Italian Paleography


Newberry VAULT Case MS folio F 35993 .148
Gian Giacomo Caroldo
History of Venice by Gian Giacomo Caroldo
Italy, between 1500 and 1599

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The manuscript entitled “Storie venete del Caroldo” contains a chronicle of the city of Venice composed in vernacular by Gian Giacomo Caroldo, a Venetian diplomat and chancery official who lived at the end of Quattrocento and the beginning of Cinquecento. According to Pietro Bembo (Historie venete, VIII, pp. 295 and ff.), Caroldo played an important role in unfolding the diplomatic plot leading to the League of Cambrai against Venice in 1509 in which the Republic of Venice almost lost all of its possessions in mainland Italy. His chronicle is divided into 10 books, from the foundation of the city to the death of doge Andrea Contarini (1382).

As an officer of the Republic, Caroldo had direct access to official documents on which he based his chronicle. It was meant to be read by administrators as a guide for their work and, therefore, it focuses on topics such as the administration of the state, diplomatic relationships with other states, and warfare. For this reason, it is considered a dry historical account narrated from the perspective of an administrator.

The work is divided in two volumes (Tomo I and II), both with a hard-wooden cover. On the back of the front cover there is an armorial bookplate with the French motto, “La vertu est la seule noblesse” (virtue is the only nobility), similar to the bookplate of the Earl of Guilford. A flyleaf is followed by a half-page with the title of the work in modern Italian and the inscription “Phillipps Ms 5018” in handwriting, referring to Thomas Phillips, English antiquary and book collector of the nineteenth century, who possessed at least one other copy of Caroldo’s Chronica.

The online inventory of chronicles of Venice and Ravenna edited by Antonio Carile (see here) reports 45 sources containing Caroldo’s chronicle in full or partial editions, but does not mention the Newberry manuscript. Moreover, this manuscript appears to be the only one with the title in modern Italian. At the end of the second volume there is a table of contents (“Tavola del contenuto”) containing brief summaries of major events in Venetian history, which does not appear to be related to Caroldo’s chronicle.


Corsiva seicentesca professionale ma incerta nel tracciato e nell’allineamento. Potrebbe trattarsi di una mano senile.
Da notare: la d con asta ripiegata su sé stessa (r. 6: discorso); la e in due tratti incrociati (r. 12: et); la r diritta divaricata (r. 15: creator); la t che lega tramite la traversa (r. 10: travagliano).

Selected Bibliography:

Item fully digitized here.