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The Codex Gigas

The Codex Gigas, also known as the Devil's Bible, is famous for two reasons: it is believed to be the world's largest preserved medieval manuscript (Codex Gigas means "giant book") and it contains a large full-page portrait of the Devil.

Old book with white cover adorned with metal fittings seen from the side.
About the Codex Gigas

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History

Ornamentation

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The Codex Gigas was created for a Bohemian monastery, but was brought to Sweden as spoils of war in the 17th century. Among other things, the manuscript contains a complete Bible, historical texts, magic formulas and spells.

You can browse a digitalised version of the manuscript in the World Digital Library here.external link

Codex Gigas in numbers

800
years
The Codex Gigas is at least that old.
1
lifetime
That is how long it may have taken for one person to complete the book.
310
parchment leaves
The number of pages that the Codex Gigas comprises.

Questions and answers about the Codex Gigas

  • It's called that because the manuscript contains a large portrait of the Devil. Read more about the Devil's Portrait.

  • The Codex Gigas contains five other long texts in addition to a complete Bible. Read more about the long texts.

    The manuscript contains a few short texts as well; one that relates to penance and another on how to drive out evil spirits. Read more about the short texts.

  • In addition to the bible the following text have English translations:

  • The Codex Gigas is on display in a showcase in the Treasury Room in the National Library's Annex. Because the book sustained damage from being on display with an open cover for many years, it is now on display with its cover closed. If you would like to browse the work and see the famous portrait of the Devil, you can do this on a digital screen next to the showcase. To the exhibition.

  • Yes, the entire manuscript has been digitalised. To the digitalised version in the World Digital Library.external link

  • Yes, you may do so. The images in Libris.external link

  • Yes. The images may be used freely, on condition that photographer Per B. Adolphson is credited and that the image source is cited as follows: The National Library of Sweden, HS A 148.

  • Here are a couple of good sources:

    • Article by Michael Gullick, "The Codex Gigas: a revised version of the Georg Svensson lecture delivered at The National Library of Sweden, Stockholm, November 2006,” in the journal Biblis no. 38 (2007). Download the article (pdf)external link.
    • The book Codex gigas – the Devil's Bible: the secrets of the world's largest book (2007), by Kamil Boldan. The book in Librisexternal link.
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