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Liber de Temporibus

Maker(s) &

Palmieri, Matteo, author, Rome, probably Rome


illuminated manuscript


other; type of text


circa 1450 circa 1475
with additions 1513-1521


fifteenth century, third quarter


PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Parchment, i modern paper flyleaf + 82 fols. + i modern paper flyleaf, 287 x 200 mm (205 x 100 mm for text, with dates and numbers in the margin beyond), 30 long lines with additional columns for dates, ruled in pale brown ink, catchwords

BINDING: Nineteenth century, maiolesque binding in brown and black tooled in gilt, arms of Leo X and papal tiara, metal clasps, catchplates and bosses.

CONTENTS: fols. 1r-82v Matteo Palmieri, Liber de temporibus with dedication to Piero de’ Medici (1416-1469) (fol. 1r) and Preface (fols. 1r-2v).

DECORATION: Three gold initials [Q and A, 5 ll.] (fol. 1r) and [A, 5 ll.] (fol. 2v), outlined in black with white vine-scroll on highlighted grounds of red, blue and green in a blue surround, for the dedicatory epistle, preface and start of the text; one two-sided white vine-scroll border using same palette as initials (fol. 1r); headings, dates and summaries in the text added in red ink.

Later additions
Floral border in the lower margin, with scrolling pink, blue and green foliate forms on a burnished gold ground, at the centre a laurel roundel with ribbons housing the arms of Pope Leo X (1513-1521), surmounted by the papal tiara (fol. 1r); panels of white vine-scroll ornament on coloured grounds added to the underside of the upper bar of the border on fol. 1r and as a horizontal tailpiece on fol. 82v; spraywork border added in inner margin between original border and text on fol. 1r.


illumination; whole


parchment; support
gold; medium




given; 1891; Sandars, Samuel


Pope Leo X (Giovanni de’ Medici, 1475-1521); Samuel Sandars (1837-1894) (his bookplate inside upper cover); his gift to the Museum in 1891.


Sandars, Samuel; previous owner
Pope Leo X (Giovanni de’ Medici); previous owner


The Liber de temporibus of Matteo Palmieri (1405-1475) consists of a digest of significant events from Adam to his own time. It was immensely popular, was copied many times, translated into Italian and printed in several editions. This manuscript follows Palmieri’s own injunction in the Preface that black and red inks should be used to make the text as easy to use as possible; it is not listed in the standard edition (Scaramella 1915). The original illumination consists of the three vine-scroll initials and two-sided border (fols. 1r and 2v). The added floral border with Medici arms (lower margin, fol. 1r) must have been added at the instigation of Giovanni de’ Medici, Pope Leo X, some time after his accession in 1513. Educated by humanists such as Politian and Ficino, Giovanni had a significant personal library based on the remains of his father Lorenzo’s, which he had brought to Rome in 1508. The rather eclectic additions on fols. 1r and 82v (both the spray-work elements, and the vine-scroll panel which uses a much brighter blue, and a yellowish-green with yellow rather than white three-dot highlighting), probably also date from this period.


secundo folio; quippe foret opus sed tempora


James, Montague Rhodes, Dr. 1895. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum.Cambridge (Cambs.): Cambridge University Pressp. 384-85


Object Number: MS 178
(Manuscripts and Printed Books)
(record id: 178354; input: 2010-10-07; modified: 2012-08-22)


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