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les Enluminures

FRANCESCO PETRARCH, Trionfi (Triumphs) and Il Canzoniere [poem 366 of The Song Book]; DOMENICO DA MONTICCHIELLO, Le vaghe rime e ’l dolce dir d’ amore; SIMONE SERDINI, Sovente in me pensando come Amore, O magnanime donne in cui beltade; other anonymous love poems 

In Italian, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Northern Italy (Ferrara?), c. 1460-1475

TM 957

i +92 + i folios on goat or hair sheep parchment with paper flyleaves (without watermarks), modern pencil foliation top outer corners, traces of earlier foliation on some folios at top centre, incomplete, and with an unknown number of folios lacking at front and back (collation i10 [-3 and 4, two leaves after f. 2, and -7 and 8, two leaves after f. 4, with loss of text] ii8  iii10 [-2, one leaf after f. 15, and -9, one leaf after f. 21, with loss of text] iv-x10), vertical catchwords, blind ruling for the beginning of lines only (justification 110 x c. 70 mm.), written in an expert Italian humanistic bookhand in dark brown/black ink in 21 long lines, pink rubrics in capitals, alternating initials in pink, gold, and blue at start of each verse, EIGHTEEN four- and five-line GOLD INITIALS WITH WHITE VINE DECORATION (bianchi girari), washed with yellow, infilling in sage green and berry pink, on a ground of cobalt blue with white and yellow dots, water-staining at top edges of first two and last quires touching text but affecting only one initial, some abrasion of initials, browning at opening edges, occasional stains and flecking throughout, but no worming, tearing, or text loss. Eighteenth-century binding of alum-tawed goat or hair sheep skin over wood (probably beech), contemporary paper pastedowns intact, small corner of paper adhered to front pastedown (perhaps from a modern bookplate), note in modern pencil on verso of front flyleaf ‘written“Manu Mattei Angeli de Bonaccursis”,’ alum-tawed endbands secured through outer cover at head and tail of spine, labeled “TRIONFI del Petrarc e Rimantiche M.S.” at head of spine, imprints of labels formerly attached at tail, worn and lightly soiled but solid and intact. Dimensions 170 x 119 mm.

This lovely Renaissance volume contains an unusual collection of Italian love poems, opening with Petrarch’s Triumphs (incomplete) and including other contemporary Florentine poets.  Of special note is a sequence of anonymous and unedited poems, many of which appear in only one other manuscript copy.  Beautiful white vine initials and a fine humanist script further characterize the manuscript (bearing some water-staining), which is signed by an otherwise unknown scribe.


1. Written in Northern Italy c. 1460-1475 as indicated by the style of the script and decoration.  The skilled scribe names himself on f. 34v: “Manu Mattei angeli de bonaccursis.” He is not listed among the known scribes of contemporary Florence (see de la Mare 1985, pp. 394-600, esp. pp. 479-554), or in the general repertories of scribes (Bénédictins du Bouveret, 1965-1982; Krämer, Online Resources). The style of the white vine initials may be compared with a manuscript of Jerome’s Letters copied by Giovanni Grasso of Carpi in 1467 (Nishimura, 2000, cat. no. 13, pp. 70-72).


ff. 1-4, incipit, “//Il lubrico sperar superlle sale …”; [f. 1v] TRIOMPHA AMORE, incipit, “Stanco gia dimirar non satio ancora …”;

Petrarch, “Trinofo d’Amore,” beginning imperfectly with lines 142-166 of “Poscia che mia fortuna,” ed. Neri, 1951, pp. 507-508, as chapter 4; followed on ff. 1v-2v by “Stanco gia di mirar,” here chapter four (Neri, pp. 487-89, as chapter 2), lines 1-57; two leaves missing after f. 2v; text resumes on f. 3 at line 143 (Neri, p. 492).

ff. 4-7, TRIOMPHA CASTITA, incipit, “Quando ad un giogo et in un tempo quivi Domita l’altereza del li idei …”; [f. 6v] TRIOMPHA CASTITA, incipit, “Quanti gia nella ęta matura et acra … Quella per cui ben fare prima mi piacque”;

Petrarch, “Trionfo della Castita,” text ending abruptly on f. 4v at line 35; two following leaves now missing with lines 36-120 (Neri, pp. 510-513); text resumes, ff. 5-6v with lines 121-193; concludes with 21 lines, ff. 6v-7, not included in Neri’s edition but found in other manuscripts and early editions, often as part of “Trionfo della Morte” (Richardson, 2002, pp. 34, 51, 54-55; Wilkins, 1943, p. 226; Wilkins, 1942, pp. 748-751; Biblioteca Italiana, Online Resources, “Trionfo della Morte,” ch. 1A).

