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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

You Never Know What You'll Find

On the horrible monsters near the shores of Norway.
I recently gave a lecture on two monastic libraries in Bavaria and their relationship to the special collections where I work at Saint John's University.  In the course of preparing that lecture, I decided it would be interesting to show some of the books that were donated to our library by the abbeys at Ottobeuren and Metten in 1877.  Among those items from Metten was a title by a Swedish cleric by the name of Olaus Magnus (1490-1557):  Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus (Antwerp: Johannes Bellerus, 1562).  Olaus was the brother of the last Catholic archbishop of Sweden. Remaining loyal to the old Church after Sweden became Protestant, Olaus went into exile and lived for many years in Poland, Italy and elsewhere in Europe.  Toward the end of his life he published his Historia in Rome (1555), and it was soon reprinted in other locations and languages.  HMML's copy of this work is an abridged version, although it still contains many (often amusing) depictions of life in the North, including fishing, whaling and (of course) drinking.  Here are a few examples from this small volume.

I hate it when this happens ...

It might be hunting season again ...

Reindeer as the 16th-century saw them.

On the drinking rite of the northern peoples (no comment necessary).

These and over 10,000 other titles in the Saint John's University Special Collections are available for scholarly and teaching purposes. For information on this and other materials in Special Collections, send me an e-mail:

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