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Emperors and Imperial Discourse in Italy, c. 1300-1500

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Anne Huijbers

The historiography of empire

The fortune of imperial history

Giovanni Mansionario’s Ystorie imperiales and Benvenuto da Imola’s Libellus augustalis

Anne Huijbers

Résumé

According to traditional handbooks, all forms of imperial historiography were in decline in late-medieval Italy. As a consequence, imperial histories by Italian authors in this period have often been overlooked. Both in the vernacular and in Latin, Italians produced texts that presented the Holy Roman Emperors in one continuous line with their ancient predecessors. This contribution focuses on two Latin examples by fourteenth-century authors known as proto-humanists: Giovanni Mansionario’s Ystorie imperiales and Benvenuto da Imola’s Libellus augustalis. It shows, first, how these authors professionalised the genre of imperial history by building on ancient sources, and, second, how their histories legitimized the imperial ambitions of the Holy Roman Emperors in the Italian peninsula. Whereas Mansionario’s monumental work survives in three manuscripts only, Benvenuto’s short handbook of imperial lives had a considerable success in the fifteenth century and beyond: It survives in more than 100 manuscripts, several early editions, and was regularly attributed to Francesco Petrarch.

Entrées d'index

Note de l’auteur

I am grateful to the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research for financing my Rubicon fellowship at the École française de Rome, which allowed me to prepare this chapter.

Texte intégral

Imperial history as a late-medieval genre?

  • 1 Breisach 1983, p. 125: “The mounting strength of Landesgeschichte or Territorialgeschichte, as the (...)
  • 2 The recent Encyclopedia of the medieval chronicle, for instance, does not deal with ‘imperial hist (...)

1A still dominant view, as expressed in Ernst Breisach’s handbook on historiography, is that after the death of Frederick II “all types of imperial historiography atrophied”. Since the imperial idea in late-medieval Europe was supposed to be in decline, the historiographical focus came to lay on one’s region or town.1 A consequence of this reasoning is that texts of imperial history have not been studied together and that, unlike urban, national, institutional, contemporary, regional and dynastic history, imperial history is not categorized as a historiographical genre for the late-medieval period: handbooks of medieval historiography never consider imperial history separately.2 Imperial history is normally discussed as the secular counterpart of the papal history in universal chronicles.

  • 3 See the contribution by H. J. Mierau in this volume. The success of vernacular histories on Julius (...)
  • 4 Already in the twelfth century, the vernacular Kaiserchronik in prose and the Latin Chronici imper (...)
  • 5 Literally hidden, since “una storia della storiografia nell’Italia medievale non esiste”: These wo (...)

2Thanks to the success of pope-emperor chronicles from the thirteenth century onwards, a larger audience had access to imperial history.3 But imperial history was also written in separation from the format of pope-emperor history and it is interesting to ask why and how this happened.4 These Italian histories that focus on empire remain largely unstudied. Since the grand narrative taught us that Italian cities wanted independence from the Empire, imperial chronicles from Italian citizens are not expected to exist. They thus remain hidden within the great bulk of historiographical texts produced in late-medieval and Renaissance Italy.5

  • 6 Ceruti 1878. The editors are not so much interested in the imperial content, but in the use of the (...)
  • 7 On the six versions, see Pilati 2021. Del Prete 1858; Graf 1882.
  • 8 Cherubini 1992; Graf 1882, I, p. 231; Guthmüller 1977. Also Internullo 2016, p. 307 and part 5.2 o (...)

3Vernacular imperial histories bear witness to an interest of a (lay) Italian audience in imperial history – up until the contemporary Holy Roman Empire. Among these texts are an anonymous Cronica degl’imperatori romani from 1301, which amounts to an extensive imperial history from Augustus up until the interregnum after Frederick II;6 the Fioretto di croniche degl’imperadori, which is an account of Roman emperors from Caesar to Henry VII;7 and the fourteenth-century Libro imperiale written in Roman dialect. At least 25 manuscripts of this latter text survive and it was printed in 1488. Most manuscripts of the Libro imperiale contain a chronology of Roman emperors all the way up to Henry VII,8 yet its focus is on the reigns of Caesar and Augustus and connects these two rulers with concrete locations in the city of Rome. Moreover, it thematizes how they brought order to the city of Rome. As such, the text can be considered as a utopian expression of the imperial ideal in fourteenth-century Rome. The Libro imperiale suggests that especially the reign of Augustus had brought liberty, justice and peace to the eternal city.

  • 9 See the recent edition in Rizzi 2008.
  • 10 Damian-Grint 2010.
  • 11 Cipelli is also known as Egnazio. Editions among others: Venice, 1517; Florence, 1519; Lyon, 1539. (...)

4In the fifteenth century, the production of vernacular imperial histories continued. In the 1470s Matteo Maria Boiardo made a translation of a now lost imperial history by Riccobaldo of Ferrara (1245-1318).9 Around the same time, a Cronaca della vita e morte di molti imperadori was written in Bologna, also known as the Cronaca Varignana due to the fact that the manuscript names Giacomo da Varignana as its author.10 A still later example is Le vite degl’imperadori romani, a translation of Giovanni Battista Cipelli’s De caesaribus libri III, which went through several editions.11

  • 12 Billanovich 1992, p. 43. Valerius Maximus, for instance, was copied in hundreds of manuscripts and (...)
  • 13 Billanovich 1992, p. 53.
  • 14 Hankey 1996.
  • 15 See the contribution of Rino Modonutti in this volume.
  • 16 Kaeppeli – Panella 1970, III, p. 71; edited in Lamy 1737. The prologue makes clear that the volume (...)

5In the Latin language, Riccobaldo of Ferrara and Benzo of Alessandria (d. ca. 1330) gave important boosts to the study of imperial history. Their productions, as those by near contemporaries, show that, by the fourteenth century, Italians had both an increasing knowledge of, and direct recourse to, ancient texts.12 This access to and reception of classical texts created a boost in the production of chronicles focusing on Rome and the Roman Empire.13 The aforementioned Riccobaldo of Ferrara used authors such as Livy, Caesar, Suetonius and Virgil to shape his own historiographical endeavours and especially in his Compendium de historia romana (c. 1315) the deeds of emperors received much attention.14 Simultaneously, an author like Albertino Mussato experimented with new historical forms and wrote contemporary history, concentrating on the emperors who descended into Italy in his own day.15 Another Italian, less innovative from a stylistic point of view, but with a comparable interest in “modern” emperors, is the Dominican friar Leo of Orvieto (Leo Urbevetanus), whose Chronica imperatorum goes all the way up to Henry VII.16

  • 17 The traditional characteristics of “humanist” historiography are being challenged, now that a grea (...)
  • 18 On this, see the forthcoming volume La storia e la sua scrittura: dalla prassi alla regola, dalla (...)

6This article singles out two other imperial histories, none of which have received a modern edition and which are relatively understudied, namely Giovanni Mansionario’s Ystorie imperiales and Benvenuto da Imola’s Libellus augustalis. Both of these works should be considered within the larger framework of imperial historiography sketched above. A study of their works can contribute to several scholarly fields. First, it can increase our understanding of the transition from medieval chronicling to early humanist scholarship,17 and of the professionalisation of the historical metier.18 Second, these texts shed a new light on late-medieval and humanist attitudes toward empire within Italy, a topic that, as said before, is in need of further elucidation. The texts of Giovanni Mansionario and Benvenuto da Imola show how fourteenth-century Italian scholars dealt with imperial history in increasingly professional ways. Moreover, as will become clear later on, they also show how imperial history slowly emancipated itself from papal history.

The Ystorie imperiales by Giovanni Mansionario

  • 19 Zabbia 2008; Adami 1982; Berrigan 1986; Bottari 1997.
  • 20 Bertrand – Desbordes – Callu 1984; Bottari 1997.
  • 21 This highly original aspect of the Ystorie imperiales has already drawn quite some scholarly atten (...)
  • 22 For Cochrane, humanist historiography is born “fully grown” with Leonardo Bruni: Cochrane 1981, p. (...)
  • 23 EMC 2010, for instance, does not include an entry on Giovanni de Matociis or Mansionario (d. 1337)
  • 24 Witt 2000, p. 167.
  • 25 Bertrand-Dagenbach 1999, p. 14.

7Giovanni de Matociis, or Mansionario, (d. 1337) was a Veronese notary, who worked for the local cathedral chapter.19 Many of his merits have already been acknowledged: his philological skills made him the first to distinguish between Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger. He had the oldest copy of the Historia augusta at his disposal in the capitular library of Verona and corrected its text by adding glosses and explanatory notes.20 He is also considered a pioneer of numismatics as an auxiliary science to the writing of history: In the margins of his autograph manuscript of the Ystorie imperiales he reproduced ancient coins and in this way he enriched his imperial biographies with authentic portraits.21 Mansionario’s imperial history tends to fall in-between two eras, since it is not discussed in works on humanist or Renaissance historiography, which tend to focus on the fifteenth century and beyond,22 nor is it included in handbooks on the medieval chronicle.23 Although his Latin has been described as “unadorned”,24 Mansionario can rightly be considered as a “pioneer of humanism” whose work deserves to be edited, as Cécile Bertrand-Dagenbach remarked.25

  • 26 As will be explained below, Mansionario certainly worked on the text between 1312 and 1320.
  • 27 The manuscript is digitized: https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Chig.I.VII.259.
  • 28 The transcriptions are the result of two unpublished dissertations: Besa 1979; Bovo 1978. I have b (...)
  • 29 Cf. footnote 50 below.
  • 30 Mansionario applied the title Caesar to other emperors as well: cf. Caesar Augustus.
  • 31 For instance; BAV, ms. Chig. I., VII 259, fol. 40v: incipit liber secundus ystoriarum imperialium, (...)