ff. 7-15v, TRIOMPA [sic]MORTE, incipit, “Quęsta leggiadra et gloriosa donna …”; [f. 11], TRIOMPA [sic] MORTE, [f. 11v], incipit, “La nocte che segui lorribil caso … Pero saper vorrei madonna sio//”;

Petrarch, “Trionfo della Morte,” ed. Neri, pp. 517-533; missing the last three lines (there is a folio missing between ff. 15-16).

ff. 16-27v, incipit, “//Claudio Nerone che capo dasdruballe …”; [f. 18v] TRIOMPHA FAMA, [f. 19] incipit, “Da poi che morte triumpho nel volto … [ending imperfectly on f. 21v] bella successione in fino a marco//” [Ch. 3, “Pien d’infinita,” beginning imperfectly on f. 22], “//Photion va cum questi tre disopra …”; [f. 25, Ch. 4] incipit, “Io non sapea da tal vista levarmi … Qui lascio et piu dilor non dico avante”;

Petrarch, “Trionfo della Fama,” ed. Neri, 531-547 (with only three chapters), here beginning with chapter 1A, “Nel cor pien …,” beginning imperfectly at line 37, not printed by Neri, but found in other manuscripts and early editions (Wilkins, 1943, p. 226; Wilkins 1964; Biblioteca Italiana, Online Resources); missing one folio after f. 21, with the last five lines of chapter 2 and lines 1-36 of chapter 3 (chapters 1 and 2 in Neri); the concluding verse, “Qui lascio et piu dilor non dico avante,” is unaccounted for in Neri’s edition, but is included in other sources (for example, the Biblioteca Italiana, Online Resources).

ff. 27v-34v, incipit, “Del thauro albergo colla aurora innanzi …”; [f. 31] incipit, “Da poi che socto ilcielo cosa non vidi … [f. 34v] Or che sia adunque rivederlla incielo,” Deo gratias Amen. Manu Mattei angeli de bonaccursis;

Petrarch, “Trionfo del Tempo” (ff. 27v-31; Neri, ed., pp. 548-53) and “Trionfo della Divinita” (ff. 31-34v; Neri, ed., pp. 554-59) are complete.

Petrarca, Trionfi, ed. by Neri, 1951, pp. 479-559; now incomplete, with at least one quire lost at the beginning of the manuscript, as well as several additional missing folios, as noted above; survives in hundreds of manuscripts and in numerous printed editions.  Petrarch worked on the Trionfi over his lifetime, beginning in 1338 and completing the work just before his death in 1374.  The order we are accustomed to from modern printed editions (and many manuscripts) begins with the Triumph of Love (I-IV), followed by the Triumph of Chastity, the Triumph of Death (I, II), the Triumph of Fame (I-III), the Triumph of Time, and the Triumph of Eternity. 

In our manuscript the order is as follows (with lacunae as noted above): Triumph of Love IV, II; Triumph of Chastity I, with Triumph of Death IA (here copied as part of the Triumph of Chastity), Triumph of Death (I, II), the Triumph of Fame (IA, I-III), the Triumph of Time, and the Triumph of Eternity.  This order agrees with the order Wilkins, 1943, p. 226, calls the “usual early arrangement,” and reflects editorial changes made by Petrarch, including the chapter “Nel cor pien” (Fame IA), which Petrarch discarded in favor of “Da poi che” (Fame I); this manuscript includes both chapters.  There are multiple differences between the manuscript and edition that appear to be errors: see, for example, “Tra” for “Fra” (f. 5v), “Hella” for “Bella,” and “Ha” for “Ma” (both f. 23v).

Petrarch’s Triumphs, written in terza rima, followed the allegorical works of Dante, setting out a triumphal procession of the allegorical figures Love, Chastity, Death, Fame, Time, and Eternity. The poet describes the effect of each on his beloved Laura with imagery drawn from his encyclopedic knowledge of ancient history, including the fall of Carthage, the march of Xerxes into Greece, and the legends of Perseus, Andromeda, Pygmalion, and Camilla and her Amazons. Chastity triumphs over Love, and finally Eternity triumphs over them all, and the poet is united with his love for all time.

ff. 35-47v, incipit, “Le vaghe rime il dolce dir da more … Poche tanti maggior ne sono alpeggio,”
Finis. Deo gratias. Amen

