In these lectures Paul Nelles enters the social and material world of the Vatican Library in the late sixteenth century. Famed in the Renaissance for its manuscript holdings of classical and patristic texts, the library experienced profound change in the aftermath of the Council of Trent as it adapted to it’s new role as an instrument of papal policy and a hub of ecclesiastical reform.
The lectures locate the library within a constellation of new state-sponsored collections in early modern Europe and explore the local and transnational environments in which the Vatican Library operated. Framed around the vibrant fresco cycles that graced the new library quarters constructed under Pope Sixtus V, the lectures visit specific episodes in sixteenth century cultural history to probe the dynamic of script and print within the space of the library. Particular attention is given to the individuals, practices, and working tools that intersected with the Vatican Library in this period.