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Consolatory epistle of Warm, Cool, & Lukewarm & together a lie: An Analysis by Mary Parker

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Mary ClarkMary Parker, a student in Dr. Rabia Gregory's History of Christianity class, is sharing her paper on an incunable from Special Collections. We're using her words and images with permission. – KH

Girolamo Savonarola, author of this epistola, was born to a well off family from Padua with his grandfather being a physician and professor at a medical college. Girolamo planned to study medicine as his grandfather had after getting his bachelor’s degree, but instead dropped out to join a Dominican monastery in Bologna without informing his family of his decision until he was already gone (Kirsch 2015).

From early in his life Girolamo felt strongly about the “depravity” of the era that he was living in. After years of study in the monastery and in Ferrara, he was sent to Florence to preach. His career took off after he became prior at the monastery of San Marco. While there, he preached strongly against paganism and the immoral life of many Florentines, as well as against the Medici’s, current rulers of Florence (Amelung 2015).

When Lorenzo de ’Medici died, Savonarola developed into a political as well as a religious leader and began thinking of setting up a theocracy of sorts. His sermons were often very biting and intense as he preached against the immoral life of members of the Roman Curia, against Pope Alexander VI, and against the evils of princes and courtiers. The Medici family was driven out of power due to the people’s hatred of the family’s tyranny and immoral lives. The French king ended up coming to Florence and setting up a theocratic democracy with Christ being the King of Florence and a council that represented all citizens. Girolamo was not directly involved with the government but his sermons and teachings held large influence in the city. Eventually, a sort of moral police force was set up that spied on and denounced people who did not follow the moral guidelines put forth by Girolamo (Kirsch 2015).

His daring and passionate sermons eventually lead to a conflict with Pope Alexander VI. In 1495, the pope commanded Girolamo to go to Rome and defend himself against all of the accusations held against him. He declined saying that his health prevented him and that the journey would be too dangerous. Shortly after, the Pope declared that Girolamo was no longer allowed to preach and that he also could no longer be the prior of the San Marco monastery. Girolamo attempted to justify his actions; and when it came to his preaching, he said he always submitted himself to the Church. A new papal Brief was written that maintained his ban on preaching but judged easily his actions (Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2015).

Girolamo disobediently still preached in Florence with sermons that were strongly against the so called crimes of Rome. All this lead to a possible schism in the Church; therefore, the Pope needed to step in and do something. Girolamo was eventually excommunicated in 1497, but this did not stop Girolamo from celebrating Mass on Christmas Day, distributing Holy Communion, and then subsequently preaching in the cathedral. While all this was occurring, opponents to Girolamo were becoming more powerful and after an attempt at an ordeal by fire; the general people began to turn against Girolamo. The San Marco monastery was attached and he was taken prisoner and eventually condemned to death "on account of the enormous crimes of which they had been convicted". He was then hanged and after his body was burnt at the stake (Kirsch 2015).

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Epistola consolatoria de Caldi, Freddi, & Tiepidi & una frottola insieme is thought to have been published in 1496 by Lorenzo Morgiani and Johann Petri, which means that Girolamo most likely preached this sermon after the second papal Brief commanded him to no longer preach. The epistola is largely speaking about being a lukewarm Christian or even falling prey to Satan’s deceit as can be seen in the later part of my attempt at a translation of the first page of the epistola.

