Renaissance and Reformation Poggio Bracciolini
by
Craig Kallendorf
  • LAST REVIEWED: 03 June 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0095

Introduction

Gian Francesco Poggio Bracciolini (b. 1380–d. 1459) is one of the more interesting of the early Italian humanists. He spent almost fifty years in the service of the papacy but never took orders and had no hesitations about ridiculing the vices of churchmen. His literary output covered a wide range, including speeches, dialogues, translations, letters, history, and fables, but he is probably best known today for his manuscript discoveries and for his polemics, which he unleashed against several of the most famous scholars of his day. His final years suggest well the contradictions posed by his life and works: at the age of fifty-five, he left his long-term mistress to marry a young woman of eighteen and delegitimized the fourteen children he had had with the mistress, but this did not keep him from being named Chancellor of Florence in 1453 and state historian.

Life and Works

Walser 1974, even though it was originally published in 1914, remains the fundamental biography of Poggio, with Folts 1976 offering a partial update, Bacci 1963 complementing Walser’s approach, and Gutkind 1932 presenting an analysis from a different perspective. Petrucci 1971 is the best short introduction to Poggio’s life and works, with Ehrman 1928 serving the same purpose for those who cannot read Italian. Bacci 1959 surveys Poggio’s reputation from his day through modern times, while Shepherd 1837 shows what a biography written during the Romantic period looks like.

  • Bacci, Domenico. Poggio Bracciolini nella luce dei suoi tempi. Florence: Enrico Ariani e L’arte della Stampa, 1959.

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    An introduction to Poggio, beginning with a biography and concluding with a survey of his reputation through the centuries. An unorthodox structure that nonetheless illuminates its subject from a useful angle.

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  • Bacci, Domenico. Cenni biografici e religiosità di Poggio Bracciolini. Florence: Enrico Ariani e L’arte della Stampa, 1963.

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    A biography of Poggio, followed by a closer examination of his religious sensibility, with a focus on the famous reliquary he once owned, which passed in the 20th century from his parish church in Terranuova to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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  • Ehrman, Sidney Hellman. “Poggio Guccio Bracciolini, 1380–1459, A.D.” In Three Renaissance Silhouettes. By Sidney Hellman Ehrman, 25–48. New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s, 1928.

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    A brief biography of Poggio, antiquated in its approach but useful for those who cannot access material not written in English.

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  • Folts, James D. “In Search of the ‘Civil Life’: An Intellectual Biography of Poggio Bracciolini (1380–1459).” PhD diss., University of Rochester, 1976.

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    An intellectual biography of Poggio, surveying his letters and treatises to show that he expended considerable effort to develop a coherent moral and social position for a learned layman such as himself. Not a replacement for Walser 1974, but an important supplement and updating.

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  • Gutkind, C. G. “Poggio Bracciolinis geistliche Entwicklung.” Deutsches Vierteljahrschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 10 (1932): 548–596.

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    An attempt to offer an account of Poggio’s spiritual development that contrasts with Walser 1974, presenting a picture of Poggio in which an aesthetically centered worldview overlaid with Epicurean relativism regularly overrides ethical principles.

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  • Petrucci, Armando. “Poggio Bracciolini.” In Dizionario biografico degli Italiani. Vol. 13. Edited by Alberto M. Ghisalberti, 640–646. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1971.

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    An excellent, short introduction to the life and works of Poggio, placing what he wrote and did into the larger development of early Italian humanism.

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  • Shepherd, William. The Life of Poggio Bracciolini. 2d ed. Liverpool, UK: Harris Brothers, 1837.

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    An older account of Poggio’s life and works, written from a somewhat romanticizing perspective and to be supplemented with more recent scholarship by those who can read German and Italian. Reprint of 1802 edition (London: Cadell & Davies).

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  • Walser, Ernst. Poggius Florentinus: Leben und Werke. Hildesheim, Germany: Georg Olms Verlag, 1974.

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    Still indispensable for an overview of the life and works of Poggio, using documentary evidence, especially letters, to elicit his political, religious, and literary views, organized chronologically and emphasizing what the author sees as Poggio’s Christian orthodoxy. Reprint of 1914 edition (Leipzig and Berlin: B. G. Teubner).

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Editions

Modern critical editions exist of a number of Poggio’s works, including an important collection of letters written by and to him. Other works are accessible in facsimiles of older editions or through serviceable modern editions.

Two or More Texts

Bracciolini 1964–1969 offers a text of most of Poggio’s major works, to be supplemented by the lesser writings collected in Davies 1982 and Walser 1974. Garin 1947, Rabil 1991, and Tateo 2004 offer several of Poggio’s more important works in one volume, for ease of reference.

