Tavola Ritonda

  • S. XIV med. (Veneto); parchment; mm 247 × 188; two folia
  • Padua, University Library, 609, front flyleaf; Udine, ‘Biblioteca Arcivescovile’, 86, back flyleaf

The most important vernacular prose text of the Italian Literature before the Decameron is conveyed by these fragments having their provenance from St. Francesco della Vigna’s convent of Udine.

«Signori, chesto libro conta e divisa di belle aventure e di grandi cavallarie e di nobili torneiamenti […]» (Gentlemen, this book recounts and relates on beautiful adventures and great chivalries and noble tournaments …). This is the opening of what can be considered the most important vernacular prose text of the Italian Literature before the Decameron, a free re-adaptation drawn up in Tuscany around 1330-35 due to an anonymous author who managed to let the Breton cycle successful stories already circulating in Italy converge into an original and artistically valid organized summa. The result thereof is an interlace of fabulous deeds and devotional events, though with the author’s conscious look at the ideals of justice and the new bourgeois atmosphere. The two reused folia of this fragment, which originally belonged to the same manuscript, are nowadays bound with Franciscan codices containing Latin works by the Fathers of the Church, once kept in the library of San Francesco della Vigna’ convent of Udine. The two disiecta membra are what is left of a codex that does not only turn out to be the oldest among the ten known manuscripts conveying this text, but also certifies its quick diffusion from Tuscany to the Veneto-Po Valley area since the half of the fourteenth century. «South-western Veneto as hypothesised homeland of the transcribing copyist» is suggested through the linguistic survey.

The front flyleaf of ms 609 kept at the University Library of Padua

The front flyleaf of ms 609 kept at the University Library of Padua

Leave a Comment