One of the clues to Zrínyi’s work is his library, that is why Zrínyi scholars want to study thoroughly his former collection. Living in the Southwest corner of Hungary, in the jaws of the Ottoman Turks, Zrínyi the poet, politician and military commander had hardly any opportunity to spend time in other people’s libraries or in the libraries of institutions. He had to find reading matter in his own library, collected by him and kept in his own castle.To be able to read today the volumes of the “Csáktornya (the name of his castle) bibliotheca” would offer Zrínyi scholars an opportunity to acquire the same learning he had, to get an insight into his intellectual universe and to familiarize themselves with his turn of mind and background. In this way we get acquainted with the sources and literary models of his works. Zrínyi scholarship realized the importance of his library and scholars availed themselves of the opportunity offered to them in1893, when S Kende, the owner of the Zrínyi estate at that time, published the text of the 1662 Catalogue of the Csáktornya library, together with a list of the books he considered to have belonged to Miklós and Ádám Zrínyi. When the University (by now the National and University) Library of Zagreb acquired Zrínyi’s collection, the books became accessible to scholars. The author of the first monograph on Zrínyi, Károly Széchy studied and used the Zrínyi collection during his researches for his work, and he was followed by other eminent Zrínyi scholars of the first half of the twentieth century, such as László Négyesi, Zoltán Ferenczi, Tibor Kardos and Béla Zolnai. As a part of the catalogue of the 1918 Zrínyi exhibition in Budapest, Ferenczi published the hitherto most complete list of titles of the Zrínyi library; the list contains more items than Kende’s former catalogue, though it is rather terse. In 1934, on Jenő Koltay-Kastner”s initiative, Maria Drasenovich published Zrínyi’s marginal notes, thereby supplying a great number of glosses indispensable to the Zrínyi philology.
The developing Zrínyi research of the last few decades relied more than ever on the study of Zrínyi’s library and the information it offered to them. The special collection of the National and University Library of Zagreb, the “Bibliotheca Zriniana” became a veritable place of pilgrimage for Zrínyi scholars, because of the hospitable reception offered to them, and the books themselves, the sources of the works and thoughts of Zrínyi, the poet, politician and military writer, materials to which no attention had been paid before, came to be known one by one to the academic community. However, in the light of the new researches it became obvious that Kende, Ferenczi and Drasenovich’s incomplete, abridged lists and publications, which sometimes were even full of errors, could no longer meet the demands of modern bibliography and philology and, in the interest of further researches, the bibliographic control of the entire holdings of the Zrínyi library, tracing and checking lost volumes, cataloguing (a full bibliographical description of) the entire collection and writing a history of the library could no longer be postponed.
The first conception of this work was formulated in 1957, as part of the programme to make a critical edition of Zrínyi’s works, planned by the Institute for Literary Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, but the0 plan failed to materialize. The third volume of this critical edition should have contained the new and up-to-date edition of the Catalogus of 1662 and the marginal notes. Andor Tarnai began to indentify the titles which had been included in the Catalogus, but were lost later However this work – because of his other engagements – remained unfinished. Two decades later, the Department of Early Hungarian Literature of the Attila József University in Szeged, in cooperation with the Central Library of the University and on Professor Bálint Keserű’s initiative, started to collect and publish all the sixteenth and seventeenth-century Hungarian catalogues of books as part of a large-scale enterprise. The exploration of the holdings of the Zrínyi Library was an integral part of this work and was began by Éva Kocziszky and István Monok in 1979. Parallel to this enterprise, the Zríinyi study group, at the Lóránd Eötvos University of Budapest, under Sándor Iván Kovács’s direction, put the task of writing the history of the Zrínyi Library on their agenda. Some of this partially done work was published in 1984 and 1985 by Géza Orlovszky and Gábor Hausner. The successful preliminary work made possible that the holdings of the Zrínyi library could be catalogued and the description of the collection and the history of the Zrínyi library might be treated within the same work. When the series “Zrínyi Könyvtár” (Zrínyi Library) was launched in 1985, owing to the generosity and good offices of the publishing house Zrínyi Kiadó, it soon became obvious that the work offering a comprehensive treatment of the Zrínyi library should be published as a volume of this series.