  • Bracciolini, Poggio. Opera omnia. 4 vols. Monumenta politica et philosophica rariora, ser. 2. Turin, Italy: Erasmo, 1964–1969.

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    A composite edition, with Volume 1 including works published in the 1538 Basel edition; Volume 2, miscellaneous edited and previously unedited texts; Volume 3, the letters under the editorship of Thomas de Tonelli; and Volume 4, other letters.

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  • Davies, Martin C. “Poggio Bracciolini as Rhetorician and Historian: Unpublished Pieces.” Rinascimento 22 (1982): 153–182.

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    Contains critical editions of two works not in Bracciolini 1964–1969; a letter to the Emperor Sigismund from 1416, with a defense of Poggio’s authorship; and fragments on papal history from an unfinished project of his later years.

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  • Garin, Eugenio, ed. La disputa delle arti nel Quattrocento: Testi editi ed inediti di Giovanni Baldi, Leonardo Bruni, Poggio Bracciolini. Edizione nazionale dei classici del pensiero italiano 9. Florence: Vallecchi, 1947.

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    Contains two works, Oratio in laudem legum and Convivialis disceptatio utra artium, medicinae an iuris civilis, praestet, both devoted to determining the relative positions of various arts within the system of knowledge in the Renaissance.

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  • Rabil, Albert, ed. Knowledge, Goodness, and Power: The Debate over Nobility among Quattrocento Italian Humanists. Binghamton, NY: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1991.

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    A collection of 15th-century Italian treatises on nobility that includes a translation of two works of Poggio’s, along with a letter to Gregorio Correr.

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  • Tateo, Francesco, ed. Lorenzo, Poliziano, Sannazaro nonché Poggio e Pontano. Cento libri per mille anni. Rome: Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, 2004.

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    Contains Latin texts and Italian translations, with minimal notes, of three of Poggio’s most influential works, the Facetiae, An seni sit uxor ducenda, and Contra hypocritas.

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  • Walser, Ernst. Poggius Florentinus: Leben und Werke. Hildesheim, West Germany: Olms, 1974.

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    Contains a collection of 120 previously unedited texts about Poggio’s life and works on pp. 325–427.

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Facetiae

The best modern critical edition of Poggio’s collection of witty fables is Pittaluga 2005. Pocket editions of the Latin text, with an Italian translation, may be found in Bracciolini 1983 and Bracciolini 1995, while a good critical edition of an influential early French translation appears in Duval and Hériché-Pradeau 2003.

De Varietate Fortunae

Bracciolini 1969 presents a facsimile reprint of an early edition of Poggio’s treatise on the vicissitudes of fortune, with a critical edition available in Merisalo 1993. Two books from this treatise are often printed alone. Boriaud 1999 offers a critical edition of Book 1, which is of interest for its survey of Roman antiquities; Bracciolini 1989 covers the same ground, but with notes that help the modern reader follow the author’s itinerary. Book 4 is of interest for the information it presents on the East; Guéret-Laferté 2004 presents a critical edition, while Bracciolini 1994 approaches the text through a facsimile.

  • Boriaud, Jean-Yves, ed. and trans. Les ruines de Rome: De varietate fortunae, Livre I. Introduction and notes by Philippe Coarelli. Les classiques de l’humanisme 9. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1999.

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    A carefully prepared critical edition of Book 1 of De varietate fortunae, with notes and introduction explaining how Poggio’s treatment of the ruins of Rome fits into his larger argument on the vicissitudes of fortune.

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  • Bracciolini, Poggio. Historiae de varietate fortunae. Edited by Domenico Giorgi. Medium aevum 5.102. Bologna, Italy: Forni, 1969.

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    A reprint of the 1723 edition (Paris: Lutetia Parisiorum Constelier); an alternative to Merisalo 1993, although not a critical edition.

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  • Bracciolini, Poggio. Visitiamo Roma nel Quattrocento: La città degli umanisti. Edited by Cesare D’Onofrio. Rome: Romano Società Editrice, 1989.

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    Contains a text and Italian translation of Book 1 of De varietate fortunae, dealing with the ruins of Rome, along with notes enabling the modern reader to follow Poggio’s treatment of this material.

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  • Bracciolini, Poggio. L‘India di Nicolò de’ Conti: Un manoscritto del Libro IV del De varietate fortunae di Francesco Poggio Bracciolini da Terranova (Marc. 2560). Edited by Alessandro Grossato. Helios 4. Padua, Italy: Editoriale Programma, 1994.

