Renaissance and Reformation Niccolò Niccoli
by
Craig Kallendorf
  • LAST REVIEWED: 03 June 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 June 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0175

Introduction

Niccolò Niccoli (b. c. 1364–d. 1437) is one of the more intriguing figures of early Italian humanism. One of the scholars interested in the revival of Antiquity who gathered around Cosimo de’ Medici in Florence, Niccoli accumulated an enormous library, which he made freely available to others and used himself in an effort to secure reliable texts of ancient authors. Yet his surviving writings consist of only “three Italian letters, two testaments, a search-list of manuscripts and some plangent tax statements” (see Davies 1987 in Invectives against Niccoli), which makes it difficult to get an accurate portrait of him. His friends presented him as a man of exquisite taste, open, generous, and intellectually brilliant. Yet he quarreled often, which led to another portrait of him as lacking in true learning, a spiteful charlatan who carped at the labors of others because he could not write anything himself. The truth is probably somewhere in between, but we will never know for sure.

Life

Although Niccoli wrote little himself, a fair amount was written about him in his own day. These primary sources provide the basis for modern overviews of his life and works.

Primary Sources

Luiso 1900 is one of the few primary sources about Niccoli’s life. Vespasiano da Bisticci 1976 (translated in Vespasiano da Bisticci 1997) offers a commonly cited, flattering portrait of him, as does the funeral oration in Bracciolini 1964–1969. Bruni 1952 (translated in Bruni 1972) focuses on Niccoli’s scholarly relationships, while Manetti 1968 and Harth 1984–1987 present other aspects of his life and work as seen through the eyes of other humanists.

  • Bracciolini, Poggio. “Oratio in funebre Nicolai civis Florentini.” In Opera omnia. Vol. 1. Edited by Poggio Bracciolini, 270–277. Monumenta politica et philosophica rariora. Turin, Italy: Erasmo, 1964–1969.

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    A facsimile text of the funeral oration for Niccoli delivered by his friend Poggio Bracciolini, taken from the old edition of the collected works of Poggio, a reprint of the 1538 Basel edition.

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  • Bruni, Leonardo. “Dialogus ad Petrum Histrum.” In Prosatori latini del Quattrocento. Edited by Eugenio Garin, 43–99. Milan and Naples, Italy: Ricciardi, 1952.

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    A Latin text, with Italian translation and minimal notes, of a dialogue in which Niccoli plays a key role, advocating the rigid classicism that became the foundation for the way he came to be viewed in later generations. See also Quint 1985 (cited in The Revival of Antiquity).

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  • Bruni, Leonardo. “Dialogues for Pier Paolo Vergerio.” In The Three Crowns of Florence: Humanist Assessments of Dante, Petrarca, and Boccaccio. Edited and translated by David Thompson and Alan F. Nagel, 19–52. New York: Harper and Row, 1972.

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    An English translation of Bruni 1952, placing Niccoli’s attitude toward the great writers of Florence in the context of other treatments of the same theme in early Italian humanism.

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  • Harth, Helene, ed. Lettere di Poggio Bracciolini. 3 vols. Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento, Carteggi umanistici. Florence: 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 (Volume 1) and of Epistolarum familiarum libri (Volumes 2–3).

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  • Luiso, Francesco Paolo. Un cimelio umanistico: Una lettera di Niccolò Niccoli, 1425. Florence: Carnesecchi, 1900.

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    Contains the text of a letter from Niccoli to Cosimo de’ Medici, along with a discussion of why so few letters of Niccoli survive.

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  • Manetti, Giannozzo. “De illustribus longaevis hominibus.” In Ambrosii Traversarii . . . Latinae Epistolae. Edited by L. Mehus, lviii–lxv, lxxvi–lxxxiii. Bologna, Italy: Forni, 1968.

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    As part of the preface to the collection of Latin letters of Niccoli’s friend Ambrogio Traversari, the editor presents the life of Niccoli written shortly after his death by Giannozzo Manetti, a fellow humanist. Originally published in 1759.

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  • Vespasiano da Bisticci. “Niccolò Niccoli.” In Le vite. Vol. 2. Edited by Aulo Greco, 225–242. Florence: Nella Sede dell’Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento, 1976.

