Medieval libraries have transmitted a substantial intellectual heritage known to us by two kinds of rich and complex sources : inventories and surviving manuscripts. France is, after Italy, the European country possessing the most sources (ca. 3500 inventories), but it is, along with Italy, one of the last to publish the body of its inventories. The purpose of Biblifram is to build a corpus of inventories in accordance with the most rigorous scientific criteria, and to provide the intellectual and technical tools for exploiting a documentary treasure difficult to access: technical, in that electronic documents consisting of raw data would be available free for downloading online (databases, encoded texts, digitalized images) and intellectual, in that, printed publications, comprehensive studies, academic research and applications for an enlightened audience/public would also be available.
Beginning with a census and an investigation of all known preserved sources (from the 8th to the 19th century) as well as an in depth study of selected dossiers, Biblifram proposes to determine to what extent the formation of old libraries and the drawing up of book-lists actually contributed to the development of an identity : ideological paradigms; organized institutional networks ; new and changing cultural models ; evolving reading habits and ways in which books circulated. The project would deliberately strive to be both all-inclusive in constructing the corpus and exemplary in maximizing case studies.
To be followed by a comprehensive printed book on book-lists.
With this corpus, the international historical community expects France to provide the missing – and central— link in the European chain. Once all the sources are in place with their critical apparati, we would treat the landmark dossiers in depth, thus enabling historical research to make significant progress, in particular with regard to the intellectual history of 14th and 15th centuries. Without indepth studies on the Sorbonne, the Mendicants, the pre-humanists or the Royal Library, etc., no sociology of reading habits, no archeology of cultural change or identity. By composing series of data within a corpus as exhaustive as possible, we hope to achieve a better comprehension of the erratic itineraries of texts, the discovery of still unknown texts, and a more refined understanding of what was once called, not without reason, “humanities”. The aim of Biblifram is to open to researchers sources which are difficult to understand with the hope that this will lead to a huge increase of our knowledge.