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    A study of Book 4 of De varietate fortunae, which offers an account of a voyage made to the East by Nicolò de’ Conti. Includes a lengthy introduction, a facsimile of an important manuscript (Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Marc. 2560), and a transcription of the Latin text.

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  • Guéret-Laferté, Michèle, ed. and trans. De l‘Inde: Les voyages en Asie de Niccolò de’ Conti: De varietate fortunae, livre IV. Miroir de Moyen Âge. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2004.

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    A carefully prepared critical edition of Book 4 of De varietate fortunae, Poggio’s account of Niccolo de’ Conti’s voyage to Southeast Asia between 1414 and 1439. Extensive notes connect observations in the text to the accounts of travelers from preceding and following ages.

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  • Merisalo, Outi, ed. De varietate fortunae. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1993.

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    An exemplary critical edition of Poggio’s treatise on the vicissitudes of fortune, with Latin text, extensive commentary, and six separate indexes.

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Other Individual Texts

Other texts of Poggio’s are available in single-work editions. Bracciolini 1983 contains a facsimile of Poggio’s account book, while Bracciolini 1994 offers a facsimile of his treatise on greed; it is interesting to read the two next to one another. Poggio’s history of Florence can also be found in facsimile (Bracciolini 1984), while his little work on whether an older man should marry is accessible in a French translation (Bracciolini 1998). Davide Canfora has prepared excellent critical editions of three works: the dialogue against hypocrites (Canfora 2008), the dialogue that explores whether princes can live happy lives (Canfora 1998), and the treatise exploring the nature of nobility (Canfora 2002). Harth 1984–1987 offers an excellent critical edition of Poggio’s letter collection, which is an unusually interesting example of this genre, and Raffarin-Dupuis 2015 moves to a linguistic debate that brought Poggio into contact with several other humanists of his day.

  • Bracciolini, Poggio. “Contratti di compre di beni” di Poggio Bracciolini: Il Ms. Horne n. 2805. Edited by Renzo Ristori. Florence: Studio per Edizione Scelte, 1983.

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    A facsimile, with a brief introduction, of a personal document recording Poggio’s financial transactions, which makes interesting reading when studied in relation to his dialogue on avarice.

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  • Bracciolini, Poggio. Storie fiorentine. Edited by Eugenio Garin. Arezzo, Italy: Biblioteca della Città di Arezzo, 1984.

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    A facsimile reprint of Poggio’s Historia fiorentina, along with Bruni’s work on the same subject, both originally published in Venice by Jacobus Rubeus in 1476.

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  • Bracciolini, Poggio. De = Dialogus contra avaritiam. Edited and translated by Giuseppe Germano. Livorno, Italy: Belforte, 1994.

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    A facsimile of Ms. Conv. Soppr. J.1.16 (Florence: Biblioteca nazionale centrale), a manuscript containing Poggio’s treatise on greed, with Italian translation and notes.

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  • Bracciolini, Poggio. Un vieux doit-il se marier? Translated and with notes by Véronique Bruez. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1998.

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    A French translation of a treatise Poggio wrote in which life merges into art, as he considers whether an older man should marry a young wife, a situation in which he found himself in 1436.

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  • Canfora, Davide, ed. De infelicitate principum. Edizione nazionale dei testi umanistici 2. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1998.

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    The definitive critical edition, with an extensive introduction on the genesis of the text, of a dialogue exploring whether princes and those who serve them can live happy, fulfilled lives.

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  • Canfora, Davide, ed. De vera nobilitate. Edizione nazionale dei testi umanistici 6. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2002.

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    A well-executed critical edition of a treatise exploring the conflicting Renaissance definitions of nobility, which could be based on virtue or on birth and riches, within the context of a political monarchy. Contains an unusually extensive study of the relationships among manuscript witnesses.

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  • Canfora, Davide, ed. Contra hypocritas. Edizione nazionale dei testi umanistici 9. Rome: Edizione de Storia e Letteratura, 2008.

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    A carefully prepared critical edition in which thirty pages of text are preceded by a sixty-page introduction on the dialogue and its textual witnesses, with fifteen pages of textual variants at the end.

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  • Harth, Helene, ed. Lettere. 3 vols. Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento, Carteggi umanistici. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1984–1987.

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    A meticulous critical edition, many years in the making, of Poggio’s six hundred surviving letters. Contains the Latin text of letters to Niccoli (Vol. 1) and of Epistolarum familiarum libri (Vols. 2–3).

