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Early European Books (EEB)


Origins of Western culture: printed sources from continental Europe to 1700.

Building on the success of Early English Books Online (EEBO), ProQuest has embarked on a European-wide project which will trace the history of printing in Europe from its origins to 1700. The Early European Books resource is set to encompass all European printed material, and material printed in European languages, from the early modern period. The contents are drawn from major repositories including the Danish Royal Library, the National Central Library in Florence, the National Library of France, the National Library of the Netherlands, and the Wellcome Library in London. Over time, other significant national libraries will be adding their collections to Early European Books to enable researchers to conduct a seamless survey of the origins and development of Western culture.

Early European Books contains significant works by Aristotle, Copernicus, Descartes, Erasmus, Kepler, Luther and Spinoza, alongside ephemeral works such as pamphlets and almanacs.

The works encompass all the major fields of human endeavour, including science, medicine, philosophy, theology, literature, history, political science, travel and exploration. Together they provide a rich source of content for study and research across the cultural landscape of early modern Europe.

Use Cases

by Dr Elise Watson.

Many databases of early modern books have recently begun to integrate gender as an explicit dimension of their work. However, this is sometimes done without placing gender as a concept into an inclusive and intersectional framework. This webinar uses the tools of feminist bibliography to argue for a collaborative approach to gender when considering bibliographic metadata, one that more comprehensively accounts for those marginalized due to their gender or lack of gender conformity.

Dr Elise Watson is a postdoctoral researcher for the Universal Short Title Catalogue, where she works on early modern France and the Low Countries. Her own research focuses on the clandestine Catholic book trade in the Dutch Republic, examining how the availability of print shaped minority religious experience. You can find her on twitter at @elisewatson_.

Further Reading

  • Kate Ozment, ‘Rationale for Feminist Bibliography’, Textual Cultures 13.1 (2020), pp. 149-178.
  • Helen Smith, Grossly Material Things: Women and Book Production in Early Modern Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
  • Michelle Levy, ‘Do Women Have a Book History?’, Studies in Romanticism, 53.3 (2014), pp. 296-317.
  • Reese Irwin, Michelle Levy, Kate Moffat, and Kandice Sharren, ‘Project Methodology’, part of The Women’s Print History Project. https://womensprinthistoryproject.com/blog/page/12
  • K.R. Roberto, ‘Inflexible Bodies: Metadata for Transgender Identities’, Journal of Information Ethics 20.2 (2011), pp. 56-64.

By: Jacob Baxter.

This webinar takes a lot at the literary career of the English diplomat and writer Sir William Temple (1628-99), by focusing on his two most famous books, the Observations Upon the United Provinces (1673) and the Memoirs of What Past in Christendom (1691), both of which can be viewed on EBBO and EBB.

Jacob Baxter is a PhD candidate at the University of St Andrews. His thesis, which he began in September 2020, focuses on the literary career of Sir William Temple. Jacob’s association with the USTC started in the summer of 2019, when he attended the project’s annual summer programme. In December 2020, Jacob graduated with a MLitt in Book History, and he was also awarded the Postgraduate Gray Prize for the best overall performance at a Master’s level in Arts and Divinity at St Andrews. You can follow him on Twitter @JE_Baxter.

Further Reading

  • Haley, K.H.D. An English Diplomat in the Low Countries: Sir William Temple and John De Witt, 1665-72 (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1986).
  • Pettegree, Andrew and Weduwen, Arthur der, The Bookshop of the World, Making and Trading Books in the Dutch Golden Age (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2019).
  • Steensma, Robert C. Sir William Temple (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1970).
  • Suarez, Michael F. 'Making History: William Temple and the Politics of Publishing', The Yale University Library Gazette 68 (1993), pp. 43-59.
  • Troost, Wouter, Sir William Temple, William III and the Balance of Power in Europe (Dordrecht: Republic of Letters, 2011).

By Dr Graeme Kemp.

This webinar investigates how the Proquest platform can be used to assist the analysis of one of the most important sources for early modern book sales in England - the Day-book of John Dorne (1520)

Dr Graeme Kemp is co-deputy director of the Universal Short Title Catalogue. He was awarded his PhD in 2013 for a study of Religious Controversy in the Sixteenth Century. Most recently he has explored the buying and selling of early modern editions at auction. His research looks at the application of distant reading methodologies and visualisation techniques to historical datasets. He is currently leading a project entitled Visualising History: Exploring Historical Data Through Visualisation, sponsored by Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. You can follow him on Twitter @gj_kemp

Further Reading

  • Madan Falconer (ed.), ‘Day-Book of John Dorne’, in Collectanea I, ed. Fletcher, C. R. L., Oxford Historical Society, 5 (1885), pp. 71-177
  • Madan, Falconer (ed.), The Early Oxford Press: A Bibliography of Printing and Publishing at Oxford, 1468’–1640 (Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1885)
  • Roberts, Julian, “Importing books for Oxford, 1500-1640.” In Books and collectors, 1200-1700 : essays presented to Andrew Watson, edited by Carley, James Patrick and Tite, Colin Gerald Calder (London: British Library, 1996), pp. 317-34. 
  • Leedham-Green, Elisabeth Somerville. “University libraries and book-sellers.” In The Cambridge history of the book in Britain, vol.3 : 1400-1557, ed. Hellinga, Lotte and Trapp, Joseph Burney (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 316-53]