8Mansionario’s Ystorie imperiales is a vast historical compendium, which was meant to contain the history of all 138 emperors from Julius Caesar all the way up to Henry VII, who was crowned emperor in Rome while Mansionario was writing his history.26 However, in the three surviving manuscripts the text stops in the early medieval period: Rome, Vatican Library, ms. Chig. I. VII 259 (autograph) goes until Louis the Pious;27 Rome, Biblioteca Vallicelliana, ms. D 13 continues until Justinian I; Verona, Biblioteca Capitolare, ms. CCIV reaches up till Charles the Fat. The autograph manuscript, which misses the first 17 folia (i.e. the lives from Augustus to Septimius Severus), shows that Mansionario divided his work into several books: Book I runs from Augustus to Constantine the Great; Book II (Chig., fol. 40v) goes from Constantine the Great to Theodosius; Book III (Chig., fol. 83r) follows the imperial succession from Theodosius to Marcian; Book IV (Chig., fol. 123v) ends with Emperor Maurice; Book V continues (Chig., fol. 176v) from Maurice to Charlemagne; Book VI (Chig., fol. 223v) deals with Frankish emperors from Charlemagne onwards and remained unfinished. Only the first two books of the Ystorie imperiales have received modern transcriptions, but these are very hard to access.28 Although Mansionario considered Julius Caesar as the first emperor,29 the Ystorie imperiales as it survives in the Vallicelliana and Verona manuscripts both start with Augustus.30 The headings show that Mansionario consciously referred to his work as the Ystorie imperiales.31

  • 32 BVR, ms. D 13, fols 211r-230v.
  • 33 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 211r: usque ad nostre vite… quasi quodam compendio summarie reserare… nam prim (...)
  • 34 Ibid., Opusculum igitur hoc deinceps bifariam dividetur.

9The Vallicelliana manuscript is valuable, not so much for the textual tradition of the Ystorie imperiales (it contains more misreadings and mistakes than the other two copies), but especially because it contains both a prologue and a second unfinished work written by Mansionario, namely the Gesta romanorum pontificum.32 This papal history starts with the life of Jesus Christ and continues with the lives of the Roman pontiffs from Saint Peter to Pope Eleutherius (d. 189): Here the text abruptly ends. The prologue, inserted after the text of the Ystorie imperiales and before the Gesta pontificum, can be read as the prologue to both his pope-gesta and his emperor-gesta: Mansionario explains that he wished to hand over the history, first, of popes, and second, of emperors – up until his own times.33 To this end, he announced, he divided his work into two parts.34 Whereas Martin of Troppau’s Chronicon pontificum et imperatorum dealt with popes on one side of the page and with emperors on the opposite side, in Mansionario’s hands, the same historiographical concept led to two separate volumes: one on the popes and one on the emperors. In this light, the Ystorie imperiales can be considered as the counterpart to Mansionario’s Gesta pontificum. The prologue thus seems to indicate that Mansionario was much indebted to the pope-emperor tradition, although in the execution of the work the sequence of emperors obtained a more or less autonomous character.

  • 35 These parts on viri illustres are often rubricated. For instance, BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol.  (...)
  • 36 Already around 1338, the Dominican Giovanni Colonna wrote a Liber de viris illustribus. Guglielmo (...)
  • 37 BCV, ms. CCIV, fol. 1v: Sub Augusto claruerunt etc.
  • 38 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 75ra: claruit et tunc Juvencus nobillissimi generis Yspanus presbiter; floreba (...)
  • 39 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 121v.
  • 40 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fols 185r-190v.

10Mansionario further announced that he did not restrict his attention to the emperors, but that he would also write about their “illustrious” contemporaries. This ambition, combined with the many sources that he consulted, might explain why Mansionario did not succeed in finishing his imperial history. Mansionario indeed inserted the lives of many illustrious persons, including writers (scriptores) and martyrs into his history.35 He thus provided his contemporaries with abundant materials to develop the genre De viris illustribus, which proved to be an enormous success in Renaissance Italy.36 Through the many lives and digressions in the Ystorie imperiales, the work obtained an encyclopaedical character. The part on Emperor Augustus, for instance, includes an entry on the death of Virgil and on the many illustrious authors that flourished during Augustus’ reign.37 In a similar vein, Mansionario inserted biographical entries on persons such as the Spanish priest Juvencus and the “blessed martyr” Eusebius in the part on Constantine the Great,38 as well as an account of the “religiosity” of Galla Placidia in the part on Emperor Valentinian.39 He even included a lengthy life of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.40 The lives and biographical entries included in Mansionario’s work remain to be further explored.

  • 41 Probably he wrote for “l’ambiente culturale ghibellino del palazzo Scaligero”: Bovo 1978, p. xxxvi (...)
  • 42 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 211r and Bottari 1997, p. 49: Omnia quecumque facitis in nomine Domini nostri (...)
  • 43 Besa 1979, p. xx-xxx.
  • 44 Besa 1979, p. xxiii. In the Verona manuscript (BCV, ms. CCIV), we find this anecdote in the margin (...)
  • 45 At least, in the first two books: cf. Besa 1979, p. xvii.

11We do not know for whom Mansionario wrote the text.41 In the prologue, he invoked God as his guide.42 At the end of the same prologue, Mansionario provided a source list to convince his readers of the truthfulness of his narrative. This was in and of itself not new: Already Martin of Troppau had included a list of sources in the prologue to his Chronicon pontificum et imperatorum. Yet, Mansionario added pagan authors to the canonical list of Christian authors, primarily Suetonius and the authors of the Historia Augusta. Maria Adelaide Besa and Elisabetta Bovo, who have studied the sources of the first two books, concluded that Mansionario consulted many more authors than those explicitly mentioned in his prologue.43 For the lives from Augustus to Trajan, Suetonius was his preferred source. For the lives from Hadrian to Numerianus, he primarily built on the Historia Augusta, whereas Eusebius was used for the period of Constantine the Great. Although Mansionario had access to ancient sources, he still referred to medieval legends repeatedly: At the end of his biography on Augustus, for instance, he inserted an anecdote taken from Jacobus of Voragine’s Legenda aurea.44 Overall, the sources he cites most often are Eusebius, Jerome, Martin of Troppau and Isidore of Seville.45

  • 46 Martin of Troppau 2014, year 285: Florianus imperavit annis II. Hic incisis venis mori fertur. Ist (...)

12By using the Historia Augusta, Mansionario was capable of greatly improving and expanding the imperial biographies offered in Martin of Troppau’s Chronicon. As an example: According to Martin of Troppau, Emperor Florianus reigned for two years and died because his veins were cut.46 Mansionario corrected that Florianus (r. 276) only reigned for two months. He referred to Vopiscus, one of the authors of the Historia Augusta, in the following way:

  • 47 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 27r.

Hic ut dicit uopiscus morum fratris immitator per omnia excepto hoc quod mortuo tacito eius fratre hic florianus sine senatus auctoritate inuasit imperium quasi hereditarium munus esset.47

  • 48 Ibid.

13He thus explained that Florianus took the empire without the authority of the senate, as if it were a hereditary gift. Thus, being a bad emperor, his fate was bad as well: Scarcely two months in power, he was slain by soldiers. After this, Mansionario referred to Martin of Troppau, who was after all the author of the most successful historical handbook of his days. Wishing to improve on the Dominican friar’s narrative, Mansionario wrote: Tamen frater mar. dicit in cronica sua quod incisis uenis mortuus est.48 The tamen shows Mansionario’s doubts about Martin of Troppau’s version. By juxtaposing the medieval versions and the ancient sources, Mansionario increased his readers’ awareness of the discrepancy between the two.

  • 49 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 223r: Summario annotatio temporum romani imperii. Cf. Berrigan 198 (...)
  • 50 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 223v: fuerunt… autem omnes imperatores a primo Gaio iulio Cesare u (...)
  • 51 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 223v: Unde ab ipso Othone qui cepit anno domini .dcccclxii. usque (...)

14At the same time, Mansionario still fully accepted the medieval translatio imperii tradition. On fol. 223r, at the end of Book V and before the start of Book VI on the Frankish emperors, Mansionario inserted a note on the chronology of the Roman empire and the translatio imperii.49 He explained that the empire was moved four times: from Rome to Constantinople, from Constantinople to the Franks, from the Franks to the Italians, and from the Italians to the “Teutons” (theuthonici). He calculated how many years Rome was governed by pagan emperors before Constantine the Great moved the Roman empire to Constantinople. At the same time, Mansionario was well aware that until Emperor Romulus Augustulus, Rome continued to be governed by emperors as well. He introduced Charlemagne and Berengar as the first emperors of, respectively, Francia and Ytalia. With Otto I, the empire had come into the hands of the Teutons, who still governed the empire in his days. He calculated that from Julius Caesar to Henry VII there had been 138 emperors,50 and that the empire had already been governed by Germans for 448 years.51

Mansionario’s hope for imperial restauration

  • 52 Alexander Lee already highlighted the connection between historiography and support for the empire (...)
  • 53 See for instance Franke 1992; a useful point of reference is Pontari’s source list: Pontari 2016b. (...)
  • 54 Zabbia 2008 also suggest that Mansionario focused his attention on imperial history because of Hen (...)

15The descent of the imperial candidate Henry of Luxembourg (d. 1313) into Italy caused a boost in the writing of history among Italian intellectuals.52 Henry’s Romzug inspired Italian authors such as Albertino Mussato, Ferreto degli Ferreti, and Giovanni da Cermenate to write history and Francesco da Barberino and Dante Alighieri to write letters.53 Several references to Henry of Luxembourg in the Ystorie imperiales make clear that, in Mansionario’s eyes, the imperial past was relevant to the political situation of the Italian peninsula in his own days.54 We find the first reference to Henry of Luxembourg in Mansionario’s biography of Emperor Gallienus (d. 268). Since Gallienus issued a declaration of tolerance toward the Christians, his reign was received rather positively in the Middle Ages. The life of Gallienus offered Mansionario an occasion to insert a reflection on the nature of the empire as a Christian realm. He wrote that, after Constantine the Great, there had been many religious emperors, who had supported and defended the faith. Under their reigns, enemies had been subjugated and the Roman empire had flourished in peace. At this point in his narrative, he referred to his own times:

  • 55 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 21r.

