The primary objective of this programme is to re-launch research into the history of Greek libraries in the Ottoman Empire between the 16th and the 20th centuries.

On an experimental basis the project will begin with the history of the library of the Holy Trinity monastery (Ἁγία Τριάς), re-founded by Patriarch Metrophanes III of Constantinople on Chalki island (Χάλκη, close to Constantinople) in the 16th century.     

A rare textbook case is offered, as this is one of the rare ancient libraries in the eastern domain for which the original collection can be fairly faithfully reconstructed. By its dependence on the institution of the patriarchate, it presents also a privileged terrain for the study of the cultural environment of the Great Church in Constantinople at this moment in time, its relations with the Ottoman authorities but also, on the wider level, cultural and religious exchanges between Europe and the East.

The project will involve reconstituting and linking two corpuses, separated by almost five centuries, corresponding to the original form of the library and its present state, which is both partly enriched and dispersed. This study should result in an analysis of the socio-cultural context that saw the library’s birth and development: modes affecting its establishment, use, conservation and dispersion.

Map of the Princes islands (1805): Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Cartes et plans, GE D-16638


The project has been conceived so as on the one hand to articulate the academic research method proper to the study and the reconstitution of manuscript corpuses in ancient libraries and on the other to develop the computerized tools required for the implementation of this new methodology.

The undertaking concerns side by side the development of computerized tools required for treating this type of corpus and also the elaboration and study of an initial corpus, consisting of manuscripts originating from Holy Trinity monastery.

The following elements are planned

  • Catalogue of manuscripts of the Holy Trinity collection, kept at the Oecumenical Patriarchate (paper publication).
  • Catalogue of dispersed manuscripts formerly belonging to Holy Trinity monastery (electronic publication by means of a TEI cataloguing module hosted on the Pinakes database).
  • Electronic publication of travellers’ accounts that mention the Princes’ Islands (16th – 19th centuries).
  • Edition of ancient lists and inventories of the Holy Trinity monastery library with the help of an inventory edition tool permitting TEI coding.
  • Development of the Pinakes database permitting virtual reconstruction of the library.
  • Digitalization of all the manuscripts connected with the Holy Trinity monastery library and, it is hoped, direct free access by means of BVMM.
  • Organisation of two colloquia devoted to the history of Greek libraries in the Ottoman Empire.
  • Publication of a monograph on the subject of the Chalki Holy Trinity monastery library.