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  • Raffarin-Dupuis, Anne, ed. and trans. “Utrum priscis Romanis Latina lingua omnibus communis fuerit.” In Débats humanistes sur la langue parlée dans l’Antiquité. 191–240. Les classsiques de l’humanisme 44. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2015.

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    Contains a Latin text, with French translation, of Book 3 of Poggio’s Disceptatio convivialis, his contribution to the humanist debate over the nature of the Latin that was spoken in Antiquity. In addition to works on the same topic by Biondo Flavio and Leonardo Bruni, this edition contains the “Apologus seu actus scenicus in Poggium,” Lorenzo Valla’s contribution to the discussion that took issue with Poggio’s ideas.

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Translations

The scandalous nature of the Facetiae has inhibited their translation into English, but Bracciolini 1968 is an accessible version; Beccadelli 2010 provides further insight into this part of Poggio’s work. Bracciolini 1978 presents an English translation of the key text on greed, which marks an important recognition of the importance of earthly goods in the Renaissance. Poggio’s letters have attracted interest from translators, with Gordon 1974 focusing on the letters connected to Poggio’s scholarly activities and Bracciolini 1997 and Bracciolini 1991 making available his firsthand observations on the trial and burning of John Huss. Bracciolini and de Varthema 1963 offers an English version of the treatise on fortune, covering observations on the East.

  • Beccadelli, Antonio. The Hermaphrodite. Edited and translated by Holt Parker. I Tatti Renaissance Library 42. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010.

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    Contains an epistolary exchange between Beccadelli and Poggio over the merits of Beccadelli’s collection of obscene poetry, as part of a broader discussion among a larger group of humanists stimulated by this material.

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  • Bracciolini, Poggio. The Facetiae of Giovanni Francesco Poggio Bracciolini. Translated by Bernhardt J. Hurwood. New York: Award Books, 1968.

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    An English translation of Poggio’s collection of coarse jests, conveying well both the wit of the original and the sentiment that obtained for the book a place on the church’s index of forbidden works.

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  • Bracciolini, Poggio. “On Avarice.” In The Earthly Republic: Italian Humanists on Government and Society. Edited and translated by Benjamin G. Kohl, and Ronald G. Witt, with Elizabeth B. Welles, 231–289. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1978.

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    A nice translation, preceded by a useful introduction, of Poggio’s dialogue exploring the proper use of wealth in the state and society.

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  • Bracciolini, Poggio. The Trial and Burning of John Huss! An Eye-Witness Account. Toronto: Wittenburg, 1991.

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    Contains two letters of Poggio’s on the trial and burning of John Huss, along with biographies of Huss and his friend Jerome of Prague from Richard Rolt’s The Lives of the Principal Reformers 1360–1600 (1759).

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  • Bracciolini, Poggio. Hus the Heretic. Poland, ME: Shiloh, 1997.

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    An English translation of two letters written by Poggio recounting the trial and burning of Huss, in which Poggio was intimately involved as papal legate and voting member of the Council of Constance.

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  • Bracciolini, Poggio, and Ludovico de Varthema. Travelers in Disguise: Narratives of Eastern Travel. Translated by John Winter Jones. Edited by Lincoln Davis Hammond. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963.

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    Contains an English translation of Book 4 of De varietate fortunae, in which a meditation on the vicissitudes of fortune leads to a survey of information about newly discovered lands in India and Africa, based in part on the writings of Nicolò de’ Conti.

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  • Gordon, Phyllis W. G., ed. Two Renaissance Book Hunters: The Letters of Poggius Bracciolini to Nicolaus de Niccolis. New York: Columbia University Press, 1974.

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    Includes the English translation of ninety-three letters from Poggio to Niccolò de’ Niccoli, along with a number of other related documents that chronicle in detail their shared interest in the recovery of lost works of ancient literature. Extensively annotated and carefully prepared—a fascinating read.

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General Scholarship on Poggio’s Works

Castelli 1980 offers an excellent introduction to Poggio’s writings through documentary evidence, with Fubini and Caroti 1980 providing supplementary materials and Hellinga 2014 adding an interesting approach to the way this evidence should be handled. Nemilov 1986 contains valuable material for those who can read Russian, while Harth 1983, Sensburg 1906, and Tateo 1967 offer observations on different aspects of Poggio’s scholarly endeavors.

  • Castelli, Patrizia, ed. Poggio Bracciolini, 1380–1459: Un Toscano del ‘400. Catalogue of an Exhibition Held at Terranuova Bracciolini, 1980. Terranuova Bracciolini, Italy: n.p., 1980.

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    The catalogue of an important exhibition put together to celebrate the 600th anniversary of Poggio’s birth, offering the kinds of insights into his life and works that can come only through documentary evidence.

