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  • Il Codice Morosini: il mondo visto da Venezia (1094–1433). Edizione critica, introduzione, indice e altri apparati by Andrea Nanetti, ed.
  • John Melville-Jones
Nanetti, Andrea, ed., Il Codice Morosini: il mondo visto da Venezia (1094– 1433). Edizione critica, introduzione, indice e altri apparati (Quaderni della Rivista di bizantinistica, 10), Spoleto, Fondazione Italiano di Studi sull’Alto Medioevo, 2010; paperback; pp. 2335 (4 vols); R.R.P. €198.00; ISBN 978 8879881944.

The title of this book, ‘The Morosini Codex’, is inspired by the fact that the important primary source for Venetian and Mediterranean history that it publishes, which has until now been only partly available in print to scholars, begins by taking the form of a conventional Venetian chronicle, to a great extent plagiarized from earlier chronicles, but from about 1400 onwards turns into a diary of events as they happened in Venice, or were reported there.

This edition not only publishes the complete text, most of which scholars have until now had to access from the one surviving manuscript copy, held [End Page 260 ] in Vienna, or from a nineteenth-century transcription made in Venice, but includes a great amount of other useful material.

The text itself is printed in volumes I–III (the first volume also containing sixty-one pages of introductory matter, including a history of the study of the text and an explanation of the conventions that have been used to present a fifteenth-century manuscript in a modern printed version).

The final volume offers excurses on various topics. These are followed by a detailed partial index of names of persons and places and selected technical terms. This index is arranged in a way that requires some practice, but the groupings of words that it presents can be useful to the researcher. Even though it does not contain references to anything after 1423 it still occupies 422 pages, and if it had been longer, a fifth volume might have been required.

What is the value of this publication, which began as a dissertation undertaken at the University of Bologna under the direction of Professor Antonio Carile, the doyen of Italian experts on the Venetian chronicles? Its importance is considerable, because although the earlier part of Morosini’s work has little value, except to students of the linguistic forms used in Venice at that time, the rest contains a fascinating collection of notes on the events of each year as they unfolded, or were reported, in Venice.

Some of the information that is preserved in the Codex is purely commercial – merchant galley voyages with estimates of the value of the cargoes carried, shipwrecks, taxes levied, incidents occurring at Venetian trading stations abroad – but most of what we read is concerned with major and minor historical events: wars and battles, the struggles within the church of Rome to choose among rival popes, debates of the Venetian Council on important matters, embassies to and from Venice, the activities of the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund and King Ladislaus of Apulia, the growing Turkish menace, earthquakes and epidemics, festive processions, and reports on events in Europe and around the Mediterranean. The Codex is a good source of information about Joan of Arc, since the activities of the Maid of Orleans were particularly fascinating to persons outside France.

The Codex also contains the texts of many documents which are not preserved elsewhere, such as the texts of treaties and letters between persons of importance. Life becomes difficult at this point for the student, because some of these documents were written in Latin, and it is clear that Morosini was no Latin scholar. So the Venetian versions that he presents are sometimes hard to understand, and interpretation of them requires much thought.

The importance of Morosini’s work as a subject of study cannot be overestimated. Under the direction of Professor Silvana Collodo of the University of Padua, a number of small theses have already been created by [End Page 261 ] her students, presenting and analysing small sections of the Codex. But there is room for much more research, and this publication makes it possible.

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