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Beinecke MS 537
Italy (Mantua?), 1459-1461
Plan for a Crusade against the Turks
ff. 1r-15r Ad invadendum Turchum duo sunt consideranda, primo qualis sit sua
potentia ex se absque auxiliis aliorum, secundo qualia auxilia expectare potest et a quibus ... hoc
quia tam iure divino quam gentium et civili apertissime constat. f. 15v blank
Anonymous text providing a comprehensive plan for recapturing Constantinople and all the lands
that had fallen to the Turks, probably unrecorded. It deals in detail with all aspects of the
Crusade planned by Pope Pius II: political, religious, strategic, tactic, economical, psychological,
logistics, armament, transportation, alliances, chances of success, etc. Probably written by an
advisor of the Pope after the representatives of the various European princes ("oratores") and
especially those of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, had given their opinion on the matter
during the Council of Mantua convoked by the Pope (1459-January 1460). The author calls Italy
"hec inclita et potentissima natio Italica" and proposes that the Crusade should be lead by the
Pope himself. Although all European nations are to participate, the first role is expected to be
played by the "illustrissimus dominus dux Burgundie". The author's exceptional expertise
contrasts with the poor Latin and bad spelling in which (maybe partly due to haste) his ideas are
expressed. His vocabulary comprises Italianisms such as "andare" and Italian and French
technical terms such as "guerra", "daga" (dagger), "fantes pedestres", "mangones" (a war
engine), "bastilie et alia instrumenta bellica que gallice dicuntur ribaudekins". Although the
Council of Mantua is not expressly mentioned, the text is no doubt related to that meeting. As on
the other hand the author proposes an alliance with the Emperor of Trebizond , who was
defeated by the Turks in 1461, our document can be dated 1459-1461. It consists of two parts.
The first (ff. 1r-9v) groups the ideas in four points (in contradiction to the incipit, which mentions
only two points). In the second, which repeatedly alludes to discussions during the meeting, the
matter is discussed more systematically in 20 points.
Paper, ff. 15, 205 x 160 mm. Watermark ?? similar to Briquet 14382??
I 8 (ff. 1-8), II 8 (- 8, ff. 9-15). Vertical catchword at the right.
Ruling invisible. One column of 28 lines, 151 x 90-120 mm. (if the writing is above top line).
Written probably by the author himself in Humanistica Cursiva Currens. There are a few
Modern limp vellum binding, made from an erased document.
Purchased 5 Oct. 1973 from Bernard M. Rosenthal on the Edwin J. Beinecke Fund.