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The Western Manuscripts Collection

Modern Historical Manuscripts from the 16th-20th Centuries

The number of Western manuscripts of the 16th-20th centuries exceeds the quantity of the medieval stock of the Petersburg's collection in many times. Coverage of works, written in Latin and national languages, is especially strong in traditional mainstream humanities disciplines such as literature, philosophy and theology. Some manuscripts of the 16th-17th centuries represent the unique presentation copies. Among them there are books intended for King of Poland, Henri de Valois (later King Henry III of France) and the Chancellor of France, Pierre Seguier.

The Western repository include sets of material, from 16th-18th centuries, which are exeptional historical importance .

The greater part of the documens has come from France and represents a "goldmine" for reseachers into that country's history. Most of them (more than 7,000 documents) consists of the state papers of the 16th-17th centuries. These are official royal letters( over 200 by Charles II,350 by Henry III, 255 by Catherine de' Medici and so on), letters from state and army officials, reports by officers of the law courts, municipalities and provincial estates of France and also despatches from ambassadors to various European countries; part of the chancellor Pierre Seguier's archive (more than 1,400 documents in all).

Other important manuscripts contain writers' autographs and fair copies, including works that are still remained to be published. Notable authorized copies of Denis Diderot's complete works (32 volumes), produced by author's request for Empress Catherine II, provide valuable resources for the study of his Literary Legacy. They arrived at Saint Petersburg along with Diderot's library.

A letter from King Henry II of France
A letter from King
Henry III of France. 1579
A letter from Catherine de' Medici, Queen of France. 1573
A letter from Catherine de'
Medici, Queen of France. 1573
A file on Voltaire kept in the Bastille. 18th century
A file on Voltaire kept in the Bastille.
18th century

Alongside the autographs of Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Marmontel, Buffon, the 18th century is represented by documents of the last decades of Ludovick XIV's reign, by the papers from the archives of the Bastille.

From the time of the French Revolution the library has original papers in the handwriting of Robespierre, Danton, Saint-Just etc., as well as official documents signed by members of Convention, the Committee of Public Savety and the Directory.

Treasures include material of indubitable interest to researchers into European cultural history from archives of German astronomer, mathematician, artist and engraver G.-Ch. Eimmart (1638-1705) as well as Venetian editor and philologist, Abbot A. Calogera (1699-1768).

The papers of statesmen, military officers, scientists, writers, artists from various European countries are important parts of the Library's holdings, particularly useful for the study of local modern history.

The materials on American history occupy the special place in the stock. Small, but remarkable collection includes approximately 100 documents of the 17th-20th centuries. Among them there are autographs of Benjamin Franklin, and the first six American presidents: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams.

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