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  • Fubini, Ricardo, and Stefano Caroti, eds. Poggio Bracciolini: Nel VI centenario della nascita; Mostra di codici e documenti fiorentini. Catalogue of an Exhibition at the Biblioteca medicea laurenziana, Florence, from October, 1980 to January, 1981. Florence: Sansoni, 1980.

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    A minimalist exhibition catalogue containing a brief introduction and descriptions of items exhibited, but very few pictures.

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  • Harth, Helene. “Poggio Bracciolini und die Brieftheorie des 15. Jahrhunderts: Zur Gattungsform des humanistischen Briefs.” In Der Brief im Zeitalter der Renaissance. Edited by Franz Josef Worstbrock, 81–99. Weinheim, West Germany: Acta Humaniora, 1983.

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    An interesting effort to use Poggio’s letter collection as the basis for establishing the norms of the humanist letter as a genre, which proves to be closer to traditional prose forms such as the dialogue, treatise, and speech and new forms such as the novel and essay than to the intimate genre we envision today.

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  • Hellinga, Lotte. Texts in Transit: Manuscript to Proof and Print in the Fifteenth Century. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2014.

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    A fascinating study by a renowned historian of printing about how compositors and printers manipulated a text, as revealed in surviving printer’s copy and proofs. Contains three sections on Poggio: “Poggio’s Facetiae in Print,” “Poggio Bracciolini’s Historia fiorentina in Manuscript and Print,” and “From Poggio to Caxton: Early Translations of Some of Poggio’s Latin Facetiae.” Adds an often-overlooked dimension to scholarship on Poggio.

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  • Nemilov, Aleksandr Nikolaevich, ed. Kul’tura epokhi Vozrozhdeniia. Leningrad, USSR: Nauka, 1986.

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    Contains three essays on Poggio: G. I. Samsonova, “Poggio Bracciolini’s Ethical Views in the Dialogue De avaritia”; N. V. Raviakina, “Poggio Bracciolini and the Problem of Nobility in Humanistic Literature of the Italian Renaissance of the 15th Century”; and I. Kh. Cherniak, “Poggio and the Beginning of Humanistic Criticism of the Bible.” In Russian.

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  • Sensburg, Waldemar. Poggio Bracciolini und Nicolò de Conti in ihrer Bedeutung für die Geographie des Renaissancezeitalters. Vienna: R. Lechner (W. Müller), 1906.

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    An older but still valuable study of Poggio’s works, with special attention paid to his account of the East and his description of the ruins of Rome in De varietate fortunae, as a contribution to the study of geography in the Renaissance.

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  • Tateo, Francesco. “Il dialogo ‘realistico’ di Poggio Bracciolini.” In Tradizione e realtà nell’Umanesimo italiano. By Francesco Tateo, 251–277. Bari, Italy: Laterza, 1967.

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    A thoughtful study of Poggio’s literary technique in a succession of works written in the dialogue form, arguing that these dialogues present a realism not always found in humanistic efforts in this genre.

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Discovery and Transmission of Manuscripts

Much of Poggio’s fame rests on his contributions to the discovery and dissemination of classical texts in the Renaissance. Roedel 1960 offers a lively overview, while Hochart 1890 covers Tacitus and Questa 1968 turns to Plautus. Flores 1980 focuses on Poggio’s interventions into the textual history of Lucretius, and Greenblatt 2011 offers an expansive perspective on the importance of the rediscovery of this text. Ullman 1960 presents the classic argument about the importance of Poggio for the development of humanistic script, to be supplemented by De la Mare 1963 and Cursi 2012.

  • Cursi, Marco. “Un’ars poetica di mano di Poggio Bracciolini (Barb. lat. 65).” Miscellanea Bibliothecae Apostolicae Vaticanae 19 (2012): 205–228.

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    An interesting study of Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Barb. lat. 65, a manuscript of Horace’s works in which the Ars poetica was transcribed by Poggio in the all’antica style, with the verses set out vertically on the page, an imposition that was adopted widely by later 15th-century humanists in their effort to return to the classical past.

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  • De la Mare, Albinia C. The Handwriting of Italian Humanists. Vol. 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press for the Association Internationale de Bibliophilie, 1963.

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    An important study of Poggio’s manuscripts and the development of his handwriting, lavishly illustrated (Part 1, pp. 62–84), to update Ullman 1960.

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  • Flores, Enrico. Le scoperte di Poggio e il testo di Lucrezio. Naples, Italy: Liguori, 1980.

