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[ANONYMOUS]. Tractatus de Vitys et Virtutibus

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
[Italy, c. 1400?]

TM 101


74 folios, preceded by 2 paper flyleaves and 2 parchment flyleaves, ending with 2 paper flyleaves, complete, mostly in quires of 8 (collation: i4, ii-ix8, x6), numerous catchwords on almost each verso folios inscribed in a later hand (some in red), some original catchwords (mostly cropped), written in brown ink in an Italian bâtarde bookhand, text on two columns (justification: 145 x 110 mm), copied on up to 33 lines, some prickings still visible, light plummet ruling, later Roman numeral foliation, numerous capitals stroked in red, rubrics in red (first rubric with title of work added by forger in the 18th c.), paragraph marks in alternating red or blue, 2-line high painted initials in alternating red or blue, with red or blue calligraphic penwork extending in the margin, larger opening initial painted in red with gold and blue highlights and red and blue calligraphic penwork extending in the margin (this particular initial was added by the forger in the 18th century); added 18th century colophon and coat of arms of Cardinal Gozio Battagliani painted at the end of the text, reproduced in Tonini, 1880, IV, p. 510, and also found carved in a stone commemorating the foundation of the St.-Prisca chapel in Rimini (1340); notes copied on the recto of the first parchment flyleaf, now glued to the second paper flyleaf: one distinguishes a drawing of a vase and reads by transparency something of the sort: “Mori Antonio conte […] di Genova […] a Roma” (?). Bound in later limp vellum (18th c.?), smooth spine, title copied in ink on spine in blue and red ink (same hand as the “falsario” or forger), armorial stamp on upper and lower covers (arms of Comte Chandon de Briailles), marbled paper pastedowns, green silk bookmark. Dimensions 196 x 140 mm.

Unpublished, unrecorded, and incontestably authentic treatise on the Virtues and Vices that includes a curious eighteenth-century forgery of its medieval provenance. The manuscript is part of a small group of codices whose authorship was falsely attributed to real historical Riminese characters–here Cardinal Gozio Battagliani (c. 1270-1348)–and dedicated to members of the famous Malatesta family–here Galeotto Malatesta (1305-1385) of Rimini. Other manuscripts similarly forged are known, and others could still surface.


1. Script and style of decoration suggest the present manuscript was copied in the late 14th or beginning 15th century, probably in Italy.

2. One of a group of original manuscripts falsely attributed to or owned by Gotio Battagliani by an 18th-century anonymous forger (perhaps Giovanni Maria Belmonti Stivivi, died 1800). Painted arms and colophon added at the end of the manuscript (f. 74v) which reads as follows: “Explicit liber de vitys et virtutibus compositus per me Gotium Card. Batagliani de Arimino ad usum Galeoti Malastestis vicary S (anctae) R(omanae) E(cclesiae) Rimini.” The arms are those of Cardinal Gotio (or Gozio) Battagliani (died 10 June 1348) [alternate spellings, Battaglia, or Batagliani, used in the manuscript] and the colophon states (fictitiously!) that the treatise was composed for the use of Galeotto [di Pandolfo I] Malatesta (1305-1385) of Rimini. Gozio Battagliani truly existed and is recorded at the papal court of Avignon in 1309. He was appointed Patriarch of Constantinople in 1335 and later elected cardinal by Pope Benedict XII in 1338. The “falsario” wished to attribute the date of this manuscript to the years 1338-1348, dates of his Cardinalate, before his death in 1348. From 1334-1335 until their deaths, Galeotto and his brother Malatesta Antico, sons of Pandolfo I Malatesta, governed Rimini in concert, charged with different military missions. The Malatesta family figures in the poetry of Dante and in the annals of Renaissance history for more than two centuries. Known as the Guastafamilia (“destroyer of families”), they were considered the most powerful rulers of Italy. The colophon of the present manuscript refers to Rimini as a papal vicariate, a reference that underscores the struggle between the papal state and the secular magnates. Keen on recovering all the ecclesiastical estates occupied by the princes or tyrants, the pope regained control of nearly all the Malatesta’s conquests in Romagna, although Galeotto maintained sovereignty over Rimini, Pesaro, Faro and Fossombrone.

