An elaborately illuminated commentary written by Ludovico Maria Sforza, the future Duke of Milan, to demonstrate his progress as a student

Codex Sforza

Cremona — November 27, 1467

Codex Sforza

Codex Sforza

Cremona — November 27, 1467

  1. Ludovico (1452-1508) became Duke of Milan after his brother Galeazzo was assassinated in 1476

  2. His mother Bianca Maria Visconti (1425-1468) had the foresight to have him educated

  3. Ludovico was tutored in art, letters, government, and war by Francesco Filelfo (1398-1481)

Codex Sforza

Alternative Titles:
  • In Rhetoricam ad Herennium Commentaria
  • Codice Sforza
Codice Sforza
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

Francesco I Sforza forged a new dynasty in the Duchy of Milan that would play a critical role in Italian politics when he married Bianca Maria Visconti, last of the previous dynasty. After unexpectedly assuming power due to the assassination of his older brother Galeazzo, Ludovico proved to be an adept ruler thanks to the foresight of his mother, who ensured he received a first-rate education from the Italian Renaissance Humanist Francesco Filelfo. The document at hand is an elaborate progress report of sorts for the young prince and consists of a commentary on the ancient text Rhetorica ad Herennium that was written by him and then adorned by a talented group of illuminators who framed the text with portraits of his family members, coats of arms, and scenes from ancient Greek and Roman history.

Codex Sforza

This compendium of eight pages represents an elaborate booklet that was created to demonstrate to Bianca Maria Visconti (1425-1468), wife of the famous condottiero and founder of the Sforza dynasty Francesco I Sforza (1401-66), how her son and future Duke of Milan Ludovico was doing as a student. It consists of a commentary on the Rhetorica ad Herennium, a work by an anonymous author originating from the late 80’s BC and the oldest surviving Latin treatise on rhetoric, which was a popular textbook during the Renaissance and continues to be used for the study of rhetoric and persuasion today. After passing through various hands, the manuscript was purchased in London in 1860 by marquis Vittorio Emanuele Tapparelli d’Azeglio (1816-90), who in turn gifted it to King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy (1820-78).

A Princely Progress Report

Despite the fact that Ludovico Maria Sforza (1452-1508) was not expected to ever rule, being a fourth son, his mother Bianca wisely chose to have him receive a proper education befitting any prince of the Italian Renaissance. As such, he was educated in the art and letters as well as methods of government and warfare. This commentary was written on November 27th, 1467 by Ludovico when he was a 15-year-old student under the tutelage of the prominent Italian Renaissance Humanist Francesco Filelfo (1398-1481). It was then handed over to a team of illuminators who created elaborate frames with portraits of Ludovico’s family members, coats of arms, and bas-de-page miniatures showing battle scenes on land and at sea from the ancient Greeks and Romans. Deep primary colors and both gold and silver leaf were employed to help ensure that his mother was impressed with her son’s academic progress.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
In Rhetoricam ad Herennium Commentaria
Codice Sforza
Size / Format
8 pages / 19.2 × 14.3 cm
Origin
Cremona
Date
November 27, 1467
Language
Script
Littera Humanistica
Content
Commentary on the Rhetorica ad Herennium
Artist / School
Previous Owners

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Codex Sforza“

Codice Sforza
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Codice Sforza

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Nova Charta – Venice, 2017
Limited Edition
200 copies
Commentary
1 volume by Rossana Rummo, Giovanni Saccani, Gianfranco Malafarina, Alessandro Brovarone Vitale, Milvia Bollati, Luca Di Palma, and Paolo Crisostomi
Language: Italian
More Information
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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