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    The key biographical source on Niccoli, presenting him favorably on moral and religious as well as cultural terms, written by someone who knew him personally and was proud of the relationship.

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  • Vespasiano da Bisticci. “Niccolò Niccoli.” In The Vespesiano Memoirs: Lives of Illustrious Men of the XVth Century. Translated by W. G. Waters and Emily Waters, 395–403. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997.

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    An English translation of Vespasiano da Bisticci 1976, a biography that focuses on Niccoli’s character, learning, and taste. Originally published in 1926.

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Modern Biographies

There is no good book-length biography of Niccoli. The standard source remains Zippel 1979, to be supplemented by Canfora 2005 and Martines 2011. Rao 2000 provides a thoughtful analysis of the obstacles that make Niccoli a more difficult subject for a biography than most of his humanist contemporaries.

  • Canfora, Davide. “Alcune riconsiderazioni sulla biografia di Niccolò Niccoli.” Albertiana 6 (2005): 227–241.

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    Not a biography in the strict sense, but the best recent effort to sift through the various primary sources in search of a balanced picture of Niccoli’s personality and life.

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  • Martines, Lauro. The Social World of the Florentine Humanists, 1390–1460. Renaissance Society of America Reprint Texts 17. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011.

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    An important source of information on the social and economic status of Niccoli and his family, which explains how quarrels with his brothers and costly expenditures on books left Niccoli chronically short of money. Originally published in 1963 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul).

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  • Rao, Ida Giovanna. “Niccolò Niccoli: Il ritratto immaginato e un ritratto reale.” Paper presented at a conference held in Florence, 26–27 March 1998. In Immaginare l’autore: Il ritratto del letterato nella cultura umanistica. Edited by Giovanna Lazzi, 185–197. Florence: Edizioni Polistampa, 2000.

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    A thoughtful analysis of how the lack of evidence presents unusual difficulties to those in search of the historical Niccoli, noting that except for what is known from his books, our portrait of Niccoli is mostly drawn from secondhand sources.

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  • Zippel, G. “Niccolò Niccoli: Contributi alla storia dell’umanesimo con un appendice dei documenti.” In Storia e cultura del Rinascimento Italiano. Edited by Gianni Zippel, 68–157. Medioevo e Umanesimo 33. Padua, Italy: Antenore, 1979.

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    Still the fundamental biography of Niccoli, drawing on archival documents and comments by his contemporaries to produce a picture of the man and his work. Originally Zippel’s tesi di laurea (Florence: Bocca, 1890).

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Invectives against Niccoli

Notwithstanding the positive portrait of him presented in Vespasiano da Bisticci 1976 (cited under Primary Sources), Niccoli was the object of an unusual number of personal attacks, even at a time when polemic was commonplace. Davies 1987 provides a detailed overview of the people and the issues involved. There was no shame in quarreling with Francesco Filelfo (see Baldassari 1995–1996), since it is difficult to keep track of all the humanists he fought with, but Bruni 1964 and Bruni 1996 represent a more serious problem, based in a falling out with a friend. Being attacked by a relative unknown such as Marco Benvenuti (see Zippel 1979) may not be so bad, but running afoul of a universally esteemed schoolmaster, as recorded in Sabbadini 1959, has more serious consequences. Ponte 1972 is a clever demonstration that the attacks extend even to those who do not explicitly name Niccoli as a target.

  • Baldassari, Stefano Ugo. “Niccolò Niccoli nella satira di Filelfo: La tipizzazione di una maschera.” Interpres 15 (1995–1996): 7–36.

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    Examines Filelfo’s attacks on Niccoli’s character, erudition, and sexual activities, within the contexts of other invectives against him and of Filelfo’s assaults on other Florentine scholars in the Medici circle. Also contains texts (from the editio princeps for Satires 1.5 and 2.3, Davies 1987 for In Lallum) of Filelfo’s three major satirical attacks on Niccoli.

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  • Bruni, Leonardo. “Leonardo Bruni Aretini Carmen.” In Two Humanistic Anthologies. Edited by Sesto Prete, 82–87. Studi e testi 230. Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1964.