3. Comte Chandon de Brialles, Champagne, France, his armorial stamp on boards and his bookplate pasted on first paper flyleaf: “Au Conte Chandon de Briailles. MSS. 68.” This is most likely Raoul Chandon de Briailles (1850-1908), historian and wine merchant (founder of the Chandon de Briailles mark of champagne), part of whose rich library was bequeathed to the Médiathèque at Épernay--20,000 items concerning the history of Epernay and wine, incunables, and books from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries--and part passed on through the family to his heirs Comtes Henri and François Chandon de Briailles.


ff. 1-74v, [Anonymous], Tractatus de vitys et virtutibus [Treatise on Various Matters and the Virtues]; rubric, Incipit tractatus de vitys et virtutibus. [D]e elevatione; incipit, “Quatuor solent homines levare que et nos debemus spiritualiter. Solent pauperes levare vocem ad domos divitum ut elemosinam accipiant… “; explicit, “[…]Item non est inventus inter cognatos… anima mea tenui omni modo dimitteant donacioni (?) ego ducavi eam etc.]”;

f. 74v, added in a later hand (painted heraldry followed by colophon): Laus Deus. Explicit liber de vitys et virtutibus compositus per me Gotium Card. Batagliani de Arimino ad usum Galeoti Malastestis vicary S. M. E. Rimini. [This text is unrecorded in Bloomfield; the only reference recorded gives a related title, but a very different incipit: “De variis virtutibus” (Bloomfield, no. 2494) known in a single copy: Cambridge, Trinity College, MS B. 15. 27 (364), f. 194].

Other rubrics, classified alphabetically in the manuscript, are: De excomunicatione (f. 2v); De exaltatione (f.3); De facuitate (f. 4); De fidelitate (f. 5v); De fortitudine (f. 6v); De gaudio (f. 7v); De gloria (f. 9); De gratia (f. 11); De gratis [bis] (f. 12v); De gladiis (f. 13v); De gula (f. 15); De humilitate (f. 15v); De jactantia (f. 16v); De igne purgatorii (f. 16v); De innocentia (f. 17v); De instabilitate (f. 18); De ira (f. 18v); De infirmitate spirituali (f. 19); De invidia (f. 20); De inferno (f. 20v); De inplectione (f. 21v); De judicio generali (f. 23v); De judicibus malis (f. 26); De justicia (f. 26); De jura[…] [ ?] (f. 28v); Quomodo intratur in regnum celorum (f. 29v); De labore (f. 31); De lacrimis (f. 32v); De laude (f. 33); De locutione (f. 34); De lotione (f. 35v); De lumine (f. 36v); De lumine (f. 36v); De luxuria (f. 38); De mansuetudine (f. 39); De meditatio (f. 39v); De mirabilis (f. 40); De misericordia (f. 40v); De morte (f. 42v); De mortificatione carnis (f. 45); De munditia cordis (f. 45v); De [ ?]; De mundo relinquendo (f. 47); De negligentia (f. 48); De obedentia (f. 48); De occiositate (f. 49v); De odio (f. 50); De odio proximi (f. 51); De oratione (f. 51v); De opere bono (f. 54); De ornatu (f. 55v); De pace (f. 56v); De patientia (f. 58v); De impatientia (f. 59); De passione (f. 59v); De pauperitate (f. 60v); De pane (f. 61v); De peccato (f. 62v); De penitentia (f. 64); De predicatione (f. 67); De perseverentia (f. 67v); De presumptione (f. 68v); De pigritia [sluggishness] (f. 68v); De preparatione (f. 69); De probatione (f. 70); De purgatione (f. 71); De prudentia (f. 71v); De pulcritudine (f. 73); De querendo domino (f. 74).

This manuscript contains an anonymous Treatise on Vices and Virtues, apparently not recorded in Bloomfield. As such it is most interesting, and merits further study in the context of manuscripts containing works on vices and virtues.

In addition, this codex presents a rare particularity. It appears to have been altered by an eighteenth-century forger, who used the name of Cardinal Gotio or Gozio Battagliani, falsely creating provenance and ownership tied to the Malatesta family. Although the Cardinal is a real historical figure and most certainly existed, there are no recorded works by a Cardinal Gozio Battagliani. On his life and career, see especially Tonini, pp. 499-520 and Piromalli, p. 160, who notes that he came from a family of rich Riminese landowners, bankers, and merchants. Battagliani’s personal library was willed to his nephews, Marco di Pietro (author of a Cronica Marchia, ed. Rerum italicorum scriptorum, XVI, 3) and Guido di Fuscio (see Battagliani, 1794, p. 218). On Gotio Battagliani, see in particular http://www.fiu.edu/~mirandas/bios1338.htm (Online Resources below).

There is a small group of manuscripts that have been forged or rather altered to suggest Malatesta patronage and provenance. These are Princeton, University Library, Garrett MS 26 (called the “Garrett liturgical handbook,” with ritual aspects of Jewish daily life, prescriptions and prayers and commandments taken from such sources as the Zohar; see Horowitz, 1993-1994, p. 103); and Rimini, Biblioteca Gambalunghiana, SC-MS. 97, Secreti anchora medicinali.

