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les Enluminures

Dictionary [Wordlist or Vocabolarietto], Spanish-Italian (Neapolitan?)

In Italian and Spanish, manuscript on paper
Italy, likely Naples?, c. 1530-1550?

TM 222


49 ff. (of which 9 are blank), apparently complete (collation i20, ii22, iii7 [of 10, 5 blank, 3 cancelled after iv, one with some added words]), on paper (watermarks of the type Briquet, “Sirène à 2 queues courbées, tenues avec les 2 mains, no. 13887, Naples, 1516-1521 or no. 13889, Naples, 1524-1528; the watermarks could also be slightly later as the use of this watermark extended well into the 16th c.), written in brown ink in several italic cursive hands, probably mostly in the compiler’s autograph with corrections and additions throughout, words organized mostly on two columns (in all four columns per page as each Spanish word has its Italian counterpart specified to the right), light stains and frayed edges, contemporary wallet-format binding of limp vellum with fold-over flap, spine sewn to two pieces of vellum in ‘account book’ style, early letter ‘B’ on upper cover between 2 ropework designs (traced in ink). Dimensions 280 x 130 mm.

Probably compiled for the author’s own use, its format suited to being carried around in the pocket of its owner (a merchant, a banker?), and written out before the time of printed Italian-Spanish vocabularies or glossaries, such a work is extremely precious for the linguistic, dialectical, and philological particularities it contains, providing a snapshot of sixteenth-century popular spoken language in southern Italy.


1. Watermarks, script, and added excerpts in Italian all point to an Italian origin for this manuscript. This is corroborated by the clear Neapolitan watermarks in the paper, and the logical utility of a Spanish-Italian vocabulary in sixteenth-century Campania, as Naples was placed under Spanish rule with the Kingdom of Naples united to the Kingdom of Sicily in 1503 until 1707. Part of “Italia Hispanica,” Naples was ruled through viceroys appointed by the King of Spain (the word “viceroy” is included in the present vocabulary: Visorei / Vice re. Vis reies / Vici re (fol. 34).


f. 1, Notes (sixteenth-century hand), beginning with a record of two payments dated 1510 (or 1570?), date only partially legible;

ff. 1-1v, Brief excerpts from Paolo Giovio (1483-1552), Historiarum sui temporis libri XLV, beginning: “Pomperano [Pomperanus] morio di dolore nel tempo di Carecio. Anversa nel regno di Napoli havendo dentro i Franzeci che la difendevano […] Giovio libro 26 carti 80 parti seconda”; Jottings mentioning amongst others Andrea Doria of Genoa (c.1468-1560): “Epitafio nella base de la statua che fu posta a Andrea Doria dal popolo Genovese, poiche egli hebbe liberate la patria de la servitu de franzesi…” (quoted in P. Giovio, Opera, Historiarum…, tomus IV, cur. D. Visconti, Rome, 1964, p. 83 [A.D. 1528, Liber vigesimus sextus]; on Andrea Doria, see the latest P. Lingua, Andrea Doria: principe e pirata nell’Italia del ‘500, Genova, 2006: Andrea Doria was a Genoese admiral born in 1466, who served as a mercenary for Rome, Naples, Genoa, France and Spain during his 76 years long career. He joined the service of Emperor Charles V as Captain of the Sea (meaning head of all the fleets in the Mediterranean) in 1528 and instantly became the backbone of his employer in the defence against the French, the Ottomans and the Barbary pirates. He rented up to twenty- two galleys to the Habsburgs and created a real industry in Genoa and around the Mediterranean of warship renting); f. 1v, Another excerpt from Paul Giovio: “Sinan generale delle galere di Solimano detto per sopranome il Giudeo muorto per alegreza […] Giovio libro 45 carte 310 e 311…”; Another excerpt: “Raisnaco di Suevia [Raynsachus] capitano de Tedeschi a Buda morio di dolore nella guerra che faceva il re Ferdinando a Buda….Jovio nel rimanente delle sue historie libro 39 fo. 116 e 117”;