Nam et nostris temporibus per industriam et religionem et fidei catholice fervorem sacratissimi principis et domini nostri henrici sexti christianissimi imperatoris romana res publica per LXX annos predecessorum superbia subiugata cepit caput erigere et Dei favente gratia lacius per orbem augustum imperium dilatabit.55

  • 56 NB: here, Mansionario referred to Henry as the “sixth” with this name, elsewhere as the “seventh”. (...)
  • 57 A good recent reconstruction of events is provided in Görich 2016.
  • 58 For instance, on Henry’s predecessor Albert of Habsburg he wrote: potens in regno Alamanniepartes (...)
  • 59 The term augustus etymologically derived from augere, which means that a good emperor “increased” (...)
  • 60 For Mansionario’s depiction of Julian the Apostate see Berrigan 1986, p. 222.

16In Mansionario’s words, in his own time a “very Christian emperor” had appeared in Italy: Henry VII.56 The latter was now fervently trying to re-erect the “head” of the empire. Since he referred to the caput (the “head” of empire: i.e. Rome), Mansionario probably wrote this when Henry VII was still in Rome (from May to August 1312). Henry VII was crowned emperor in Rome on 29 June 1312.57 In his description of events, Mansionario also implicitly referred to the interregnum, by saying that the Roman res publica had been neglected for 70 years: The last emperor, Frederick II, had died in 1250, and from that moment onwards, no emperor had been created in Rome. According to the Veronese historian, this was due to the “arrogance” of Henry’s predecessors. This line of thought, namely that the elected “kings of the Romans” (reges Romanorum) were failing their calling if they did not take care of the Italian parts of the empire, was also expressed by fourteenth-century historians north of the Alps, such as Mathias von Neuenburg.58 As a consequence, the Roman res publica had been damaged, and now had to be repaired by Henry VII. Mansionario even hoped that, with God’s grace, Henry would “enlarge” the empire.59 Following these remarks, Mansionario turned his attention back to a more remote past: he concluded that bad emperors, such as Julian the Apostate or Valens had damaged the romana res publica.60

  • 61 See the prophecy in Historia Augusta 1932, Tacitus XV., p. 322-325.

17An additional reference to Henry VII can be found in the biography on Emperor Florianus. Following his source Vopiscus, Mansionario inserted a prophecy: When two enormous statues of Tacitus and Florianus were hit by lightning, the soothsayers foretold that, after an interval of one thousand years, a Roman emperor would come to restore the power of the senate and the judges and to bring the people back under the Roman laws.61 This emperor would live for 120 years, and would control the whole world. Mansionario, or at least one of the readers of his manuscript, found this episode very interesting, for in the margin is added a little hand with a long finger pointing at this passage. After stating this prophecy, Mansionario provided his interpretation. He wrote that the timespan of 1000 years had now gone by, and speculated that Henry VII was perhaps the emperor alluded to:

  • 62 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 27v. Cf. BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 52r: idem, only “et = etiam”.

Terminus autem annorum mille elapsus est. Nam ab anno domini .cclxxx. quo mortui sunt tacitus et florianus eius frater et eorum statue fulmine icte sunt usque ad presentem annum domini m.ccc.xiii. quo tempore dominus noster dominus henricus vii. imperator romanum gubernat imperium fluxerunt anni mille et xviii. Forte dominus deus omnipotens qui et per malos secreta aperit talem rei publice reparationem per istum henricum imperatorem faciet.62

  • 63 Mansionario is not the only fourteenth-century Italian who connected the term res publica to the H (...)
  • 64 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 223v: usque ad henricum vii qui obiit anno domini m.cccxiii.
  • 65 He died on 24 August 1313 in Buonconvento near Siena. Paolo Pontari listed 85 fourteenth- and fift (...)

18Besides Mansionario’s overall chronological concern, the passage shows that he considered the imperial past as a relevant past that could be actualised in his own times. We also note how Mansionario twice connected the term res publica to the emperor: Henry VII is depicted as the hoped for restorer of the res publica.63 In this passage of Book I, Mansionario mentioned 1313 as the year of writing: In that year, Henry VII tried to take revenge on Florence, because the city had obstructed his coronation in Saint Peter’s basilica. In Book V of the Ystorie imperiales, however, Mansionario was obliged to note that Henry VII had died.64 Instead of acquiring the world and becoming 120 years old, he only reigned as an emperor for one year and nearly two months.65

The Libellus augustalis by Benvenuto da Imola

  • 66 Paoletti 1966; Minardi 2010.
  • 67 On three prologues of Benvenuto to Niccolò II see Rossi 2016b. On p. 146-147 he published the pref (...)
  • 68 The recent foundation of a study center dedicated to Benvenuto da Imola in Bologna aims to give a (...)
  • 69 Laureys 2016, p. 308.
  • 70 The French translation was made around 1466 by Sébastien Mamerot: Duval 2000.

19That imperial history remained popular also in the second half of the fourteenth century is proven by the Libellus augustalis written by Benvenuto da Imola, the second author discussed here. Benvenuto da Imola (d. 1387/1388) obtained fame in Bologna as a historian and teacher of Latin auctores, such as Valerius Maximus, Lucanus, Virgil and Petrarch. In 1375, Benvenuto found employment and patronage at the court of Niccolò II d’Este in Ferrara.66 To him, he dedicated his Libellus augustalis around 1385.67 Although a whole bibliography on Benvenuto’s commentary on Dante’s Commedia exists, his Libellus augustalis has been largely ignored.68 The remark of Marc Laureys in a recent volume on the humanist depiction of rulers, that Cipelli’s De caesaribus libri III, is the “first” collection of short imperial biographies, shows that Benvenuto’s Libellus augustalis continues to escape scholarly attention.69 Better known than the Libellus augustalis is another historical work by Benvenuto, namely the Romuleon. This vast compilation of Roman history until the reign of Diocletian was also translated into the French and Italian vernaculars.70

  • 71 Daleffe – Rossi 2018 provides a list of 85 manuscripts. Also online: http://benvenutodaimola.it/ma (...)
  • 72 See for some examples footnote 5 in Künzle 1958, p. 167. Often these early dates are also reproduc (...)
  • 73 Among the exemplars marked as fourteenth-century in the inventory (Daleffe – Rossi 2018) are the n (...)

20Benvenuto da Imola’s Libellus augustalis introduces in one continuous line ancient and medieval emperors from Julius Caesar up until the author’s contemporary Wenceslaus, son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. The concise historical manual had a remarkable success in Renaissance Italy and abroad, with more than 100 manuscripts surviving.71 In many manuscripts the explicit of the Libellus contains a date of production, yet this varies from 1385 to 1388.72 Much additional manuscript research is needed in order to understand the textual tradition, or to prepare the work on a critical edition. Among the oldest copies may be manuscript Lat. 6122 kept in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.73

  • 74 Hankey 1996, p. 177. But sometimes Benvenuto referred to his sources: for instance, in the entry o (...)
  • 75 Bauer-Eberhardt 2006, p. 414: “inhaltlich unbedeutenden Kompendium”.

21The explicit of the Libellus augustalis shows the increasing self-consciousness with which historians in this period “signed” their own work: per Beneventum de Imola, egregium historiarum receptorem solennissimum authoristam. Benvenuto thus called himself receptor of excellent histories, and authorista, i.e. specialist in the commenting of Latin authors. One of the authors that he used for his Libellus augustalis is Riccobaldo of Ferrara. Teresa Hankey, who devoted a study to Riccobaldo, noted that Benvenuto often copied that author’s work verbatim and thus accused him of plagiarism.74 However, nearly all medieval (and Renaissance) texts would be disqualified, if we were to apply the modern rules of history writing on them. Although historians dealt with their sources in an increasingly professional way, history writing was not a professional discipline and the rules of historiography were not yet defined. In this period, the copying of trustworthy and authoritative sources thus remained customary. The goal was not to be original, but to furnish a text that could be useful to certain audiences. Yet this practice may have influenced the verdict of a modern scholar who refers to the Libellus augustalis as an “insignificant compendium”.75

  • 76 Rossi 2016b, p. 125-147, 146-147: quia diutius imperavit et salubrius rempublicam gubernavit.
  • 77 Rossi 2016b, p. 146: Unde videtur velle quod Gaius Cesar fuerit potius quidam precursor imperii, s (...)

22Benvenuto’s prologue emphasizes the moral and didactic function of his work. He wrote that Niccolò II d’Este requested it because he wanted to know the good and bad deeds (gesta) of the emperors: This would help the marquis in cultivating his own virtues. Benvenuto continued that catholic authors normally start their account with Augustus, because under his reign Christ was born, and because he governed the res publica longer and more prosperously.76 Pagan historians, such as Suetonius, however, start with Caesar, who can be considered the forerunner to the empire, in the way that John the Baptist was a forerunner to Christ. As these pagan historians desired nothing else but transmitting the truth, Benvenuto decided to follow their example, and not the more common Christian tradition.77 This explicit preference for pagan sources was daring and opened up the way for a further professionalization of imperial history.

  • 78 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 52r: fidem christianam confirmavit Sedem Imperii transtulit in gretiam.
  • 79 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 61r; Paris, BNF, ms. Lat. 6122, fol. 11bis-v: Et tunc Imperium Romanum quod (...)
  • 80 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 65r: primus ex theotonicis solus obtinuit imperium occidentis Et post eum s (...)