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    A detailed study of the rediscovery of a full text of Lucretius by Poggio, including an examination of his time in Constance and brief analyses of several relevant manuscripts of classical works.

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  • Greenblatt, Stephen. The Swerve: How the World Became Modern. New York: W. W. Norton, 2011.

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    A Pulitzer Prize–winning account of Poggio’s rediscovery of Lucretius’s On the Nature of Things, a poem from ancient Rome that had been largely neglected for centuries but that Greenblatt puts forward as a seminal document in the march toward modernity. The modernity argument has not been universally accepted, but the book has been widely praised as a lively account of the enduring fascination with Poggio and the book-hunting aspects of Renaissance humanism.

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  • Hochart, Polydore. De l’authenticité des Annales et des Histoires de Tacite. Paris: Ernest Thorin, 1890.

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    A fascinating study of early work done on the Annals and Histories of Tacitus, beginning with the discovery of a key manuscript by Poggio and Niccolò Niccoli, extending through the identification of spurious passages, and concluding with the argument that the author of these passages was Poggio. Includes the texts of the letters cited in the discussion on pp. 239–317.

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  • Questa, Cesare. Per la storia del testo di Plauto nell’umanesimo. Vol. 1, La “recensio” di Poggio Bracciolini. Quaderni Athena 6. Rome: Edizioni dell’Ateneo, 1968.

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    An interesting study of Poggio’s work on the text of Plautus, establishing the limited diffusion of the Poggian recension in distinction from the more widely diffused Italian recension.

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  • Roedel, R. “Poggio Bracciolini nel quinto centenario della morte.” Rinascimento 11 (1960): 51–67.

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    A lively overview of Poggio’s manuscript discoveries, placed within a valuable survey of his general literary production.

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  • Ullman, B. L. “The Inventor: Poggio Bracciolini.” In The Origins and Development of Humanistic Script. By B. L. Ullman, 21–57. Rome: Storia e Letteratura, 1960.

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    A careful study of Poggio’s earliest datable manuscripts, proposing him as the first to consolidate earlier efforts to reform Gothic script into a recognizable humanistic book hand.

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Poggio and Humanism

Poggio was a key player in the development of Renaissance attitudes toward the study and teaching of the classics. Kajanto 1987 and Fubini 2003 provide important overviews of Poggio’s work as a humanist. Loomis 1927 remains the classic account of Poggio’s Greek studies, while several other scholars focus on different aspects of his humanist activities, with Marsh 1980 focusing on how Poggio’s dialogues revive ancient models, and Trinkaus 1995 and Catanorchi 2010 concentrating on his contribution to the humanist topos of human dignity. Wilcox 1969 and Struever 1970 discuss Poggio as a historian, while Bisanti 2011 examines how Poggio, as a good humanist, inserts himself into literary tradition, and Gionta 2010–2011 studies him as an epigrapher.

  • Bisanti, Armando. Tradizioni retoriche e letterarie nelle Facezie di Poggio Bracciolini. Cosenza, Italy: Falco Editore, 2011.

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    Draws on earlier published work to present a unified series of readings of Poggio’s Facetiae, placing the material from this infamous jokebook into its appropriate literary and rhetorical traditions.

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  • Catanorchi, Olivia. “La trattatistica de miseria hominis nel primo Rinascimento.” Viator 41 (2010): 377–391.

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    Places Poggio’s treatise On the Misery of the Human Condition into a context that includes the study of similar works by Leon Battista Alberti and Giannozzo Manetti, concluding that material like this must be placed into dialogue with contemporary treatments on human dignity to produce a full picture of how the human condition was viewed within Renaissance humanism.

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  • Fubini, Riccardo. Humanism and Secularization: From Petrarch to Valla. Translated by Martha King. Duke Monographs in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 18. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822384014Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An important, broader study of how humanism distinguishes itself from scholasticism, with a focus on Poggio as “perhaps the most representative author on the subject” (p. 6). Pays special attention to Poggio’s polemic against San Bernardino and the articulation of his moral views.

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  • Gionta, Daniela. “Per la storia della silloge epigrafica attribuita a Poggio Bracciolini.” Studi medievali e umanistici 8–9 (2010–2011): 83–136.

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    Examines the collection of inscriptions attributed to Poggio, showing that they come from Roman and Paduan sources and providing a context for an important area of 15th-century humanist scholarly activity.

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  • Kajanto, Iira. Poggio Bracciolini and Classicism: A Study in Early Italian Humanism. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1987.

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    A sensitive analysis of Poggio’s attitude toward Antiquity, acknowledging the admiration for the past inherent in his humanism but also stressing his belief that the moderns could equal the achievements of the past.

