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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

Throughout Europe, attitudes towards the past changed in the decades around 1800, rendering, in effect, history a matter of public interest. This process transfers historical sources and interest from private associations, collections, monastic communities, noble estates, and royal palaces into the public sphere. An important part of the great intellectual revolutions of Europe had always been played by libraries. The donation of Cardinal Bessarion's codices to the city of Venice had been an indispensable element in triggering the Renaissance. Public access to culture at large had for a while been on the rise in Europe. The art galleries and libraries of monarchs and princes were, in the course of the eighteenth century, increasingly opened up, at least for a day or two per week, for suitable members of the public.

Keywords: eighteenth century; historical sources; monastic communities

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