Domenico da Monticchiello, “Le vaghe rime e 'l dolce dir d' amore,” Rime, ed. G. Mazzoni, Rome, 1887, no. 4; a love sonnet found in several manuscripts (see Santagata, 1988, Vol. 3, p. 125, and Mirabile, Online Resources).

ff. 47v-51v, incipit, “Sovente inme pensando come amore … Se vuoi qui fama et inciel gloria  acquistare,” Finis. deo gratias. amen;

Simone Serdini, “Eiusdem Simonis Senensis cantillena praestantissima incipit lege foeliciter,” Le rime del codice isoldiano (Bologn. Univ. 1739), vol. 1, ed. Frati, 1913, pp. 61-66; found in two manuscripts in Florence (Santagata, 1988, vol. 3 p. 240, and Mirabile, Online Resources). The text differs from the edition, and initials sometimes appear to be incorrect.

ff. 52-55v, incipit, “O falso lusinghier pien dinganno … Io tascoltero quanto tipiace,” Finis. deo gratias. amen;

Anonymous, unedited, and very rare poem; also found in the fifteenth-century manuscript, Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, MS 1059 (see “Firenze, Biblioteca Riccardiana, 1059” on Mirabile, Online Resources), but we have identified no other manuscripts.

ff. 55v-58, incipit, “Percerto che mi piace … Et le tuo gravi pene porro inpace,” Finis. deo gratias. Amen;

Anonymous, unedited, and very rare poem; also found in Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, MS 1059 (see “Firenze, Biblioteca Riccardiana, 1059” on Mirabile), but it appears to be unrecognized in additional manuscripts.

ff. 58-66v, incipit, “Donne piatose diventate crude … Voglia cosi chi mene puo far lieta,” Finis. Deo gratias. Amen;

Anonymous poem appearing in several manuscripts, including Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, MS 1059; published in a single edition for the wedding of Count Lodovico Oddi to Countess Isabella Baldeschi-Eugeni in Perugia, 1858 (Mirabile, Online Resources).

ff. 66v-69v, incipit, “Felice gloria che dalciel nepiove … Dove sisente la felice gloria,” Finis. Deo gratias. Amen”;

Anonymous, unedited poem; apparently recorded in only one other manuscript: Perugia, Biblioteca Comunale, 627 (I. 20), ff. 90-92, fifteenth century (Mazzatinti, 1895, p. 166).

ff. 69v-86v, incipit, “O magnanime donne in cui beltade … Et su di questa vita illume spento,” Finis. Deo gratias. Amen;

Simone Serdini, “Simonis sier Dini de Sauiocijs de Senis viri praestantissimi cantilena incipit foeliciter,” Le rime del codice isoldiano (Bologn. Univ. 1739), vol. 1, ed. Frati, 1913, pp. 3-24. The sonnet found in this manuscript varies from that of the Frati edition in both text and morphology, and as seen in other poems in this manuscript, the initials are occasionally incorrect.

ff. 86v-90v, incipit, “Gite rime dolenti ite sospiri … Che fia dalcanto mio ferma et ecterna Finis,” Deo gratias. Amen;

Anonymous, apparently unedited poem; this is the only manuscript witness to this poem that we have identified; begins with the same words as Petrarch’s Rime 333, “Ite, rime dolenti” (see Petrarca, Il Canzoniere, ed. by Contini, 1964), which may make it more difficult to distinguish in catalogues which include only the manuscript incipits. Further research in contemporary manuscripts may yield other copies.

ff. 90v-92v, incipit, “Vergine bella che di sol vestita … Vergine sacra et alma//.”

Petrarch, Il Canzoniere, “Vergine bella, che di sol vestita,” [poem 366 of 366], lines 1-87, ed. by Contini, 1964, ending imperfectly.  This manuscript concludes with the final poem of Petrarch’s famous collection of vernacular poetry mostly about his unrequited love for a woman named Laura. This poem, however, reflects on the Virgin Mary (for interpretation, see Letteratura italiana, Online Resources) and it is the only excerpt from his Canzoniere included in this manuscript.

Francesco Petrarch (Arezzo, 1304-Padua, 1374) was a prolific Italian scholar and writer who produced poetry in both Latin and Italian, as well as many essays, letters, and histories touching on a range of themes from love, fortune, and faith, to introspection and ignorance. He is best known for his vernacular Il Canzoniere and Trionfi.  His passionate interest in ancient Greece and Rome earned him the title, the “Father of Humanism.”  Manuscripts of his works were copied throughout Europe, with more than 700 accounted for in the Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts, most of which include poetry. An ongoing and extensive survey of Petrarch manuscripts, the Censimento dei Codici Petrarcheschi, produced 13 volumes between 1962 and 2018, including the Census of manuscripts in the United States (Dutschke 1986).

