Italian Paleography


Chicago, Newberry Wing MS folio ZW 535 .L868
Leonardo Loredano
Letter to Joannes Barbadico from Leonardo Loredano
Venice, 10 August 1516

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This letter was written to Giovanni Barbadico (or Barbarigo), the son of the former Doge Marco, who died in 1486—less than a year after his election—probably after a heated altercation with his brother, and successor as doge, Agostino. Barbarigo was podestà (governor) of Torcello, an island where his family left several signs of their presence, including altarpieces and funerary monuments.

After a formulaic introduction in Latin which shows love and respect for the podestà, the letter shifts to Italian. Along with the language, the tone abruptly changes, openly expressing disappointment towards Giovanni Barbarigo. He had sent two men to the Council of Ten—the powerful governing body that oversaw, among other things, matters of state security. These men were supposed to know the valli del dogado well, the Venetian lagoon and the lands surrounding it. But what the Council of Ten specifically wanted to know from Barbarigo’s men is left unsaid. Still, the Council expressed their indignation at the failure of the men to provide the information they desired. The Council commanded Barbarigo to find two others who could deliver the particulars they needed. These were undoubtedly pressing matters. In the event that Barbarigo could not find other two local informants—which, the letter adds, it would be hard to believe—the podestà would have to send two or three men who could report to the Council of Ten separately.

Even though the name Leonardo Loredan, doge of Venice, appears at the letter’s opening, he was not the author. His name endows the letter, drafted by the Council of Ten, the authority of a supreme order of the Republic. In fact, the names of the doges were used to make official laws, sentences, graces, and political decisions issued by the different bodies of the Venetian government.


1r/v, 26v: Italica professionale, moderatamente corsiva, dal tracciato rotondeggiante.
Da notare: le aste molto sviluppate e le abbreviazioni per troncamento a fiocco (r. 1: etc(etera); r. 12 Dat(um)); la g con occhiello inferire sopramodulato (r. 3: giorni); la u/v con il primo tratto molto sviluppato (r. 10: uno); l’uso intensivo delle maiuscole tipico di questa scrittura.
26v: minuscola umanistica usuale, realizzata con penna tagliata grossa che crea chiarosuro nonostante la rpidità del ductus.
Da notare: la g con occhiello inferiore oblungo che lega a destra (r. 5: incargo); l’uso esclusivo di s di forma maiuscola (r. 1: soprascritta); l raddoppiata che lega a destra e sinistra (r. 2: Paulo).