Manuscripts were the cornerstone of humanism. They had been the main vector for transmission of the ancient texts and culture in the Middle Ages. Most of them had nonetheless been lost or forgotten in remote libraries. In order to recover the ancient Greek and Latin texts they favoured, humanists went on a European quest to find these manuscripts. From Italy, at first, humanists travelled all across Europe, visiting convents and libraries, in search of the lost works of Tacitus, Cicero, etc. building and securing the antique legacy of European culture.
Source : Recovery of manuscripts (The)