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    An edition of Bruni’s brief verse attack on Niccoli, ultimately stimulated, like Bruni 1996, by Bruni’s failure to support Niccoli in his seduction of his brother’s mistress. Originally published in 1963.

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  • Bruni, Leonardo. “Oratio in nebulonem maledicum.” In Leonardo Bruni: Opere letterarie e politiche. Edited by Paolo Viti, 333–371. Turin, Italy: UTET, 1996.

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    A lightly annotated edition, with Italian translation, of the speech in which Bruni attacks his former friend, providing valuable evidence of the differences in their respective cultural programs from which the personal enmity derived.

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  • Davies, Martin C. “An Emperor without Clothes? Niccolò Niccoli under Attack.” Italia medioevale e umanistica 30 (1987): 95–148.

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    A masterful survey of the invectives against Niccoli that clarifies the issues and provides a context for the primary sources. Reprinted from Classical, Byzantine, and Renaissance Studies for Robert Browning, edited by Ann Moffatt (Canberra: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 1984), pp. 269–308.

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  • Guarino, Veronese. “In auripellem poetam.” In Epistolario di Guarino Veronese. 3 vols. Edited by Remigio Sabbadini, 33–46. Turin, Italy: Bottega d’Erasmo, 1959.

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    A carefully prepared critical edition of Guarino’s famous invective against Niccoli, with the texts of the two versions carefully distinguished, allowing the reader to see how Guarino revised his work. Sabbadini’s work originally published in 1915–1919 (Venice: A spese della Società).

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  • Ponte, Giovanni. “Lepidus e Libripeta.” Rinascimento, 2d ser., 12 (1972): 237–265.

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    Identifies the figure of Libripeta, who appears in several of Leon Battista Alberti’s Intercenales, with Niccoli, presented as a book seller who lacks true culture and does not write anything himself, preferring to carp at real men of letters instead. Adds Alberti to those writing polemics against Niccoli.

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  • Zippel, Giuseppe. “L’invettiva di Lorenzo di Marco Benvenuti contra Niccolò Niccoli.” In Giuseppe Zippel: Storia e cultura del Rinascimento italiano. Edited by Gianni Zippel, 158–178. Medioevo e Umanesimo 33. Padua, Italy: Antenore, 1979.

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    Contains an extensively annotated text of Benvenuti’s invective against Niccoli, followed by what information can be obtained about the author and the context of the document. Originally published in 1894.

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The Revival of Antiquity

Niccoli was well known in his own day as a key figure in the humanist revival of ancient culture, as summarized by Stadter 1984 and Gombrich 1976. Recently, however, the nature of his passion for Antiquity has been nuanced in a couple of interesting ways. The key issue is understanding his place in the Dialogues for Pier Paolo Vergerio (see Bruni 1952, cited in Primary Sources): Marsh 1980 provides an overview of Niccoli’s role, Baron 1966 argues that Niccoli changed his approach between the first and second dialogues as a demonstration of how a solitary classicism could be integrated into political activism, and Quint 1985 suggests that Bruni’s Niccoli retained a consistent skepticism throughout the work toward the possibility of a true revival of Antiquity. Stinger 1977 and Gentile 2000, finally, remind us that for all his love of the ancients, Niccoli valued the church fathers as well.

  • Baron, Hans. The Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance: Civic Humanism and Republican Liberty in an Age of Classicism and Tyranny. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1966.

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    Places Niccoli’s intellectual development into the rise of Florentine civic humanism, where Niccoli represented a sort of militant classicism that was eventually fused with political activism. Originally published in 1955. Italian translation with revisions: La crisi del primo Rinascimento italiano: Umanesimo civile e libertà repubblicana in un’età di classicismo e di tirannide (Florence: Sansoni, 1970).

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  • Gentile, Sebastiano. “Parentucelli e l’ambiente fiorentino: Niccoli e Traversari.” In Niccolò V nel sesto centenario della nascita: Atti del convegno internazionale di studi, Sarzana, 8–10 Ottobre 1998. Edited by Franco Bonatti and Antonio Manfredi, 237–254. Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 2000.

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    A careful study of the relationship among Niccoli, Ambrogio Traversari, and Tommaso Parentuccelli, who shared a passion for patristic literature and an interest in searching out previously lost manuscripts containing these works. This is an important aspect of Niccoli’s passion for Antiquity that is often overlooked in the secondary literature.