In addition to Petrarch’s poetry, this manuscript also includes several other vernacular love poems. One was written by Domenico da Monticchiello, a contemporary of Petrarch and court poet to the Visconti family, and appears in four manuscripts held in Florence. There are two poems attributed to Simone Serdini, an itinerant court poet of the subsequent generation who died in prison, which also appear in several manuscripts. However, the remaining five poems are anonymous, and only one is presently edited. One seems to appear only in this manuscript. These poems offer a compelling opportunity for further study, as does a potential connection between this manuscript and Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, MS 1059, which shares some of its rare material.  The variety of the poetry collected here suggests this volume was curated according to the tastes of the reader who commissioned it, offering interesting avenues for future research. 


Bénédictins du Bouveret. Colophons de manuscrits occidentaux des origines au XVIe siècle, Fribourg, 1965-1982.

Contini, Gianfranco, ed. Petrarca, Francesco. Il Canzoniere, ed. by Gianfranco Contini, Turin, 1964. Available at https://it.wikisource.org/wiki/Canzoniere_(Rerum_vulgarium_fragmenta).

da Monticchiello, Domenico. Rime, ed, by G. Mazzoni, Rome, 1887.

de la Mare, Albinia C. “New Research on Humanistic Scribes in Florence,” in Minatura fiorentina del rinascimento, 1440-1525: un primo censimento, 2 Vols., ed by A. Garzelli and A. C. de la Mare, Florence, 1985, pp. 394-600.

Dutschke, Dennis. Census of Petrarch Manuscripts in the United States, Censimento dei Codici Petrarcheschi 9, Padua, 1986.

Kirkham, V. and A. Maggi. Petrarch: A Critical Guide to the Complete Works, Chicago, 2009.

Le rime del codice isoldiano (Bologn. Univ. 1739), ed. by Lodovico Frati, Bologna, 1913. Online version by Biblioteca Italiana, 2003, http://ww2.bibliotecaitaliana.it/xtf/view?docId=bibit000818/bibit000818.xml.

Mazzatini, G. Inventari dei Manoscritti delle Biblioteche d'Italia, Vol. 5, Forlì, 1895.

Neri, Ferdinando, ed. Petrarch, Rime, trionfi, e poesie latine, Letteratura italiana. Storia e testi 6, Milan, 1951.

Nishimura, Margot.  Important Illuminated Manuscripts, Bruce Ferrini, Les Enluminures, 2000.

Pacca, V. and L. Paolini, ed. Francesco Petrarca, Trionfi, Rime estravaganti, Codice degli Abbozzi, Milan, Mondadori, 2000.

Richardson, Brian. Print Culture in Renaissance Italy: The Editor and the Vernacular Text, 1470-1600, Cambridge, 2002.

Santagata, Marco. Incipitario unificato della poesia italiana, 2 Vols., Modena, 1988.

Wilkins, Ernest H. “The Fifteenth-Century Editions of the Italian Poems of Petrarch,” Modern Philology 40, no. 3 (1943), pp. 225-239.

Wilkins, Ernest H. “On Petrarch's Rewriting the Triumph of Fame,” Speculum 39 (1964), pp. 440-443.

Wilkins, Ernest H. “The Separate Fifteenth-Century Editions of the Triumphs of Petrarch,” The Library Quarterly 12 (1942), pp. 748-751.

Online Resources

Sigrid Krämer. Scriptores possessoresque codicum medii aevi [electronic resource], Augsburg, Dr. Erwin Rauner-Verlag, available by subscription

Francesco Petrarch Online Exhibition, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

Biblioteca Italiana, “Triumphus Mortis 1A” and “Triumphus Fame 1A,” 2004

“Le vaghe rime e ’l dolce dir d’ amore,” Mirabile Digital Archives for Medieval Culture

“Sovente in me pensando come Amore,” Mirabile Digital Archives for Medieval Culture

“Firenze, Biblioteca Riccardiana, 1059”

“Donne pietose diventate crude,” Mirabile Digital Archives for Medieval Culture

 “Francesco Petrarca, ‘Vergine bella, che di sol vestita’ (Canzoniere, 366),” Letteratura italiana https://letteritaliana.weebly.com/vergine-bella-che-di-sol-vestita.html