Liberiya: the library of Ivan the Terrible
This story began in 1472, on the historic wedding of Moscow Grand Duke Ivan III and the niece of the last Byzantine emperor Constantine Sophia Paleologos. According to contemporary traditions, a wedding gift presented by the Emperor Constantine may look trivial.
But at that time, the largest library in the world, which was placed on 70 carts, was really a royal wedding gift. The library consisted of many handwritten manuscripts, written by Hebraic authors and the authors of Ancient Greek in various fields of science, history and religion. Plato, Cicero and Aristotle were among them. Besides, Ivan the Terrible was not an ordinary, uneducated man, who doesn’t have the slightest idea about history, culture and science. He read the books, which were presented to him in the original, because it was very difficult to find a good translation at that time. Prince Kurbatov was an intimate friend of the king. He often wrote in his letters to Ivan, that he hadn’t managed to read Aristotle’s works.
Not less important fact in the history of this library (the names Liberiya and Libereya from the Latin liber – «a book» are also widely-used) is that the king himself didn’t mind buying popular books of that time.
According to historical data, Ivan the Terrible took in his possession the library of Kazan Khan, after Khan was defeated and Kazan was captured. For those days it was a unique collection of ancient Islamic and Arabic books on various branches of human activity.
It should be mentioned, that scientists and historians of the Arab world, were much more educated than European scientists of that time. So that the centuries-old search for this collection has not only historical, but also educational value.