Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection


Laurentius Corvinus, Structura carminum ([Leipzig]: Martin Landsberg, [not before 20 Aug. 1496])

Structura carminum

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Dating from the end of the 15th century, this text is concerned with Latin verse. It is the third of a total of seven texts bound together in a Sammelband (IKUL 031). Just like the second text in that volume, it deals with the methods of poetic composition. With regard to Latin studies during the 15th century, German scholars were, in general, able to profit from the ideas of contemporary humanism emanating from the dominant academic world of Italy. In other words, the works of classical Roman authors annotated by Italian scholars called 'humanists' became the main subject of academic research in the field of Latin studies. This third text of the Sammelband, however, did not originate in Italy, but in Poland.

Laurentius Corvinus (c. 1465-1527) is known to have been a Polish poet as well as a scholar of linguistics. His works are written in Polish and Latin, and he was a friend of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543). Both men attended the University of Krakow, where Corvinus received his master's degree in 1489, two years before Copernicus entered the university. Later, Corvinus taught at numerous universities around the country. In the preface of this text, Corvinus addresses his students at Krakow. The book provides information about the year, month and day of printing, as well as the name of the town: Swidnica (ex oppido Sweidnitczensi). It is known that in 1494 Corvinus was a teacher in this Silesian town. Nevertheless, one must assume that this text was printed in Leipzig: although the colophon makes no mention of it, the printer's device of the Leipzig printer Martin Landsberg can be found at the end of the text. The University of Leipzig was founded by students from Prague in 1409, during the reign of Friedrich I (1376-1428), ruler of Saxony. From the 15th to the 16th centuries about 2,000 students per year were enrolled in the University of Leipzig. It is known that some were students from Bohemia, who might have been interested in learning about Polish humanism, in parallel with their studies of the dominating humanist literature from Italy.

Kristian Jensen has pointed out that the handwriting found in the marginalia is identical with that found in text number five (Tibullus, IKUL 031e) of the Sammelband (Jensen, p. 484). Corvinus is a representative writer on Neo-Latin verse, whereas Tibullus is one of the classical Roman authors. Judging from the manuscript annotations, the Corvinus text was principally studied by bachelor students, whereas the Tibullus text was used by students working towards a master's degree (Jensen, p.484-85). One may conclude, then, that both texts belonged to one particular student and reflect his progress at the university. This component of the Sammelband provides a very good example of such academic achievement.

  Jensen, Kristian, 'Exporting and Importing Italian Humanism: The Reception of Italian Printed Editions of Classical Authors and their Commentators at the University of Leipzig', Italia Medioevale e Umanistica, 45 (2004), 437-97



Corvinus, Laurentius
Place of Publication
Martin Landsberg


Date of Publication
[not before 1496-08-20]

Volume of seven texts [031a-g] in a contemporary German half pigskin leather binding over wooden boards engraved with blind stamping, using a ms fragment, a fully functional hook-clasp fastening with ornamental engraving.

Bibliographical Notes

A-C6 D4 E6; 28 leaves; contemporary annotations in red.

Goff C942, HR 5777, GW 7802, IJL 115, IJL2 141, PP 44
Acquisition Year

Hartung und Karl, München 8 November 1988, lot 241.