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Exhibition Items : Blondi Flavii Forliviensis in Roma instaurata prefatio incipit

Exhibition Items

<p style='text-align: justify;'>In 1443, after ten years away, the curia returned to Rome, and in 1446 Biondo dedicated to Eugenius IV his first work, <i>Roma instaurata</i> (Rome restored), an attempt at identifying its ancient ruins. In 1474 Gaspare Biondo, publishing his father’s <i>Italia illustrata</i> (Italy displayed), speaks of having already published <i>Roma instaurata</i>, whose printer was incapable of signalling topics in the margin. An edition with a blank margin does indeed survive, known since 1905 to antedate 6 August 1471, when someone bought a copy now in Paris. The copy illustrated here, given to the Library in 1917, takes it further back – and does more.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>In red ink, someone has repeated in the margin the numbered chapter headings that precede each book. At 3.78, where Biondo mentions Pietro Barbo, the heading is followed by this: <i>1470 Petrus Barbo cardinalis Sancte Marie Nove Eugenii iiii nepos, qui nunc est PAULUS PAPA SECUNDUS</i> (‘1470 … now POPE PAUL II’). In some calendars the year 1470 ended on what is now called March 24 1471, which becomes the latest possible date of publication. A note in black ink on the same page concerns the ‘unlucky’ mansion known today as the Palazzo Doria-Pamphilj, ‘where four cardinals died in quick succession; its current occupant is the patriarch of Antioch, none too lucky so far’. This annotator admires the building programme of Sixtus IV and his nephew Giuliano della Rovere but also gives details otherwise unattested about the whereabouts of ancient masonry: the obelisk that today dominates the Spanish Steps ‘lies behind the Cardinal of Novara’s vineyard’, ‘most of the Septizonium recently collapsed, and the stones were carried off for use on the basilica of Ss. Apostoli’.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The latest event mentioned, the appointment of Guillaume d’Estouteville as Chamberlain to Sixtus IV, fell in August 1477. Who was this annotator? He occasionally signs notes as H and twice addresses Blonde pater. As Maurizio Campanelli has noticed, Biondo had another son Girolamo (Hieronymus), doctor utriusque iuris by 1459, who in a manuscript with the arms of Biondo framed by H B assembled letters of his father’s, between copies of <i>Roma instaurata</i> and <i>Italia illustrata</i>; there too <i>Blonde pater</i> occurs. Nothing is known about his career, but in the spirit of his father’s work he has left us this record of Rome reborn.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Professor Michael Reeve</p>

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