The Arnamagnæan Collection is named after its founder, the Icelandic-Danish philologist and historian Árni Magnússon (1663–1730). Described as a “manuscript junkie” by modern scholars, Árni Magnússon was one of the greatest book collectors of all time. Shortly before his death, he bequeathed his collection of manuscripts to the University of Copenhagen, where he was professor of Danish antiquities. Following a decision by the Danish parliament to transfer a significant portion of the Icelandic manuscripts in Danish repositories to Iceland, the collection is now housed at the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen and the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies in Reykjavík, as part of the University of Copenhagen and the University of Iceland respectively.
This project investigates the history of the manuscripts in the Arnamagnæan Collection that contain texts in the Latin language and aims to create fully annotated online electronic catalogue records for this corpus. The Arnamagnæan Collection in its entirety consists of approximately three thousand manuscripts dated to the twelfth to eighteenth centuries. About fourteen hundred of the manuscripts, of which approximately one hundred contain texts in Latin, are held at the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen, where this project is housed. The manuscripts in the Arnamagnæan Collection that contain Latin texts have been, if not ignored, then certainly understudied. The Latin manuscripts have never even been fully catalogued, nor have they attracted concentrated or coherent detailed study. The most comprehensive printed catalogue of the collection still in use, Katalog over den Arnamagnæanske Haandskriftsamling, was prepared by Kristian Kålund between 1889 and 1894. Because the Latin manuscripts were not Kålund’s focus, they are only briefly mentioned in this catalogue, in short summary form without any detailed description.
One of the outputs of the project is the publication of detailed catalogue records for each manuscript on Handrit, an ongoing cataloguing project which was established in 2001 by the Arnamagnæan Institute and the Árni Magnússon Institute together with the National and University Library of Iceland.