Italian Paleography


Chicago, Newberry VAULT Case MS F 3923 .19
Angelo Coraro
Coraro’s History of France
Italy, 1641

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This small rebound manuscript in red hardback covers with gold and black marbled endpapers includes a Newberry bookplate from 1892 inside its front inside.  There is a brief description of the work in French glued to the bottom of the third flyleaf, followed by the manuscript title page: “The Relations of France, of the most blessed sir Cardinal Angelo Coraro, 19 November 1641” – the work covers the reign of Louis XIII.  The left vertical edge of 1r bears a modern pencil inscription that says: “Gift of Prof. J.W. Thompson, Chicago, Mar. 6, 1913.”  The manuscript hand is, as the appended French description says, “très lisible” (very readable); it is written neatly and in straight lines, with good spacing throughout the text.

Cardinal Coraro begins his manuscript by pointing out that France currently holds “the greatest part of Christianity,” but that it is “in agitation” due to the present conditions.  Coraro professes his status as a humble – indeed, “weak” – messenger to the king, but one who is “obligated by public Decrees” to discuss the current state of affairs.  This is an act which the cardinal insists is more daring than he would have believed of himself, and that it is only possible at all because he is protected by “this most Excellent Senate.”  Coraro composed his Relatione two years before Louis XIII died.

Louis XIII’s reign was marked by ongoing struggles to consolidate power in a still religiously turbulent France as well as the onset of the Thirty Years’ War in Europe.  Louis’ father was Henri IV, also known as Henry the Great.  Henri is most famous for his politique attitudes and – for the day – a notable religious tolerance, given form in 1598 in the Edict of Nantes.  Despite his popularity, Henri was assassinated in 1610 by a Catholic fanatic.  Louis XIII and his Catholic forces won a resounding victory over French Huguenots at the Siege of La Rochelle in 1627-8.  His reign is also notable for Cardinal Richelieu’s rise to prominence. Louis’ son, Louis XIV - the “Sun King,” the most famous of the seventeenth century’s absolute monarchs – revoked the Edict of Nantes.


Corsiva (sec. XVII metà) usuale, ma regolare nel modulo e nell’allineamento, fortemente legata e inclinata a destra.
Da notare: la p dal tratto raddoppiato (r. 4: per); la t in un sol tratto (r. 3: agitatione); la z con ampio tratto finale obliquo sotto il rigo (r. 14: debolezza).

Selected Bibliography:

Item fully digitized here.