LAURENTIUS DE RODULPHIS (Lorenzo Ridolfi, 1362-1443), Tractatus de usuris, manuscript on paper [Italy, ?mid-15th-century]
An important work on the practice and ethics of usury in Renaissance Florence, whose influence soon spread across Italy. The present manuscript is one of only 13 known copies of the text and the only one in private hands.
(1) Inscribed ‘Magistri Iohannis de Liniaco [i.e. Legnano, Verona]’ (f.1r), presumably the same man who signed two Bodleian Library incunabula: Auct. 2Q.4.31 (which contains a list of books dated 1650 belonging to the Dominican convent of Santa Maria Gratiarum, Legnano), and Auct. P.4.36. (2) Hoepli, 3 December 1929, p.80. (3) MAURICE BURRUS, no 253, with his acquisition notes ‘Lauria 1939’ (f.100r) and ‘Lauria 1940’ (f.102v).
‘Tractatus de Usuris domini Laurentii de Rodolfis. Rubrica plurimorum auris crebro pulsatus eloquio [...] [H]oc opusculum perfeci ego Laurentius de Ridolfis doctor minimus actu legens ordinarie in nostro studio Florentino die xiiij Februarij A.D. incarnationis Mcccciij […], ff.1r-96r; ‘Questiones tercie partis […], ff.97r-99v; ‘Quero utrum sponsa puela impubes possit […] Disputata per dominum Bartolum de Saxto’ [Bartolo de Sassoferrato], ff.100r-101v; ‘Quero de aliquibus ad declarationem textus […], ff.102r-110v.
In the early 15th century, the economy of Florence was dependent on a system of compulsory loans from the citizens; these loans earned interest, against biblical teaching, prompting Ridolfi to address the fiscal and ethical dimensions of the system. The main work was composed in 1402-4, printed in 1490, and has recently been edited: L.D. Armstrong, Usury and public debt in early Renaissance Florence: Lorenzo Ridolfi on the Monte Comune, 2003.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION AND CONDITION:
305 x 210mm, ii + 110 + ii, two columns of c.45 lines, ruled space:220 x 135mm. Watermarks in the form of a coronet similar to Briquet 4625, a Paschal Lamb similar to Briquet 18; the flyleaves are waste from a 14th-century manuscript of the Summa of Azo (ff.49-52 and many of the gutters stained, ff.97-99v apparently misbound or incomplete). The pastedowns are large parts of documents dated 1418 and 1420, both in the name of women. Sewn on three wide bands and bound in thick wood boards covered with burgundy velvet, with unusual pierced and repoussé metalwork corner-and centre-pieces, the front cover depicting an ostrich(?) and a scorpion (somewhat worn and rusty).