Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Domenico di Leonardo Buoninsegni's Istoria Fiorentina

  • Anthony Molho (a1)

Extract

Domenico di Leonardo Buoninsegni's Istoria Fiorentina has served numerous historians of Renaissance Florence as a source for the political events which occurred in that city in the Trecento and Quattrocento. Being a narration of Florentine history from the Creation to the autumn of 1460 it has provided modern scholars with numerous details which, seemingly, offered fresh and original insights into the evolution of Florentine history, particularly for the later portion of the Istoria in which the events described coincided with the life of the author himself (b. 1384—d. 1465).

Unfortunately, since its first partial publication by Giorgio Marescotti in 1580 (reissued in 1581), Buoninsegni's Istoria has been subject to a series of misunderstandings and misinterpretations on one of which, ironically, has rested its reputation among scholars.

Copyright

References

Hide All

1 The most complete and up-to-date sketch of Buoninsegni's life remains Vespasiano da Bisticci, Vite di uomini illustri del secolo XV, edited by Paolo d'Ancona and Erhard Aeschlimann (Milano, 1951), pp. 530-532. Martines, Lauro, The Social World of the Florentine Humanists 1390-1460 (Princeton, 1963), pp. 321322 offers an even briefer outline of Buoninsegni's life, based essentially on Vespasiano. See also my entry, under Buoninsegni, Domenico, in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, XI (Rome, 1971).

2 Some confusion seems to have arisen over the precise date of publication of Buoninsegni's Istoria. Some title pages indicate 1580 as the date of publication, some 1581. I am unclear as to the precise reason for this discrepancy. There seems to be no significant differences between the two editions. The only change, and it is a curious one, is this: On p. 830 of the 1580 edition, it is stated that license to print was granted in 1576, and that the work was published in 1580. On the same page (830) of the 1581 edition, the publishing license is again dated in 1576, but the date of publication is listed as 1579!

3 The proemio of the Istoria is published in toto in the appendix of this note.

4 The following manuscripts have been consulted in preparing this study: the three key manuscripts of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale of Florence: Fondo Nazionale II.4.41; Palatino 467, and 504, the last two being the copies commissioned by the author's son in 1475. In addition, the following manuscripts seem to be very early copies, all of them written before the conclusion of the fifteenth century:

Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale of Florence:

Strozziano, XXV, 610: for the years 1364-1409.

Fondo Nazionale, II.4.47: which reproduces the entire Istoria.

II.2.142: Ibid.

II.1.368: from beginning to year 1333.

Conventi Soppressi, C.4.258: years 1410-1460.

Biblioteca Riccardiana:

Moreniano, 374: reproduces the entire work.

Riccardiano, 1822: for years 1334-1459.

Biblioteca Laurenziana:

Ashburnham, 802: reproduces the entire work. By far, this seems like the most interesting of this second group of manuscripts. The copyist, particularly during the last two chapters of the Istoria, made numerous insertions, additions, and corrections, many of which are similar to those of Nazionale II.4.41.

Plut. 89, Inf. 56: for years 1364-1409.

Palatino 160: from the beginning to year 1409.

5 This was the view of Domenico Moreni, more recently of Emilio Santini, as well as that of numerous other historians: Moreni, Domenico, Bibliografia storico-ragionata della Toscana, 2 vols. (Firenze, 1805), 1, 191192. Santini, Emilio, Leonardo Bruni e i suoi ‘Historiarum Florentini Populi Libri XXI’ (Pisa, 1910), pp. 103104.

6 Vespasiano, Vite, p. 531.

7 The relevant portions of Sozomeno's Chronicle have been published in: Sozomeni Pistoriensis Presbyteri, Chronicon Universalis (aa. 1411-1455), edited by Guido Zaccagnini Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, 2nd edition (Città di Castello, s.d.), XVI, parte la. For the dating of Sozomeno's Chronicle, and for documentation on Sozomeno's reliance on Buoninsegni's Istoria up to 1426 see Ibid., XXIII-XXXV, particularly XXXIV, note 2.

