Epistolarum Familiarium Libri VIII. (Ed. Antonius Moretus and Hieronymus Squarzaficus).Venice, Damianus de Mediolano, de Gorgonzola, Petrus de Quarengiis, Bergomensis, 15 June 1495.

BRUNI ARETINO Leonardo (1495)


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Some initials supplied in (later) red pencil.

Folio (316 x 213mm). [56]ff. 41/42 lines, Roman letter, capital spaces with guide letters. Early nineteenth-century speckled calf, with double gilt fillet, spine with author, title and date (1485, in error) in gilt, deckle edges (expertly rebacked). 

Venice: Damianus de Mediolano, de Gorgonzola, Petrus de Quarengiis, Bergomensis, 15 June,

One of only two editions of the great humanist Leonardo Bruni’s letters to be published in Italy in the fifteenth century. Moretus and Squarzaficus’ edition was first printed in Venice, 1472, while the only other fifteenth-century editions were Louvain, c. 1487 and Leipzig 1499, taken from a different recension.


The letters of the historian, four-time papal secretary and Chancellor of Florence Leonardo Bruni of Arezzo (c.1370-1444), provide an exceptional chronicle of ecclesiastical, political and intellectual life in Italy around the turn of the fifteenth century.  Edited by Bruni in 1440 for publication, and starting the first letter with his appointment to the post of apostolic secretary to Innocent VII, here 'we find vivid descriptions of life in the papal curia; …a record of Bruni’s friendships with Niccolo Niccoli and Poggio [Bracciolini] and the avid search for books in humanist circles; …a depressing chronicle of ecclesiastical politics in the last days of the Great Schism; and Bruni’s excited responses to Poggio’s first manuscript discoveries in Germany’ (Hankins). Significant political events sit alongside descriptions of everyday life - one letter describes a day fishing, when he and his friends ‘played like boys, shouted like drunkards and scrapped together like madmen’.


Provenance: 1Henry Joseph Thomas Drury (1778-1841), classical scholar and schoolmaster at Harrow, friend of Lord Byron - with whom he corresponded - with his small neat pen inscription to recto of front free endpaper, made while at Harrow “Coll: perf: H. Drury./Harrow. C.24.2/Exemplar pulchrum/Empter. Payne.” ‘B’ at head of title page. 2Ticket of James Miles, bookseller pasted to foot of front pastedown, ‘James Miles, Antiquarian Bookseller, 34, Upperhead Row, Leeds’, with facsimile copy of Miles’ correspondence dated October 24, 1919, offering this volume, described as ’finely printed on good paper. Very fine tall clean copy, many leaves being entirely uncut.’


Faint waterstains at head of some leaves, otherwise a clean copy.


ISTC ib01243000. HC 1567* = H 1566?. GW 5607. Goff B1243. BMC V 512. Sheppard 4446 (Sheppard notes that gatherings a–c, sheets d1 and d2, gathering e, and sheet f1 were printed by Damianus de Mediolano, the rest by Petrus de Quarengiis).

James Hankins, 'Introduction to Epistolarum libri VIII', in L. Bruni & L. Mehus (eds), Edizioni di storia e letteratura (Rome, Edizioni di Storia, 2007)..

Stock Code: 241987

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