23Like Mansionario, Benvenuto da Imola accepted the established concept of translatio imperii, and referred to the transfer of empire at several points in his work: Constantine the Great confirmed the Christian faith and transferred the seat of the empire to Greece.78 For the period between Constantine the Great and Charlemagne, Benvenuto counted the emperors who resided in Constantinople. Whereas in current schoolbooks, the fall of Romulus Augustulus is presented as the decisive break, signifying the fall of the Western Roman Empire, this “last” Roman emperor is not even mentioned in Benvenuto’s popular account. However, he did mention that in the times of Emperor Zeno, first Odoaker and then Theodoric reigned in Italy. In 800, when Empress Irene reigned in Constantinople, the Roman empire returned to the West. From that moment on, the empire was divided: In Benvenuto da Imola’s eyes, the eastern empire was, from Charlemagne’s coronation onwards, no longer Roman, but “Greek”.79 With Otto the Great, the Teutons obtained the empire and they, the author added, reigned until his own days.80

  • 81 For instance, Paris, BNF, ms. Lat. 6122 does not mention dates, but in BSB, ms. Clm 313 and BAV, m (...)
  • 82 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 63r: nec ipse pervenit ad benedictionem in ytaliam, ideo non ponitur inter (...)
  • 83 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 64r: Et Heinricus non computatur inter imperatores quia non regnavit in yta (...)
  • 84 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 69r on Rudolf of Habsburg: electus est rex Romanorum, nunquam visitavit yta (...)

24In the Libellus augustalis, imperial history was presented through the biographies of the emperors. Chronology is of secondary importance, although many manuscripts include the reigning years for each emperor.81 Whereas Mansionario counted 138 emperors until Henry VII, Benvenuto da Imola reduced the number to 115: from Caesar to Wenceslaus, the son of Charles IV. The criteria for inclusion are not so clear. Benvenuto included Konrad I of Germany (d. 918) in his history, but explained that he cannot be placed among the principes because he did not come to Italy for a benediction.82 Likewise, he included Henry the Fowler (d. 936) in his list, but added that he should not be counted among the emperors, because he did not reign in Italy and did not try to liberate Italy from the hands of tyrants.83 Whereas the Kings of the Romans of the interregnum after Frederick II’s death (who were never crowned in Rome) were included in the Libellus augustalis,84 the excommunicated Ludwig the Bavarian, who was crowned in Rome in 1328, fell prey to a total damnatio memoriae.

  • 85 Duval 2000, p. 70.
  • 86 For instance, BAV, ms. Ott.lat. 2105, fols 1r-16v; digitized BAV, https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_ (...)
  • 87 In at least 22 manuscripts the Libellus Augustalis is attributed to Petrarch: Contieri 1967, p. 13 (...)
  • 88 Rossi 2016a, p. 67, footnote 53.
  • 89 BAV, ms. Ott.lat. 1863, fols 137r-153r: Editus per laureatum poetam dominum Beneventum.

25The manuscript tradition of the Libellus augustalis shows how the text, which provided an accessible, short manual of all Roman emperors, was considered useful in various contexts. The Libellus augustalis was copied in many humanist miscellanies and also functioned as a mirror of princes: We know that the text was used in the education of Charles de France, Duke of Berry (1446-1472).85 Some manuscripts have many additions and notes in the margins, which shows that Benvenuto’s handbook of imperial history served as a kind of coat rack for the organization of all kinds of historical, and even archaeological knowledge.86 Other manuscripts include a numbered index with a reference to the right page number, so that the imperial biographies could be quickly consulted. Moreover, the fact that the text was soon attributed to Francesco Petrarch shows its authority in the world of Italian humanism.87 Already in his Scriptores illustres written in 1447, Sicco Polenton corrected this attribution and praised Benvenuto as its author.88 In some manuscripts, Benvenuto was even called a poet laureate.89

  • 90 Künzle 1958, p. 167 (footnote). Graf 1882, I, p. 237-238.
  • 91 Künzle 1958, p. 173. For instance, in BAV, ms. Ott.lat. 1863 (fols 137r-153r): In isto libro conti (...)
  • 92 TULJ, ms. Bud. 8° 4; BAM, ms. P 117 sup.
  • 93 Augustalis libellus 1496. For the editions and manuscripts see the list of primary sources.
  • 94 The editors are aware that a continuation by Enea Silvio Piccolomini existed, but since it was not (...)

26The Libellus augustalis was continued by diverse hands and rededicated, for instance to Mattia Corvino, King of Hungary.90 Enea Silvio Piccolomini continued the Libellus augustalis until Frederick III: His continuation survives in at least eleven manuscripts.91 Two manuscripts are continued until Maximilian of Habsburg.92 Beside Piccolomini’s continuation, other versions existed as well. For instance, Ott.lat. 2105 (dated 1467) provides other unique entries from Wenceslaus until Frederick III. Between 1496 and 1505, the Libellus augustalis appeared in print five times. The first edition was published in Basel by Johannes Amerbach together with the works of Francesco Petrarch.93 In the editions of 1602, 1637, and 1717 the editors updated the Libellus augustalis with lives taken from Giovanni Battista Cipelli’s De caesaribus libri III.94

27The Libellus augustalis survives in at least three luxury illustrated manuscripts, which represent the image of the emperor next to the written biography: Bavarian State Library, Clm 313, fols 42r-71r;95 Vatican Library, Reg.lat. 580, fols 57r-81r;96 and Vatican Library, Chig.A.VII. 220, fols 55r-83v.97 These three manuscripts have recently been digitized, but the visualizations of imperial power have not yet been the subject of any study. Only Ulrike Bauer-Eberhardt has, in a catalogue entry, drawn attention to the imperial portraits in Chig. A.VII.220.98 The manuscripts contain the perhaps most extensive series of full-length imperial portraits that has survived from the Middle Ages.99 Reg.lat. 580 and BSB, ms. Clm 313 were both produced in the first half of the fifteenth century.100 They contain the portraits of 113 respectively 114 mostly enthroned ancient and medieval emperors.101 Whereas the images in Reg.lat. 580 are relatively standardized (for instance, all emperors are depicted with the same crown), BSB, ms. Clm 313 offers highly variable portraits. These illustrated exemplars are copied together with the Libellus de causis, statu, cognitione ac fine praesentis schismatis et tribulationum futurarum (“Book on the causes, state, recognition, and end of the present schism and the future tribulations”) by Telesphorus of Cosenza.102 This prophetic compilation, written around 1386 as a direct response to the outbreak of the Western schism, quickly obtained international renown and had a considerable dissemination: There are at least fifty-nine manuscripts. The manuscripts show how imperial historiography could form an ideological unity with prophetical treatises.

  • 103 BSB, ms. Clm 313, 70v: cito cum magna pecunia, sed maiore infamia reversus est ad patriam. This re (...)

28The last biography that Benvenuto da Imola included in his Libellus augustalis was that of Wenceslaus, son of Charles IV of Bohemia, who was elected rex Romanorum in 1376. In this biography, the topicality of imperial history and its connection to eschatological expectations comes to the fore. Benvenuto declares that he does not know whether Wenceslaus will come to Italy. He follows this up with a direct address to the emperor-elect that includes a lament about the state of Italy in his own day. In his eyes, not even the presence of the first Caesar would be enough to overcome the misfortunes that had befallen Italy. Nevertheless, he hoped that Wenceslaus would not copy the behaviour of his father, who, after his Roman coronation quickly returned to his fatherland with “a lot of money, but even more infamy”.103 Then he continued:

  • 104 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 70v-71r: Sic imperia orbis celum uersat, ut illud quondam potens et uenerat (...)

In this way, heaven changes the fortune of the empires in this world. The Roman Empire, once powerful and venerated by peoples and kings, as prefigurated in legs of iron, once was missing nothing but a small part of the East. Now, alas, it possesses nothing but a small part of the West.104

29With this reference to the prophecy of Daniel, which foresaw the existence of four world empires, the last with legs of iron, Benvenuto concluded his popular account of imperial history.

The didactic function of imperial lives

  • 105 Cf. Huijbers 2018, passim.
  • 106 Petrarch, Fam. 19.3: Et ecce, Caesar, quibus successisti; ecce quos imitari studeas. Translation b (...)
  • 107 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 70v and BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 43v: Mansionario on Constantine the Gre (...)

30In contrast to modern usage, institutions, in the Middle Ages, were not approached as impersonal structures, but were conceived through the persons that led them.105 It may, therefore, not surprise that both Giovanni Mansionario and Benvenuto da Imola approached imperial history through the emperors – as Suetonius already did in Antiquity. The life of emperors structured their works. In the eyes of fourteenth-century Italians, the deeds and virtues of the emperors of the past could instruct the contemporary emperors as well as other rulers on how to conduct themselves. When Petrarch met Charles IV in December 1354, he showed him ancient coins with the portraits of Roman emperors. On this occasion, he would have told Charles: “Here, O Caesar […] are the men whom you have succeeded, here are those whom you must try to imitate”.106 This example did not stand alone. In his prologue to the Libellus augustalis, Benvenuto da Imola explained that his text could teach how to distinguish a good ruler from a bad one. Imperial history thus fulfilled a concrete, political goal and was considered useful to support contemporary ambitions. Although Mansionario did not refer to the didactic and moral function of imperial history in the prologue that survives in the Vallicelliana manuscript, his moral reading of the imperial lives becomes clear in the text itself. In his biography of Constantine the Great, Mansionario wrote that this emperor “used to say that the lives of our predecessors are a mirror to the living […]. The lives of good people should be imitated and the lives of bad people should be avoided”.107 By putting these words in the mouth of the first Christian emperor, Constantine, he simultaneously legitimized his own collection of imperial lives.

  • 108 Ricciardelli 2015.
  • 109 Blasio 2003.
  • 110 Frauenholz 1926; Strothmann 2000; Graf 1882, p. 308-321.
  • 111 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 42v: hic fuit felicissimus omnium priorum et posteriorum.
  • 112 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 1r-v: Augusto nullus bellis felicior Nullus quoque eo in pace moderatiorUnd (...)
  • 113 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 1r-v: Ecce quante fuit constantie quia Cleopatra que iulium cesarem prius pulc (...)
  • 114 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 1r-v: In factis temperatus ac modestusCibi quoque et vini parcissimus fuit n (...)
  • 115 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 2v: licet autem augustus tante virtutis fuerit tamen viciis non caruit. Servie (...)
  • 116 Mansionario also reproduced the story of Augustus’s vision of the Virgin Mary and her child on the (...)
  • 117 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 1v: Fuit enim Cesar Augustus, ut dicit Suetonius Tranquillus de Cesaribus, for (...)