f. 2, Madrigal, in Italian (change of hand), “Aure ch’el tristo a lamentavol’ suono … / … Vedeste voi gia mai simil dolore…” (recorded in Santagata ed., Incipitario unificato della poesia italiana (1988), vol. I, p. 140, which refers back to E. Vogel et alia dir., Bibliografia della musica italiana vocale profana pubblicata dal 1500 al 1700 (1977), vol. I, no. 791, p. 516 [Filippo de Monte (1576), published in Venice, Angelo Gardano, 1576 and dedicated to Giovanni Grimaldi. Filippo de Monte (1521-1603, of Malines in Belgium) was music master to Cosimo Pinelli in Naples from 1542 to 1544, composer of numerous madrigals, later called to the court of Maximilian II in Vienna. Filippo de Monte later was named “prince of music” by Stefano Felis (of Naples) in 1591 (see Diz. enciclopedico universale della musica (Torino, 1988), pp. 157-158] and also referenced under no. 643, p. 428 [published in Gasparo Costa (1581), Il primo libro de moteti et madrigali spirituali a cinque voci di Gasparo Costa…, Venetia, Angelo Gardano, 1581]);

f. 2v, blank;

ff. 3-5v, Series of brief notes or praises addressed to famous people, including a Cardinal de Medici (perhaps Cardinal Ferdinando de Medici [1549-1609]): “Esi come ne gran giardini…” (f. 3); Giovanni Battista Grimaldi (1524-1612): “Il desiderio mio di venirvi a vedere ogni giorno ci nuove cagioni si fa maggiore…”; a Bishop of Brescia (f. 3v), G. F. Bini (fol. 3v); Giuseppe Cincio (fol. 4); Bartolomeo (Baccio?) Valori (f. 4v) and many others, beginning: “Si come il sol, quanto e maggior di tutti gli altri lumini tanto si mostra piu chiaro, cosi le scriturre quanto son piu nobili…” (f. 3); ending with a passage on virtue: “La virtu insegna a fugire l’otio il quali ofendi il dio…” (f. 5v). Each praise or excerpt dedicated to a specific person is followed by a reference of the type “fa. 54”, “fa. 70”, “fa. 74” etc., suggesting these are quoted from a common but still unidentified source (one is reminded of Annibal Caro (1507-1566), Lettere familiari (Private Letters) or Jacopo Bonfadio (c. 1508-1550), Lettere famigliari… Both litterati were close to Giovanni Battista Grimaldi, quoted a number of times in the excerpts (see Dizionario biografico degli Italiani (DBI), “Grimaldi, Giovanni Battista”, vol. LIX, p. 532);

ff. 6-35, Dictionary or wordlist, sorted alphabetically by two or three first letters, Spanish-Italian, beginning: “Aa. Aba. Abastada / Finita. Abatimiento / Abbattimiento. […] Abarcus / Pene discarpe […] Abc. Abd. Abe. Abestraz / Lucello struzzo. Abejo / Anezzo. Abeja / Ape…”; ending: “[…] Zorras / Volpi. Zamarra / Zimarra. Zarala / Guardiano di beste cioe pastore o pastora. Zurro / Il zanio”;

ff. 35v-39, blank;

ff. 39v-44, Additional words to the wordlist, Spanish-Italian, beginning: “Parras…Parraxismo / Parasismo…Pastorcia / Pastorella. Ad. Adalepio / Infermo…”; ending: “[…] Canteros / Tagliatori di pietra. Carnero / Castrato. Avas / Fave – Desarebuelto: quando uno venuto che e alle prese e uno altro che se poi cuolto”;

ff. 44v-49v, blank.

This manuscript contains a rare example of early popular lexicographical production. The volume mostly comprises two sequences of an alphabetical Spanish-Italian wordlist (in Italian, this type of compilation is a “vocabolarietto” or “glossarietto”) with one-word equivalents in Italian, or sometimes short definitions in Italian, probably compiled for the author’s own use and with ample space for additions. Its tall narrow wallet format suggests that the book was intended for carrying in a pocket. The choice of words does not denote a particular special purpose or technical slant, and there are a variety of Spanish words and their equivalents in Italian, suggesting that the wordlist was used for easy personal reference and organized as such. Numerous changes of ink color suggest the words were added successively (and so do not follow a strict alphabetical order), loosely grouped under the two or three first letters.