The prophets of Jerusalem went forth: Hyere. xxiii. I Pensado, in happy mood, turn to judge you and see what creatures you are, and the misnomers of this problem should be finally resolved. That what each man deserves to be attributed to him, he will surely now know. To see whether to his benefit he will be shown as great by the creator, the power of the infinite glory of Heaven eternal and its benefits; but being such brutish animals man lives in denial and his mortal needs cause him to undergo more uncomfortable dangers and miseries than other animals undergo. Whereupon complaining Pliny said, sometimes double barked trees have to protect themselves from the heat and the cold found in nature. But man does not have this protection and from birth is naked, wailing and crying in such an excellent fashion. Neither does man have any thoughts from birth. But the nanny stays close like a magnet and protects the child above all else and sympathizes with the baby, protects them from many deadly things, guides them to discover their fate, and tries to get them to avoid fighting and conflicts. Fighting leads to such brutality. But no man should arise into a place of so many evils. However, that Lucifer being deprived of the Glory immortal designs for all humans to live mediocrely and hence end up in deadly misery for a thousand years: after ones first actions it is easier to warn them of the decline that leads to the eternal and deep abyss. Wherefore, be sober and watchful in prayer: surround yourselves with the few nurturing less our adversary Satan as lion come bellowing and devour you. And some said the apostle: Do you know the height of Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light (Savonarola 1496).

From this translation, it appears that Girolamo is fighting against the Catholic Church becoming corrupted by those who have no zeal for Christianity. He is angry not only with the church but also with members of the public who were perhaps not protecting themselves against the worldliness of the time. He was strongly concerned with God’s judgement on the city of Florence for its wickedness and was passionate about the Church regenerating to Holier form (Passaro 2006). He was also extremely zealous regarding the salvation of lost souls and was obviously willing to risk his life for this task. From this sermon, he also felt that Christians and non-Christians alike needed to watch and prepare for Satan’s temptations lest they be taken and destroy for falling prey to them (Kirsch 2015).

clark2clark3The Epistola Consolatoria De Caldi Freddi & Tiepi is bound in brown leather decorated with gold leaf of which Dr. Barabtarlo spoke about during her lectures. The inside cover has a red flowered, stamp design that is simple and beautiful. The book was used often as seen by the external binding being rather beat up on the edges and the internal markings from users’ fingers. One of the original pages is torn out and has been replaced by a printed copy of the original page. There are no comments from anyone besides librarians. There are a total of twelve printed pages with seven of those being Girolamo’s sermon and the other four being a frottola, Italian secular song popular in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

There were only approximately fifteen printers in Florence during the decade of 1490 with only four of these printing prolifically (University of Minnesota n.d.). The epistola by Girolamo was printed by one of these, namely the firm of Lorenzo di Morgiani and Giovanni di Piero di Maganza (Johannes Petri of Mentz). In 1495, Morgiani and Petri were working for Pacini, who commissioned what is said to be the greatest Florentine illustrated book of the century (Hoyt 1939). The epistola referenced here was not of this luxurious quality however. It is more likely that it was used to spread Girolamo’s preaching to the middle class citizens of Florence.

At the start of Girolamo’s career he was full of zealous desire for the renewal of religious life in Italy. His strong preaching and teachings led him to offend many powerful people including the pope. He was an extremely notable religious leader during the pre-Reformations era, and this can be seen through his printed documents such as the one analyzed here.  

Bibliography

Amelung, Dr. Peter. 2015. BRILL. November 2. http://www.brill.com/girolamo-savonarola-religious-and-political-reformer.

Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. . 2015. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. November 2. http://www.britannica.com/biography/Girolamo-Savonarola.

Hoyt, Anna C. 1939. "BULLETIN OF’ THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS ." VOLUME XXXVII , August : 62.

Kirsch, Johann Peter. 2015. Girolamo Savonarola. November 3. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13490a.htm.

Passaro, Anne Borelli and Maria Pastore. 2006. Selected Writings of Girolamo Savonarola. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Savonarola, Girolamo. 1496. Epistola consolatoria de caldi, freddi, & tiepidi & una frottola insieme. Florence: Lorenzo Morgiani and Johann Petri.

University of Minnesota. n.d. "Portfolio Artistic Monographs, Issue 12." 54-55. Seeley and Co., 1894.

 

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Posted in Classes, Learning through Special Collections, Rare Book Collection, Special Collections, Teaching with rare books

Special Collections in the News: Illumination Magazine

Incunabula and fine printing from Special Collections are featured in this semester’s Illumination, “Ink Indelible: Ellis Exhibit Features Masterworks from Printers Past.”  The feature also includes a multimedia presentation on YouTube.

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Student Spotlight: Lauren Young

Lauren Young is a senior majoring in art history and magazine journalism and minoring in music. She will graduate from the University of Missouri in May.  During the fall 2011 semester Lauren researched and studied Ellis Library’s copy of the Liber Chronicarum for her class on Renaissance figural arts at MU. She is currently working on a research project on fourth and fifth century manuscripts.  She comments on her project and provides an excerpt from her paper below.

The goal of my research project was to study the portraits of cities in the world chronicle, also known at the Nuremberg Chronicle. I discovered that the woodblock images of the cities as well as the content of the chronicle were, in fact, out of date when the book was printed in 1493. However, these images, which the Nuremberg Chronicle is well known for, exposed readers to far away lands allowing them to become armchair travelers.

The World According to the Liber Chronicarum: Selected Excerpts

Origins of the World Chronicle

The concept of a world chronicle was not a new one when the Nuremburg Chronicle was printed in 1493. In fact, the biographer of Emperor Constantine, Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, developed the idea. His chronicle, Chronicorum Canones, included a list of dates from Assyrian, Hebrew, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman times up to 325 C.E. Saint Jerome translated and completed Eusebius’ chronicle in 378 C.E. This chronicle became the model for later medieval historiography.

The Birthplace of the Nuremberg Chronicle

The security provided by the stable and growing economy in Nuremberg allowed two local men, Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kamermaister, the ability to finance the printing of a new world chronicle. Hartman Schedel, the city physician, was hired to write the text and artists Michael Wolgemut and Hans Pleydenwurff were contracted to produce the woodcut images. In total there are 1,809 illustrations in the chronicle. Forty-four woodcuts of kings are used for 270 different rulers and 28 woodblocks are used for 226 popes. The reuse of images through out the chronicle may have helped decrease the time and cost of labor during the creation of the world chronicle because woodblock illustrations were one of the least expensive ways to illustrate a book.  This practice also extended to the 101 places pictured in the Nuremberg Chronicle using 53 blocks.

Anton Koberger printed the Nuremberg Chronicle in both a Latin version and a German version. Koberger established his press in Nuremberg in 1470. It was the second press to open in the city and he published his first book in 1471, the same year he became godfather to Albrecht Dürer the younger.  He later purchased the building his press was housed in and added four houses over the years. Koberger’s press had space for 100 workers, 24 presses and living space for his large family. The press even had its own water system used for dampening paper during the printing process. The permit for the pipes from a well at the city wall remained in effect until 1881 when the city bought the water system. This water system helped supplement Koberger’s income because any leftover water he sold to the city.

The Ellis Library Liber Chronicarum

Ellis Library on the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus has in its special collection a nearly complete, uncolored, Latin copy of the Liber Chronicarum. The book was trimmed and rebound at some point before the university acquired it. However, whoever trimmed the book was careful enough to leave many of the notes in the margins intact by creating a series of flaps. This, in a way, increased the interactive nature of the book similarly veiled illuminations in manuscripts did. The reader now has to physically manipulate the book in order to look at the notes. The previous owner of the book who wrote the notes in brown ink was clearly literate and knowledgeable. There are places in the chronicle where this owner has corrected information and page numbers as well as added in their own thoughts. Clearly, they had a strong connection to Prague and may have even lived there because there are extensive notes in Latin below the two-page woodcut of the city.

During the time spent researching this paper, it was discovered that one of the maps in the Chronicle had been cut out of the book some time in the past. Even after consulting with the librarians in the Special Collections department of the library it is still not clear when folios 12 and 13 where removed. However, the other pages containing 26 two-page city portraits, 69 single page portraits and one world map are still intact.

Know an outstanding student you’d like to nominate for the Spotlight?  Email SpecialCollections@missouri.edu.

