he Codex of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, reproduced here in facsimile, is the final version, the only bilingual one (Castilian and Nahua), of the Historia Universal de las cosas de Nueva España by Fra Bernardino da Sahagún. The manuscript, now known to scholars as the Florentine Codex , is of inestimable value not only for its lavish illustrations and plentiful information about pre-Hispanic civilisations in Mexico, but also because the Castilian text is the only complete one attributable to the author.
Fra Bernardino was born in 1499 in Sahagún, in the old Kingdom of León. After taking the Franciscan habit, he abandoned his family name, Ribeira. Little is known about his religious training in Spain, but we do know for certain that he studied in Salamanca, and that after having entered the Franciscan order he followed Antonio di Ciudad Rodrigo to Mexico, where he arrived in 1529.
The Codex was compiled between 1576 and 1577. The preparation of the work, which Fra Bernardino was commissioned to undertake by Padre Comisario General, Fray Rodrigo de Soquera, dates from 1575. The books are indigenous accounts verbalised by Fra Bernardino from the year 1559. In 1569, after reorganising and correcting the accounts gathered directly from informers, he eventually drafted a complete version of the entire Historia.
The bilingual codex, which even in 1585 Bernardino declared to know nothing about, reached Biblioteca Palatina of the Grand-duke of Tuscany around 1589, probably as a gift from Philip II.
The three volumes are presented in a slip case (size 218 x 325 x 168 mm).