Italian Paleography


Chicago, Newberry Library, VAULT Case MS folio E 5 .P7536
Lodovico Beccadelli
Life of Cardinal Reginaldo Polo and Senate Report by Marin de Cavalli
Italy, around 1560

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Dating from ca. 1560, this document by Lodovico Beccadelli is a life of the English Cardinal Reginald Pole. Beccadelli was secretary to Gasparo Contarini as well as Pole, and he also accompanied Pole on several of his missions, solidifying a lifelong friendship. Beccadelli had secretarial duties at the Council of Trent and eventually went on to become archbishop of Ragusa. He wrote several biographies of famous men he was close to during his life including Contarini, Pole, and Pietro Bembo, as well as a biography of Petrarch.

Cardinal Pole was a significant figure in England during the Counter Reformation and famously took his last breaths mere hours after the death of his queen, Mary Tudor. Mary brought Pole back to England from his self-imposed exile in France and Italy––Pole had broken with Henry VIII as the king sought his famous divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Pole also played a role in the Council of Trent, and came close to becoming pope himself in the late 1540s. When Mary assumed the throne and returned England to the Catholic fold, Pole became Papal Legate to England at the behest of Julius III. Queen Mary also appointed Pole as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, an office he held until his death––Pole was in fact the last Catholic to serve in that role.

The document is for the most part written in a fairly legible––if sprawling––cursive, with some blotches and variations in ink saturation. It is a large book with frayed page edges. This page touches on the restoration of Catholicism in England, how Pole was the greatest example to other prelates, and how pleasing “the reconciliation of the kingdom” under Mary was to Pope Julius III. It also discusses the ongoing loyalties of the Catholic clergymen in England, many of whom preferred to lose their “robes and honors” after Mary’s death rather than renounce the Catholic faith during Elizabeth’s subsequent reforms.


Corsiva usuale, non curata, frettolosa, dall’allineamento discendente e tracciato pesante, fortemente inclinata a destra.
Da notare: l’uso esclusivo di s maiuscola; la z sovramodulata (r. 32: allegrezza); il legamento st (r. 12: restituire).

Selected Bibliography:

Item fully digitized here.