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  • Gombrich, E. H. “From the Revival of Letters to the Reform of the Arts: Niccolò Niccoli and Filippo Brunelleschi.” In The Heritage of Apelles: Studies in the Art of the Renaissance. By E. H. Gombrich, 93–110. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1976.

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    Asserts a striking parallelism between the spread of the Niccoli’s revised handwriting and the architectural revolution associated with Brunelleschi. An elegant essay that reminds us of the important issues that the polemics over Niccoli’s life and works threaten to obscure. Originally published in 1967.

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  • Marsh, David. “Leonardo Bruni and the Origin of Humanist Dialogue.” In The Quattrocento Dialogue: Classical Tradition and Humanist Innovation. Edited by David Marsh, 24–37. Harvard Studies in Comparative Literature 35. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980.

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    Analyzes Niccoli’s role in Bruni’s Dialogues (see Bruni 1952, cited in Primary Sources) within the context both of the development of the humanist dialogue and of the intellectual environment in which Niccoli lived and worked.

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  • Quint, David. “Humanism and Modernity: A Reconsideration of Bruni’s Dialogues.” Renaissance Quarterly 38 (1985): 423–445.

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    Argues that Bruni uses the fictionalized figure of Niccoli in his Dialogues for Pier Paolo Vergerio to suggest that the gap between humanism and Antiquity was too great to bridge, serving in effect as a critique of humanism from within that could only be maintained by a patrician amateur such as Niccoli.

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  • Stadter, Philip. “Niccolò Niccoli: Winning Back the Knowledge of the Ancients.” In Vestigia: Studi in onore di Giuseppe Billanovich. Edited by R. Avesani, M. Ferrari, T. Foffano, G. Frasso, and A. Sottili, 747–764. Rome: Edizioni di Storie e Letteratura, 1984.

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    An excellent overview of how Niccoli sought to revive the knowledge of Antiquity by searching for manuscripts, copying them, and preparing the best text possible using the resources available to him—with specific reference to his surviving works.

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  • Stinger, Charles L. Humanism and the Church Fathers: Ambrogio Traversari (1386–1439) and Christian Antiquity in the Italian Renaissance. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1977.

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    An important study of the Camaldulensian monk Ambrogio Traversari, who applied the tools of the new humanism to revitalize patristic theology. Niccoli was a close friend and collaborator of Traversari’s and figures prominently in this account.

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Niccoli as Reader and Critic

As Cappelletto 1977, Cappelletto 1978, Labardi 1981, and Labardi 1983 show, the best place to recover Niccoli’s scholarly values and procedures is in the margins of his manuscripts, where we see him using the tools of the new humanist philology to provide readable texts of classical and patristic authors. Daneloni 1995 offers an insightful analysis of the kinds of conclusions that Niccoli’s method could lead to, while Hart 1967 matches form and content in a way that leads to a better understanding of how Niccoli worked and thought.

  • Cappelletto, R. “Congetture di N. Niccoli al testo delle ‘dodici commedie’ di Plauto.” Rivista di filologia e istruzione classica 105 (1977): 43–56.

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    The first of a series of articles on Niccoli’s practices as a textual critic, showing how the emphasis can be placed now on Niccoli’s fidelity to the source he was copying, then on the need to emend, depending on what sources were available to him.

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  • Cappelletto, R. “Niccolò Niccoli e il codice di Ammiano Vat. lat. 1863.” Bollettino per la preparazione dell’edizione dei classici 26 (1978): 57–84.

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    A careful study of the extensive philological work exercised by Niccoli on Ammianus Marcellinus, as carried in the margins of the manuscripts he used and showing how his efforts rendered the text more legible for future scholars.

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  • Daneloni, Alessandro. “Niccolò Niccoli, Angelo Poliziano ed il Laur. Plut. 49,7.” Rinascimento, 2d ser., 35 (1995): 327–342.

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    Argues that Niccoli, and not Poliziano, was the first to see the necessity of reordering the misbound quires of an important manuscript of Cicero’s Epistolae ad familiares.

