Where and How to Print the Florentine Pandects: Paris, Basle, Lyons, Venice or Florence?

Abstract : The sixth-century manuscript of the Corpus juris civilis or Pandects was given considerable scrutiny by some of Europe’s leading legal scholars during the 1530s and early 1540s: Andrea Alciati, Emilio Ferretti, Lelio Torelli, Antonio Agustín, Jean Matal. As their studies progressed, the decision was made to print the manuscript in its entirety. But where? By whom? And in what form and type? During the years 1541-1544, correspondence between Torelli, Matal and Agustín indicates the first-rank publishers that they were considering: Robert Estienne in Paris, Froben & Episcopius in Basle, Gryphius in Lyons, Giolitio or others in Venice, and perhaps Florence, where the manuscript was held. In spite of Ferretti’s ardent defence of Gryphius and Matal’s arguments in favour of Froben, the question was finally decided by the owner of the manuscript, Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici, in 1546: the precious manuscript must be printed in Florence. But none of the printers active there were capable of assuming such a mammoth undertaking. In the end, Cosimo and his advisors invited an unknown printer to come set up shop in Florence. Lorenzo Torrentino, a bookseller in Bologna, accepted this challenge, even though he had never signed his name to a single book. He began printing as ducal printer in 1547 and he finally published the 1,666 folio pages of the Digestorum seu Pandectarum libri in 1553, using French types engraved by Robert Granjon and Michel Du Boys. It is intriguing to note that Gryphius’s purchases of large-letter roman types fall roughly in the years that Ferretti was presenting his case at court in Florence. I examine what is perhaps Gryphius’s most prestigious publication, the large-letter version of the Biblia sacra in 1550, using types cut by Robert Granjon that he purchased during and just after his negotiations with the Duke in Florence via Ferretti.
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William Kemp. Where and How to Print the Florentine Pandects: Paris, Basle, Lyons, Venice or Florence?. Livre. Revue historique, Société bibliographique de France, 2019. ⟨hal-02025077⟩

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