Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


The Raven King, By Marcus Tanner

Bound with his symbol of a raven, the 2,000 volumes in the library of Matthias Corvinus (1443-1490) have long dispersed, yet they continue to be a powerful nationalist symbol in Hungary, which he ruled from 1458.

Tanner, a long-time Independent contributor, draws a fascinating portrait of this regal bibliophile. Matthias maintained genial relations with Dracula, who appealed to his "morbid sense of humour".

Unhappy at home, Matthias sought solace in accumulating a store of knowledge second only to the papal library, but his interest in astrology proved misplaced. A volume predicting "a life...fairly long" appeared just before he succumbed from eating a mouldy fig.