Renaissance and Reformation Giannozzo Manetti
by
Craig Kallendorf
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0091

Introduction

Giannozzo Manetti (b. 1396–d. 1459) was a man in whom the currents of his time flowed together—an intellectual who participated fully and successfully in economic and political life, an accomplished scholar with strong religious convictions, and a humanist who retained roots in the medieval past. His studies were shaped by Ambrogio Traversari in the Camaldolensian convent of Sta. Maria degli Angeli, where he learned Greek and Hebrew as well as Latin. Manetti held a series of increasingly important offices in his native Florence, including his service abroad as provincial governor and ambassador. In 1454 he left Florence, first serving Pope Nicholas V, who was a school friend from his youth, then Alfonso of Aragon, King of Naples. As a member of one of Florence’s richest families, Manetti had the resources to build a large library, which he used to write works in a number of areas, including biographies, speeches, one of the first humanist defenses of the dignity of man, and a wide-ranging apology for Christianity. Much work remains to be done on Manetti: many of his writings are unedited, there is no full-length modern intellectual biography, and many areas of his scholarship remain largely unexplored with not much available in English.

Life

The best modern introduction to Manetti’s life and works is Foà 2007. The major source from Manetti’s time is the pair of biographies by Vespasiano da Bisticci, with the texts available in Vespasiano da Bisticci 1970–1976 and supporting documents in Vespasiano da Bisticci 1978. Greco 1983 and Wittschier 1967 offer useful analyses of the relationship between the biographer and his subject. Other contemporary sources are discussed in Baldassarri 2004–2005, Baldassarri and Figliuolo 2010, and Naldi 1731.

  • Baldassarri, Stefano Ugo. “Un’anonima vita di Giannozzo Manetti in terza rima.” Yale Italian Poetry 8 (2004–2005): 187–214.

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    A study of an anonymous life of Manetti in verse, of little quality aesthetically and limited in its circulation, but valuable both as a contemporary witness to Manetti’s life and works and as a possible source for the more influential biography of Vespasiano da Bisticci.

  • Baldassarri, Stefano Ugo, and Bruno Figliuolo, eds. “Manettiana”: La biografia anonima in terzine e altri documenti inediti su Giannozzo Manetti. Rome: Roma nel Rinascimento, 2010.

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    A collection of documents designed to serve as the basis for a biography of Manetti, including family papers, official communications regarding his various ambassadorial postings, and an anonymous contemporary biography in verse.

  • Foà, Simone. “Giannozzo Manetti.” In Dizionario biografico degli Italiani. Vol. 68. Edited by Mario Caravale. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 2007.

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    The best modern introduction to Manetti’s life and works, with extensive bibliography up to the year of publication.

  • Greco, Aulo. “Giannozzo Manetti nella biografia di un contemporaneo.” Respublica litterarum 6 (1983): 155–170.

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    An interesting study of Vespasiano’s presentation of Manetti, showing how biography involves not only recounting the facts of the subject’s life, but also reveals the relationship between the two individuals involved.

  • Naldi, Naldo. “Vita Iannotii Manettii.” In Rerum Italicarum scriptores. Vol. 20. Edited by L. A. Muratori, 529–608. Milan: Societas Palatina, 1731.

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    An edition of the life of Manetti by a fellow Florentine, Naldo Naldi (b. 1439–d. c. 1513), which is based on the Commentario della vita di Messer Giannozzo Manetti, the longer of the two lives by Vespasiano da Bisticci.

  • Vespasiano da Bisticci. Le vite. 2 vols. Edited by Aulo Greco. Florence: Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento, 1970–1976.

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    A standard, widely cited edition of both versions of Vespasiano’s life of Manetti, found at 1.485–538 and 2.515–627. An important contemporary source.

  • Vespasiano da Bisticci. Commentario della vita di messer Giannozzo Manetti. Edited by Pietro Fanfani, 195–201. Collezione di opere inedite o rare dei primi tre secoli della lingua 2. Turin, Italy: Unione Tipografico-Editrice, 1978.

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    Contains a text of one version of Vespasiano’s life of Manetti, along with several documents pertaining to Manetti’s life and the texts of four minor works.

  • Wittschier, Heinz W. “Vespasiano da Bisticci und Giannozzo Manetti.” Romanische Forschungen 79 (1967): 271–287.

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    An excellent study of the relationship between Manetti and his biographer, including a clear discussion of the sources on which conclusions can be based.

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