Religions 2012, 3(2), 210-227; doi:10.3390/rel3020210
Article

Res aut res publica: The Evidence from Italian Renaissance Manuscripts and Their Owners

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Received: 31 March 2012; in revised form: 10 April 2012 / Accepted: 11 April 2012 / Published: 11 April 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From the Renaissance to the Modern World)
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Abstract: This paper examines a key tension in Renaissance culture as reflected in the origin and provenance of manuscript books. Were Renaissance manuscripts the private property of individual owners or the common wealth of a lettered public? Even an officially public library could not escape that tension, whether through abuse of borrowing privileges or plundering of vulnerable holdings. Market forces encouraged theft, while impoverished scholars used their knowledge to supplement meager incomes. Alternatively, a sense of common wealth is reflected in an ex-libris indicating that a codex belonged to an individual “and his friends.” Book collecting, finally, becomes a helpful clue in discerning to what a scholar is committed. Some Renaissance clergymen used culture as a way to promote their ecclesiastical careers, while others collected and shared manuscripts as a way to promote tolerance.
Keywords: renaissance; manuscripts; humanism; libraries; private property; common wealth
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MDPI and ACS Style

McManamon, J.M. Res aut res publica: The Evidence from Italian Renaissance Manuscripts and Their Owners. Religions 2012, 3, 210-227.

AMA Style

McManamon JM. Res aut res publica: The Evidence from Italian Renaissance Manuscripts and Their Owners. Religions. 2012; 3(2):210-227.

Chicago/Turabian Style

McManamon, John M. 2012. "Res aut res publica: The Evidence from Italian Renaissance Manuscripts and Their Owners." Religions 3, no. 2: 210-227.

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