Italian Paleography


Chicago, Newberry VAULT folio Case MS 97 .2
Leonardo Bruni
On the First Punic War in Vernacular
Florence, 1464

Go to Transcription
Go to Manuscript page 


This manuscript contains a copy of De primo bello punico, a work of Roman history by the Florentine humanist Leonardo Bruni. Unlike the much more elaborate copy elsewhere on this website, this manuscript is written on paper, features simple rubrics, and has no decorated initials, although space was left for them.

The unspectacular appearance of the manuscript belies the importance of the text it includes. Bruni was one of the most popular Italian humanists, celebrated for his historical writings and his translations. Over 3,000 manuscripts and 200 printed books of his works survive from the fifteenth century.  De bello punico was one of Bruni’s earliest historical works. Finished in 1422, it was an instant success; we now have over 160 manuscripts of the Latin text and nearly as many of an Italian translation, which Bruni himself may have overseen.

This copy of Bruni’s work affirms its profound cultural value in the fifteenth century. Evidence within the manuscript suggests that it was actively used over a long period of time. Marginal annotations show readers actively engaging with the content, and a later owner repaired a torn page by adding the missing paper and transcribing the lost text [see ff. 81-81v below]. Another sign of this copy’s importance is a note written on a parchment flyleaf. It describes a remedy for relieving “one who is in pain” that involved prayer, devotional performance, and a ritual hammering of nails. Ephemeral notes like these were often copied into medieval and early modern books that were considered valuable enough in themselves to keep. The presence of this note here suggests that this humble copy of Bruni’s best-seller was highly valued by its owners for centuries.


Umanistica non formale, ricca di elementi corsivi
Da notare: la a corsiva (1r, r. 2: parrà);la g con piccolo occhiello inferiore leggermente aperto (1r, r. 5: lu(n)gheçça); la h con il secondo tratto che scende sotto il rigo (1r, r. 2: che).
Nella carta finale una mano umanistica di basso livello esecutivo, disarticolata, corsiva.
Da notare: la e in due tratti (r. 1: dire); la d con asta ripiegata che lega a destra (r. 7: dixe); la g con occhiello inferiore oblungo spesso aperto e appena accennato (r. 12: ga(r)fagnana)

Selected Bibliography:

Item fully digitized here.