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Jenson in Venice, or Contra Gentiles beati Thome de Aquino

This post highlights Summa Contra Gentiles by St. Thomas Aquinas published in Venice in 1480 by Nicolas Jenson, one of the most renowned printers.  The book is of special importance to all with an interest in theology, history of book printing, and rare books.  This is one of the four incunabula recently acquired by the Special Collections and Rare Book department.

Shows fifteenth century leather tooled binding with copper claspsOn the warm and humid Venetian day of June 13th, 1480 the book was finally finished. Nicolas Jenson had only two months to live: he wasn’t well and felt old, tired and lonely. His children were in France: daughters Joanna, Catherine, and Barbara were young and unmarried, still living in Sommevoir with his beloved brother Alberto and his mother donna Zaneta; his son Nicolas, whose behavior worried him a lot, was in Lyon. A “most honorable tradesman, alien and printer of books”, Messer (as stated in his official will and testament), Nicolas Jenson, a very rich man, felt with some sadness that this strange place was going to be his final destination. A Frenchman, he had come here twelve years prior, when Venice was already in a long and exhausting war with the Turks, and when two years earlier the Doge Giovanni Mocenigo had made peace with Mehmed II, the famine and plague were still ravaging La Serenissima (the name of the Republic of Venice). Messer Jenson was a very successful printer; even his rivals admitted that the elegance of his Venetian Gothic type was unmatched — after all, he published a good quarter of all the books printed in Venice from his arrival in 1468 to 1480* , and Pope Sixtus IV made him Count Palatine.

Contra Gentiles was his second book published this year. By the end of July the last part of De humilitate interiori et patientia vera by Johannes Carthusiensis was to become his last printing venture. After his death his printing partner John of Cologne published a few more titles from the stock left after Jenson’s repose, under the joint name of Johannis de Colonia, Nicolai Jenson, and Sociorumque.

Nicolas Jenson was a master, not a scholar like Aldus, Merula, or Caracciolo, and thus he was in need of assistance by monks in proofreading the works of philosophy and especially theology. Petrus Albus Cantianus, a Dominican friar, was the editor of Contra Gentiles: at the very end of the text, after the colophon, we find his letter to Petrus Frigerius, Archbishop of Corfu (“Veneto theologico Excellentissimo Archiepiscopo Corkire[n]si ordinis”) confirming that he checked and corrected the text.

Why did Jenson decide to publish Contra Gentiles in 1480, when the market was still saturated with the books by Aquinas? Only four years earlier Contra Gentiles was brought out in Venice by Francis Renner of Heilbronn and Nicolas of Frankfurt, and before that, in September of 1475, in Rome, by Arnold Pannartz, and before him in 1473-74 Georg Reyser printed it in Strasburg. And this is not counting numerous editions of his most widely known and enormously influential Summa Theologiae.

St. Thomas Aquinas‘s authority in the Roman Church was indisputable: his works were the basis of Thomist theology and philosophy. It is widely believed that Aquinas wrote Contra Gentiles in Italy between 1261 and 1264 at the request of St. Raymond of Penafort, Magister General of the Dominican order, who wanted to have a good and convincing resource for the missionaries in Tunisia and Murcia, a Moorish kingdom in southern Spain.  While written most probably in Rome, it is supposed to be based on his lectures he read at the University of Paris between 1257 and 1259.  Aquinas’ intention was to give his students clear and focused answers to the most important questions about God, creation, providence and salvation. Each of the four books that constitute this work consists of about a hundred chapters (102, 101, 164, 97, to be precise). Each chapter is a question/postulate (Quod veritati fidei Christianae non contrariatur veritas rationis <That the truth of reason is not in opposition of the Christian faith>) which is then proved in a series of arguments and counter arguments, supported by citations from the Scriptures, and led to a logical conclusion.medieval handwritten title on a blank page Thomas contra gentiles

Our book looks characteristically mediaeval: in contemporary brown tooled leather binding over wooden boards with the front half of embossed metal clasps still present. The title is written in a contemporary hand on the fore-edge and at the top of the blank recto of the first printed page: Tho[mae] [contra] gentiles. The watermarks {a crown without arch between two chain-lines} suggest that Jenson bought the paper from Genf (Genève), and the binder of the book had a paper stock {watermark: Virgin Mary in a shield} produced in Dorpat (modern Tallinn) or Riga in Livonia in the 15th century.

