The patriarchs of Aquileia significantly marked not only the political and institutional history of Friuli, but also the cultural and artistic events of this land that still keep undeletable marks of their presence, starting from some monuments that are nowadays considered a cultural heritage of mankind in everyone’s opinion: the basilica of Aquileia, the basilica of Grado, the evidences of Longobard arts in Cividale up to Giambattista Tiepolo’s frescoes in the patriarchal palace of Udine, as well as the seventeenth-century premises of the Patriarchal Library.
‘The Books of the Patriarchs’ project, which brought to the publication of a volume (I libri dei Patriarchi) in the year 2014 as a result of long years’ research, has aimed at reconstructing an outline of the Medieval written culture in Friuli from a peculiar viewpoint: that is to say the handwritten books that were produced or, at least, were circulating in this region in the Middle Ages. A large number of these books are luckily still kept in some prestigious local libraries; several others have been in the course of time dispersed over half of Europe’s libraries and, more recently, over US libraries, too. An accurate scientific investigation carried out on this subject by the University of Udine has allowed to identify and ideally put together this extraordinary heritage that is now being presented in a web portal named «The Books of the Patriarchs 2.0. A Multimedia Path into the Written Culture of Medieval Friuli». The choice of a multimedia path is aimed at stimulating, and prompting thereto, a much wider audience than the usually intimate circle of scholars and specialists. The main purpose is the activation of dynamics intending to promote cultural tourism, scientific divulgation and the revaluation of the regional territory on a cultural basis that gives the incomparable historical, documentary and artistic value of this heritage of old codices its right assessment.
The book I libri dei patriarchi (2014, 2nd edition 2018), edited by Cesare Scalon and published by the ‘Deputazione di Storia patria per il Friuli’ (National History Deputation for Friuli) and the ‘Pio Paschini’ Institute of Udine, is to be considered the starting point to a multimedia re-reading of the great deal of materials therein collected so as to widen the evident interdisciplinary reading key of that work, which itself crosses full many a path – the historical, the more properly codicological, the documentary one – and ranges over the artistic evidences of the splendid miniatures kept in the examined codices, while it never loses sight of the constant interrelation with the social and anthropological levels of a society, the society of Friuli, shot in its becoming within a span of centuries that covers a millennium: from St. Mark’s Gospel (Evangeliarium), written between the fifth and sixth century, to the fifteenth-century humanistic manuscripts of Guarnerio d’Artegna.