Three legal books with fine Renaissance illumination are among stars of this week's release of digitized codices at the Vatican Library. Here is the full list of 40 items:
  1. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXIII.fasc.99, codex with parallel texts in Greek and Arabic of propetical books
  2. Ross.241, Augustine
  3. Ross.335,
  4. Ross.336,
  5. Urb.lat.775,
  6. Urb.lat.929,
  7. Urb.lat.1029.pt.1,
  8. Urb.lat.1098.pt.2,
  9. Urb.lat.1099.pt.1,
  10. Urb.lat.1129,
  11. Urb.lat.1131,
  12. Urb.lat.1133,
  13. Urb.lat.1161,
  14. Urb.lat.1188,
  15. Urb.lat.1509.pt.1,
  16. Urb.lat.1509.pt.2,
  17. Urb.lat.1667,
  18. Urb.lat.1668,
  19. Urb.lat.1669,
  20. Urb.lat.1670,
  21. Urb.lat.1672,
  22. Urb.lat.1673,
  23. Urb.lat.1674,
  24. Urb.lat.1760,
  25. Vat.lat.2443,
  26. Vat.lat.2491, Decretals
    medievalilluminators retweeted: Many thanks! I have been waiting for this Decretum for a long time! https://twitter.com/jf_illuminator/status/1113342206914510851
  27. Vat.lat.2499, Decretals, note illuminations
  28. Vat.lat.2502, Decretals
  29. Vat.lat.4647,
  30. Vat.lat.4668,
  31. Vat.lat.4697,
  32. Vat.lat.4706,
  33. Vat.lat.4707,
  34. Vat.lat.4712 (Upgraded to HQ),
  35. Vat.lat.4714,
  36. Vat.lat.4727, ceremonial, after 1415
  37. Vat.lat.4729,
  38. Vat.lat.4733,
  39. Vat.lat.4735,
  40. Vat.lat.4747, missal, illuminated initials
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 202. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


His Master's Voice?

For centuries, the Treatise on Painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) has been regarded as the greatest book on technique in the history of western art. It was compiled posthumously by Leonardo’s faithful pupil Francesco Melzi from the master's notes and drawings.

Melzi's 1540 compilation was not published until 1651, and then only in an abbreviated version with illustrations by Nicholas Poussin. The full Melzi compilation was published for the first time by Guglielmo Manzi in Rome in 1817. In the 200 years since, Leonardo scholars have compared the text with what remains of Leonardo's own notes and contended that it does not reflect Leonardo's views accurately.

The manuscript at the center of this controversy about authenticity is in the Vatican Library. Urb.lat.1270 has just been digitized in color after only being online in black and white.

Read it to see how Melzi put the book together. One of the mysteries is how this text even survived. There is no documentation of the Melzi manuscript's whereabouts until 1626. Francesca Fiorani has compiled a whole website about the treatise and its turbulent and troubled history.

Last week 29 manuscripts were brought online by the library in Rome. My list:
  1. Urb.lat.778,
  2. Urb.lat.801,
  3. Urb.lat.985,
  4. Urb.lat.1098.pt.1,
  5. Urb.lat.1209,
  6. Urb.lat.1212,
  7. Urb.lat.1215.pt.2,
  8. Urb.lat.1270 (Upgraded to HQ), Melzi's original 1540 compilation of Leonardo's da Vinci's treatise on painting (above)
  9. Urb.lat.1450,
  10. Urb.lat.1523,
  11. Urb.lat.1556,
  12. Urb.lat.1594.pt.2,
  13. Urb.lat.1650 (Upgraded to HQ): records of the conclave which elected Pope Innocent X
  14. Urb.lat.1659,
  15. Urb.lat.1665,
  16. Urb.lat.1666,
  17. Vat.lat.2497,
  18. Vat.lat.3975,
  19. Vat.lat.4646,
  20. Vat.lat.4654.pt.1,
  21. Vat.lat.4677,
  22. Vat.lat.4679,
  23. Vat.lat.4681 (Upgraded to HQ), a Renaissance manuscript of Caesar's Gallic War, with this curious initial where the rump of Caesar's horse is adorned with a very Germanic double-headed eagle: 
  24. Vat.lat.4682,
  25. Vat.lat.4684,
  26. Vat.lat.4693,
  27. Vat.lat.4695,
  28. Vat.lat.4696,
  29. Vat.turc.30,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 201. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Let's Keep Going

This is number 200 in a series of blog posts known as "Piggin's Unofficial Lists". The idea from the beginning was to pass on the news when I saw that some of the Vatican Library's most famous manuscripts had arrived online. There is no official list of weekly releases, so software help was needed for a mere user to detect changes in the published index of available manuscripts.