The first manuscript, Princeton, Garrett MS 26, contains traces of a very similar forgery, labeled by Panofsky as “one of the most curious mystifications in history” (Panofsky, 1941, p. 35). Garrett MS 26 contains on ff. 137v-138 a letter of dedication supposedly written by the fourteenth-century Cardinal Battaglia or Battagliani, accompanied with his family’s coat of arms, and dedicated to Galeotto de Malatesta of Rimini, just like the present manuscript. Even more surprisingly, the note suggests that Cardinal Battaglia was also the commissioner of the illuminations contained in Garrett MS 26, misattributed to Giotto in the letter of dedication. The second manuscript, Rimini, Biblioteca Gambalunghiana, SC-MS. 97, is clearly a codex copied in the Trecento but contains on the verso of the second flyleaf an inscription attributing the work “Secreti anchora medicinali” to a certain Cesare Arnolfi de Arimino in 1354. Another inscription states that the work is dedicated to none other than Galeotto Malatesta, the same spurious dedicatee as our manuscript. Again Cesare Arnolfi certainly existed, was a doctor, but not in the fourteenth century (see P. Meldini,1981, pp.69-71). Thus the forger again created ex-nihilo an author for the manuscript he altered and a dedicatee with a coat of arms inspired from that of the famous Malatesta. The work is in fact an Italian vernacular translation of the Thesaurus pauperum of Petrus Hispanus and once belonged to the Franciscan convent of Montescudo, founded in 1319 (see P. Meldini, 1981, p. 72). Finally, Meldini also describes a third case of falsified documents: this is Rimini, Biblioteca Gambalunghiana, Ketubbà, seventeenth century, which presents another case of a fake coat of arms inspired from those found in the Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini replacing the original coat of arms, thus trying to have the seventeenth-century Ketubbà pass for fifteenth century, as well as fake signatures of “Frate Francesco da Rimino” and Sigismondo e Roberto Malatesta (see Meldini, 1981, pp. 74-75).

The question remains as to exactly who is this forger? Obviously someone who knew a great deal about the history and people of Rimini, an “appassionato di cose riminesi” (Meldini, 1981, pp. 76). Meldini provides a working hypothesis: these falsifications and forgeries could be attributed to a certain Giovanni Maria Belmonti Stivivi, who died in 1800: “L’intento del falsario è chiaro: non certo quello di commerciare apocrifi, ma di “nobilitare” documenti in sè autentici, accostandoli al nome prestigioso dei Malatesta. La falsificazione va inquadrata da un lato nel clima settecentesco di collezionismo entusiasta e talora morbosa di rarità e mirabilia, erede delle Wunderkammern, e, dell’altro, nella Malatesta-renaissance…” (Meldini, 1981, p. 79).


“Battagli, Gozio,” in Dizionario biografico degli italiani, Rome, 1965, vol. VII, pp. 205-207.

Battaglini, Angelo. Della corte letteraria di Sigismondo Malatesta, in Basini Parmensis Poetae Opera Praestantiora…, Rimini, 1794, pp. 215-218.

Bloomfield, M. Incipits of Latin Works on the Virtues and Vices: 1100-1500, Cambridge, Mass., 1979.

Eubel. Hierarchia catholica medii et recentioris aevi…, M√ľnster, ed. 1913 (reed. Padua, 1960).

Horowitz, E. “Giotto in Avignon, Adler in London, Panofsky in Princeton: On the Odyssey of an Illustrated Hebrew Manuscript from Italy and on its Meaning,” in Jewish Art 19/20 (1993-1994), pp. 98-111.

Jones, Philip James. The Malatesta of Rimini and the Papal State: A Political History, Cambridge, 1974.

Meldini, P. “Due falsi malatestioani e un falsario giacobino,” in Romagna arte e storia, I (1981), pp. 69-80.

Panofsky, E. “Giotto and Maimonides in Avignon: The Story of an Illuminated Hebrew Manuscript,” in Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 4 (1941), pp. 27-44.

Piromalli, A. La cultura letteraria nelle corti dei Malatesti, Rimini, 2002 [Centro Studi Malatestiani, XIV], pp. 160-163.

Tonini, L. Storia civile e sacra riminese; Rimini nella signoria de’ Malatesti. Prima parte che comprende il secolo XIV ossia volume quarto…, 6 vols., Rimini,1880.

Tonini, C. La coltura letteraria e scientifica in Rimini dal secolo XIV ai primordi del XIX, Rimini,1884.

Yriate, Charles. Un Condottiere au XV e siècle. Rimini. Etudes sur les lettres et les arts à la cour des Malatesta, d’après les papiers d’Etat des Archives d’Italie, Paris, 1882.

Online resources

History of Rimini

Biblioteca Gambalunghiana

The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church: Gozzio Battaglia (c. 1270-1348)