8 Aretini, Leonardi, Historiarum Florentini Populi Libri XII, ed. by Santini, Emilio, in Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, 2nd ed. (Castello, Cittàdi, 1914), XIX, pt. 3, p. 206.

9 Fondo Nazionale, II.4.41, fol. 137.

10 Bruni, Leonardo, Rerum Suo Tempore Gestarum Commentarius (aa. 1378-1440), ed. by Piero, Carmine di, in Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, 2nd ed. (Castello, Città di, 1926), XIX, pt. 3, p. 443.

11 Fondo Naz., II.4.41, fol. 197v.

12 Buoninsegni seems to have had a rather superficial knowledge of Velluti's ricordi, on which he relied particularly for the years 1366-1368 and the description of Emperor Charles's descent to Italy. Donato Velluti, domestica, La cronica, ed. by Lungo, Isidoro del and Volpi, Guglielmo (Firenze, 1914), pp. 259270 , and Fondo Naz., II.4.41, fols. 137-139.

13 The most interesting of the passages for which I have not been able to identify the authority on which Buoninsegni relied is the preface of the chapter dealing with the events 1378-1385: Fondo Naz., 11.4.41, fol. 151v, in which Buoninsegni discusses the question of political proscription (ammunizione). ‘Egli è necessario a volere bene fare intendere le cagioni della grande novità et revoluzione quasi incredibile che fu in questo anno in Firenze, tornare alquanto adietro a delle cose passate et massime al fatto dell'amunire, come fu toccho adietro nell'anno 1357 e poi nel 1360, e del trattato che per simile cagione fu in Firenze pure insino all'anno 1371… .'

14 Even the most superficial comparison of the pseudo-Minerbetti with Buoninsegni's Istoria will reveal that the former was the sole authority for the latter. Compare, for example, the opening and closing passages of the ‘pseudo-Minerbetti’ with those of the chapter in Buoninsegni's Istoria dealing with the years 1385-1409:

Messer Galeazzo, il quale si fe chiamare Conte di Vertù, il quale è l'uno de'due signori di Milano, del mese di Maggio 1385, facendo vista d'andare a un perdono …

Cronica volgare di anonimo Jiorentino già attribuita a Piero di Giovanni Minerbetti, ed. By E. Bellondi, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, 2nd ed. (Citta di Castello, 1917), p. 4.

Del mese di Maggio 1385 M. Galeazzo Visconti nominato conte di virtù, il quale era l'uno de'due signori di Melano, l'altro era di M. Bernabò suo zio, fingendo d'andare a uno grande perdono …

Fondo Naz., II.4.41, fol. 165v.

15 A dì 3 di Maggio morì papa Alessandro in Bologna, Sabato a ore V: Vivete nel papato mesi dieci e di XXI … A dì V di Maggio, finite l'assequio del detto papa Alessandro, entrorono diciasette cardinali in concravi in Bolognia. Feciono a dì XVII del detto mese a ore XIIII° nuovo papa, cioè messer Baldassare Chosda di Napoli, chardinale di Sancto Stati e legato che allora era di Bolognia, fatto insino al tempo di Papa Grighoro.

Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, Conventi Soppressi, c.4.895, fol. 90.

A dì 3 di Maggio 1410 morì a Bologna Papa Alessandro V in Sabato a hore cinque, il quale era seduto Papa mesi 10 e dì 21, e a di 15 di detto mese nuovamente in Bologna fu eletto in Papa Messer Baldassare Coscia di Napoli Cardinale di Sancto Stazio, che allhora era legato di Bolognia …

Fondo Nazionale, II.4.41, fol. 194.

One should also note that while Buoninsegni's Istoria ends with the events of October 1460, the priorista of Pietribuoni concludes the narrative in September 1459.

16 It is quite interesting, of course, that in addition to the ‘Ritratto Storico’ (as it should be more properly called) of Buoninsegni, similar undertakings of compilation were completed in the 1450's by Sozomeno and San'Antonino, bishop of Florence.

17 For Buoninsegni's association with the better-known humanists of his day see the biographic sketches cited in note 1.

Domenico di Leonardo Buoninsegni's Istoria Fiorentina

  • Anthony Molho (a1)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed