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Walters Ms. W.404, Storia dei Gothi

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Storia dei Gothi

Text title
Storia dei Gothi


Authority name: Leonardo Aretino Bruni, 1369-1444

As-written name: Leonardo Aretino


This manuscript contains Sienese humanist Ludovico Petroni's (d. 1478) Italian translation of Leonardo Bruni's (d.1444) Latin work De bello italico adversus Gothos. Petroni's translation into the Italian vernacular was completed in 1456. Bruni's Latin text is an account of The Gothic War (535–554) that was fought between the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy and Emperor Justinian. Bruni loosely based De bello italico on the Greek writings of the sixth-century scholar and historian Procopius. Procopius documented military campaigns in his eight-volume work The Wars of Justinian, the last four volumes of which deal with the Gothic War. In all of Bruni's correspondence concerning Del bello italico, he does not mention that his primary source is Procopius and claims the text is not a translation, but his own original composition. Although Bruni's text is loosely based on that of Procopius, he uses a number of additional sources and modifies his telling of a number of the main events. It has been suggested that the manuscript was copied by the prolific Neapolitan scribe Giovan Marco Cinico. The heraldry on the first folio suggests that the Bentivoglio family of Bologna may have commissioned the manuscript. The very end of the third book and most of the fourth book are missing but both are more fully preserved in a copy of the text at Yale's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library (Marson MS 15).


Ca. 1460-80 CE


Italy (Naples?)


Supplied name: Giovan Marco Cinico(?)






The primary language in this manuscript is Italian.

Support material


Fairly thin parchment; some staining, and some hair still visible; flyleaves are modern paper


Foliation: i+70

Modern pencil foliation in upper-right corners rectos; last page is flyleaf but has been foliated


Formula: i+ Quires 1-8: 8 (fols. 1-64), Quire 9: 8, with central bifolio missing, and last folio of quire also missing, with first half (fol. 65) tipped back in (fols. 65-69); fol. 70 is actually flyleaf that has been hooked around last quire

Signatures: Letters in alphabetical order, A-H (B missing on fol. 16v) for quires 1-8; written in red ink on right bottom corner verso (as seen on fol. 8v); no letter used for quire 9



17.0 cm wide by 24.5 cm high

Written surface

11.0 cm wide by 16.7 cm high

  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 31
  3. First line of text above ruling

fols. 1r - 69v:
  1. Title: Storia dei Gothi
  2. Author: Leonardo Aretino Bruni, 1369-1444
  3. Scribe: Giovan Marco Cinico(?)
  4. Hand note: Written in humanist script, possibly by Neapolitan scribe Giovan Marco Cinico
  5. Decoration note: Fol. 1v: historiated initial, possible heraldry of the Bentivoglio family, medallion, and full white vine border that includes four cupids, two rabbits and a bird; three decorated initials at major text divisions; rubrics and explicit in red; first line of incipits in alternating red and black; text in black ink
fols. 1r - 2v:
  1. Title: Dedicatory letter
  2. Author: Leonardo Aretino Bruni, 1369-1444
  3. Rubric: Incomincia el prologo de messere leonardo da recco nella storia de gothi mandato ad messere giuliano cesarini cardinale di sancto agnolo
  4. Incipit: Bemche ad me molto piu giocondo sarebbe stato
  5. Contents: Translation of Leonardo Bruni's dedicatory letter to Cardinal Giuliano Cesarini
fols. 2v - 89v:
  1. Title: Translation of Leonardo Bruni's text
  2. Rubric: Incominicia el primo libro de gothi composto da messere leonardo arentino
  3. Incipit: Dopo la morte de valentiniano minore el quale come per certo si sa fu da suoi
  4. Contents: The central bifolio of the last quire is not preserved, therefore this text is missing the very end of the third book (ends at fol. 67r) as well as the beginning of book four; a section from the middle of book four, which comes after the missing text, is preserved (fols. 68r-69v); for the end of book three and the beginning of book four, including the part preserved in the Walters version of the text, see Marston MS 15 at Yale's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which allowed us to understand where the Walters text began and ended in regards to books three and four


fol. 1r:

  1. W.404, fol. 1r
  2. Title: Initial "B" with woman reading, and Bentivoglio heraldry(?)
  3. Form: Historiated initial "B," 9 lines
  4. Text: Dedicatory letter of Leonardo Bruni to Cardinal Giuliano Cesarini
  5. Label: This page depicts a historiated initial "B" with an noble woman reading a book. The margins of the page are elaborately decorated with a white vine motif and a number of figurative elements such as two rabbits, a bird, and two cupids. There is also present a small medallion depicting two hands on either side of a bunch of flowers. At the bottom of the page two cupids hold up the Bentivoglio heraldry, which is topped by a silver helmet.
  6. Comment:

    At the bottom of the page is written "Anno MCCCCXXX in circa."

    The heraldry has been identified as belonging to the Bentivoglio family of Bologna, who were the de-facto rulers of the city in the fifteenth century.

fol. 2v:

  1. W.404, fol. 2v
  2. Title: Decorated initial "D"
  3. Form: Decorated initial "D," 8 lines
  4. Text: First book of Bruni's Storia dei Gothi/De bello italico adversus gothos
  5. Label: This page depicts a decorated initial "D" with a white vine-stem motif and added detail in gold leaf, blue, red, and green.
  6. Comment:

    A good parallel for this decorated initial is another copy of Storia di Gothi/De bello italico adversus gothos, Marston MS 15 (Yale).

fol. 26v:

  1. W.404, fol. 26v
  2. Title: Decorated initial "S"
  3. Form: Decorated initial "S," 8 lines
  4. Text: Second book of Bruni's Storia dei Gothi/De bello italico adversus gothos
  5. Label: This page depicts a decorated initial "S" with a white vine-stem motif and added detail in gold leaf, blue, red, and green.

fol. 46r:

  1. W.404, fol. 46r
  2. Title: Decorated initial "C"
  3. Form: Decorated initial "C," 8 lines
  4. Text: Third book of Bruni's Storia dei Gothi/De bello italico adversus gothos
  5. Label: This page depicts a decorated initial "C" with a white vine-stem motif and added detail in gold leaf, blue, red, and green.


The binding is not original.

Bound in Italy ca. 1900; printed paper on paste-board; purple paper with a pattern of black diamonds and orange circles


Created in Naples (?) in the second half of the fifteenth century; heraldry suggests possible patronage of Bentivoglio family of Bologna; under heraldry is inscribed "Anno MCCCXXX in circa" in a different hand, however the significance of this date is unknown

Henry Walters, Baltimore, purchased before 1931


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


De Ricci, Seymour. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935, p. 844, no. 498.

Hankins, James. "The dates of Leonardo Bruni's later works (1437-1443)". Studi Medievali E Umanistici/Università Degli Studi Di Messina, Centro Interdipartimentale Di Studi Umanistici, 2009, 11-50.

Ianziti, Gary. Writing history in Renaissance Italy Leonardo Bruni and the uses of the past. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Univ. Press, 2012.


Principal cataloger: Berlin, Nicole

Cataloger: Walters Art Museum curatorial staff and researchers since 1934

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Conservators: Polidori, Elisabetta; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Emery, Doug; Herbert, Lynley; Tabritha, Ariel; Wiegand, Kimber


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.