Created by the famous Giovanni Boccaccio: the first book in western literature dedicated exclusively to biographies of women

On Famous Women by Boccaccio

Zaragoza (Spain) — October 24, 1494

On Famous Women by Boccaccio

On Famous Women by Boccaccio

Zaragoza (Spain) — October 24, 1494

  1. Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375) was one of the most important authors of the Late Middle Ages

  2. These 106 biographies contrast the deeds of wicked women with those of virtuous women

  3. The Spanish edition at hand was published on October 24th, 1494 by Pablo Hurus (d. 1505) in Zaragoza

On Famous Women by Boccaccio

On Famous Women by Boccaccio

Dido

According to legend, primarily Virgil, the famous Phoenician city-state of Carthage was founded by Dido. Also known as Alyssa or Elissa, she was supposedly the Queen of Tyre in modern Lebanon and fled west to escape the tyranny of her brother, Pygmalion, who had her husband murdered. The city of Carthage is said to have grown and made prosperous under Dido’s wise leadership and she is shown here directing farmers in the field as the city walls are being built in the background.

On Famous Women by Boccaccio

I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
Alternative Titles:
  • Über berühmte Frauen von Boccaccio
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

Between 1361 and 1362, Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375) wrote one of this most popular and widely circulated works: De Mulieribus Claris or On Famous Women in English. The 106 biographies contained in the work contrast the deeds of wicked women with those of virtuous women and in doing so, aimed to cover all types of women. Boccaccio was inspired by classical authors in creating his work, as well as Petrarch (1304–1374), his contemporary. Continuously appended for over a decade, the work appeared in numerous translations, including both handwritten manuscripts and printed editions like the Spanish specimen at hand. It is noteworthy as the first book devoted exclusively to biographies of women in Western literature.

On Famous Women by Boccaccio

Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375) was one of the most important authors of the Late Middle Ages, most famous for The Decameron. His treatise De Mulieribus Claris or On Famous Women in English, is noteworthy as the first book devoted exclusively to biographies of women in Western literature. It was composed by Boccaccio between 1361 and 1362 in the Tuscan commune of Certaldo, although he continued to revise it up to 1375. The 106 biographies contained in the work contrast the deeds of wicked women with those of virtuous women and in doing so, aimed to cover all types of women. Boccaccio dedicated the work to Andrea Acciaioli, Countess of Altavilla, and hoped that it would help to promote virtue and curtail vice. The work enjoyed great popularity and appeared in numerous translations and editions, both handwritten manuscripts and prints.

Inspirational Biographies

Boccaccio stated that he was inspired by De Viris Illustribus, a collection of famous men and women from antiquity, mythology, and the Bible written by Petrarch (1304–1374). The biographies recorded by Boccaccio range from mythological and historical women to Renaissance contemporaries. Each story begins with the subject’s name, parentage, rank or position in society, and the reason for their fame. They usually end with a lesson of a philosophical or moralizing nature. Analysis of the work indicates that he had access to plentiful classical sources including Valerius Maximus, Pliny, Livy, Ovid, Suetonius, Statius, Virgil, Lactantius, Orosius, and Justinus, Church Fathers like Saint Paul and Saint Jerome, and of course the Bible. Boccaccio’s biographies inspired characters in Le Livre de la Cité des Dames by Christine de Pizan (1364 – ca. 1430), as well as influencing other similar works as far away as England such as Defence of Good Women by Thomas Elyot (ca. 1490–1546), a text advocating the education of women, and the Legend of Good Women and The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (ca. 1343–1400). This work was clearly one of the most influential of the Late Middle Ages and continues to be fascinating for modern readers.

The Spanish Incunabulum

Although already a popular text in the last golden age of manuscript production, the invention of the printing press only fueled this popularity. A printed book predating 1501 is known as an incunabulum, and this specimen falls under that category. The Spanish edition at hand titled Delas mujeres ilustres en romance was published on October 24th, 1494 by Pablo Hurus (d. 1505) in Zaragoza. It contains 75 fine engravings, mostly depicting social scenes, whose Germanic character reflects the origin of the printer, whose true name was Paul and came from Constance in southern Germany. The Gothic script in which the text is printed also reminds us that printing was still dominated by German craftsmen in this time, who had spread across Europe setting up printing houses. Today, this gorgeous incunabulum is the proud possession of the Biblioteca Nacional de España.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Über berühmte Frauen von Boccaccio
Size / Format
228 pages / 29.0 × 20.5 cm
Date
October 24, 1494
Style
Language
Illustrations
75 woodcuts
Content
"De claris mulieribus" in Spanish translation
Artist / School
On Famous Women by Boccaccio

On Famous Women by Boccaccio

Penthesilea

In Greek mythology, Penthesilea was the daughter of Ares and Otrera, the Queen of the Amazons, and fought on the side of Troy in the Trojan War before being killed by Achilles. According to Boccaccio, she succeeded the queens Antiope and Orithya, was superior in strength and skill to all who came before her, and entered the war to impress Hector.
Depicted here jousting on horseback as a warrior queen, Boccaccio wrote that “through practice, Penthesilea and women like her became much more manly in arms than those born male” who had fallen to idleness and pleasure. Boccaccio is surprisingly progressive in stating that “practical experience can change natural dispositions”, suggesting gender differences are rooted in upbringing and training.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „On Famous Women by Boccaccio“

On Famous Women by Boccaccio
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
On Famous Women by Boccaccio – I-1921 (ff. I-CII and ff. CIV-CV) e I-2444 (ff. CIII and CVI-CIX) – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
Imageof

On Famous Women by Boccaccio

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Vicent Garcia Editores – Valencia, 1994
Limited Edition
3160 copies
Binding
Parchment binding on wooden board; presented in a cloth-lined case with gold engraved leather spine
Commentary
1 volume by Francisca Aleixandre Tena
Language: Spanish
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.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Please ask for a quote!
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