Italian Paleography


Chicago, Newberry VAULT folio Case MS 110
Account and Memorandum Book of the Works Administration of Santa Maria degli Alberighi in Florence
Florence, between 1501 and 1529

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The unpretentious parish church of Santa Maria degli Alberighi, located in the heart of medieval Florence, became in the Renaissance the site of an unusual new cult of the Blessed Virgin.  This change of status was occasioned by a scandalous act of sacrilege.  Over the portal of the medieval church stood a fourteenth-century fresco of the Annunciation (reproduced in a miniature on the cover of the Newberry manuscript).  One day in July of 1501 a certain Antonio Rinaldeschi, drunk and enraged after a session of heavy gambling losses, cursed the Virgin for his misfortune and threw a clump of dung at the image.  Blasphemy of the sort was punished vigorously in Florence in the years after the turbulent ministry and execution (1494-1498) of Girolamo Savonarola.  Popular opinion seems to have held that Rinaldeschi’s rapid identification (despite the absence of witnesses), capture, attempted suicide, penitence, trial, and hanging (all within a few weeks) was effected by the Virgin herself; and this opinion almost immediately gave rise to a cult of miracles associated with the image.  Five guardians of works (here hoperai) and a works administration (Opera) were quickly set up to rehouse the painting; they did so with a series of increasingly elaborate structures in the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to accommodate many new devotees.  The Newberry manuscript is a daily account and memorandum book (giornale e ricordanze) of the works administration.  It principally concerns receipts and expenditures for the construction of the new church in its first few decades, but it also includes accounts of the founding events.  A very similar manuscript is preserved at the Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley (fMs. UCB 54).


Mercantesca dal modulo piccolo, ductus ora più posato ora più rapido, ricca di legamenti.
Da notare:  legamento ch privo del tratto inferiore della h (2r, r. 1: chonp(agni)a); s in un sol tratto che lega con lettera precedente e seguente (2r, r.1 ultimo paragrafo: chose); z alta in forma di 3 che discende sotto il rigo e lega con lettera seguente (2r, ultimo r.: azurro).

Selected Bibliography:

The Newberry manuscript has not been published. The Bancroft copy and related manuscripts are cited in these sources: