BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPTS
Mellon MS 13
IACOBUS of Speyer (?)
Iudicium astrologicum for 1475, in Latin
North Italy, unsigned, probably prepared in late 1474
Parchment codex in Latin with a few words of Greek, 280 x 177, ff. 95
unnumbered, of 96 originally, lacking the last leaf, presumably a blank,
replaced by a more modern blank parchment leaf; no signatures, catchwords
written longitudinally on the bordering line at the lower inner corner of the
last leaf of each quire except at the ends of quires (6) and (10). Collation:
(1-9)^^10, (10)^^6-1. Written throughout by a very elegant and uniform
humanistic hand using moderate standard abbreviation; single column of 26
lines, 160 x 95; medium- to light-brown ink except for the dedication on f.
1r, which is in very pale red. Capitals with guide-letters in plain burnished
gold or blue at paragraph divisions set into the left margin, the letters of
the final word or words in a paragraph often in capitals and spread to fill
out the line. On f. 1r is an illuminated border in the upper, inner, and
lower margins consisting of a triple band of narrow gold stripes, quadruple
and broader at the bottom margin, containing a very complex "white-vine"
pattern, the spaces of which are filled up with red, blue, and green pigment
peppered with patterns of three small dots in white lead; set within the
lower band of the border is a round wreath incorporating a shield with the
arms of Federigo da Montefeltro lord of Urbino as Duke, the title conferred
upon him in 1474 by Pope Sixtus IV, as indicated by the inscription flanking
the painted arms: "F" onthe left,"DVX" on the right (the second and third
letters of "DVX" painted within the first); the first capital of the text, f.
1r, 8, is in burnished gold within a square painted frame of blue, red, and
green ornamented with white tracery. No illustration. Occasional correction,
especially noticeable in the last two lines of f. 47v, lines 9-10 of f. 48r,
and on f. 64v, by an inelegant and shaky humanistic hand, probably the same
which supplied single words of Greek on ff. 14r and 62v; a much longer space
for a quotation from Hesiod has been left on f. 20v, where the single
marginalium in the volume, three lines of Latin supplying the passage from
Hesiod, is elegantly written by a humanistic hand which is probably not that
of the scribe or the Corrector. Parchment typical of fine Italian skin, thin,
regular, well prepared, but with strong traces of hair follicles; extensive
marginal repairs on ff. 94 and 95; with a few small wormholes, chiefly at
beginning and end.
BINDING: Rebound ca. 1800 in England (?) in blind-paneled brown diced Russia
with doublures of the same, flat back without title label, the original gilt
edges now somewhat irregular due to the rebinding, two parchment guards and
one of paper at beginning, one parchment guard at end. Preserved in a recent
black cloth folding box with gilt-stamped black niger label.
PROVENANCE: The text was presumably composed by, and this copy presumably
written and illuminated professionally--perhaps at Florence, conceivably at
Urbino--for the author, whose name has been carefully erased from the heading
of f. 1r and the final paragraph on f. 95v; presented probably on or very
near to New Year's Day 1475, to Federigo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, from
whose library (much of which is preserved at the Biblioteca Vaticana, Rome)
it was separated perhaps in the "disturbances" of 1502 and 1517, at least as
early as ca. 1800, at which time it was rebound in England; pasted to the
recto of the first parchment guard is a modern typewritten description of the
volume in French, probably by a bookseller; laid in is a carbon copy of a
typewritten letter without addressee's name, dated 23rd September 1955,
written by Charles Mitchell of the Warburg Institute, University of London,
concerning the codex; Mellon MS 158=U, acquired from Lucien Goldschmidt
(bookseller), New York. De Ricci-Bond 35.
f. 1r, 1: AD ILLVSTRISSIMVM. VRBINI DVCEM FREDERICVM. | MONTISFERETRI. ET.
DVRANTIS | COMITEM. ILLVSTRISSIMEQVE+ | CONFEDERATIONIS VETERIS. Im- |
peratorem fortissimum anni salutis m.cccc. | lxxv. Iudicium ab [name erased]
| physico astronomoque ed | T V M: | MIRANTUR Plerique Inclite Magna- | nime
Princeps Duxque inuictissime superi- | ora quidem tempora...
f. 15r, 20: PARTICVLA. SECVNDA. DE IM- | PRESSIONIBVS. ELEMENTORVM [f. 15v,
1:] ET DE COPIA RERVM AC PRETIO. | IN actiuis qualitatibus aer anno futuro
per ca- | lidum...
f. 20r, 19: PARTICVLA. TERTIA. | DE. STATV. POPVLO- | RVM. | [f. 20v1:] PRo
com- muni populorum statu aspexi ad an- | ni horoscopum, ad eius dominum ad
lunam. | ...
f. 26r, 19: PARTICVLA. QVAR- | TA. DE. BELLIS. | [f. 26v, 1:] FAcile mihi
persudadeo [sic, but the first "d" canceled by a dot beneath it]
Magnificentissime atque | invictissime DVX te pro incomparabili sapienta. |
f. 35r, 13: PARTICVLA. QVINTA. DE. FIDE. | AC. RELIGIONE. ET. DE HIS. | QVI
FIDEI. RELIONIQVE [sic] | PRAESVNT. ET DE | PONTIFICE. MA- | XIMO. | ...
f. 42v, 16: DE PONTIFICE MAXIMO. SISTO [sic] | IIII. [i.e., quarto] | De
ecclesiae ac fidei rebus & de religiosis insuper | ipsis generali quodam
f. 55r, 1: PARTICVLA. SEXTA. DE. PRIN- | CIPIBVS. AC. REGIBVS. ET. DE. |
CIVITATIBVS. ALIQVIBVS. | ...
f. 58v, 16: DE. SACRA. CAESAREA. MAIESTa- [sic] | TE. FEDERICO, TERTIO. ROMa-
[sic] | NORVM. IMPERATOR | ...
f. 60v, 6: DE. SACRA. MAIESTATE. FER- | DINANDO. DE. ARAGONIa. | INCLYTO.
APVLIAE. | REG. | ...
f. 63r, 6: DE. INCLYTO. AC CHRISTIANIs- [sic] | SIMO. MATTHIA. PANNO- | NIAE.
REGE. | ...
f. 65r, 19: DE MAGNIFICENTISSIMA. AC PO- | TENTISSIMA. VRBIVM. REGINA .
VENETIIS. | ...
f. 68r, 9: DE. ILLVSTRISSIMO. MEDIOLA-. | NI. DVCE. GALEATIO. | VICECOMITE.
f. 69r, 19: DE. ILLVSTRISSIMO. FERRARIAE | DVCE. HERCVLE. MARCHIONE ESTENSE.
f. 71r, 3: DE MAGNIFICA. AC. CELEBERRI- | MA. VRBE. ROMA.
f. 71v, 11: DE. MAGNIFICA. ET. FLOREN- | TISSIMA. VRBE. FLORENTIA. | ...
f. 73r, 4: DE. MACHMET. OTHOMANO | MAGNO. TVRCE. | ...
f. 80r, 5: DE. POTENTISSIMO. PERSARVM | ET. ARMENIORVM REGE. CASSANO. | ...
f. 81v, 3: PARTICVLA. SEPTIMA. DE. ECCLI- | PSIBVS. ET. CONIVNCTIO- | NIBVS.
ALIQVIBVS. | ...
f. 92r, 2: DE. OPPOSITIONE. SATVRNI. + | ET. IOVIS. | ...
f. 92r, 19: DE. CONIVNCTIONE. SATVRNI. ET | MARTIS. FACTA. IN. CANCRO ANNO.
SALVTIS MCCCCLXXIII | ...
f. 94r, 11: DE CONIVNCTIONE. IOVIS. & MAR- | TIS. FACTA. IN CAPRICORNO.
AN- | NO. SALVTIS. MCCCCLXXIIII. | ...
f. 95v, 13: ... & vale diu felicissime. & | te ab [name, possibly
"Iacobo," erased] singulari quadam atque + | incomparabili fide cultu
observantiaque prose- | qui non inuite patiare. huncque tibi tam de- |
ditissimum et immortalitatis ac gloriae tuae | cupidissimum, tuorum numero
ascribens com- | mendatum habeas. Iterum vale invictissime | ac felicissime
DVX. aeternumque UIVE [sic]. |
[Iacobus of Speyer (?), Iudicium astrologicum pro anno 1475, in Latin, not
identified in the literature consulted.]
f. 96: [Blank, lacking, replaced with a modern piece of parchment glued to
the stub of the original.]
SUMMARY: This beautiful manuscript was prepared for the humanist condottiere
Federigo da Montefeltro (1422-1482, lord of Urbino from 1444; named duke by
Pope Sixtus IV in 1474) and formed part of his splendid library, much of
which is still preserved intact in the Vatican. The text may have been
commissioned by Federigo, or may have been the most important annual
obligation of a court astrologer, or the gift to him of an astrologer who
wished to gain his favor; the copy was professionally written and
illuminated, probably late in 1474 for presentation at the New Year, and not
impossibly under the direction of Vespasiano da Bisticci (1421-1498), the
noted bookseller- biographer who operated a scriptorium at Florence and who
was instrumental in the formation of Duke Federigo's famous collection. The
style of the illumination appears in any case to be Florentine, and the
handwriting is of high caliber, even though the scribe was not learned, as
may be seen from his many errors in Latin, and did not know Greek, which was
probably the responsibility of the author, as also was the correction of the
Latin text; the scribe nearly always uses "V" and "u," almost never "v" and
"U." Though the author's name has been carefully erased from the codex, it
seems very likely that it will ultimately be read, especially from f. 95v
where there is no interference from showthrough of writing on the recto of
the leaf at the point where the name occurred. It is possible that the author
was Iacobus of Speyer, who was certainly the court astrologer in 1465 when he
had an exchange of letters with Regiomontanus (Johann Mueller of
Koenigsberg), cf. T IV, p. 440 and following. Though the erased name does not
fluoresce well, the first letter appears to be "I." Another possible clue to
authorship is the passage on f. 68v reading, "Ioannes Marnianus [sic]
praeceptor noster maximus ille philosophus & medicus prope divinus &
astrorum insuper quam doctissimus, Mathematicorum facile princeps..."; thus
the author names himself a pupil of the famous Ioannes Marlianus (Giovanni
Marliani), physician to the dukes of Milan, who wrote and published a number
of significant scientific books, and died in 1483 (see Hain, Repertorium
bibliographicum II, p. 360, nos. 10771-10773; Indice Generale degli
incunaboli delle bibliotheche d'Italia IV, p. 42, nos. 6188-6190; T IV, pp.
207-208). The Iudicium astrologicum, or horoscope for a given year, is the
sole example in the Mellon collection of a type of which many examples
survive from about 1460 forward; in this exemplar, prepared especially for a
great patron, there are special indications for Federigo, the pope with whom
he had strong ties, the other princes in his circle of friends and enemies,
the rulers of the Turks and Persians who were threatening Europe at the time,
and the great city-states of Italy. The care taken in the preparation of this
codex and its dedication to one of the great bibliophiles of the fifteenth
century mark it as a splendid library book, to which MSS 17, 21, 22, 24, and
29 among the manuscripts of early date in the Mellon collection may be