The Codex Gigas (English: Giant Book) is the largest medieval manuscript in the world. It is also known as the Devil’s Bible because of a great illustration of the Devil on the inside and the legend surrounding his creation. It is thought to have been created at the beginning of the 12th century in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice in Bohemia (Czech Republic). It contains the Vulgate Bible as well as many historical documents all written in Latin. Eventually finding his way to the Imperial Library of Rodolphe II, the entire collection was taken as war booty by the Swedes in 1648 during the Thirty Years War, and the manuscript is now preserved in the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm, on the screen for the general public.
The codex is bound in a wood back covered with leather and worked metal. At 92 cm (36 “) high, 50 cm (20”) wide and 22 cm (8.7 “) thick, it is the largest known medieval manuscript. Weighing 74.8 kg (165 lb), the Codex Gigas is composed of 310 sheets of vellum that would have been made from donkey skins or perhaps calfskin. It initially contained 320 sheets, although some of them were subsequently withdrawn. We do not know who removed the pages or for what purpose, but it seems probable that they contained the monastic rules of the Benedictines.
The legend says that it was written by a scribe in one night.
According to legend, the Codex was created by Herman the recluse in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice near Chrudim in the Czech Republic. The monastery was destroyed during the 15th century during the Hussite revolution. Records in the codex end of the year 1229. The Codex then promised to the Cistercians Sedlec Monastery and then bought by the Benedictine monastery of Břevnov. From 1477 to 1593 it was kept in the library of a monastery in the Broumov region until it was taken to Prague in 1594 to form part of the collections of the Emperor Rudolf II.
At the end of the Thirty Years War, in 1648, the entire collection was taken as war booty by the Swedish army. From 1649 to 2007, the manuscript was kept in the Royal Library of Stockholm. The site of its creation is marked by a model in the museum of the city of Chrast.
On Friday, May 7, 1697, a violent fire broke out in the royal castle of Stockholm, and the Royal Library suffered very badly. The codex was saved from flames by thrown out of a window. This has damaged the binding and lost a few pages that are still missing today. According to vicar Johann Erickson, landed on the codex and wounded a passerby. In September 2007, after 359 years, Codex Gigas returned to Prague on loan from Sweden until January 2008 and was exhibited at the Czech National Library.