French Renaissance Paleography


Paris, 20 October 1582 (document) / 8 February 1583 (notarized copy)
Letters patent by King Henry III authorizing Pietro Angèli da Barga to hold ecclesiastical benefices in France
Chicago, Newberry Library, VAULT Case MS 5A 48


After the Italian humanist Pietro Angèli da Barga presented his epic poem, the Syrias, to King Henry III of France, the king’s chancery issued this royal privilege granting to Angèli the titles of royal historian and poet, and permission to hold lands in France. The document was issued in October of 1582, and a copy was notarized on 8 February 1583. Both are reproduced here. The original privilege has the signatures of both Henry and Nicolas de Neufville, his secretary of state, and you can see the place on the document where a red seal (now gone) was affixed.

Angèli had been preceptor to Henry when the king was a boy, and had collaborated with French agents in Italy to secure French manuscripts for Henry’s father, King Francis I. The Syrias narrates the first Crusade, a theme appropriate for dedication to a king, which Torquato Tasso had also recently explored in his _Gerusalemme liberata _(1575).

Angèli corresponded with the French philologist Denis Lambin, the Lyons printer Antoine Gryphe, and the German poet Paul Schede, among other notables. Letters from these three, addressed to Angèli, as well as about seventy-five volumes from Angèli’s personal library, are found in the Barga Collection, which the Newberry Library purchased in 1968.


See the entry for “Angeli, Pietro,” in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 2010-.