31As has already been stressed elsewhere, in the fourteenth century, political judgments were generally not based on the political system,108 but on the moral profile of the ruler. The virtues and vices of the ruler determined his political choices and deeds.109 A great attention for the virtues and vices of the emperors shines through in both Mansionario’s and Benvenuto’s texts. In the Middle Ages, the ultimate model of a good ruler was Emperor Augustus.110 In his Libellus augustalis, Benvenuto presented Augustus as the happiest of all rulers before and after him.111 Benvenuto’s short eulogy informs us that he reigned with prudency and praiseworthy (prudenter et laudabiliter), and with great peace and tranquillity (cum magna pace et tranquilitate). Mansionario expanded on Augustus’s virtues and gave examples to proof them. According to Mansionario, no one was more successful in war and more modest in peace than Augustus: This emperor only started a war for the sake of justice, if it was absolutely necessary.112 Mansionario found evidence for Augustus’s constancy (constantia) in the fact that Cleopatra did not manage to seduce him.113 He presented Augustus as a pious model of temperance and modesty. He ate and drank little and tried to avoid ceremonial pomp.114 Nevertheless, even such a virtuous man as Augustus had his defects: He was a slave to his libido and slept with twelve young boys and twelve young girls.115 Although Mansionario’s biography of Augustus thus reproduced many anecdotes taken from Martin of Troppau’s Chronicon,116 he also added information directly from Suetonius, for instance, when he described the physical appearance of the emperor.117

  • 118 BAV, ms. Reg.lat. 580, fol. 58r: hic fuit nequissimus omnium, hostis humani generis.
  • 119 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259 fol. 30r: dolosus, fraudulentus, sanguinarius et occisionum amator; in c (...)
  • 120 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259 fol. 30v-35v. The names of the martyrs also fill the margins of the manu (...)
  • 121 BAV, ms. Reg.lat. 580, fols 64r-64v: vir magnanimus, prudens, iusti consilii […] Et diocletianus i (...)

32Both Mansionario and Benvenuto presented those emperors who had persecuted Christians as counterexamples. Benvenuto presented Nero as “the most wicked of all” and “an enemy of the human race”.118 The harshest persecution took place under Diocletian. Using more condemning adjectives than Martin of Troppau, whose version is in comparison rather neutral, Mansionario described him as deceitful, fraudulent, savage, a lover of slaughter, a cruel fox, the most rapacious persecutor of Christians, and a horrible torturer who shed the blood of saints without measure.119 The next pages in the manuscript are filled with the stories of all the martyrs who died during his reign.120 Benvenuto’s description is less judgmental. Although he noted that Diocletian persecuted Christians more cruelly than Valerian, Decius, Aurelian, and other emperors had done before him, he described him as a “magnanimous and prudent man, of just council”.121

  • 122 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 52r: Rogatus a senatu et populo Romano ut Ciues suos liberaret de seruitute (...)
  • 123 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 56v.
  • 124 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 61v.
  • 125 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 65r: Ecclesiam a manibus Iohannes pape duodecimi qui turpiter tractabat eam (...)
  • 126 For instance: BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 50v: Probus de Pannonia… factus imperator rem publicam quieti (...)

33In the histories of Mansionario and Benvenuto, the emperors had the function of protecting Italy from cruel and infidel tyrants. In the discourse of the historians, the emperors normally did not occupy or conquer – instead they liberated, as the following examples from Benvenuto’s Libellus augustalis demonstrate: Constantine the Great was asked by the SPQR to liberate the Roman citizens from “the servitude of the most cruel beast Maxentius”,122 Justinian liberated Italy from the hands of the Goths,123 Charlemagne recuperated the empire in both East and West and liberated Spain,124 Otto I reformed Italy both spiritualiter and temporaliter, freed the Church from Johannes XII’s disgraceful hands, and liberated Italy from Berengar’s tyranny.125 Like Giovanni Mansionario, Benvenuto da Imola believed that the emperors had the task to take care of the res publica.126

  • 127 For the themes of death in this period, see Tenenti 2002.
  • 128 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 42v, 52r: Mortuus est feliciter.
  • 129 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 65r: mortuus est senex valde.
  • 130 Berrigan 1986, p. 222. As source, Mansionario used the Life of Basil.
  • 131 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 52v: transfixus in deserto parthie ab uno milite ignoto.
  • 132 BAV, ms. Ross. 373, fols 2r-40r: 36 ex his bene mortus. For instance, Iulius Cesar Imperator Inter (...)

34The late-medieval and Renaissance preoccupation with death is visible in the imperial histories as well.127 Often the historians inserted specific information on how the emperors died, and whether they died happily or badly. According to them, the death of the emperor was revealing about his character and reign. Augustus, Constantine the Great, Theodosius, Justinian, and Charlemagne all died happily.128 Otto I died when he was very old.129 Bad emperors, to the contrary, died badly. Mansionario’s extensive account of the horrible death of Julian the Apostate has already been elucidated in Berrigan’s study.130 In Benvenuto’s account, the apostate emperor was murdered by an unknown soldier in the desert of Parthia.131 The specific interest in the deaths of emperors is also visible in a manuscript of the Libellus augustalis. Cardinal Domenico Capranica (d. 1458), the owner of the manuscript, noted behind the name of each emperor in the table of contents whether the emperor died in a good or bad way. He concluded that of the 114 emperors only 36 died in a good manner.132

Conclusion

35With his philological and numismatic skills, Mansionario contributed significantly to the professionalisation of historical writing. Building on, and referring to, a large number of sources, he provided fourteenth-century scholars with an impressive and detailed compilation of imperial history. Notwithstanding his humanist tendencies, he continued to believe in the translatio imperii, he hoped that Henry VII could restore the Roman res publica and he included all kinds of anecdotes in his Ystorie imperiales, which modern historians would denote as “superstitious”.

36Like Mansionario, Benvenuto da Imola was an heir to the medieval historical culture and simultaneously contributed to the development of humanist scholarship. His statement that it was better to follow ancient sources than Christian ones was revolutionary and contributed to a new, more professional attitude toward the ancient past. Both Mansionario and Benvenuto da Imola have, in scholarship, been considered early humanists. Their humanism developed in a time and place in which the return to Roman antiquity fulfilled concrete political and ideological goals. Both historians continued to perceive a political and ideological unity between the contemporary Holy Roman Emperors and their antique predecessors. Their accounts prescribed how an emperor was expected to behave. The historians acknowledged that there were both good and bad emperors, but they never questioned the necessity of empire.

  • 133 BAV, ms. Ott.lat. 1467, fol. 42v; ms. Ott.lat. 2105, fol. 16v (circa 1467): post hac nil tale sper (...)

37The professionalisation of imperial history happened in a context in which the translatio imperii was still fully accepted. With their imperial histories, Giovanni Mansionario and Benvenuto de Imola legitimized the imperial ambitions of the Holy Roman Emperors on the Italian peninsula. However, the ancient models, which they put forward, simultaneously burdened these contemporary rulers with expectations that were hard, if not impossible, to meet. The disappointment in the Holy Roman Emperors elected by the prince electors north of the Alps resulted in the development of alternative imperial ideas. One continuator of the Libellus augustalis, for instance, suggested that the empire should return to the French.133 It shows the dynamics of the imperial idea in Renaissance Italy, an idea which was still very much alive.

Appendix 1 - Manuscripts of the Libellus augustalis: Additions to Daleffe – Rossi 2018

38Amsterdam, Universiteitsbibliotheek, ms. I F 74

39Barcelona, Biblioteca Central, ms. 1582

40Barcelona, Biblioteca Universitaria, ms. 1839

41Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, ms. lat. qu. 478, fols 75-90v

42Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, ms. lat. qu. 498, fols 90-105v

43Brussels, Bibliotheque Royale, ms. IV, 928

44Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University, Houghton Library, ms. Lat. 124, fols 86v-108v

45Genève, Bibliothèque Publique et Universitaire, Collection Comites Latentes, ms. 114

46Haarlem, Bisschoppelijk Museum, ms. 235

47Hamburg, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, ms. Hist. 31 e, fols 55-61v

48London, British Library, ms. Additional 26068

49London, British Library, ms. Harley, 2471

50Napoli, Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, ms. V.G.9

51Napoli, Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, ms. XIII B 82

52Olomouc, Státní Archiv, ms. 487

53Wroclaw, Biblioteka Uniwersytecka, ms. IV F 87

54Wroclaw, Biblioteka Uniwersytecka, ms. Rehdigeriana 788

55Würzburg, Universitätsbibliothek, ms. M.ch.f.59

56Zeitz, Stiftsbibliothek, ms. 82

Editions of the Libellus augustalis

57Libellus augustalis 1496 = Beneuenuti de Rombaldis Libellus qui Augustalis dicitur, in Francesco Petrarca, Opera latina, Basel, Johannes Amerbach, 1496, [p. 736-745], https://doi.org/​10.3931/​e-rara-21481.

58Libellus augustalis 1501 = Beneuenuti de Rombaldis Libellus qui Augustalis dicitur, in Francesco Petrarca, Opera latina, Venice, per Simonem de Luere, 1501, http://mdz-nbn-resolving.de/​urn:nbn:de:bvb:12-bsb10148168-3.

59Libellus augustalis 1503 = Beneuenuti de Rombaldis Libellus qui Augustalis dicitur in Francesco Petrarca, Librorum Francisci Petrarche impressorum annotatio, Venice, per Simonem Papiensem dictum Biuilaquam, 1503.

60Libellus augustalis 1504 = Beneuenutus Imolensis de eadem re [de vitis Caesarum], Fano, Impressore Hieronymo Soncino, 1504 [BAV, Stamp. Ross. 5909].

