In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Italian Chronicles

  • Introduction

Medieval Studies Italian Chronicles
Joseph P. Byrne
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 March 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0315


“The difference between a mere chronological compilation of facts and a narration, which contextualizes events and creates a logical cause-and-effect link between them, is what distinguishes the chronicler from the historian” (Raines, p. 32, in Kolditz and Koller, The Byzantine-Ottoman Transition in Venetian Chronicles 2018 [cited under Section Seven: Venice and the Veneto: From John the Deacon to Enrico Dandolo: Studies]). This bibliography includes scholarship on chronicles, histories, and annals from 8th-century Paul the Deacon, author of the History of the Lombards, to the threshold of early Renaissance or humanistic historiography in the mid-Trecento. Medieval Italian writers on history came from many walks of life: Bernardo Maragone (b. c. 1109–d. 1188) the Pisan judge; Caffaro (b. 1080/81–d. 1166), a Genoese nobleman and communal consul and official; Rolandino (b. 1200–d. 1276), a Paduan notary; Florentine merchant Giovanni Villani (b. c. 1275–d. 1348); Pisan poets; Anonimo Romano, a 14th-century layman trained in medicine; Genoese archbishop Jacopo da Varagine (b. c. 1228–d. 1298); 11th-century Milanese diocesan clergy Arnulf and Landulf Senior; and Paduan Albertino Mussato (b. 1261–d. 1329), a notary, poet laureate, diplomat, proto-humanist, and historiographer. Most significant chronicles have known authors, details of whose lives are often obscure, though the most lauded Trecento Roman chronicler is simply known as Anonimo. They wrote in both Latin and the vernacular. Their efforts produced a huge body of medieval literature: there are said to be extant some 1,000 chronicles from Venice alone, the vast majority unpublished and unstudied. Historical works range in scope from universal histories to poems on single battles or other events of note. Like any literary field, medieval historiography is informed by scholarly trends, from the collecting, editing, and publishing of texts beginning in the eighteenth century to the much more recent challenges of postmodern critiques and opportunities for electronic publication. Section One and Section Two introduce the fields of medieval European and Italian historiography, respectively. Contemporary analytical interests are represented in Section Three, Section Four, and Section Five on literary aspects of chronicles, the “Other” in texts, and the ways in which urban authors presented (often mythological) local urban or communal origins. Each of these subjects is well served by modern scholarship. Part Three presents ten sections, four on regions or cities and their chroniclers: Venice, Florence, non-Florentine Tuscany, and southern Italy and Sicily under the Normans and Hohenstaufens. The remaining six sections feature specific authors: Paul the Deacon (b. c. 730–d. 799) and his Lombards, Caffaro and the Genoese, the Florentine Villanis, the 11th-century Norman monk of Montecassino Geoffrey Malaterra, the Franciscan Salimbene de Adam (b. 1221–d. c. 1289), and Anonimo Romano. Admittedly, for some readers this will be an unsatisfying list, especially as it omits Milan, Lombardy, and other northern Italian regions. Criteria for a work’s presence include recognized relevance, importance, recent publication, and accessibility.

Part One: General Studies, Collections, and Reference Works

Part One of this bibliography is divided into two sections. Section One contains entries related to broadly European medieval historiography, and Section Two contains works pertaining specifically to medieval Italy. It is meant as a general introduction to the study of medieval European chronicles and other historiographical literature. It consists of topical reference works, collections, and studies in various languages, including the encyclopedia and the journal dedicated to medieval chronicles. Section Two presents a selection of historiographical studies, reference book chapters, and collections related specifically to medieval Italy. These, too, are of a general nature, with broad geographic and chronological coverage. Later sections in Part Two and Part Three narrow their focus to specific authors, regions, cities, or analytical subjects.

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