A research team of five members, who were to complete this work in the end, could do the work under highly favourable conditions. The contract of cooperation between the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Jugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb made possible for the members of the research team to spend long spells of time in succession in Zagreb studying the extant volumes of the Zrínyi library. All of the highly favourable working conditions and research opportunities were offered to the team by the National and University Library of Zagreb. With the consent of the direction, we could take photographs of the title pages of books and of the pages contaning marginal notes for research purposes, in order that we may subject the texts to close scrutiny and go into the details and scholarly minutiae of our work after our return to Hungary. When we want to express our gratitude and thanks to the direction and staff of the Library for the sympathy shown to colleagues and fellow scholars, our special and heartfelt thanks should go first and foremost to the head of the department of special collections, Professor Drazen Budisa, who followed our work with sympathetic attention; and contributed much to the success of our researches by his helpfulness and friendly advice. It was mainly due to him that we could successfully complete the task we had set to ourselves, and we could spend weeks of hard work in a warm and friendly atmosphere, where we could feel at home.
The Zrínyi library that once had belonged to the Zrínyi family and first of all to Miklós Zrínyi, Hungarian poet and viceroy of Croatia, was later set up in Csáktornya (in County Zala at the time), and after World War I became the property of the Croatian nation. Therefore by the scholarly treatment of the holdings and history of the Bibliotheca Zriniana we strived to produce a work that could be of use to Croatian scholars as well as to us, and we also wanted that even international bibliographic activity could profit by it. It was especially important to us to make a contribution to the work of the friendly host institution, the National and University Library of Zagreb, keeper of the collection. With the exhaustive exploration of a part of the treasures of the library we would like to contribute to the detailed bibliographic description and study of the holdings.
In our book the catalogue entries are mainly in Latin, Italian, French and German; and most of the marginal notes are in Latin. The comments and annotations and the main text, the history of the Library are, as a matter of fact, in Hungarian. However, we did out best to make the work accessible to non-Hungarian-speaking scholars, too. Even in the Hungarian text we used mostly international terms; the English translation of the explanation of the signs and abbreviations is included, and the historical chapters are summarized in English., too.
Besides the opportunity to do profitable scholarly work in the Zagreb Library and the help given to us by the direction and staff of this library, our research team was fortunate enough to enjoy the assistance of several other institutions, libraries, and persons. We were dependent on material from various libraries, European libraries in the first place. Of these libraries the first mention should go to the Herzog August Library of Wolfenbüttel. The founder of this library, Prince August was Miklós Zrinyi’s contemporary and a rich bibliophile, and among the volumes of his collection, one of the largest collections of his time, a lot of works could be found copies of which had once been possessed by Zrínyi but were lost from the collection in the meantime. For the opportunity to indentify and describe the books lost from the Zrínyi library, we are much indebted to the generous help of the Library in Wolfenbüttel. Without studying the holdings of this rich contemporary library we would not have been able to make a true reconstruction of the Hungarian collection.
For information received and opportunities to study on the spot books from their collections we wish to express our gratitude to the following libraries ----
Several person gave us hints and clues to matters of identification, helped us with checking titles of books against their library holdings and with deciphering extremely problematic handwritings and gave us metholdological advice, too. We received generous help from ----
A.Tarnai who had began to identify the volumes of the Zrínyi Library and É.Kocziszky, who had been a member of our working group for a time, made available to us their research material. The generous and rather tiring work of our special consultants, G.Borsa and P.Kulcsár allowed us to perfect our manuscript, by eliminating several mistakes, slips of the pen and inconsistencies. We express our sincere thanks to all of them.