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  • Loomis, Louise Ropes. “The Greek Studies of Poggio Bracciolini.” In Medieval Studies in Memory of Gertrude Schoepperle Loomis. Edited by Roger S. Loomis, 489–512. New York: Columbia University Press, 1927.

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    An older study that is still cited regularly for its overview of Poggio’s work in Greek, beginning with his efforts to learn the language and focusing on his translations of the Cyropedia and the works of Diodorus Siculus.

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  • Marsh, David. “Poggio Bracciolini and the Moral Debate.” In The Quattrocento Dialogue: Classical Tradition and Humanist Innovation. By David Marsh, 38–54. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980.

    DOI: 10.4159/harvard.9780674180550Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that the “dialogues of Poggio Bracciolini (1380–1459) constitute the first modern example of the form used generically in an extended literary program” (p. 38), in which Poggio revived Academic argument so that his literary reputation would be based on a series of dialogues rather than on his collected letters.

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  • Struever, Nancy. “Rhetoric, Ethics, and History: Poggio Bracciolini.” In The Language of History in the Renaissance: Rhetoric and Historical Consciousness in Florentine Humanism. By Nancy Struever, 144–199. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970.

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    Sees Poggio as a key figure in the argument that the new awareness of language developed by the Italian humanists necessarily involves a new awareness of history, with Poggio moving to merge the figure of the historian with that of the rhetor.

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  • Trinkaus, Charles. “A Florentine Contrast: Manetti and Poggio on the Dignity and Misery of Man.” In In Our Image and Likeness: Humanity and Divinity in Italian Humanist Thought. Vol. 1. By Charles Trinkaus, 230–270. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1995.

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    An interesting contrast of two views on human nature and its place in the world, by writers from the same environment of Florentine civic humanism: Giannozzo Manetti, who emphasized human achievement and creativity, and Poggio, who developed a pessimistic view focused on human misery. Reprint of 1970 edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

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  • Wilcox, Donald J. The Development of Florentine Humanist Historiography in the Fifteenth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1969.

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    An important study of Poggio’s Historia fiorentina within the larger development of Florentine humanist historiography, reading it against Bruni’s Historiae Florentini populi and Sallust’s Latin writings, with a special focus on narrative technique (pp. 103–176).

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Poggio as Polemicist

Poggio was not one to run away from a fight, and several modern scholars have found his polemics to be as fascinating as readers in Poggio’s own day did. Seigel 1968 covers the so-called Petrarch controversy, Camporeale 2001 traces his dispute with Valla, De Keyser 2009 examines the fallout from the polemic with Filelfo, and Oppel 1974 and Canfora 2001 focus on the controversy with Guarino. Poggio’s polemics also touched his work for the papacy, with Cessi 1956 and Oppel 1977 showing what Poggio found to argue about in his religious life.

  • Camporeale, Salvatore I. “Poggio Bracciolini versus Lorenzo Valla: The Orationes in Laurentium Vallam.” In Perspectives on Early Modern and Modern Intellectual History: Essays in Honor of Nancy S. Struever. Edited by Joseph Marino and Melinda W. Schlitt, 27–48. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2001.

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    An analysis of the five orations Poggio wrote against Lorenzo Valla and the three works Valla wrote in reply in 1452 and 1453, based in a dispute over the value of Valla’s radical new method of analyzing texts through philological, historical, and theological criticism. French text in Penser entre les lignes: Philologie et philosophie au Quattrocento, edited by Fosca Mariani Zini (Cahiers de philologie 19; Villeneuve d’Ascq, France: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2001), pp. 251–273.

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  • Canfora, Davide. La controversia di Poggio Bracciolini e Guarino Veronese su Cesare e Scipione. Florence: L. S. Olschki, 2001.

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    A study of the controversy between Poggio and Guarino Veronese over the superiority of Julius Caesar or Scipio Africanus Major, with three relevant Latin texts included in appendixes.

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  • Cessi, Roberto. “La contesa fra Giorgio da Trebisonda, Poggio Bracciolini e Giovanni Aurispa durante il pontificato di Niccoló V.” In Saggi romani. By Roberto Cessi, 129–151. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1956.

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    An interesting account of a quarrel in which Poggio participated while employed by the papacy, with several documents appended that illuminate the grounds for his disagreement with these two humanists, George of Trebizond and Giovanni Aurispa.

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  • De Keyser, Jeroen. “Gian Maria Filelfo’s ‘Lost’ Writing against Poggio Bracciolini.” Humanistica Lovaniensia 58 (2009): 401–406.

