The Laurentian Library (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana) is a historical library in Florence
, containing a repository of more than 11,000 manuscripts and 4,500 early printed books.
Built in a cloister of the Medicean Basilica di San Lorenzo
di Firenze under the patronage of the Medici pope, Clement VII, the Library was built to emphasize that the Medici family were no longer mere merchants but members of intelligent and ecclesiastical society. It contains the manuscripts and books belonging to the private library of the Medici family. The library is renowned for the architecture planned and built by Michelangelo and is an example of Mannerism.
The Laurentian Library was commissioned in 1523 and construction began in 1525; however, when Michelangelo left Florence in 1534, only the walls of the reading room were complete. It was then continued by Tribolo, Basari, and Ammannati based on plans and verbal instructions from Michelangelo.
In 1571, Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany
, opened the still-incomplete Library to scholars. Notable additions to the collection were made by its most famous librarian, Angelo Maria Bandini, who was appointed in 1757 and oversaw its printed catalogues. The Library conserves the Nahuatl Florentine Codex, the major source of pre-Conquest Aztec life. Among other well-known manuscripts in the Laurentian Library are the sixth-century Syriac Rabula Gospels; the Codex Amiatinus, which contains the earliest surviving manuscript of the Latin Vulgate Bible; the Squarcialupi Codex, an important early musical manuscript; and the fragmentary Erinna papyrus containing poems of the friend of Sappho.