First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

At this time a cruel war broke out between King Philip of France and King Edward of England. Philip began his reign in France in the year 1328, and he reigned 22 years. He frequently fought with King Edward of England, and was often defeated by him. Although Pope Benedict XII applied himself with industry to make peace between these kings through his legates, no understanding could be reached. After they had inflicted losses upon each other in deadly combats, they encountered one another at sea not far from the ports of Flanders with such force that thirty-three thousand French were slain; and so much blood was spilled that it seemed that the sea of Flanders was stained with blood.[This great naval battle was one of the early engagements of the Hundred Years’ War, which began in 1339 as a result of disputes between Edward III of England and Philip VI of France. On June 24th, 1340, the English fleet destroyed the French navy in the battle of Sluys off the coast of Flanders.]

Francis Petrarch, an Etruscan of Florence, of ancient ancestry and honorable parents, was born in exile at Arezzo in the year of this age 1304. He was a man of great ingenuity, and adapted to all good and wholesome things. He was particularly qualified in ethics and poetry. He was not a very sturdy youth, but he was supple; of handsome figure and good carriage; of medium height though somewhat slender in youth; and full of face and round of limb. He was stout in his later years. For a long time and until his 60th year his eyesight was so keen that he could read the smallest print without spectacles. All his days and until his last he was of sound body. He first studied the liberal arts, and afterwards, much against his will, he was compelled to apply himself to the civil law. However, when his father learned that his son found more pleasure in poetry than in the study of the law, he left him to his choice. And so he became a highly renowned and versatile poet and orator. Later he journeyed through Gaul, France and Germany; and he saw Paris, and many principalities and kingdoms. And he came to Rome, where he was held in great esteem by Stephen (Stephano) of the house of Colonna; and in the Capitol he was crowned with a laurel wreath as a poet deserves. Then he retired from the life of the people into solitude; and there he wrote beautiful poems. Resuming public intercourse, he went first to King Robert at Naples; from there to the lords Della Scala at Verona; and then to Padua, and from Padua to Venice; at all of which places he was received and held in honor. After this he established his residence in a mountainous district, where he spent his life in contemplation and writing. Finally, worn out by his labors, he suffered a stroke and returned his spirit to Christ in the Year of the Lord 1374. His body was buried in a marble sarcophagus elevated on many columns. In every age he has been regarded as a noteworthy man. He wrote and left many artistic and commendable manuscripts and poems.

Francesco Petrarca, generally called Petrarch, the great Italian poet and humanist, was born at Arezzo on July 20th, 1304. His father, Ser Petracco, held a post as notary in a Florentine court; but having espoused the same cause as Dante during the quarrels of the Blacks and Whites, Petracco was expelled from Florence by the decree of January 27th, 1302, which condemned Dante to lifelong exile. With his wife, he took refuge in the Ghibelline township of Arezzo, where Dante was born. His mother, having obtained permission to return from banishment, settled in a little village above Florence, and here Petrarch acquired that pure Tuscan idiom which he used with such consummate mastery in ode and sonnet. In 1312, Petracco set up a house at Pisa, but in the following year removed to Avignon, then seat of the papal court; and there, and at Bologna, the boy devoted himself with enthusiasm to the study of the classics and the law. After his father’s death in 1326, he returned to Avignon. Banishment and change of place had already diminished his father’s fortune, which was never large; and a fraudulent administration of the estate left this two sons Francesco and Gherardo almost destitute. Being without means, Petrarch became a churchman, though perhaps never a priest, and lived on the small benefices conferred by his many patrons. It was at this period that Petrarch first saw Laura at the church of St. Clara at Avignon. Who she was remains uncertain, for Petrarch kept the secret zealously. The poet’s inner life after this time was mainly occupied with the passion which he celebrated in his Italian poems and with the friendships which his Latin epistles dimly reveal. Now began also his friendship with the powerful Roman family of the Colonna. As the fame of his genius and learning grew, his position became one of unprecedented consideration. His presence at court was competed for by the most powerful sovereigns of the day. He lived mainly at Avignon until 1333, when he undertook the first of many long journeys. He was a great traveler and keen observer—one of the first Alpinists, and he loved the mountains for their own sake. On his return from travels in France, Germany and Flanders in search of manuscripts, he pleaded the cause of the Scaligers in their lawsuit with the Rossi for the lordship of Parma. His eloquence on behalf of the tyrants of Verona won him the friendship of their ambassador, Azzo di Correggio.