@gundormr has kindly provide the software to pick the changes and I compare these with a hand-list of 2,500 notable manuscripts which I drew up. With time, there are naturally fewer unfound items on that list (currently down to 1,600), since most of the very old and the very famous manuscripts are by now already up on the web for the whole world to read. The librarians fast-forwarded their greatest treasures into the digitization process.

My cancer is continuing its ravages (and so is the cut-poison-burn protocol used to fight it) and my health will soon undoubtedly decline to the point where Piggin's Unofficial Lists cannot go on.

But not just yet please! We are still waiting for some notable Vatican releases including William of Moerbeke's holograph Latin translation of Archimedes, Ott.lat.1850, and the Vatican Beatus, Vat.lat.7621. And I have talks to deliver at the International Conference on the History of Cartography in Amsterdam in July and Die Tabula Peutingeriana: Aktuelle Forschungsansätze und neue Ergebnisse in Vienna in September.

Four years ago, the first PUL issue, Is This the World's Oldest Bound Book? noted there were 1,626 manuscripts online by then. Today there are 17,413, more than ten times as many, but still only about one fifth of the amazing manuscript holdings at the Vatican.

Sometimes, when I look through the releases now, it is a challenge to find any codex in the weekly crop that is worth describing in words of excitement. It is pleasing that @DigitaVaticana has been issuing more frequent #LatestDigitizedManuscripts tweets recently, but PUL will keep appearing for a while yet.

Here is this week's list of 54 items:
  1. Barb.gr.300,
  2. Barb.gr.446,
  3. Barb.gr.471,
  4. Barb.gr.565.pt.1, lectionary (Evangelistarion) Gregory-Aland ℓ 134 of the 13th century, see Wikipedia 
  5. Barb.gr.565.pt.2,
  6. Barb.gr.579,
  7. Barb.gr.593,
  8. Barb.lat.33,
  9. Borg.copt.109.fasc.24,
  10. Ross.87,
  11. Ross.237,
  12. Urb.lat.563,
  13. Urb.lat.606,
  14. Urb.lat.619,
  15. Urb.lat.905,
  16. Urb.lat.967,
  17. Urb.lat.1288,
  18. Urb.lat.1464.pt.1,
  19. Urb.lat.1481.pt.1,
  20. Urb.lat.1481.pt.2,
  21. Urb.lat.1515,
  22. Urb.lat.1527,
  23. Urb.lat.1535,
  24. Urb.lat.1537,
  25. Urb.lat.1594.pt.1,
  26. Urb.lat.1651,
  27. Urb.lat.1654,
  28. Urb.lat.1658,
  29. Vat.estr.or.57,
  30. Vat.lat.2485,
  31. Vat.lat.2490,
  32. Vat.lat.3364, a book of draft papal letters scribed (and full of scratchings and amendments) by papal secretary Pietro Bembo: Epistulae nomine Leonis X scriptae (letters written for Leo X), When this was shown in the Rome Reborn exhibition, Anthony Grafton noted: "Bembo's autograph letters ... provide a good sample of "chancery italic," a script developed by Roman humanists in the late fifteenth century from the humanist cursive minuscule invented by the Florentine humanist Niccolo Niccoli in the 1420s." Today's lovely typeface Bembo is named after Pietro, but not because of his handwriting. Rather, the typographers' inspiration was a book of Pietro Bembo's verse in a font cut in 1495 by Francesco Griffo for Venetian printer Aldus Manutius.
  33. Vat.lat.4046,
  34. Vat.lat.4186,
  35. Vat.lat.4192 (Upgraded to HQ),
  36. Vat.lat.4194,
  37. Vat.lat.4472 (Upgraded to HQ),
  38. Vat.lat.4591, see also in Jordanus
  39. Vat.lat.4592, Ptolemaic astronomical tables for emperor Frederick III, see Jordanus 
  40. Vat.lat.4635,
  41. Vat.lat.4648 (Upgraded to HQ),
  42. Vat.lat.4656,
  43. Vat.lat.4657,
  44. Vat.lat.4664,
  45. Vat.lat.4670,
  46. Vat.lat.4675,
  47. Vat.lat.4676,
  48. Vat.lat.4687,
  49. Vat.lat.4690,
  50. Vat.lat.4692,
  51. Vat.lat.4704,
  52. Vat.lat.5604,
  53. Vat.lat.13488.pt.2,
  54. Vat.lat.14740,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 200. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Wire Diagram

Three dimensional diagrams provided one of the greatest challenges for medieval scriptoria. We all know how hard it sometimes can be to "get" a wire diagram which lacks context and perspective. Are we looking at the front or back? Isidore of Seville passed on a diagram of the Platonic theory of the four elements which seems not to be correctly reproduced in any medieval manuscript.