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    A discussion of four witty jests written by Gian Maria Filelfo, son of Francesco Filelfo, against Poggio, the final round of a virulent dispute between the two humanists that included three invectives against the elder Filelfo and four stories in the Facetiae that portrayed him as a cuckold, a priest’s bastard, a pedophile, and a pederast.

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  • Oppel, John W. “Peace versus Liberty in the Quattrocento: Poggio, Guarino, and the Scipio-Caesar Controversy.” Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 4 (1974): 221–265.

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    An analysis of Poggio’s position in the debate with Guarino da Verona over the relative positions of Scipio and Caesar, arguing that Poggio played the role not of an ingenuous republican but of a Medici propagandist.

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  • Oppel, John W. “Poggio, San Bernardino, and the Dialogue on Avarice.” Renaissance Quarterly 30.4 (1977): 564–587.

    DOI: 10.2307/2859860Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A sensitive analysis of a rivalry that surfaces in Poggio’s On Avarice, in which the Pope’s humanist secretaries as well as the mendicant friars try to position themselves within the papal curia as agents of change.

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  • Seigel, Jerrold E. Rhetoric and Philosophy in Renaissance Humanism: The Unity of Eloquence and Wisdom, Petrarch to Valla. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968.

    DOI: 10.1515/9781400878826Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A summary (pp. 86–98) of the so-called Petrarch controversy, Poggio’s debate with Coluccio Salutati over whether moderns such as Petrarch could ever equal or surpass the wisdom of the ancients. Poggio asserted the superiority of the ancients, as part of a larger defense of humanist eloquence.

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Influence

Poggio continued to exercise an attraction on readers in later centuries. While Rundle 2005 examines his impact on English humanism, Poggio proved especially popular in France, as Gallet-Guerne 1974, Koj 1969, Sozzi 1966, and Zehnder 2004 show. Prazský 1989 presents an interesting novelty, a modern musical adaptation of one of Poggio’s works.

  • Gallet-Guerne, Danielle. Vasque de Lucène et la Cyropédie à la cour de Bourgogne (1470): Le traité de Xénophon mis en français d‘après la version latine du Pogge; Étude, édition des livres 1 et 5. Geneva, Switzerland: Droz, 1974.

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    An interesting study of the influence of Poggio, whose translation of Xenophon’s Cyropaedia served as the base for a translation into French by the Portuguese humanist Vasque de Lucène, which became a central work in Burgundian humanism.

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  • Koj, Peter. Die frühe Rezeption der Fazieten Poggios in Frankreich. Hamburger romanistische Dissertationen 5. Hamburg, West Germany: Universität Hamburg Romanisches Seminar, 1969.

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    A detailed study of the reception of Poggio’s Facetiae in France during the Renaissance, from the “Cent nouvelles nouvelles” to Des Périers’s “Nouvelles récréations.”

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  • Prazský, Jeroným. List Poggia Braccioliniho Leonardu Brunimu z Arezza o odsouzení mistra Jeronýma z Prahy (Jeroným Prazský): 1984. Prague, Czechoslovakia: Panton, 1989.

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    A score for solo voice, mixed chorus, and orchestra of Poggii Florentini ad Leonardum Aretium epistola de Magistri Hieronymi de Praga supplicio.

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  • Rundle, David. “The Scribe Thomas Candour and the Making of Poggio Bracciolini’s English Reputation.” In Scribes and Transmission in English Manuscripts, 1400–1700. Edited by Peter Beal and A. S. G. Edwards, 1–25. London: British Library, 2005.

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    A study of Poggio’s reputation in England, as fostered by Richard Petworth and disseminated through copies of his works made by Thomas Candour, one of the first scribes in England to use the humanist book that was hand developed by Poggio.

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  • Sozzi, Lionello. “Le ‘Facezie’ di Poggio nel Quattrocento francese.” In Miscellanea di studi sul Quattrocento francese. Edited by Franco Simone, 411–507. Turin, Italy: Giappichelli, 1966.

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    A masterful overview of the reception of the Facetiae in 15th-century France, beginning with a survey of manuscripts and early printed editions and extending to an analysis of the various translations and the influence of this work on French comic theater.

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  • Zehnder, Raphael. Les modèles latins des Cent Nouvelles nouvelles: Des textes de Poggio Bracciolini, Nicolas de Clamanges, Albrecht von Eyb et Francesco Petrarca et leur adaptation en langue vernaculaire française. Berne, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 2004.

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    A study of the influence of Poggio’s Facetiae, among other sources, on the Cent nouvelles, a group of amusing stories collected during the middle of the 15th century at the court of Burgundy.

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