61Libellus augustalis 1505 = Beneuenutus de eadem re [de vitis Caesarum], in Hic subnotata continentur, Strasbourg, Johannes Prüs in aedibus Thiergarten Argentinae imprimebat, 1505 (until Maximilian: De Maximiliano CXVIII) [fols 21r-33r].

62Libellus augustalis 1554 = Beneuenuti de Rombaldis Augustalis Liber in Francesco Petrarca, Opera omnia, Basel, excudebat Henrichus Petri, 1554, p. 575-590.

63Libellus augustalis 1602 = in F. Marquard (ed.), Germanicarum rerum scriptores, Frankfurt, typis Wechelianis, 1602.

64Libellus augustalis 1637 = M. Freher (ed.), Germanicarum rerum scriptores, Frankfurt, typis Caspari Roterlij, 1637, p. 1-15.

65Libellus augustalis 1717 = in Burkhard Gotthelf Struve (ed.), Rerum germanicarum scriptores varii, Strasbourg, Sumptibus Johannis Reinholdi Dulsseckeri, 1717, p. 5-22.

Bibliographie

Libraries

BAM = Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan.

BAV = Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vatican City.

BSB = Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München.

BNF = Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris.

BCV = Biblioteca Capitolare di Verona.

BVR = Biblioteca Vallicelliana, Rome.

TULJ = Thüringer Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek, Jena.


Primary sources

Bottari 1991 = Guglielmo da Pastrengo, De viris illustribus, G. Bottari (ed.), Padova, Antenore, 1991.

Ceruti 1878 = A. Ceruti (ed.), Cronica degl’imperatori romani, Bologna, Romagnoli, 1878.

Del Prete 1858 = L. del Prete (ed.), Fioretto di cronache degl’imperadori, Lucca, G. Rocchi, 1858.

Geschichtsquellen = Repertorium Geschichtsquellen des deutschen Mittelalters, Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, retrieved on February 10, 2020, http://www.geschichtsquellen.de.

Historia Augusta 1932 = Historia Augusta, volume III: The two Valerians. The two Gallieni. The thirty Pretenders. The deified Claudius. The deified Aurelian. Tacitus. Probus. Firmus, Saturninus, Proculus and Bonosus. Carus, Carinus and Numerian, translated by D. Magie, London Cambridge Mass, W. Heinemann Harvard University Press, 1932.

Kaeppeli – Panella 1970 = T. Kaeppeli, E. Panella (eds), Scriptores ordinis praedicatorum medii aevi, 4 vols, Rome, ad S. Sabinae Istituto storico domenicano, 1970-1993.

Lamius 1737 = J. Lamius (ed.), Deliciae eruditorum seu veterum anecdoton opusculorum collectanae, Florence, ex typ. Petr. Caiet. Vivianii, 1737.

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Mathias von Neuenburg 1955 = Die Chronik des Mathias von Neuenburg, A. Hofmeister (ed.), Berlin, Weidmannsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, reprint 1955.

Mussato 2015 = Ludovicus Bavarus, in Albertino Mussato, Traditio civitatis Padue ad Canem Grandem/Ludovicus Bavarus, G.M. Gianola, R. Modonutti (eds), Florence, SISMEL Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2015.

Petrarch 1985 = Francesco Petrarch, Letters on familiar matters: Rerum familiarum libri XVII-XXI, translated by A. Bernardo, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985.

Rizzi 2008 = A. Rizzi (ed.), Riccobaldi Ferrariensis Historia imperiale, Translated by Matteo Maria Boiardo, Rome, Istituto storico italiano per il Medio Evo, 2008.

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Amann-Bubenik 2000 = J. Amann-Bubenik, Kaiserserien und Habsburgergenealogien – eine poetische Gattung, in M. Baumbach (ed.), Tradita et inventa. Beiträge zur Rezeption der Antike, Heidelberg, 2000, p. 73-85. 

Avesani 1976 = R. Avesani, Il preumanesimo veronese, in G. Arnaldi, M. Pastore Stocchi (eds), Storia della cultura veneta, 2, Il Trecento, Vicenza, 1976, p. 119-121.

Bauer-Eberhardt 2006 = U. Bauer-Eberhardt, Benvenuto da Imola, Libellus augustalis, in M. Puhle, C.-P. Hasse (eds), Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation, 962 bis 1806: Von Otto dem Grossen bis zum Ausgang des Mittelalters, I, Katalog, Dresden, 2006, p. 414.

Berrigan 1986 = J. Berrigan, Riccobaldo and Giovanni Mansionario as historians, in Manuscripta. A journal for manuscript research, 30, 1986, p. 215-223. 

Bertrand-Dagenbach 1999 = C. Bertrand-Dagenbach, À l’aube de l’humanisme. Iohannes de Matociis et ses “Histoires impériales”, in Revue des études italiennes, 45, 1999, p. 5-14. 

Bertrand – Desbordes – Callu 1984 = C. Bertrand, O. Desbordes, J.-P. Callu, L’histoire auguste et l’historiographie médiévale, in Revue d’histoire des textes, 14-15, 1984-85, p. 97-130.

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Notes

1 Breisach 1983, p. 125: “The mounting strength of Landesgeschichte or Territorialgeschichte, as the genre came to be called, was a historiographical manifestation of the decline of the imperial idea in the late medieval German period”.

2 The recent Encyclopedia of the medieval chronicle, for instance, does not deal with ‘imperial history’ as a genre, see EMC 2010. Cf. also Deliyannis 2003; Ott – Wolf 2016; Krüger 1976.

3 See the contribution by H. J. Mierau in this volume. The success of vernacular histories on Julius Ceasar in this period should also be mentioned: Lists of Roman emperors were attached to many of the manuscripts with an Italian version of Li Fet des Romains. Cf. F. Coste, La circolazione dei Faits des Romains nell’Italia medievale (XIII-XIV secoli), Circolo Medievistico Romano, 17 april 2018; and several contributions at the conference Les chroniques universelles en vernaculaire du XIIIe-XIVe siècle (Italie et France), University of Zürich, 16-17 May 2019, for instance Matteo Cambi, “Appunti sui volgarizzamenti veneti dell’Histoire ancienne jusqu’à César”.

4 Already in the twelfth century, the vernacular Kaiserchronik in prose and the Latin Chronici imperatorum dedicated to Henry V focus entirely on emperors. For references, see the online repertory Geschichtsquellen. Rolf Sprandel introduces several emperor-gesta in his article on world historiography. Concentrating mainly on texts written in the German lands, he considered Johannes of Viktring’s Liber certarum historiarum (c. 1340) as an imperial history and noted how Mathias von Neuenburg († c. 1364-1370) organized his history according to the emperors. The pope chapters, being of secondary importance, slipped into longer emperor chapters. Sprandel 2003, p. 157-180, especially 162-165. Also, Mierau 2016, p. 105-127 (here 106). More later examples can be found on Geschichtsquellen, for instance Dietrich von Nieheim’s Viridarium imperatorum et regum Romanorum, Nikolaus Burgmann’s Historia imperatorum et regum Romanorum Spirae sepultorum, Johannes von Dorsten’s Chronica imperatorum ab anno 1, Johannes Meyer’s Kaiserchronik, the Chronicon imperatorum Augustanum, the Chronica quorundam Romanorum regum ac imperatorum, the Latin translation of the Kaiserchronik by Albertus de Constancia known as the Cronica regum et imperatorum, the Historia Francorum imperatorum brevissima and the Catalogi regum et imperatorum.

5 Literally hidden, since “una storia della storiografia nell’Italia medievale non esiste”: These words of Ovidio Capitani are again cited in Bratu 2016, p. 707-742 (here 707). Massimo Miglio already noted that a large part of humanist historiography remains to be explored: Miglio 1995, p. 23-34. Important points of departure for late-medieval and humanist historiography in Italy are Storiografia umanistica 1992; Dale 2007; Zabbia 1999. An important boost comes from the project Edizione nazionale dei testi della storiografia umanistica (cf. the SISMEL series Il Ritorno dei Classici nell’Umanesimo). In this series appeared Rino Modonutti’s critical edition of Ludovicus Bavarus: Mussato 2015. We look forward to Giovanna Gianola’s edition of Mussato’s De gestis Henrici VII Cesaris.

6 Ceruti 1878. The editors are not so much interested in the imperial content, but in the use of the vernacular: the author was probably from the Veneto region.

7 On the six versions, see Pilati 2021. Del Prete 1858; Graf 1882.

8 Cherubini 1992; Graf 1882, I, p. 231; Guthmüller 1977. Also Internullo 2016, p. 307 and part 5.2 on the “genealogie incredibili”, or the legitimizing function of the Libro imperiale for important Roman families.

9 See the recent edition in Rizzi 2008.

10 Damian-Grint 2010.

11 Cipelli is also known as Egnazio. Editions among others: Venice, 1517; Florence, 1519; Lyon, 1539. For more editions, see the article on Cipelli in the Dizionario biografico degli Italiani. The Italian version was published in Venice in 1540. Cf. Cochrane 1981, p. 397-398; Amann-Bubenik 2000.

12 Billanovich 1992, p. 43. Valerius Maximus, for instance, was copied in hundreds of manuscripts and translated into Italian and French.

13 Billanovich 1992, p. 53.

14 Hankey 1996.

15 See the contribution of Rino Modonutti in this volume.

16 Kaeppeli – Panella 1970, III, p. 71; edited in Lamy 1737. The prologue makes clear that the volume was meant as a counterpart of the pope-gesta which he wrote before. It is interesting to explore to what extent these “imperial volumes” received a status of their own or circulated independently – as they did in the case of Mansionario, as will be explained below.

17 The traditional characteristics of “humanist” historiography are being challenged, now that a greater source base is being considered: see the introduction to Helmrath 2016, p. 1-10.

18 On this, see the forthcoming volume La storia e la sua scrittura: dalla prassi alla regola, dalla formalizzazione alla professionalizzazione (sec. XII-XVI), ed. F. Delle Donne et al.