On September 1st, 1340, Petrarch received two invitations, one from the University of Paris, the other from King Robert of Naples. He accepted the latter, journeyed in February 1341 to Naples, was honorably entertained by the king, and sent with magnificent credentials to Rome. There, in April, he received the poet’s crown at the Capitol form the hands of a Roman senator amid the plaudits of the people and the patricians. From this time on Petrarch ranked as a rhetorician and a poet of European celebrity. He rejected offers of a papal secretaryship. It was also at this time that he met Boccacio. In May 1347, when Cola di Rienzi accomplished the revolution which, for a short space, revived the republic in Rome, Petrarch, who in politics was no less visionary than Rienzi, threw himself into the republican movement and sacrificed his old friends of the Colonna family to what he judged a patriotic duty.

In 1347, Petrarch built a house at Parma, where he hoped to pursue the tranquil avocations of a poet and of an idealistic politician. But the next two years brought a series of calamities. Laura died of the plague in 1348, and a number of his influential friends died in rapid succession. Friendship with him was a passion; he needed friends for the maintenance of his intellectual activity at the highest point of its effectiveness. Petrarch began to think of quitting the world and establishing a kind of humanistic convent, where he might dedicate himself, in the company of kindred spirits, to still severer studies and a closer communion with God. Though nothing came of the plan, a marked change was perceptible in his literary compositions.

At the same time, Petrarch’s renown led to fresh relations with Italian despots. The noble houses of Gonzaga at Mantua, of Carrara at Padua, of Este at Ferrara, of Malatesta at Rimini, of Visconti at Milan, vied with Azzo di Coreggio in entertaining him. Petrarch remained an incurable rhetorician; and while he stigmatized the despots in his ode to Italy and in his epistles to the emperor, he accepted their hospitality, while they on their part seemed to have viewed his political theories as of no practical importance.

In 1350, Petrarch made a pilgrimage to Rome, passing through Florence, where he established a firm friendship with Boccacio, who carried his admiration for Petrarch to the point of worship. Between the years 1353 and 1362 he was engaged in a number of diplomatic missions. In May 1362, he settled at Padua. In 1363 he visited Venice, making a donation of his library to the republic of St. Mark. Much of the last stage of his life was occupied in a controversy with the Averroists, whom he regarded as antagonists of religion and culture. In 1369, Petrarch retired to Arqua, a village in the Euganean hills, where he continued his unremitting study. On July 18th, 1374 his people found the old poet and scholar dead among his books.

Petrarch was one of the inaugurators of the Renaissance in Italy. He opened up for Europe a new sphere of mental activity. Standing within the threshold of the Middle Ages, he surveyed the kingdom of the modern spirit and by his own inexhaustible scholarship and study, he determined what we call the revival of learning. He was the first to collect libraries, to accumulate coins, to advocate the preservation of manuscripts. His friends knew that the most acceptable of all gifts to him was an addition to his collection of manuscripts. For him, the authors of the Greek and Latin world were living men. Having been eminently religious and orthodox, he did not seek to substitute a pagan for a Christian ideal. As an author, he is to be considered from two points of view – first as a writer of Latin verse and prose; secondly, as an Italian lyrist. His fame depends upon his Italian poetry. He was the first Italian poet of love to free himself from allegory and mysticism.

Yves (Yvo) of Brittany, a highly informed doctor of the written law, and renowned for his scriptural wisdom and marvelous goodness, and for his charity to the poor, at this time lived in angelic moderation, entirely abstaining from wine and meat. Hs wore a hair-shirt and devoted himself to fasting, prayer and watching. His lodging was the bare earth; his pillow, a hard stone. The Holy Bible always lay beside his head. All his efforts were humbly devoted to the poor, whom he protected. Although he received a large paternal inheritance, he placed his trust in God, always seeking to protect the poor and the widows and orphans. After he died he was ever illustrious for his miracles, and was therefore enrolled in the number of the saints.