John Murdoch's Album of Science, section 247, explains that the diagram in De natura rerum was meant to show a cube (cybus) with the note: haec figura solida est secundum geometricam rationem. But in Ross.247, a Vatican manuscript just updated online to full color, it becomes quite weird.

The scribes decided the best way to present a diagram of elements was to present it as the whole of matter, hence the diagonal which a label tells us is the north-south axis of the universe. Go figure. This codex, believed to be the work of monks of the Benedictine abbey of Monastier-Saint-Chaffre in central France in around 1020, is packed with fine colored diagrams.

It is one of 30 items new online in the past week at the Vatican Library digital portal. My full list:
  1. Ross.98 (Upgraded to HQ),
  2. Ross.99 (Upgraded to HQ),
  3. Ross.110,
  4. Ross.247 (Upgraded to HQ), (above)
  5. Ross.287,
  6. Urb.lat.178, containing the compilatio prima of canon law by Bernard of Pavia and the compilatio secunda of John of Wales: McManus List: Comp. 1 w/Apparatus of Tancred [original version] (1-77v); Comp. 2 w/Apparatus of Tancred [original version] (78-117)
  7. Urb.lat.568,
  8. Urb.lat.599.pt.2,
  9. Urb.lat.604,
  10. Urb.lat.1114.pt.1,
  11. Urb.lat.1114.pt.2,
  12. Urb.lat.1285,
  13. Urb.lat.1286,
  14. Urb.lat.1287,
  15. Urb.lat.1289,
  16. Urb.lat.1444,
  17. Urb.lat.1464.pt.2,
  18. Urb.lat.1536,
  19. Urb.lat.1541,
  20. Urb.lat.1566,
  21. Vat.lat.2487, 11 entries in eTK relating to astronomy, science and Avicenna; flyleaf lists contents 
  22. Vat.lat.3903,
  23. Vat.lat.4110,
  24. Vat.lat.4297,
  25. Vat.lat.4372.pt.1,
  26. Vat.lat.4372.pt.2,
  27. Vat.lat.4598 (Upgraded to HQ),
  28. Vat.lat.4639,
  29. Vat.lat.4659,
  30. Vat.lat.4678,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 199. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Got Birds?

An Italian, Teseo Pini, wrote between 1484 and 1486 a book claiming to expose the tricks practised by organized beggars of various types. From what we know, there was fierce competition on the streets of Renaissance Europe for the attention of charity givers. Among the players were not just panhandlers and scammers, but also Franciscan friars and unemployed university graduates.

Pini's book, De Ceretanorum Origine Eorumque Fallaciis, became something of a best-seller and the Vatican Library has just digitized a late copy, Urb.lat.1217. It describes about about 40 types of alleged "cerretani" (charlatans, impostors) and their Italian jargon (instead of the Mafia term capo, they said imperatore for the boss of a gang, fol. 64r).

From Roberto Rusconi I read that one group, the Acconi, carried round images painted on wood of a boy, Simon of Trent, allegedly murdered by Jews. They sang anti-Jewish songs and hymns to the Virgin Mary. When the punters fell for this (usually when coming out of church) and the take in donations was good, the Acconi's Italian phrase for success translated as: "We seized our birds."

In the past week, 18 manuscripts were digitized and put online. The full list:
  1. Ott.lat.2836,
  2. Ross.90, book of  hours? 
  3. Ross.105,
  4. Urb.lat.613,
  5. Urb.lat.977,
  6. Urb.lat.1112 (Upgraded to HQ), dated 1648
  7. Urb.lat.1118,
  8. Urb.lat.1217, above
  9. Urb.lat.1231 (Upgraded to HQ), on fencing, sadly no illustrations.
  10. Urb.lat.1274,
  11. Urb.lat.1441,
  12. Urb.lat.1452,
  13. Vat.lat.4058,
  14. Vat.lat.4146,
  15. Vat.lat.4605 (Upgraded to HQ),
  16. Vat.lat.4640,
  17. Vat.lat.4708,
  18. Vat.lat.4713,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 198. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.