19 Zabbia 2008; Adami 1982; Berrigan 1986; Bottari 1997.

20 Bertrand – Desbordes – Callu 1984; Bottari 1997.

21 This highly original aspect of the Ystorie imperiales has already drawn quite some scholarly attention, see Bodon 1993; Capoduro 1993; Bertrand-Dagenbach 1999; Witt 2000, p. 144, 166-167; Helmrath 2009. Mansionario also included a drawing of Verona’s Roman theatre in his Ystorie imperiales.

22 For Cochrane, humanist historiography is born “fully grown” with Leonardo Bruni: Cochrane 1981, p. 14.

23 EMC 2010, for instance, does not include an entry on Giovanni de Matociis or Mansionario (d. 1337).

24 Witt 2000, p. 167.

25 Bertrand-Dagenbach 1999, p. 14.

26 As will be explained below, Mansionario certainly worked on the text between 1312 and 1320.

27 The manuscript is digitized: https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Chig.I.VII.259.

28 The transcriptions are the result of two unpublished dissertations: Besa 1979; Bovo 1978. I have been able to consult them in the Biblioteca Capitolare of Verona.

29 Cf. footnote 50 below.

30 Mansionario applied the title Caesar to other emperors as well: cf. Caesar Augustus.

31 For instance; BAV, ms. Chig. I., VII 259, fol. 40v: incipit liber secundus ystoriarum imperialium, and fol. 83ra: Incipit liber tercius ystoriarum imperialium. a diue memorie theodosio senior principe usque ad tempora marciani imperatoris.

32 BVR, ms. D 13, fols 211r-230v.

33 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 211r: usque ad nostre vite… quasi quodam compendio summarie reserare… nam primo pontifices, secondo imperatores et eorum contemporaneos cum annis Christi, prout potero melius, annotabo. A complete transcription of the prologue in Bottari 1997, p. 48-49.

34 Ibid., Opusculum igitur hoc deinceps bifariam dividetur.

35 These parts on viri illustres are often rubricated. For instance, BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 92v: Floruerunt tunc in ecclesia dei plures uiri illustres ut scribunt ieronimus et gennadius in libro illustrium uirorum, or fol. 142v.

36 Already around 1338, the Dominican Giovanni Colonna wrote a Liber de viris illustribus. Guglielmo da Pastrengo likewise started to work on a De viris illustribus around the same period (edition by Bottari 1991). His example was followed soon after by his friend Francesco Petrarch: Ross 1970; Kohl 1974. For the development of the genre cf. Huijbers 2013, p. 299-304.

37 BCV, ms. CCIV, fol. 1v: Sub Augusto claruerunt etc.

38 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 75ra: claruit et tunc Juvencus nobillissimi generis Yspanus presbiter; florebat etiam gloriosus martyr beatus eusebius.

39 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 121v.

40 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fols 185r-190v.

41 Probably he wrote for “l’ambiente culturale ghibellino del palazzo Scaligero”: Bovo 1978, p. xxxviii.

42 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 211r and Bottari 1997, p. 49: Omnia quecumque facitis in nomine Domini nostri Jesu Christi facite. Idcirco ipsum ducem operis presentis primum invoco, ut ministerium meum dirigere et viam veritatis michi insinuare dignetur.

43 Besa 1979, p. xx-xxx.

44 Besa 1979, p. xxiii. In the Verona manuscript (BCV, ms. CCIV), we find this anecdote in the margin on fol. 1v: Sub hoc Augusto, refert frater Iacobus de Varagine, quod cum audisset quod Herodes Ascalonita filios cecidisset, valde indignatus tulit unde et stomachando ait: “Mallem esse porcus Herodis, quam filius quia cum sit proselitus porcis parcit et filios occidit.” From Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda aurea, De innocentibus. More anecdotes, including a vision of Mansionario himself, in Berrigan 1986, p. 220-221.

45 At least, in the first two books: cf. Besa 1979, p. xvii.

46 Martin of Troppau 2014, year 285: Florianus imperavit annis II. Hic incisis venis mori fertur. Iste nil dignum memoria egit.

47 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 27r.

48 Ibid.

49 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 223r: Summario annotatio temporum romani imperii. Cf. Berrigan 1986, p. 222-223.

50 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 223v: fuerunt… autem omnes imperatores a primo Gaio iulio Cesare usque ad henricum septimum cxxxviii imperatores. As a comparison, the author of the Fioretto di cronache degl’imperadori only counts 95 emperors from Caesar to Frederick II: Del Prete 1858, p. 29.

51 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 223v: Unde ab ipso Othone qui cepit anno domini .dcccclxii. usque in annum domini presente .m.ccc.xx. computantur anni .ccccxlviii. This seems erroneous since 1320 minus 962 makes 358 years.

52 Alexander Lee already highlighted the connection between historiography and support for the empire: Lee 2018, chapter 2: “History, Providence, Empire”. On Henry’s Romzug more generally see: Pauler 1997.

53 See for instance Franke 1992; a useful point of reference is Pontari’s source list: Pontari 2016b. More references in Huijbers 2020.

54 Zabbia 2008 also suggest that Mansionario focused his attention on imperial history because of Henry’s advent.

55 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 21r.

56 NB: here, Mansionario referred to Henry as the “sixth” with this name, elsewhere as the “seventh”. Especially in Italy, Henry was often called the “sixth”, since Henry I (“the Fowler”) was not considered emperor, since he had not been crowned in Rome.

57 A good recent reconstruction of events is provided in Görich 2016.

58 For instance, on Henry’s predecessor Albert of Habsburg he wrote: potens in regno Alamanniepartes alias non curavit. Mathias von Neuenburg 1955, p. 336.

59 The term augustus etymologically derived from augere, which means that a good emperor “increased” the empire. Cf. BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 1r: Augustus appellatur eo quod rem publicam auxerit; BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 122r: Unde quia primus cesarum rem publicam auxerat augustus dictus est. quod nomen et omnes imperatores obtinuerunt.

60 For Mansionario’s depiction of Julian the Apostate see Berrigan 1986, p. 222.

61 See the prophecy in Historia Augusta 1932, Tacitus XV., p. 322-325.

62 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 27v. Cf. BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 52r: idem, only “et = etiam”.

63 Mansionario is not the only fourteenth-century Italian who connected the term res publica to the Holy Roman Emperors: cf. Huijbers 2020.

64 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 223v: usque ad henricum vii qui obiit anno domini m.cccxiii.

65 He died on 24 August 1313 in Buonconvento near Siena. Paolo Pontari listed 85 fourteenth- and fifteenth-century historical accounts on the death of Henry VII: Pontari 2016b. The belief that Henry VII was poisoned was persistent: Collard 2001; Pontari 2016a and Mallegni 2016.

66 Paoletti 1966; Minardi 2010.

67 On three prologues of Benvenuto to Niccolò II see Rossi 2016b. On p. 146-147 he published the preface to the Augustalis libellus as taken from the 1501 Venice edition.

68 The recent foundation of a study center dedicated to Benvenuto da Imola in Bologna aims to give a boost to the study of his works. See for more information: http://benvenutodaimola.it.

69 Laureys 2016, p. 308.

70 The French translation was made around 1466 by Sébastien Mamerot: Duval 2000.

71 Daleffe – Rossi 2018 provides a list of 85 manuscripts. Also online: http://benvenutodaimola.it/manoscritti/ numbers 241 to 326, retrieved on 20 February 2020. In addition to these, I identified 20 more manuscripts with a search in several databases: see the appendix below.

72 See for some examples footnote 5 in Künzle 1958, p. 167. Often these early dates are also reproduced in the explicit of humanist miscellanies that are clearly from the later fifteenth century. As a consequence, it happens that catalogues date the manuscripts to the fourteenth century, even if the hands do not seem to justify an early dating.

73 Among the exemplars marked as fourteenth-century in the inventory (Daleffe – Rossi 2018) are the numbers 261, 266, 301, 306, 317, and 319. Number 261 is BAV, ms. Vat.lat. 4524, which is, as Anna Melograni kindly confirmed, from the fifteenth century: the manuscript is from the Lombard area and is produced in the workshop of the Magister Vitae Imperatorum. Number 306 is Casanatense ms. 248, which reproduces the date 1385 but seems from the fifteenth century as well. It is a beautiful little booklet of 35 folia and measures only 12x10cm. Number 301 is BNF ms. lat. 6122: the manuscript bears the date 1387 on fol. 17r. It is recently digitized: ark:/12148/btv1b9067750f, retrieved on 17 January 2022. The name of Benvenuto da Imola is not mentioned in this manuscript.

74 Hankey 1996, p. 177. But sometimes Benvenuto referred to his sources: for instance, in the entry on Otto I he mentioned Siegbert de Gembloux: BAV, ms. Reg.lat. 580, fol. 76v: secundum Sigisbertum.

75 Bauer-Eberhardt 2006, p. 414: “inhaltlich unbedeutenden Kompendium”.

76 Rossi 2016b, p. 125-147, 146-147: quia diutius imperavit et salubrius rempublicam gubernavit.

77 Rossi 2016b, p. 146: Unde videtur velle quod Gaius Cesar fuerit potius quidam precursor imperii, sicut Baptista fuit precursor Domini. Omnes vero gentiles historici incipiunt a Iulio Cesare sicut Suetonius et alii multii, quos magis sequi intendo, quia non aliud quam veritatem tradere posteris curaverunt.

78 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 52r: fidem christianam confirmavit Sedem Imperii transtulit in gretiam.

79 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 61r; Paris, BNF, ms. Lat. 6122, fol. 11bis-v: Et tunc Imperium Romanum quod fuerat in oriente a primo Constantino usque ad ultimum istum – i.e. Costantinus sextus leonis filius – terminatum est. Nam facta est diuisio imperii ut Imperium occidentale dicetur Romanorum et Imperium orientale dicetur grecorum. Et imperium romanum transiuit ad francos.

