venetian-ruled Greek world during the 16th century. This is the richest private library of manuscripts and printed books that was formed in the Venetian East, with material in many cases of outstanding rarity. The contents of this unique collection are known to us from an unedited manuscript catalogue (in Venice) and are crosschecked thanks to the identifications that have been made as a result of the research. In total it numbers 820 titles of books - 160 are manuscript books- in Greek, Italian and Latin, with classical, post-classical and contemporary (of Kallergis) writers. The digital reconstruction of the Kallergis library is a necessary precondition for the mapping of the intellectual-educational, aesthetical-artistic and scientific potential in Crete in the first decades of the Cretan Renaissance.