A manuscript of the statutes and ordinances of the Senate of Venice

[Venice]. Statutes and ordinances of the Senate of Venice: legal collection, 14th-16th century, compiled under the doge Nicolò da Ponte.

Venice ("data in nostro Ducali Palatio"), 11 June 1579 ("indictione septima").

4to (230 x 160 mm). Latin and Italian manuscript on vellum. 80 numbered ff., 21 lines. Headings and highlighted words in red; ruled throughout. Contemp. auburn calf, covers and spine elaborately gilt; all edges gilt; giltstamped supralibros "Iacobo Priolo" and date "MDLXXVIIII" on the covers. Wants ties.


Interesting manuscript on the constitutional and legal history of the Venetian state, with many decrees regulating commerce, drafted in the age of Venice's great trade relationship with the East. The clean and well-legible manuscript, written in the classical humanist chancery style, was obviously prepared for members of the senate (signed at the end by the secretary, Giulio Zamberti, with the scribe's monogram). The decrees are arranged in chronological order, rater than by subject. The earliest dated decree is from the year 1351, but most date from the mid-16th century. The edicts regulated public life of the Venetian state, including civil servants' salaries, matters of commerce and trade, offices, criminal law, banishment, and other matters. The first leaf bears the dedication by the doge Nicolò da Ponte (in office 1578-85) to Jacopo Priuli, a member of one of the foremost modern-age families of Venetian patricians (producing two doges in the 16th century). The familiy, ennobled as early as 1297 and one of the richest in Venice, is also known for its patronage of the arts, commissioning several Tintoretto portraits. As a member of the senate, Jacopo would have been entitled to a private copy of the statues. The high quality of the binding with its rich arabesque ornamentation and wide ornamental borders on the covers reflects the importance of the patron family.

Engraved bookplate of Amadeo Svayer (Gottlieb Schweyer, 1727-91), a Venice-based German merchant and bibliophile who had assembled a huge and select library which after his death was almost entirely integrated into St Mark's library.

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