The beginning of "inserted" chapter 21Jenson’s division of chapters differs from some of the known printed editions. He thought, for instance, that chapter 20 (Quod Deus non est corpus) was too long and he divided it after the 11th argument thus making an additional chapter 21, “Obiectiones co[n]tra hu[n]c processum”. (Objections against this reasoning). On the other hand, his Book Three consists only of 163 chapters instead of 164 in several other editions. The very first line of Chapter 20 also differs from the majority of modern texts and coincides with the Roman edition of 1894 that reads: “Ex praedictis a[u]t[em] oste[n]ditur,[ quod] Deus non e[st] corp[us]”; in later editions it reads: “Ex praemissis etiam” etc. St. Thomas’ hand was notoriously difficult to read, and it is not my task here to determine what manuscript was used by Jenson for his publication, but it is interesting to observe that even after seven hundred years of studying the text even at the beginning of the twentieth century, some passages were still being disputed, and monks who spent their entire lives reading, editing and publishing it, complained about difficulties in decoding it.

Picture of the beginning of the book with large initialThe text is rubricated with red and blue capitals.  A large and very elaborate first capital “v” in “Veritatem” opens the book, and each objection and counter argument is marked with red paragraph mark up to Book Four, chapter 11; after that, hand written capital letters at the beginning of chapters continue, but paragraph marks are much rarer and frequently coincide with short contemporary notes in the text, as if a reader was rubricating while reading.

More than just another remarkable example of an incunabulum printed by one of the greatest printers of Venice, our book carries a fitting St. Thomas’ message not only to Jenson and his contemporaries, but to the posterity — and thus to us — as well, namely that “of all human pursuits, the pursuit of wisdom is the more perfect, the more sublime, the more useful, and the more joyful.” (Book 1, Ch. 2)

*There were 596 books brought out in Venice in that period, of which number 150 were published by Jenson.

Bibliography:

  • Thomas Aquinas, Saint, 1225?-1274. Incipit tabula cap[itu]lo[rum] libri [contra] ge[n]tiles b[ea]ti Thome de Aquino. [Venice : Nicolas Jenson, 1480]   BX1749 .T38 1480
  • Thomas Aquinas, Saint, 1225?-1274. Summa contra gentiles : libri quatuor Thomae Aquinatis, ad lectionem codicis autographi in Bibliotheca Vaticana adservati, probatissimorum codicum meliorisque notae editionum, fideliter impressi ; volumen unicum. Romae : Ex typographia Forzanii et Socii, 1894. BX1749.T38 1894
  • Corpus Thomisticum Sancti Thomae de Aquino. http:/www.corpusthomisticum.org
  • Jenson, Nicolas, ca. 1420-1480. The last will and testament of the late Nicolas Jenson, printer, who departed this life at the city of Venice in the month of September, A.D. 1480. [Chicago, Ludlow Typograph Co., 1928] Z232.J54 L3 1928
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Presses and Preachers, or, What an Incunable Can Tell Us about Technology and Faith

The Special Collections and Rare Book department recently acquired four incunables,[1] and we’ll be featuring them individually on the blog.  This post highlights Sermones de adventu by Roberto Caracciolo (Venice, 1474), a book interesting for what it can tell us about religion and technology.

Renaissance Preachers

Author's nameThe author of this book, Fra Roberto Caracciolo de Lecce, was one of the most successful preachers of the fifteenth century, hailed as a “second St. Paul” for his oratorical talents.

As a preacher, Caracciolo’s crowd-pleasing specialties were melodrama and spectacle; he even boasted that he could reduce any audience to tears.  His career started early.  By 1450, when he was only in his mid-twenties, he was well-known enough to be chosen by Pope Nicholas V to deliver the official canonization eulogies for Bernardino of Siena.  Later in his career, when asked to preach a crusade sermon against the Ottoman Turks, he did so in full knight’s armor, complete with a sword.  It’s no wonder that large, enthusiastic crowds flocked to hear him wherever he went.