Document Samples

Collection 1 - Gesta Danorum

Historia Danorum, by Saxo Grammaticus, d. ca. 1204. Edit 1514

Det Kongelige Bibliotek / The Royal Library (Copenhagen)

Collection 2. Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321

Edit: Venice, Aldine Press  1515. Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (BNCF)

Founded by Aldo Manuzio (AKA Aldus Manutius) in Venice in 1495, the Aldine Press was one of the most historically significant institutions in the early history of printed books. This is the first portable edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The Aldine text formed the standard edition of Dante until the late 19th century, and the second Aldine edition (1515) was the first to include the famous woodcut diagram illustrating the circles of Hell.

Map of West Indies from History of the New World 1625

Collection 3 - History of the New World

Joannes de Laet’s History of the New World (Leiden, 1625)   Map of West Indies

Edition of Ars Amandi by Ovidius owned by William Morris

Collection 4 - Ovidius Ars Amandi

Ovidius de arte amandi  Text embedded into the commentary by Bartholomeus Merula. Edition Milan, 1521

Formerly owned by William Morris. Welcome Library, London

Metoposcopy figure by Girolamo Cardano

Collection 5 - La Métoposcope de H. Cardan

Medical illustration from a French translation of the 16th-century Italian polymath Girolamo Cardano's work on physiognomy, published in Paris in 1658 as La Métoposcope de H. Cardan. BNF Collection 5

Collection 6 - La Toyson d'or

Frontispiece illustration from La Toyson d'or, ou la Fleur des thrésors, en laquelle est succinctement et méthodiquement traicté de la pierre des philosophes (1613) by Salomon Trismosin.

Illustration from Ducth translation of Sir Raleigh's Discovery of Guiana and Manoa

Collection 7 - Sir Walter Raleigh "The Discovery of [...] Guiana and [...] Manoa"

Illustration from a 1617 Dutch translation of Sir Walter Raleigh's The Discovery of the Large, Rich and Beautiful Empire of Guiana, with a relation of the Great and Golden City of Manoa (which the Spaniards call El Dorado), originally published in 1595.  Royal Library,The Hague.

Portrait of Madeleine de Scudery

Collection 8 - Clelie, Histoire Romaine - Portrait of M.me de Scudery

Portrait and motto of Madeleine de Scudéry from her major romance Clelie Histoire Romaine Paris, 1656. BNF

Illuminated letter by Dialogus Creaturarum 1480

Collection 9 - Dialogus creaturarum 1480

Incipit with Illuminated letter of 1480 Gouda edition of the Dialogus creaturarum moralisatus (fables) by Nicholaus Pergaminus

Cannibals from Voyages en Afrique, Asie et Indies

Collection 10 - Cannibals from Voyages en Afrique, Asie et Indies

Illustration depicting Caribbean cannibals cooking and eating their enemies. From Voyages en Afrique, Asie, Indes orientales et occidentales by the French explorer Jean Mocquet (1575-1616?) published in Rouen in 1645.

The Religions of the World

Collection 11 - Les Religions du monde

Illustration from Les Religions du monde (Amsterdam, 1666), a French translation of Scottish author Alexander Ross's Pansebeia (1655). The illustration heads a chapter describing the Anabaptists and other Protestant sects.  

Portrait of Joan d'Arc

Collection 12 - Portrait of Joan d'Arc

Frontispiece illustration depicting Joan of Arc. From L'histoire et discours au vray du siege qui fut mis devant la ville d'Orleans (Orleans, 1606).

Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto

Collection 13 - Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto ed 1580

a 1580 edition of Ariosto’s (1474-1533) Orlando Furioso - BNCF

Full Armor Knight

Collection 14 - Full Armor Knight

Full Armor Knight from French Heraldry book 17th Century - BNF

Comete tails

Collection 15 - Comete observed by Johannes Hevelius.

Comete observed by Johannes Hevelius, Tail Changing shape across days hours.

Theatrum Cometicum [volume 1], Lubieniecki, Stanisław. [28], 966, [6] pages, plates. Leiden: Meersche, Pieter van der, 1681. p.479.

Work by Moliere Coat of Arms

Collection 16 - Ouvres de Moliere

Ouvres de Moliere tome I, Coat of Arms - BNF

Cardinal Richelieu Diaries frontispice

Collection 17 - Cardinal Richelieu Diaries

Diaries by Cardinal Richelieu - 1648 - BNF

Imperial Chinese knights engraving

Collection 18 - Engraving with Imperial Chinese knights

Engraving with Chinese knights over a map of the Chinese Empire

Case Studies