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Detailed record for Harley 1705

Author Plato, translated by Pier Candido Decembrio
Title Res publica (imperfect)
Origin Italy, N. (Milan)
Date c. 1441
Language Latin
Script Semi-humanistic
Scribe Pier Candido Decembrio (see Alexander, De La Mare 1969)
Decoration 12 large initials in gold and colours (ff. 2, 2v, 3, 5, 6, 22v, 39, 40, 59, 59v, 76, 76v). Numerous white vine initials in colours. Some initials have been excised. Crown drawn in ink accompanying a marginal annotation (f. 91).
Dimensions in mm 265 x 195 (160 x 110)
Official foliation ff. 96 (+ 5 unfoliated paper flyleaves at the beginning and 4 at the end)
Collation Mostly in quires of 8.
Form Parchment codex
Binding Post-1600. BM/BL in-house.
Provenance Translated by Pier Candido Decembrio (b. 1399, d. 1477), humanist author and translator, intermittently in the service of the Sforza dukes of Milan: copied and given by him to Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester in 1438; Decembrio's marginal notes for the reader addressed to Humfrey (ff. 17v, 87v) (see Duke Humfrey 1970).
Humfrey (b. 1390, d. 1447), prince, soldier, and literary patron, duke of Gloucester from 1414: this translation was commissioned by him to Pier Candido Decembrio and this copy was made for him c. 1441, inscribed ' Cest livre est A moy Homfrey duc de gloucestre du don P. Candidus secretaire du duc de Mylan,' in the duke's handwriting (f. 96v).
Effaced inscription (f. 1).
Henry Worsley (b. 1675, d. 1747), scholar and manuscript collector, envoy at the Court of Portugal (1714-21) and governor of Barbados (1721-31); donated by him to Robert Harley together with other manuscripts from Worsley's collection (now Harley 1585-1747, 1811, 1812) before December 1712 (see Diary 1966).
The Harley Collection, formed by Robert Harley (b. 1661, d. 1724), 1st earl of Oxford and Mortimer, politician, and Edward Harley (b. 1689, d. 1741), 2nd earl of Oxford and Mortimer, book collector and patron of the arts.
Edward Harley bequeathed the library to his widow, Henrietta Cavendish, née Holles (b. 1694, d. 1755) during her lifetime and thereafter to their daughter, Margaret Cavendish Bentinck (b. 1715, d. 1785), duchess of Portland; the manuscripts were sold by the Countess and the Duchess in 1753 to the nation for £10,000 (a fraction of their contemporary value) under the Act of Parliament that also established the British Museum; the Harley manuscripts form one of the foundation collections of the British Library.
Notes The preliminary copy of Decembrio's translation of the first five books of the Republic, in his autograph.
Beginning with correspondence between Pier Candido Decembrio (b. 1399, d. 1477) and Humphrey (b. 1390, d. 1447), prince, soldier, and literary patron), duke of Gloucester from 1414, who commissioned the translation of this work. They corresponded from 1439 to 1444 but the letters included here date from 1439 to c. 1441. By 1440, the Duke had received five books of the translation, but it was not until 1441 that Scaramuccin Balbo, orator of Filippo Maria Visconti, coming to England, brought the whole translation of Plato's Republic to him (see Borsa 1904).
Contains brief notices of the subject of the last five books (ff. 95v-96).
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Duke Humfrey d. 1 was certainly also copied by Pier Candido Decembrio.
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), II (1808), no. 1705.

Mario Borsa, 'Correspondence of Humphrey Duke of Gloucester and Pier Candido Decembrio', The English Historical Review, 19 (1904), 509-26 (especially pp. 510 n. 7, 511-12, 525-26).

B. L. Ullman, ‘Manuscripts of Duke Humphrey of Gloucester’, in Studies in the Italian Renaissance, Storia e letteratura, 51 (Rome: Edizioni di Storia e letteratura, 1955), pp. 345-55 (first publ. in English Historical Review , 52 (1937), 670-72).

The Diary of Humfrey Wanley 1715-1726, ed. by Cyril Ernest Wright and Ruth C. Wright, 2 vols (London: Bibliographical Society, 1966), I: 1715-1723, pp. xix-xx.

Duke Humfrey and English Humanism in the Fifteenth Century: Catalogue of an exhibition held in the Bodleian Library (Oxford: Bodleian Library, 1970), no. 9, pl. X [exhibition catalogue].

Cyril Ernest Wright, Fontes Harleiani: A Study of the Sources of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1972), pp. 126, 200, 361.

Jonathan J. G. Alexander and Albina C. de la Mare, The Italian Manuscripts in the Library of Major J. R. Abbey (London: Faber and Faber, 1969), p. xxxi n. 1.

Paul Oskar Kristeller, Iter Italicum: Accedunt Alia Itinera: A Finding List of Uncatalogued or Incompletely Catalogued Humanistic Manuscripts of the Renaissance in Italian and other Libraries 7 vols (London: Warburg Institute; Leiden: Brill, 1963-1997), IV (1989), p. 155-156.

David Rundle, Of Republics and Tyrants : aspects of quattrocento humanist writings and their reception in England, c.1400-c.1460 (Oxford: University Press, 1997), pp. 379-392.

* * *
Illuminated initial

f. 5
Illuminated initial
Illuminated initial

f. 6
Illuminated initial
Decorated initial

f. 15
Decorated initial
Decorated initial

f. 41v
Decorated initial
Decorated initial

f. 87v
Decorated initial
Decorated initial

f. 91
Decorated initial
Ownership inscription

f. 96v
Ownership inscription

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