Italian Paleography


Chicago, Newberry Library, VAULT Case MS 27 .1
Matteo dei Libri
Collection of Diplomatic Speeches
Tuscany, First half of 14th century

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Even though his primary occupation was that of notary, Matteo Dei Libri (1214-1275) was highly invested in teaching the ars dictamini. From his pedagogical experiences, he published four volumes with instructions on how to write letters and other private and public documents: three in Latin and one in the vernacular. The item presented here is an acephalous Tuscan vernacular copy of his Formulario di allocuzioni (also known as Arringhe or Dicerie), and it includes twenty out of sixty-six model speeches recorded in other surviving sources. Its old pagination (cc.203-227, of which cc.221-220 are lost leaving arringa XI and XII only partially transcribed) clearly signals that it was originally part of a larger book project. The order in which the speeches are transcribed is rather unique, and its scribe’s name is recorded in the colophon: “[…] Zucherus manus scriptoris salvetur omnibus horis” (c.227r, now 17r). The Formulario covers a wide range of potential public and private scenarios: just to quote two examples, it suggests what to say when electing a new governor (podestà), calling him to be just and reasonable, noble in spirit (and with good intentions, serving and hearing both the poor and the rich) and not simply in title (c.1r); or how a capitano of a land should suggest a podestà (governor) to lead by example, with reason and steadiness, in troubled times (c.11r). 
Newberry VAULT Case MS 27.1 was purchased in 1951 from renowned antiquarian Hans Peter Kraus. The Strozzi ducal coat-of-arms is stamped on the armorial binding, a sign of possession, at least from the time when the book was rebound (see image above).

Newberry Library VAULT Case MS 27 .1, cover

The Newberry manuscript is not mentioned in the 1974 edition of the Arringhe, which includes variants of the eight manuscripts known by the author at the time (among them MS Laurenziano Pluteo 76.74).  The entire transcription of the Newberry’s thirty-three speeches can be found in Cherchi’s 1979 essay.


Gotica, informale, tipica per testi in italiano.
Da notare: il contrasto, la spezzatura e la sovrapposizione delle curve moderati; lo slancio delle aste; la a di tipo corsivo (1r, r. 1: quando); la g in più forme (1r, r. 10: già è gra(n)di); le aste molto allungate e dotate di elementi ornamentali nel primo e ultimo rigo (11r).

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