Chronicles of Lucca by Giovanni Sercambi

Chronicles of Lucca by Giovanni Sercambi – AyN Ediciones – Biblioteca Statale di Lucca (Lucca, Italy)

Lucca (Italy) — 1368–1424

Impressive pictures from Tuscany in the Middle Ages: 651 detailed miniatures on the eventful history of the famous pilgrimage city of Lucca

  1. Giovanni Sercambi (1348-1424) recorded both important events and everyday life in Lucca

  2. Sercambi was a pharmacist, writer, soldier, official, and supporter of the ruling Guinigi family

  3. It includes the long and successful reign of as noble governor Paolo Guinigi (ca. 1372 - 1432)

Chronicles of Lucca by Giovanni Sercambi

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Chronicles of Lucca by Giovanni Sercambi

Up until the beginning of the 15th century, the Italian city of Lucca, like so many other cities in medieval Europe, was afflicted by political corruption, wars, murders, and outbreaks of plague. However, Paolo Guinigi’s rise to power changed the destiny of the citizenry. In the Chronicles of Lucca, the author Giovanni Sercambi narrates the significant historical events of Lucca during the period 1164–1423, and illustrates his descriptions in 651 richly-detailed miniatures.

Chronicles of Lucca by Giovanni Sercambi

A chronic is a historical work of prose, which represents historic events organized in chronological order. While some of the chronicles of the Middle Ages are merely a listing of historically-important dates, others contain detailed accounts of the events of individual years and were furnished with splendid miniatures. One of the most beautiful and exciting city chronicles of the 14th and 15th centuries was composed by the Italian writer Giovanni Sercambi (1348-1424). He wrote a historical reference work about his beloved home city of Lucca. He recorded the special topographic and architectural features of the city, as well as important historical events and demonstrated the everyday life of the citizens of Lucca in the High Middle Ages in over 651 richly-detailed illustrations.

A Famous Scribe

Giovanni Sercambi one of the most important and highly-respected citizens of the Italian city of Lucca. The highly-educated Sercambi worked here as an apothecary and was simultaneously one of the most famous and influential authors in the city. Sercambi was a supporter of the ruling Guinigi family and served as a soldier and public functionary in their name. His Chronica delle cose di Lucca relates the history of his city from 1164 to 1423 and made him famous beyond the borders of Lucca and throughout Italy. Alongside his chronicle, he is known today above all for his works Novelle and Monito, in which he concerned himself with biological facts about the ancestry and provenance of the citizens of Lucca. With his comprehensive knowledge of the natural sciences and authorial ability, Sercambi was an important forerunner of the Renaissance.

At the Behest of the Princely Family

At the beginning of the 15th century, Lucca was tormented by political corruption, murders, and an outbreak of plague. In this same period, the House of Guinigi emerged as the wealthiest and unquestionably the most influential family in the city. As a result of acts of revenge and assignations within the family, only the youngest son of the aristocratic house, Paolo (ca. 1372 - 1432), survived the year 1400. On November 21st, 1400, he was named the noble governor of Lucca, which he largely owed to the wise council of his friend and public official Giovanni Sercambi. His ascent to office marked the beginning of a 30 year period of relative peace and truce in the history of Lucca. One confronted conspiracies and moments of tension with wisdom, deliberation, and without vengeance, and the city also flourished economically. Sercambi’s chronicle allowed Paolo Guinigi to record the fateful events of his city for the sake of posterity.


Alternative Titles
La Crónica de Lucca
La Cronica de Lucca de Giovanni Sercambi
Le croniche di Luccha
Chronik von Lucca von Giovanni Sercambi
Size / Format
726 pages / 27.7 × 20.0 cm
651 miniatures
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Paolo Guinigi

Available facsimile editions:
Chronicles of Lucca by Giovanni Sercambi – AyN Ediciones – Biblioteca Statale di Lucca (Lucca, Italy)
AyN Ediciones – Madrid, 2006
Limited Edition: 995 copies
Detail Picture

Chronicles of Lucca by Giovanni Sercambi

Florentine Troops on the March

Identifiable by their distinctive red fleur-de-lis, Florentine cavalry are shown riding on horseback as foot soldiers drive a herd of cattle past a walled city. Animals were an important part of any medieval army and were part of the baggage train that followed it. The Florentine soldiers are equipped with chainmail and open faced steel helmets; their lances are like a forest. One man among them has a purple hat and stripped coat, likely the condottiero or “captain”, perhaps a legate.

La Crónica de Lucca
Single Page

Chronicles of Lucca by Giovanni Sercambi

Urban VI Besieged by Charles III in the Castle of Nocera

During the War of the Eight Saints, a conflict between the Papacy and an alliance of Italian states and communes, Pope Urban VI was forced to flee Rome, finding refuge in the castle of the city of Nocera Inferiore. There, he was besieged by his cousin and enemy, King Charles III of Naples. This war was part of the Western Schism, which split the Catholic Church between pope and anti-pope.

The upper miniature on the page depicts the camp and army of Charles III, mostly consisting of mercenary troops under the command of the famous English condottiero Sir John Hawkwood. A trebuchet is depicted having just launched a stone, shown flying through the air. In the lower miniature, Urban is freed by two Neapolitan barons after 6 months of siege.

La Crónica de Lucca
Facsimile Editions

#1 La Crónica de Lucca

AyN Ediciones – Madrid, 2006

Publisher: AyN Ediciones – Madrid, 2006
Limited Edition: 995 copies
Binding: Faithfull reproduction of the eighteenth century leather binding with decorations in gold on the spine.
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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