Italian Paleography


Chicago, Newberry Wing MS ZW 1 .581
Notarial Certificate Concerning the Legitimation of Marco Negroponte, Issued in Venice, 1581
Venice, 1581

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This document is a manuscript notarial certificate concerning the legitimation of Marco Negroponte, signed by the notary Marcus Antonius de Cavaneis in 1581. It is a folded insert in the front of a certified copy of privilege issued to Jacobus Superantio in Prague in 1561 by the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I. The majority of the book itself is the copy of the privilege, written very neatly in Latin in a clear hand. The most notable features of the central vellum manuscript book are the three beautifully illuminated pages that follow the folded insert. We cannot know how or why the notarial certificate wound up added to the front of this book––it is intriguing to note that the very last page of the book reverts back to the hand from the certificate and bears the same notarial mark of Marcus Antonius Cavaneis.

The certificate folds out of the book to roughly the size of four folios. The hand of the notary is larger and slightly less uniform than the concise Latin used for the copy of privilege, although Cavaneis’ writing is still quite clear. Many of the letters are flourished. The document is concerned with the legitimation of Marco Negroponte, who “may or may not” be the son of Andrea Negroponte, himself “the son of Jacob, citizen of Venice.” Whether or not Marco is Andrea’s son (and this uncertainty is repeated several times throughout the document, to emphasize that it does not matter whether or not Marco is Andrea’s biological son), Andrea is making Marco his heir. Marco has always been a part of the family, the obedient son in all ways, and taken care of Andrea and his affairs. The notarial language emphasizes that this is a legal, un-coerced act on Andrea’s part, that the title of heir and the properties are “freely donated, yielded, and given over”––this legitimation is witnessed by Cavaneis, the “public person here present,” and affixed with his notarial seal, and it is to be recognized “in every place, reason, and condition” henceforth. Andrea Negroponte had considerable property to be allocated, including twenty-one fields, a house of stone with roof tiles, an oven, a well, and a garden––the provenance of these possessions before Andrea acquired them is also described by Cavaneis.


Italica dal tracciato contrastato, densa di abbreviazioni tecniche e di elementi decorativi accessori.
Da notare: la e con tratto mediano obliquo verso l’alto concluso da bottone o ricciolo (r. 2: el); la u/v iniziale con primo tratto curvo verso destra e che ritorna poi verso sinistra (r. 2: volendo); la z con ultimo tratto molto sviluppato sotto il rigo (r. 8: pozzo); il legamento ol (r. 19: fioli).

Selected Bibliography:

Item fully digitized here.