The manuscript collection has been built up throughout the centuries and consists of some three thousand volumes of diverse origin. In 1471 there were 201 volumes listed as belonging to the University. Prior to that date the endowment by Juan de Segovia (1457) took place, followed by another by Alfonso Ortiz at the end of that century and later on, in the mid-sixteenth century, yet another by Hernán Núñez de Guzmán, “el Pinciano”. However, despite such promising beginnings, in the mid-eighteenth century only some 100 manuscripts were catalogued.

The addition of the holdings coming from the Library of the Colegio Real of the Society of Jesus meant a remarkable growth of this section. Although most of the manuscripts are related to teaching in schools, particularly in theology and philosophy, we can also find lay gems like a manuscript with a translation of Seneca’s works by Alfonso de Cartagena (Ms. 201).

On the other hand, the expropriation of monastic estates in Spain in the nineteenth century did not have the same consequences on this library: there are but a few manuscripts with signs indicating that they came from any of the many convents and monasteries that existed in Salamanca.

At present, the manuscripts that belonged to the four Colegios Mayores, which had formed a very large library, are also a part of this collection. From the suppression of those schools in the late eighteenth century until 1954, these manuscripts were in the library of the Royal Palace of Madrid.

The oldest manuscript in this collection is the Liber canticorum et horarum, commissioned in 1059 by Queen Sancha (consort of Ferdinand I, King of Leon).

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Some outstanding examples of literary manuscripts are the Libro de buen amor (The Book of Good Love) (Ms. 2663), the Cancionero (Songbook) by the Marquis of Santillana (Ms. 2665) and Las virtuosas y claras mujeres (The Clear and Virtuous Women) by Álvaro de Luna (ms. 207).

There are many technical manuscripts in this Library: Bible commentaries and theological works; canon and civil law; works of science and philosophy, etc., some of which are beautifully crafted.

Some autograph manuscripts also stand out, like the Exposición del Libro de Job (Comments on The Book of Job), by Fray Luis de León (Ms. 219); several of the works by Alfonso de Madrigal, and the notes and drafts of Francisco Sanchez de las Brozas (Ms. 2007-2009).

The updated description of the manuscripts can be found in Catálogo de manuscritos de la Biblioteca Universitaria de Salamanca, Salamanca 1997-2002 (available at Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca: I and II). As for the Greek manuscripts, there is an ongoing scheme called the Nomos project, carried out by the Group of Classical Philology at the University Carlos III of Madrid. In the meantime, Graux 1892 and Tovar 1963 should be consulted.

Catalogues and reviews about the manuscripts pool

We have selected a series of general articles. Particular studies on manuscripts with off-prints available can be found in the automated catalogue.