Eager to capitalize on the popularity of Caracciolo and his colleagues, printers issued volumes of their sermons in Latin and vernacular Italian.  Caracciolo alone had at least eight different editions of his sermons printed throughout Italy from the 1470s until his death in 1495.  By the time the sixteenth century drew to a close, over one hundred editions of his works had been printed throughout Europe.

MarginaliaThis volume contains Caracciolo’s sermons on Advent, St. Joseph, the Beatitudes, divine charity, and the immortal soul, as well as a sermon by the canon lawyer Dominicus Bollanus on the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary.  It preserves the words Caracciolo’s audiences heard and read so that we can access them today.  Thanks to this copy’s scattered marginal notes in sixteenth-century handwriting, we can even know how they responded.

The Fifteenth-Century Tech Boom

Title pageAs Caracciolo’s career as a preacher reached its height, Italy stood on the brink of a technological revolution.  Gutenberg had developed movable type in Mainz around 1455, but it took about a decade for the technology to reach Italy.  Venice had to wait even longer – until 1469.  That’s the year that Johannes of Speyer emigrated from Mainz, got a five-year monopoly from the Doge, and set up shop as the city’s first printer.

Unfortunately for the Speyers, Johannes died around eighteen months later, invalidating the monopoly.  His brother Vindelinus attempted to carry on the business, but Johannes’ death touched off an equivalent of the dot-com boom of the late 1990s.   Within three years, there were at least a dozen printing shops in Venice, all producing the same Greek and Roman texts – over 80 different editions of them by the end of 1472.  By 1473, the book market was so glutted with classics that the bottom dropped out.

Colonia and Manthen's colophonThis was merely the first in a series of market collapses, but most of Venice’s new high-tech start-ups went out of business as a result.  The Speyer press survived – barely.  Vindelinus sold a large stake in the company to two new investors: Johannes de Colonia (also called Johannes of Köln or Cologne), and Johannes Manthen de Gerresheim.   Colonia and Manthen became the senior partners in the business; Vindelinus’ name disappeared from the company until 1476.

Colonia and Manthen were prolific printers, producing 86 editions from 1474 to 1480.  They gave up on the Greek and Roman classics after 1475 and shifted their focus to the more profitable market in law, theology, and philosophy.   This book is an example of the output from their reinvented company, produced during their first year of business.

Backwards NAlthough the Speyer brothers are sometimes credited as the originators of Roman type, this book was printed using their space-saving but elegant Gothic.  Like many other early printed books, the printers left space for initials and ornament to be added by hand.  In this copy, several of the initial Ns are written backwards, for what reason we do not know.

There’s much more this book could tell us; a book is never just a book when it’s in Special Collections.  As its own history shows, this particular book has been an active participant in a tradition of study that has continued for hundreds of years.

Want to Read More?

The following resources are available at MU Libraries.

Binding

Aguzzi-Barbagli, Danilo.  “Roberto Caracciolo of Lecce,c. 1425-6 May 1495.” In Contemporaries of Erasmus: a biographical register of the Renaissance and Reformation. Ed. Peter G. Bietenholz, Thomas B. Deutscher, associate editor. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, c1985.

Gerulaitis, Leonardas Vytautas.  Printing and Publishing in Fifteenth-Century Venice.  Chicago: American Library Association, 1976.

Telle, Emile V.  “En marge de l’éloquence sacreé aux XVe-XVIe siècles: Erasme et Fra Roberto Caracciolo.”  Bibliothèque d’humanisme et Renaissance.  Travaux et Documents 43 (1981): 449-470.


[1] The word incunabulum (plural incunabula, or incunable(s), if you prefer English) means in the cradle in Latin.  It is generally applied to printed books produced prior to 1501, in the earliest years of printing.

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