(inventory from 1436 and later notes)
Composed from: Dukes and Poets of Ferarra by Edmund G. Gardner, Library P.42, inventory of 1436.
and from: Ferarra: The Style of a Renaissance Depotism by Werner L. Gundersheimer, 1973, Princeton New Jersey.
Chapter IV Leonello and Ferrarese Culture
and from: Adriano Capelli: La Biblioteca Estense nella prima meta del secolo XV, pages 12-30,
(Giornale Storico della Letteratura Italiana, vol. 14), Turin, 1886
by Mari Hoshizaki
1. The Library included:
- 200 Latin,
including classical writers, theologians and medieval authors
- 58 French MSS including a great
number of romances
- 23 Italian MSS
- Mostly minor works of Boccacio
- 2 Dante
codices catalogued as
Libro une chamado Danti
una chiamado el scripto sovra el purgatorio de Dante
- 2 French translations of the Bible
Greek MSS, unnamed
- German MSS, unnamed
- One treasure preserved at Modena is
a Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico decorated with minatures by Giovanni Falconi of Florence and
marginal annotations from Guarino
The Greek MSS disappeared but perhaps was a Strabo,
as in May, 1470, Scipio Fortuna, one of the librarians, wrote to Borso that he never had a Greek
manuscript, but perhaps another librarian, Marco di Galaotto might have it (document published
by Bertoni, op. cit p. 259, La Biblioteca Estense e la Coltura Ferrararese ai tempi del Duca Ercole
I. Turin, 1903).
Additional Note (autorbis): A Strabo was given by Guarino to Jacopo Antonio Marcello, who brought it to René d'Anjou.
There exist two pictures of the occurrence (strange, that nobody reminded the case).
1436 - First Inventory of the 12th Marquis D'Este of Ferarra, Niccolo III.Librarians Ser Jacomo and Raynaldo lists 279 volumes.
This study is published by A. Capelli in La Biblioteca Estense nella prima meta del secolo XV," 12-36.
The subjects range from:
2. Additional under Leonello:
- Religious Pious works
- Patristic writings
- French romances
- Classical humanists
- Classical authors
Ancient authors named, followed by subject if listed:
- Frontinus on aquaducts
- Vegetius on fortifications
- Valerius Maximus
- Festus Rufus
- Martianus Capella
- Quintus Curtius
Texts, no authors:
- Albertino Mussato
- Cecco d'Ascoli
- Giovanni da Ravenna
R. Sabbadini in Le scoperte dei codici latini e greci nei secoli XIV e XV (Florence 1905) lists Plautus.
Eight of Plautus comedies were known in the Middle Ages, but Nicholas of Cusa discovered 17 new ones.
They are noted in Ferarra, but not in the permanent inventory.
Giovanni Aurispa writes of Plautus comedies in Ferrara in Carteggio di Aurispa, 77.
- Geographical Devotional texts
- Arthurian/Carolingian fables and romance in French
- Religious works
- Augustine's City of God and Decretals
In 1428 Nicholas of Trier
discovered a codex of Plautus containing sixteen comedies in a German convent. The codex was
bought by cardinal Giordano Orsini and he refused to allow Poggio Bracciolini or Guarino Veronese
to borrow it.* Guarino appealed to Leonello when he was installed as Leonello's tutor and
Leonello wrote the request promptly. The Cardinal fulfilled the loan request and Leonello wrote
of the triumph to Guarino, who was temporarily absent from the city.**
3. The segueway
An affectionate exchange was established between Guarino and Leonello after this
manuscript was obtained. Letters cited, show Guarino respectfully and admiringly calling
Leonello "King and Lord" and "Flower of Princes" in thanks for
Leonello's friendly exchanges.* When Leonello was sometimes away in his country villa, engaged in
would send every day to Guarino presents of game and also elegant and spirited Latin
letters describing the sport. **
*Letter from Guarino to Giordano Orsini in Pez and H
ueber Thesaurus Ancedotorum Novissimus, To., v., pars iii, p. 165, Volume 6, Augsburg, 1723.<
**Thirteen letters from Guarino to Leonello (including the one quoted on the Plautine
comedies) in Pez and Heber, op. cit. pp. 154-164. Cf. Rosmini, op. cit. i, pp. 62-69, and
Voigt, i. pp. 561, 562.
G. Bertoni, who wrote of the circle around Leonello D'Este, also lists an inventory of works dedicated to Leonello in
La Biblioteca Estense al Tempo di Ercole d'Este, 1471-1505, (Turin, 1903), 25, n.1. The authors, but not subjects are
listed and would have been in Leonello's library by his death in 1450:
5. Borso's additions included:
- Flavio Biondo
- Tommasso Cambiatore
- Francesco Ariosto
- Basinio Baasini da Parma
- Tito Vespasiano Strozzi
- Giovanni Bianchini
- Guarino's translation of Nicoles of Isocrates
- Plutarch's Lives of Alexander and Scilla
- Trapezuntius Invective against Guarino
- Giovanni' Aurispa's translation of Lucian's Amicitia
- Giovanni Marrasio's elegy
- Basinio Parmensis Orations
- Bartolemmeo Imperali
- Pier Candido Decembrio
- Ciriaco d'Ancona
- Apollonio Bianchi
- Angelo Gambiglioni
- Leon Alberti's Philodoxos & Theognis
- Felino Sandeo's poems
of Merlin and Lancelot illuminated by 1460. A record indicates Duke Borso sending a library
request for a Lancelot in French to correct the Italian one+
+CF Bertoni, op. cit., cap. iv.
Venturi , op. cit, pp. 692, 693, L'Arte Ferrarese nel periodo di Borso d'Este. (Rivista Storica,
Italina, II. 4). Turin, 1885
Pio Rajna, Le Fonti dell' Orlando Furioso, Introduction, Second
Edition, Florence, 1900.
Duke Borso did not know Latin so humanists who sought his
patronage had to write in the Tuscan vernacular of Ferarra. These included Polismagna,
translating Pier Candido Decembrio 's Laudi della citta di Milano
in the vernacular.
6. Other members of the court
, particularly such cultivated men of letters as Tito Vespasiano Strozzi and Ludovico Casella,
tried to build personal libraries. Men in specialized fields, such as law or medicine, often collected in their specialties
(Thus Giocomo Giglioli had an important legal library, the contents which are listed in A. Capelli's article,
"La Bibloteca Estense, 10-11; Aurispa's book collection was also well known, and so was Guarino's
The latter left his library to his son Baptista, but in the 16th century it was dispersed).
(contributed by Mari Hoshizaki)