Ms Urb. lat. 1248 is one of the 2,003 manuscripts formerly in the library of the dukes of Urbino, transferred to the Vatican Library in 1657. The codex, which is a copy of a now lost manuscript, was written in the early sixteenth century on 72 folios of paper, measuring 206 x 135 mm, and numbered 1a-72 in ink, the "a" added subsequently in pencil. On the verso of the leaf preceding f.1a, which is numbered "1" in pencil, is inscribed: "Ordini, et offitij della Corte / del Serenissimo Signor Duca / d'Urbino", in a hand later than that of the text proper. Though added to the codex before it was given its present binding, f.1 postdates the text on ff.1a-72, since the latter are all pierced by a large, irregular hole at the centre of the page, and f.1 is intact. However, it does share with the older part of the codex a very large worm hole, which penetrates ff.1-62.
The hole perforating the centres of ff.1a-72, made by a nail or similar object, indicates that the folios had once been tied together with a string pulled through the hole. It is possible, then, that the codex had first been kept in the ducal chancellery, where papers--usually receipts and letters--were stored in such a way. At the present state of research, it is unclear what the relevance of this is for the circulation and use of the codex at the court of Urbino. Folio 1 was probably added when the codex entered the ducal library, at which time it could have been given the title that is inscribed on the verso of the 'new' cover or fly-leaf. The calligraphy of this inscription suggests a date in the seventeenth century.
The text of Urb. lat. 1248 is divided into sixty-four chapters, of which all but the last two have a descriptive title or heading. While the titles were written at the same time as the text, the word "capitolo" and the number were added subsequently, as is evident from the different ink used, and the awkward position of the word and number with respect to the title. Only the final two chapters--which lack a title--have the word "capitolo" and the number written in the same ink as the text. For the first two chapters the number is written as a word rather than a cipher. Originally the numbering of the chapters began with what is now the second chapter, and it is still possible to see traces of the erased "primo" beneath the word "secundo". With the change, "Capitolo primo" came to refer to what must have been the title for the entire manuscript: "Ordine et officij de casa delo Illustrissimo Signor Duca d'Urbino."
At the end of the text, on f.72 recto and verso, are two unrelated fragments of letters, both written by the same hand, the second of which is signed and dated 1547. Though two ink blots make it very difficult to read the signature, it is possible to decipher the family name as "Stephanj". The same hand that wrote these fragments also scribbled and doodled on ff.4-5, and furthermore wrote on ff.5 and 6 the words "cum nobis" in a very faint ink.
Urb. lat. 1248 was previously transcribed and published by Giuseppe Ermini in 1932, under the auspices of the Accademia Raffaello. Though generally known among Italian historians of princely courts, Ermini's publication was less familiar--perhaps because less accessible--to historians in other countries. With the interest in court culture steadily increasing among international scholars of various disciplines, it seemed a propitious moment to ask the Accademia Raffaello to republish Urb. lat. 1248. When the proposal was accepted and the project commenced, it became clear that what was needed was not simply a reprint, but a new transcription, since Ermini--for all his merits--committed various errors, a few of them substantial, and he failed to convey a sense of the physical characteristics of the manuscript. For instance, he avoided all reference to the scribe's corrections and cancellations and gave no indication of the layout of the text on the page. Furthermore, Ermini's appendix of the list of Federico da Montefeltro's famiglia, which he took from Rosa's copy of Paltroni, Commentari alla vita e fatti di Federico di Montefeltro (Biblioteca Universitaria di Urbino, Fondo del Comune, vol.79), clearly continues to mislead scholars into thinking that it is an integral part of Urb. lat. 1248.
The transcription presented here has tried to preserve the original quality of the language, while at the same time making it easier to read for the modern student. The following criteria have been used:
This page last updated: June 1, 2005.