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  • Hart, H. “Niccolò Niccoli als literarischer Zensor: Untersuchungen zur Textgeschichte von Poggios ‘De Avaritia.’” Rinascimento, 2d ser., 7 (1967): 25–53.

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    A clever demonstration of how the humanist belief that truth is reached through the interaction of opposing viewpoints manifests itself both in the dialogue form Poggio adopted and in the exchange between the author of On Avarice and one of its earliest readers, Niccoli.

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  • Labardi, Lucia. “Niccolò Niccoli e la tradizione manoscritta di Tertulliano.” Orpheus 2 (1981): 380–396.

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    Examines Niccoli’s copy of Tertullian and another manuscript used by him to confirm that Niccoli exercised the same emendational activity on the text of this patristic text as he did on the texts of classical authors.

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  • Labardi, Lucia. “Congetture del Niccoli e tradizione estranea all’archetipo sui margini del Laurenziano 39, 38 di Valerio Flacco.” Italia medioevale e umanistica 26 (1983): 189–213.

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    Identifies Niccoli’s marginal notes in a manuscript of Valerius Flaccus and concludes that Niccoli sought to produce a text that would be legible to others, with a respectful approach to the textual tradition that limited emendations to what was absolutely necessary.

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Book Hunting and the Building of a Library

Niccoli devoted most of his time and resources to the search for lost manuscripts of Greek and Latin authors in order to build the finest private collection of this material in his day. Sabbadini 1967 offers the classic account. Robinson 1921, Foffano 1969, and Gordan 1974 use primary source material to show how Niccoli went about obtaining books from others. After his death his books went to the library of San Marco in Florence, with Ullman and Stadter 1972 offering an often-cited account, supplemented by Garin 1989 and Martínez Manxano 2006, of how this happened. Gentile 2000 reminds us that Niccoli’s library was rich in patristic texts as well.

  • Foffano, T. “Niccoli, Cosimo, e le ricerche di Poggio nelle biblioteche francesi.” Italia medioevale e umanistica 12 (1969): 113–128.

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    Publishes a newly discovered letter of Niccoli to Cosimo de’ Medici, confirming his reliance on Poggio Bracciolini to find books for him and Cosimo to provide material support in these endeavors.

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  • Garin, Eugenio. “La biblioteca di San Marco.” In La chiesa e il convento di San Marco a Firenze. Vol. 1, 79–148. Florence: Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, 1989.

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    A recent history of the library of San Marco, in which Niccoli’s legacy figures prominently, with three relevant documents. Draws heavily from Ullman and Stadter 1972.

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  • Gentile, Sebastiano. “Traversari e Niccoli, Pico e Ficino: Note in margine ad alcuni manoscritti dei Padri.” In Tradizioni patristiche nel Umanesimo: Atti del Convegno, Istituto nazionale di studi sul Rinascimento, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Firenze, 6-8 febbraio 1997. Edited by Mariarosa Cortesi and Claudio Leonardi, 81–118. Florence: SISMEL Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2000.

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    An important article that underlines the heavy patristic content of the books in the San Marco library, not because the collection belonged to a religious order but because Niccoli had emphasized the importance of the church fathers in his library.

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  • Gordan, 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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  • Martínez Manxano, Teresa. “Un codice de Niccolò Niccoli en Salamanca.” Studi medievali e umanistici 4 (2006): 235–251.

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    Identifies Salamanca, Biblioteca Universitaria, MS 2748, a miscellany containing primarily treatises on music, as part of Niccoli’s library, followed by an account of how the manuscript went from Florence to Spain. A good illustration of how difficult it has been to reconstruct Niccoli’s library.

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  • Robinson, R. P. “The Inventory of Niccolò Niccoli.” Classical Philology 16 (1921): 251–255.

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    Contains the famous “Commentarium Nicolai Niccoli in peregrinatione Germaniae,” a brief list of manuscripts, made with the advice of Poggio Bracciolini, provided to a group of travelers crossing the Alps into northern Europe in the hopes that they might be able to find copies of the works indicated there.

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  • Sabbadini, Remigio. Le scoperte dei codici latini e greci ne’ secoli XIV e XV. 2 vols. Edited by Eugenio Garin. Biblioteca storica del Rinascimento, nuova serie 4. Florence: G. C. Sansoni, 1967.

