Italian Paleography


Chicago, Newberry VAULT folio Case MS 87 .1
Venetian Chronicle
Italy, between 1400 and 1499

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This late fifteenth-century Venetian chronicle is composed in two cursive book hands, covering the history of Venice’s foundation from the first settlements in the Venetian lagoons up to the year 1434.  Pages 19v and 20r of the chronicle detail the actions of the doges from the years 878 to 927.  Of note are the initials in blue and red with interior ornamental lines, as well as headings in red.  There are marginal notes added in a later hand.  In addition to the very straight and legible main hand, one of the most attractive features of this chronicle are the watercolors of the arms of the doges, painted in the margins in blue, gold, and red.  Though the author of the chronicle is unknown, the work gives the impression of a well-educated man connected to government and with access to archives.

This section of the chronicle deals primarily with the Badoer family, prominent and ancient members of the patriciate, who ruled Venice fairly continuously with seven doges over the course of the ninth and tenth centuries (the circular emblem with horizontal blue and gold stripes and the rearing lion of the Badoer house appears four times).  Venice struggled with external threats in the 800s, dealings with Arab forces as well as challenges from Eastern Europe as the Republic asserted itself both in the Mediterranean and the surrounding _terra firma.  _The chronicle details the actions of the doges during enemy conflicts, including a serious defeat of the Venetians––­­under the command of Piero Badoer with help from the Emperor Theodosius­­––by the Arabs in the 840s, which crippled Venetian naval capabilities for some time.  The author also recounts the assassination of Doge Piero Tradenigo at the hands of the Sanudi family, as well as the battles between the Venetians and Slavic forces, under Doge Orso Badoer and then his son, Giovanni.  The Venetians fared better against the Slavs than the Saracens, and despite “a three-day rain of blood and a great terror,” Giovanni was able to remain in power after the death of his father.


Gotica molto tarda, destrutturata, poco contrastata e compressa con qualche elemento derivato dalla corsiva.
Da notare: l’uso di d sia tonda che diritta ma senza rispetto per la regola (20r, r. 13: dela; r. 14: dogal); la h con secondo tratto che scende sotto il rigo (19v, r. 11: chaxe); la z in forma di 3 che scende appena sotto il rigo (r. 40: Grezia).
commento: mercantesca cinquecentesca mista di elementi dall’umanistica.
Da notare: la f e s raddoppiate che non scendono sotto il rigo (20r, r. 27: fosse); la x in un sol tempo (19v, r. 1: Baxegi); la z alta che scende sotto il rigo e lega con lettera seguente (20r, r. 11: Zane); il legamento ch privo del tratto inferiore della h (20r, r. 30: ch(e)).

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