Italian Paleography


Chicago, Newberry VAULT Case MS folio H 5435 .312
Guild Statutes of the Florentine Mercanzia and its University
Florence, around 1580

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Like those in Newberry Wing MS Z 46735 .916 from Siena [INSERT LINK], the guild statutes in this manuscript resulted from a reform of the guilds mandated by Francesco I de’ Medici (1541-1587), Grand Duke of Tuscany, in line with a general government policy to supervise closely the activities of all semi-public associations.  The Mercanzia in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance was one of the four major guilds that dominated civic life through restricted membership tied to political rights.  By the sixteenth century it had become a sort of super-guild with legal jurisdiction over most business transactions within the city and surrounding district, its own police force, and an important commercial court whose records have been used extensively by historians of Florence.  The Medici reform of the Mercanzia brought together rules that had appeared in earlier statues (of 1393 and 1496) and added new regulations to ensure control by the ducal authorities.  Once formally enacted, in May of 1577, a number of copies of the statutes would have been written out in a businesslike hand and unpretentious format for the use of officers of the guild and judges of the court.  This manuscript is likely a copy of that sort, intended for practical use.  Its 350-page text is provided with a 31-page alphabetical index to facilitate reference.  Similar manuscript copies are held by the library of the Italian Senate (2 copies), the Universities of Chicago (MS 662) and North Carolina (Hanes Collection MS 42), and Yale University Law School (2 versions: Rare26 15-0042 and Rare36 11-0023); others no doubt exist in the collections of the Archivio di Stato, Florence.


Italica (XVI seconda metà) regolare, professionale, moderatamente corsiva.
Da notare: la g dall’ampio occhiello inferiore (r. 1: signore); la z corsiva in un sol tempo (r. 11: addizioni); il legamento de con l’ultimo tratto di d che forma la parte inferiore della e, mentre l’occhiello e indipendente (r. 5: de).

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Item fully digitized here.