Date range: 14th–19th centuries
Number of items: 75 items
The collection of Italian manuscripts contains significant literary, historical, genealogical and musical works. Notable items are:
- A highly important and finely illuminated manuscript of the Canzoni of Dante and of Petrarch’s Rime, written in the second half of the 14th century for Lorenzo di Carlo Strozzi, a member of one of the leading noble families of Florence (Italian MS 1);
- A late 14th-century copy of the Fioretti of St Francis and of the Legend of St Clare, once belonging to the Franciscan nuns of Fabriano (Italian MS 51);
- Four manuscripts of Dante’s Divina Commedia, including one of the earliest dated manuscripts, written in 1416 by Bartholomew Landi de Landis and bearing extensive contemporary glosses (Italian MS 49), and another fine 15th-century example (Italian MS 2);
- A copy of Guido da Pisa’s Istorie Antiche, written around 1472 and in a contemporary binding (Italian MS 3);
- A richly illuminated 15th-century manuscript of the Scala del Paradiso of St John Climacus (Italian MS 4);
- A mid 15th-century humanist manuscript of Somma sopra e sette peccati mortali by St Antoninus, Archbishop of Florence (Italian MS 53);
- A group of manuscripts relating to the great Florentine reformer Fra Girolamo Savonarola (Italian MSS 7–11, 13, 30, etc.).
There are also documents concerning Florence, Venice, Bologna and other cities, and records relating to the Medici, Strozzi and Orsini families.
- Published catalogue: M. Tyson, ‘Handlist of the Collections of French and Italian Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 14 (1930), pp. 563-628. PDF version available online via Manchester Digital Collections.
- Italian MSS 1-4, 43, 49, 51 and 53 are catalogued in detail in N. R. Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, III, Lampeter - Oxford (Oxford, 1983), pp. 458-64. Copy available via Special Collections reading rooms.