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    The classic account of how the manuscripts of Greek and Latin authors reentered circulation at the beginning of the Italian Renaissance, in which Niccoli figures prominently and often. Originally published 1905–1914 (Florence: G. C. Sansoni).

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  • Ullman, Berthold L., and Philip A. Stadter. The Public Library of Renaissance Florence: Niccolò Niccoli, Cosimo de’ Medici and the Library of San Marco. Medioevo e Umanesimo 10. Padua, Italy: Editrice Antenore, 1972.

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    An early catalogue of the books in the library of San Marco, established by Cosimo de’ Medici with volumes left by Niccoli, identifying the manuscripts and describing the library. See also the review by Filippo Di Benedetto in Studi medievali, ser. 3, 14 (1973), pp. 947–960 and the additions posted online. Also available as an ACLS Humanities e-book.

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The Development of Humanist Handwriting

Part of the humanist revival of Antiquity was an effort to replace the gothic handwriting of the Middle Ages with what they thought was the handwriting style of Antiquity. Morison 1943 suggested that Niccoli played a key role in this effort, with Ullman 1960 emphasizing the importance of his cursive script and De la Mare 1973 providing an overview of Niccoli’s handwriting that is still regularly cited. Cambier 1965, De la Mare 1977, De Robertis 1990, and De Robertis 1995 add to the list of manuscripts copied by Niccoli and revise the account of the development of his script by taking the new manuscripts into consideration.

  • Cambier, Guy. “Attribution du manuscript de Florence, Laur. 39.38 à Niccolò Niccoli.” Scriptorium 19.2 (1965): 236–243.

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    Supplements Ullman 1960, identifying a tenth manuscript copied by Niccoli, Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana Medicea, Laur. 39.38, a manuscript of Valerius Flaccus’s Argonautica.

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  • De la Mare, Albinia Catherine. The Handwriting of Italian Humanists. Vol. 1, Part 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press, for the Association Internationale de Bibliophilie, 1973.

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    An important study of Niccoli’s manuscripts and the development of his handwriting, lavishly illustrated, to update Ullman 1960.

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  • De la Mare, Albinia Catherine. “Humanistic Script: The First Ten Years.” In Das Verhaltnis der Humanisten zum Buch. Edited by Fritz Krafft and Dieter Wuttke, 89–110. Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Kommission für Humanismusforschung 4. Boppard, West Germany: Boldt, 1977.

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    A refinement and elaboration of the argument in De la Mare 1973 that includes references to manuscripts and scribes identified after the publication of the author’s earlier work.

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  • De Robertis, Teresa. “Nuovi autografi di Niccolò Niccoli (con una proposta di revisione dei tempi e dei modi del suo contributo alla riforma grafica umanistica).” Scrittura e civiltà 14 (1990): 105–121.

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    A well-illustrated, carefully argued analysis that attributes several new manuscripts to Niccoli, concluding that his role in the humanist handwriting reform was more complex and nuanced than De la Mare 1973 and Ullman 1960 had realized.

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  • De Robertis, Teresa. “Un libro di Niccoli e tre di Poggio.” In Studi in onore di Arnaldo d’Addario. Vol. 2. Edited by L. Borgia, F. De Luca, P. Viti, and R. M. Zaccaria, 495–515. Lecce, Italy: Conte Editore, 1995.

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    A careful study of Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana Medicea, S. Marco 615, showing that it was written by Niccoli and placing its handwriting into the development of Niccoli’s script.

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  • Morison, Stanley. “Early Humanistic Script and the First Roman Type.” The Library 24 (1943): 4–29.

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    An often-cited article by a distinguished historian of typography that attributes to Niccoli a key role in moving handwriting from gothic to something based on Carolingian minuscule, with a detailed analysis of the three forms of “ancient writing” used by Niccoli.

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  • Ullman, B. L. “A Rival System—Niccolò Niccoli.” In The Origins and Development of Humanistic Script. Edited by B. L. Ullman, 59–77. Rome: Storia e Letteratura, 1960.

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    Identifies nine manuscripts copied by Niccoli and proposes him as the inventor of a humanist cursive hand, to rival the formal bookhand developed by Poggio Bracciolini in the service of the new learning.

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