The first fully bilingual printed dictionary of two living languages was an Italian-German vocabulary (Vocabulario Italiano-Teutonico, Venice, Adam von Rottweil, 1477). William Caxton brought out an English-French vocabulary in London circa 1480. Both these imprints anticipate the modern pocket conversational dictionaries. Closer to the present manuscript, A. Gallina (1959) has studied the origins and development of Spanish-Italian dictionaries and glossaries. Spanish and Italian translations appear progressively in multi-lingual glossaries and dictionaries, and one can also quote the Francesco Alunno’s list of selective words or “Vocabolarietto italiano-spagnuolo” included in his Richezze della lingua volgare…, Venice, 1543. However, it is only with Cristóbal de Las Casas, Vocabulario de las dos lenguas Toscana y Castellana, Sevilla, Alonso Escrivano [and F. de Aguilar], 1570 [Venezia, Bibl. Marciana 23 C 130; Paris, BnF, 16- X- 1574], that Spain and Italy finally received their own independent bilingual vocabulary. There are numerous subsequent editions of Cristóbal de Las Casas’s compilation (1576, 1579 (see Palau, III, p. 248), 1582 etc. till 1622), with additions by translator and lexicographer Camillo Camilli (died in 1615), who was perhaps Genovese, interestingly close to Giovan Battista Grimaldi and Cardinal Ferdinando de Medici, whose names both figure amongst the people honored in the first folios of the present manuscript wordlist (on the importance of Cristóbal de Las Casas and his continuator Camillo Camilli, see A. Gallina,“Cristobal de Las Casas: Vocabulario de las dos lenguas Toscana y Castellana”, in Contributi alla storia della lessicografia italo-spagnola dei secoli XVI e XVII (1959), pp. 163-180).

A further in-depth dialectical study of the present selection of words is necessary to determine whether the manuscript was effectively compiled for the use of a Ligurian or Tuscan (sea-merchant, banker or administrator) resident in Naples, in need of basic Spanish vocabulary to communicate with the established Spanish viceroys and inhabitants. We have consulted F. d’Ascoli, Nuova vocabulario dialettale napoletano, Napoli, A. Gallina editore, 1993, in order to identify certain Neapolitan characteristics and found a number of words that could be of Neapolitan origin, such as “zibetto” (f. 40), “sbafutta” (f. 41), “mazzette” (f. 43), “mattone” (f. 21) and others. However, many of the Italian translations are quite simply Tuscan and could very well be the language of a Ligurian or Tuscan based in Naples. Many merchants, bankers (especially the Genovese), and dignitaries converged to Naples during Spanish rule, which lasted over two centuries. These expatriates or local population were most likely in need of a handy dictionary of the sort to communicate and interact with the ruling Spaniards. There must have circulated a number of such dictionaries or wordlists, but in the absence of a printed Vocabulary such as that of Cristóbal de Las Casas before the 1570s, each user was forced to compile his own personal wordlist. Such a work is extremely precious for the linguistic (and dialectical) and philological particularities it contains, providing a snapshot of sixteenth-century popular spoken language.


[Cristóbal de Las Casas]. Vocabulario de las dos lenguas Toscana y Castellana de Christoval de la Casas en que se contiene la declaracion de Toscano en Castellano y de Castellano en Toscano, en dos partes. Et accresciuto da Camillo Camilli di molti vocaboli, che non erano nella prima impressione. Con una introducion para leer, y pronunciar bien entrambas lenguas…, En Venetia, Damian Zenaro, 1582 [Venezia, Bibl. Marciana, 38 D 261].

Colapietra, R. “I Genovesi a Napoli durante il veceregno Spagnolo,” in Dal Magnanimo al Masaniello. Studi di storia meridionale nell’età moderna, vol. II, pp. 293-504.

Collison, R. L. A History of Foreign-Language Dictionaries, London, 1982.

Gallina, A. Contributi alla storia della lessicografia italo-spagnola dei secoli XVI e XVII, Florence, 1959.

Pacini, A. La Genova di Andrea Doria nell’Impero di Carlo V, Florence, L. Olschki, 1999.

Santagata, M. ed. Incipitario unificato della poesia italiana, Modena, Panini, 1988, vol. I.

Vogel E. et alia dir. Bibliografia della musica italiana vocale profana pubblicata dal 1500 al 1700, Pomezia, 1977, vol. I.

Zimmermann, T. C. P. Paolo Giovio. The Historian and the Crisis of Sixteenth-century Italy, Princeton, 1995.