[Officii e magistratti che aspetanno da esser fatti per lo ecellentissimo Consiglio de Dieci.].

Manuscript on paper, Venice, c.1587-9.


8vo (154 x 100mm). ff. [2], 4-18, 20-75, [6], fol.19 misnumbered as 20. Manuscript on thick, high-quality paper, Italian secretary hand, brown ink, titles, index and initials in red. Watermark: circle (unclear due to small format) and letters DM. Slight age browning, light water stain to upper margin of first and last few ll., lower half of one leaf of index torn away, else complete. A good copy in C20 citron crushed morocco, gilt-lettered, C20 bookplate to front pastedown, dry-stamp of Derek Gibson and pencilled acquisition date to fly, lower joint split at foot.

An intriguing, understudied Italian legal ms listing all magistrates of the Serenissima, with their number, the length of their office and their revenues, followed by a list of the major patrician families of Venice. It was a pocket-size reference book of the increasingly centralized Serenissima government, used internally by officials, magistrates and the nobility. A dozen other copies (see below) are recorded, produced way into the C17, important witnesses to the operations and public offices of the Serenissima. Previously, only the diaries of Marin Sanudo (1466-1536) had provided such detailed information, then only for magistrates of the city itself.

This ms begins with the Serenissimo Principe, whose office is for life and earns him 3500 ducats a year. It then continues with the officers appointed by the Consiglio dei Dieci, the Pregadi and the Maggior Consiglio. These are subdivided into those who work in the city (e.g., overseeing credit and money exchange, customs, health, trade, prisons, bullion), the Dogado (the coastal strip near Venice), the ‘terraferma’ of Treviso, Friuli, Padova, Rovigo, Brescia, Bergamo, etc., Istria and Dalmatia, the Ionian Islands, the Levant, and the ‘Stato de Mar’ (overseas possessions), plus a long list of all the ambassadorial or consular offices (e.g., Alexandria, Constantinople, Syria) of the Serenissima. There are the three ‘Inquisitori sopra li secreti’, or the censors of the press established in 1539, and the numerous offices concerning the management of natural resources. A copy survives in which all revenues – which remained unchanged over the course of the years – are in lire, which suggests the ‘genre’ was flexible in many ways.

We have examined UPenn, BL, Harley MS 3347 and BL, Add. MS 46,452, and have noted very strong similarities in the incipits/explicits, all likely produced centrally by the chancery scribes of the Serenissima, as the hand, layout and style are identical in 3 copies (ours, UPenn, Harley MS 3347); and Harley shares the watermark. There are variations on the content (e.g., offices added, moved around or omitted, no final list of major families). Only Bergamo MS A47 and Oliv. MS 2005 include dated dedications for the years 1594 and 1598 respectively. Add. MS 46,452 (a deluxe presentation copy) bears an undated dedication to Zuane di Medici (likely Giovanni de’ Medici, d.1621). In our copy and Harley 3347, we find, among the magistrates, the Provveditori al Montello, established in 1587. A comparative examination of the final list of major Venetian family provides further help. Our list and that in Harley 3347 are identical; together with the watermark, this suggests the two mss were produced at the same time. The list in Add. MS 46,452 adds Sfondrato (for Pope Gregory XIV, 1590-1) and Henry of Bourbon (1600), absent in our ms. This suggests 1590 as a ‘terminus ante quem’ for our ms, which can safely be dated c.1587-9.

Other copies: UPenn (Ms. Codex 302, 1575-1650), Bib. di Bergamo (3 copies, one 1594), Bib. Civica in Verona (MS 377, 1551-1600; MS 27, 1501-1600), the Bib. Civica in Belluno (MS 940, c.1577), Fond. Querini Stampalia (Cl. IV Cod. 63 (=776), 1622), the Hellenic Institute in Venice, Fondazione Cini (Cod. Y 15 sup., 15thC; MS. 2520/20, 1501-50), the Museo Correr (MS. P.D. A 48, 1662-70), the Royal Academy in Prague (MS b 16), BNE MS 9065 (16thC), Bib. Oliveriana (n.2005, 1598), BL Harley MS 3347 (17thC) and BL Add. MS 46452 (c.1608, though likely 1600-1604). A copy c.1600 was in Thomas Phillips’ collection (n.22402). An 1890 ed. purports to bring together data found in different copies in Venice, without identifying them. Further study is required to assess and date them.

G. Speake, Encyclopedia of Greece and the Hellenic Tradition (2021); F. Miari, Venetia anticha (1890).
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