Italian Paleography


Chicago, Newberry Library, VAULT Case MS 214
Domenico Cavalca
Florence or Venice, between 1465 and 1475

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MS 214 is a miscellany of encyclopedic and didactic texts, on moral and theological themes, mostly translations, all written on paper in Italy during the last third of the fifteenth century, collected perhaps close to their transcription or within a hundred years.  This manuscript is a witness of several moments of reception: the moment of various translations (mostly from about a century earlier), the moment of copying (around the time of the watermark close to Briquet no. 3370: “chapeau de cardinal ”: Florence, 1465-1467), and the moments of successive possessions by owners or users who left their pen marks and sometimes even their names in the margins.  A colophon on the last leaf (c.134v) indicates transcription by a doublet-maker (“…frasettaio, scritto di sua mano”), and some sixteenth-century marginalia (cc.48rv) indicates its use by merchants trading with Constantinople.  It contains a vernacular treatise on patience (cc.1-47) by Pisan Dominican preacher, Domenico Cavalca (c.1270-1342); a life of an unnamed female saint (cc.47v-48r); an anonymous fifteenth-century Franciscan allegorical text, Monte dell’orazione (cc.49r-76r), followed by some prayers to Saint Catherine (cc.76r-77v); an excerpt from an Italian version of meditations, Della coscienza _(_De interiori domo) (cc.77v-86v), attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153); excerpts from the anonymous Questioni filosofiche _(cc.86v-100v), which is a partial translation of the _Questiones naturales _of Adelard of Bath (c. 1080 – c. 1152); and a partial version of the _Elucidarium (cc.101r-139v) of Honorius Augustodunensis (c. 1080–c.1154).  With the exception of Monte dell’orazione (cc.49r-76r), the translations are all from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.  Two of them (Questioni filosofiche cc.86v-100v and Lucidario cc.101r-139v) are in dialogue form, and Monte also involves conversation between protagonist and allegorical personae.  MS214 is a rare witness of a portion of the text of Questioni filosofiche (cc.86v-100v), transmitted in only two other extant manuscripts and not readily identifiable here because of the fragmentary nature of the manuscript that has lost a number of leaves.


Si tratta di una scrittura ibrida che ha come modello l’umanistica: tracciato sottile, posata, aste slanciate, d diritta, alcune maiuscole (49r, r. 2: Maria); tuttavia essa risente anche della formazione grafica dello scrivente che è evidentemente in mercantesca: d occasionalmente con asta che si ripiega per legare a destra (47v, r. 1: padri); h con il secondo tratto che scende sotto il rigo (49r, r. 6: orechie); r sempre corsiva; u/v con il primo tratto sviluppato (49r, r. 4: uno); nota tironiana per et di forma corsiva che scende sotto il rigo (49r, r. 4: (et) delle). Il libro nel suo insieme non è un libro di tipo umanistico né per realizzazione, piuttosto sciatta, né per decorazione, né, come si è visto per tipo di scrittura.

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