In the Library of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a luxurious work in three volumes is displayed in a prominent position. Its title, "Arms and origins of the nobility of the Austrias," gives an incomplete idea of the purpose and content of the manuscript. The three books, measuring 50 x 35.2 cm, contain a description of the world from biblical times until the middle of the 16th century, treated in the first volume from a chronological historical perspective; the second volume is on topographical principles, in order of dominions and countries; the third deals with the social order, especially regarding the role of the aristocracy vis à vis the empire and the populace. The work is dedicated to Philip II and dated 1547-48.
The texts are in Latin and German, and their historical dimension is in their relation to Charles V, whose universal empire is seen as the result of a historical process which started with Noah. Thus the first volume, "Historia originis et succesionis regnorum et imperiorum a Noe ad Carolum V," 193 fols. with 227 miniatures showing figures, 5 of them presented as models, demonstrates the empire as originating with Old Testament prophecy.
The second volume, "Historia originis et nobilitatis Hispaniae et Germaniae," 218 fols. with 137 miniatures, is in the form of a hierarchical presentation of European countries and their possessions, beginning with the Kingdom of Spain, following through principalities and counties to independent feudal states like Russia and Switzerland, listing their sovereigns from as far backas mythical and legendary times.
The third volume of the codex, "Historia nobilitates et torneamentorum," 202 fols. with 31 miniatures, is devoted to the nobility, its origins back in mythology, and its rights from moral and political viewpoints.
We have 5 facsimiles of the manuscript "Book of Dynasties":
- Historia heráldica y origen de la nobleza de los Austrias facsimile edition published by Ediciones Grial, 1996
- Historia Genealógica y Heráldica (set of 3 volumes) facsimile edition published by Testimonio Compañía Editorial, 1997
- Historia Genealógica y Heráldica (Vol. I) facsimile edition published by Testimonio Compañía Editorial, 1997
- Historia Genealógica y Heráldica (Vol. II) facsimile edition published by Testimonio Compañía Editorial, 1997
- Historia Genealógica y Heráldica (Vol. III) facsimile edition published by Testimonio Compañía Editorial, 1997