Yves or Ives, of Brittany, was born in 1253 at Kermartin, near Tréguier. His father was Heloury, seigneur of Kermartin, and his mother, Azou de Quenquis. In 1267, he went to Paris to study law, and ten years later to Orleans to study canon law. On returning to Brittany, he was appointed ecclesiastical judge under the archdeacon of Rennes. In 1285, he was ordained priest and appointed first to the parish of Trédrez, and afterward to Louannec, where he died in May 1303. He was buried in the cathedral of Treguier, and was canonized by Clement VI in 1347. As a lawyer and judge, he was famed for his rectitude and wisdom and for his zeal in defending the causes of widows and orphans. His feast is celebrated on May 19th, the date of his death. He is the patron saint of lawyers, for he was advocatus et non latro, res miranda populo (‘a lawyer and not a thief, a marvel to the people’).

Ives is generally represented with a cat as his symbol; the cat being regarded as in some way symbolizing a lawyer, who watches for his prey, darts on it at the proper moment with alacrity, and when he has his victim, delights to play with him, but never lets him escape from his clutches; at least so observes S. Baring-Could in his Lives of the Saints.

But few saints have been made from the professional classes. There are one or two physicians, but their legends are apocryphal. Brittany has had the privilege of adopting a saintly lawyer, after whom the town of St. Ives, England, was named.


Luigi (Ludovicus) Gonzaga, a brave, powerful and renowned man, in these years, by stealth and cleverness, supplanted Passerino Bonacosso[Rinaldo Passerino Bonacolsi (misspelled in the Chronicle as Passerino Bonacosso) was the ruler of Mantua whom the Gonzagas overthrew on August 16, 1328.] in the lordship of the city of Mantua, retaining the same for himself and his heirs to the present time. Said Passerino and his forefathers had held this lordship for many years; but in these turbulent times it was a temptation to every thirsty aspirant to power. Because of their historic renown, popes and Roman emperors confirmed the lordship in the house of Gonzaga; although some say that this family of Gonzaga did not acquire the lordship through force and lust for power, but by popular choice. The citizens who previously lived at Mantua were Germans.[Gonzaga, an Italian princely family named after the town where it probably had its origin. Its known history begins with Luigi I (1267-1360), who, after fierce struggles, supplanted his brother-in-law, Rinaldo Bonacolsi as lord of Mantua in 1328, with the title of captain-general, and, afterwards of vicar-general of the empire, adding the designation of count Mirandola and Concordia, which fief the Gonzagas held from Scaligeri until the year 1371. Luigi was succeeded by Guido, who died in 1369 and was succeeded by his son, Luigi II, who died in 1382. Then came Giovan Francesco I, who died in 1407; then Giovan Francesco II (who died in 1444), who received for his military service to the emperor Sigismund the title of marquis of Mantua (1432), an investiture which legitimized the usurpations of the house of Gonzaga. His grandson, Federigo I, served under various foreign sovereigns, including Bona of Savoy and Lorenzo de’Medici. Subsequently, he upheld the rights of the house of Este against Pope Sixtus IV and the Venetians, whose claims were a menace to his own dominions of Ferrara and Mantova. His son, Giovan Francesco III, commanded the allied Italian forces against Charles VIII at the battle of Fornovo. He afterwards fought in the kingdom of Naples and in Tuscany, until captured by the Venetians in 1509. With the help of his wife, the famous Isabella d’Este, he promoted the fine arts and letters. He was succeeded by his son, Federigo II, captain-general of the papal forces. After the peace of Cambrai (1529), his ally and protector the emperor Charles V raised his title to Duke of Mantua. In 1536, the emperor decided the controversy for the succession of Monferrato between Federigo and the house of Savoy in favor of the former. His son, Guglielmo, subdued a revolt in Monferrato and was presented with that territory by the emperor Maximilian II. His grandson, Vincenzo II, appointed as his successor Charles, the son of Henriette, the heiress of the French family of Nevers–Rethel, who was only able to take possession of the ducal throne after a bloody struggle; his dominions were invaded, and he himself reduced to the sorest straits. His great grandson, Ferdinand Charles, acquired Guastalla by marriage in 1678, but lost it soon afterwards. He involved his country in useless warfare, with the result that in 1708, Austria annexed the duchy. On January 5th, 1708 he died in Venice, and with him the Gonzagas of Mantua came to an end.]