80 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 65r: primus ex theotonicis solus obtinuit imperium occidentis Et post eum soli theotonici imperaverunt usque ad presens tempus.

81 For instance, Paris, BNF, ms. Lat. 6122 does not mention dates, but in BSB, ms. Clm 313 and BAV, ms. Reg.lat. 580 every eulogy closes with an extra sentence: Incepit imperare anno domini.

82 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 63r: nec ipse pervenit ad benedictionem in ytaliam, ideo non ponitur inter principes.

83 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 64r: Et Heinricus non computatur inter imperatores quia non regnavit in ytalia, nec coronatus est a papa, quia vir pacificus nullam operam dedit ut ytaliam de manibus turannorum liberaret.

84 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 69r on Rudolf of Habsburg: electus est rex Romanorum, nunquam visitavit ytaliam; fol. 69v on Adolf of Nassau: in Romanorum regem electus est sed non benedictionem nec coronationem recepit in ytalia; and on Albert of Austria: electus est in regem romanorum ab electoribus et a bonifacio papa famoso petiit venire ad benedicionem.

85 Duval 2000, p. 70.

86 For instance, BAV, ms. Ott.lat. 2105, fols 1r-16v; digitized BAV, https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Ott.lat.2105. On fol. 10v: De Leone: Epigramma Constantinopolis super porta sancta Sophie: A Greek inscription is then inserted.

87 In at least 22 manuscripts the Libellus Augustalis is attributed to Petrarch: Contieri 1967, p. 139-141; Künzle 1958, p. 166-179; Vattasso 1908. For instance, BAV, ms. Vat.lat. 3551, fols 69v-96r: (here 96r): Haec de imperatoribus Romanis usque ad tempus francisci Petrarcae cui presens Augustalis ascribit Libellus. Also BAV, ms. Vat.lat. 4524, which includes a beautiful author portrait of Petrarch on the title page.

88 Rossi 2016a, p. 67, footnote 53.

89 BAV, ms. Ott.lat. 1863, fols 137r-153r: Editus per laureatum poetam dominum Beneventum.

90 Künzle 1958, p. 167 (footnote). Graf 1882, I, p. 237-238.

91 Künzle 1958, p. 173. For instance, in BAV, ms. Ott.lat. 1863 (fols 137r-153r): In isto libro continetur compendiosa descriptio omnium imperatorum a primo Cesare usque ad illustrissimum Romanorum imperatorem Fridericum Tercium; fol. 153r: Notandum est quod subsequentes quattuor imperatores R. P. dom. dom. Eneas Senensis civitatis episcopus ambasiator friderici tercii imperatoris missus dare obedientiam calisto tercio. Anno christi 1456 apposuit. Qui tandem ab eundem factus cardinalis et post mortem eius electus in papam. Pius Secundus Rome 1458 XIX mensis Augusti. This manuscript is the autograph of the humanist Giovanni Tortelli (1400-1466) and also contains Lorenzo Valla’s De falso credita et ementita Constantini donatione. The manuscript is digitized: https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Ott.lat.1863.

92 TULJ, ms. Bud. 8° 4; BAM, ms. P 117 sup.

93 Augustalis libellus 1496. For the editions and manuscripts see the list of primary sources.

94 The editors are aware that a continuation by Enea Silvio Piccolomini existed, but since it was not available to them, they inserted Cipelli’s imperial lives up until Maximilian.

95 Online, retrieved on 20 February 2020, https://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/0008/bsb00088604/images/. The manuscript is made after 1431, see fol. 7r and http://www.mirabileweb.it/manuscript/m%C3%BCnchen-bayerische-staatsbibliothek-clm-313-manoscript/116026.

96 Manuscript probably made between 1417 and 1431. cf. fol. 11r: https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Reg.lat.580.

97 This manuscript is probably from the sixteenth century: https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Chig.A.VII.220.

98 Bauer-Eberhardt 2006, I, p. 414-415.

99 In the fourteenth century, the Aula magna in Prague castle was decorated with imperial portraits, which are now lost. See Holladay 2019, p. 86.

100 Kneupper 2016, p. 220-221, seems to suggest that Pommersfelden, Gräflich Schönbornsche Schlossbibliothek, ms. 102 (xv) also includes an illustrated Libellus and Vaticinia. I have not been able to check this.

101 The number includes Caesar, who was, technically, not an emperor.

102 Donckel 1933, p. 25-104, 282-314. There is no edition. Cf. Blumenfeld-Kosinski 2006, p. 189-195. Reeves 1969, p. 325-331; Stöllinger-Löser 1995; Lodone 2019.

103 BSB, ms. Clm 313, 70v: cito cum magna pecunia, sed maiore infamia reversus est ad patriam. This reminds of the angry letter that Francesco Petrarch wrote to Charles IV after his coronation (Fam. 19.12).

104 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 70v-71r: Sic imperia orbis celum uersat, ut illud quondam potens et ueneratum gentibus et regibus Romanum imperium, prefiguratum in tibiis ferreis, cui nichil olim defuit nisi modicum orientis, nunc, proh dolor, nichil possideat nisi modicum [occidentis]. The last word is missing in BSB, ms. Clm 313. See Paris, BNF, ms. Lat. 6122, fol. 17r.

105 Cf. Huijbers 2018, passim.

106 Petrarch, Fam. 19.3: Et ecce, Caesar, quibus successisti; ecce quos imitari studeas. Translation by Aldo Bernardo in Petrarch 1985, p. 79.

107 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 70v and BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259, fol. 43v: Mansionario on Constantine the Great: Dicere enim solebat quod vite predecessorum speculum viventium sunt. Nam in eis quid tenendum, quidve fugiendum sit reperitur. Bonorum vite imitande, malorum fugiende. Item dicebat: “In eligendo imperatore fortuna concurrit. Set in ipsius regimine ministrando sapientia necessaria est. Item non sunt imperio digni quos vis fatalis adducit ad regimen, set quos sapientia et virtutum copia ac rei publice gubernande doctrina comendat”.

108 Ricciardelli 2015.

109 Blasio 2003.

110 Frauenholz 1926; Strothmann 2000; Graf 1882, p. 308-321.

111 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 42v: hic fuit felicissimus omnium priorum et posteriorum.

112 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 1r-v: Augusto nullus bellis felicior Nullus quoque eo in pace moderatiorUnde nulli genti bellum intulit sine iusta et necessaria causa.

113 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 1r-v: Ecce quante fuit constantie quia Cleopatra que iulium cesarem prius pulcritudine illexerat istum non potuit supperare.

114 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 1r-v: In factis temperatus ac modestusCibi quoque et vini parcissimus fuit non amplius quam ter bibere in cena solitus… Numquam oppidum civitatem aut locum nisi vespera vel nocte intravit, ne quemquam offitii causa inquietaret.

115 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 2v: licet autem augustus tante virtutis fuerit tamen viciis non caruit. Serviebat enim libidini usque ad obprobrium vulgus. Nam inter xii. pueros totidemque puellas accubabat. The same anecdote is recounted in Martin of Troppau’s Chronicon and Paulus Diaconus’ Historia Romana.

116 Mansionario also reproduced the story of Augustus’s vision of the Virgin Mary and her child on the Capitoline Hill.

117 BVR, ms. D 13, fol. 1v: Fuit enim Cesar Augustus, ut dicit Suetonius Tranquillus de Cesaribus, forma eximia.

118 BAV, ms. Reg.lat. 580, fol. 58r: hic fuit nequissimus omnium, hostis humani generis.

119 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259 fol. 30r: dolosus, fraudulentus, sanguinarius et occisionum amator; in christianos lupus ferox et persecutor rapacissimus; fol. 36vb: crudelis et dirus carnifex Diocletianus, qui sanctorum sanguinem sine mensura effuderat.

120 BAV, ms. Chig. I. VII 259 fol. 30v-35v. The names of the martyrs also fill the margins of the manuscript.

121 BAV, ms. Reg.lat. 580, fols 64r-64v: vir magnanimus, prudens, iusti consilii […] Et diocletianus in oriente et maximianus in occidente crudelius persecuti sunt christianos quam Vallerianus, Aurelianus, Decius, etceteri.

122 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 52r: Rogatus a senatu et populo Romano ut Ciues suos liberaret de seruitute crudelissime bestie Massencii.

123 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 56v.

124 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 61v.

125 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 65r: Ecclesiam a manibus Iohannes pape duodecimi qui turpiter tractabat eam et Ytaliam traxit de tirannide Berrengarii quarti qui impie premebat eam.

126 For instance: BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 50v: Probus de Pannonia… factus imperator rem publicam quietissimam et securissimam reddidit; fol. 48r: Alexander… accepit Imperium ad remedium generis humani… rem publicam salubriter gubernavit.

127 For the themes of death in this period, see Tenenti 2002.

128 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 42v, 52r: Mortuus est feliciter.

129 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 65r: mortuus est senex valde.

130 Berrigan 1986, p. 222. As source, Mansionario used the Life of Basil.

131 BSB, ms. Clm 313, fol. 52v: transfixus in deserto parthie ab uno milite ignoto.

132 BAV, ms. Ross. 373, fols 2r-40r: 36 ex his bene mortus. For instance, Iulius Cesar Imperator Interfectus, Cesar Augustus bene, Hadrianus male forte. More information on the manuscript on http://www.mirabileweb.it/manuscript/citt%C3%A0-del-vaticano-biblioteca-apostolica-vaticana--manoscript/188756.

133 BAV, ms. Ott.lat. 1467, fol. 42v; ms. Ott.lat. 2105, fol. 16v (circa 1467): post hac nil tale sperandum est, exanimis id saltem efficiet, ut romanum imperium a Germania migrabit in Galliam et unde venerat exul centennio redibit. The coming of a last world emperor with French blood was foretold in the Libellus de causis, statu, cognitione ac fine praesentis schismatis et tribulationum futurarum, which was copied with the Libellus augustalis in the illustrated manuscripts.

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