Boston College Libraries Faculty Newsletter



Focus on Publishing:
Brepols - A Vital Partner in Humanities Scholarship

Founded in 1796, Brepols Publishers is located in a 17th century beguinage in Turnhout, Belgium.  During the medieval and early modern period, beguinages housed beguines or women living together in a semi-monastic community but without formal vows.  The peak of beguine activity was during the Middle Ages, and therefore a beguinage is a fitting home for a publisher which specializes in medieval texts and scholarship.  A browse through the areas of expertise of Brepols' editorial staff provides a good picture of the subject strengths of this independent publishing house: theology, philosophy, history, archaeology, language, literature, music, art, and architectural history.

Over the past sixty years, O'Neill Library has continued to collect the print version of Brepols' major publishing series of critical texts, the Corpus Christianorum in its many subseries, which to date numbers nearly 500 volumes.   In 1991, this series appeared for the first time in digital format as the CETEDOC Library of Christian Latin Texts or CLCLT and was distributed on CD-ROMs.  By 2005, this resource was available on the web and its content had expanded to include Latin texts from the pre-Christian to the modern period.  Today, the Library of Latin Texts contains 63 million Latin words, drawn from more than 3,200 works that are attributed to approximately 950 authors.


It should be noted that the digital division of Brepols Publishers is named Brepolis.  The choice of Brepolis, which is sometimes rendered as BREPOLiS,  was probably influenced by the use of the lower case "i" at the beginning of so many digital products (most famously the iPod) – but with a clever twist worthy of a publishing house staffed by classicists and medievalists:  the "i" is hidden in a name which sounds like an ancient Greek city.


The Boston College Libraries' extensive holdings of Brepols' print publications are now complemented by a number of Brepolis web resources.  In addition to the Library of Latin Texts, researchers can access the following:

The Bibliography of British and Irish History provides bibliographic data on historical writing that deals with the British Isles, the British Empire and Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland, and the Irish in America. Date of coverage ranges from 55BC to the present.

In Principio consists of a collection of one million incipits (the first words of a particular ancient or medieval manuscript), the product of research carried out by the Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes and the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library.

Vetus Latina Database: The Latin biblical texts which were in existence from the second century CE until the time when the Vulgate became predominant are known as the Vetus Latina, or the Old Latin, Bible. The term Vetus Latina refers to all those biblical texts translated into Latin which are not found in the Vulgate.

International Medieval Bibliography is a comprehensive and current bibliography of the European Middle Ages (c.450-1500) of articles in journals and miscellaneous volumes of conference proceedings, essay collections and Festschriften.

Aristoteles Latinus Database provides access to the critical edition of the Medieval Latin Aristotle, i.e., the various forms in which Aristotle's texts came to be read in the West during the Middle Ages. The Latin ver­sions of these texts constituted the main tools for the study of science and philosophy during that period.

Coming next semester:

Bibliographie de Civilisation Médiévale
Database of Latin Dictionaries
International Encyclopaedia for the Middle Ages
Monumenta Germaniae Historica Online

Information about all the Brepolis databases and tutorials for using them are available.  Access to the databases available to Boston College is via the Brepolis database page.


Jonas Barciauskas
Head, Collection Development, O'Neill Library