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Divided by a common language? Being eloquent and being understood in early fifteenth-century Latins

Rundle, David (2021) Divided by a common language? Being eloquent and being understood in early fifteenth-century Latins. Eranos: Acta philologica Suecana, 112 . pp. 73-98. ISSN 0013-9947. (KAR id:91774)


The early fifteenth century saw some scholars in Italy promote a new commitment to Ciceronianism. This is often perceived as the start of the revival of classical ‘purity’, a stepping-stone towards ‘neo-Latin’ but, during their lifetimes, the humanist contribution was to provide one Latin that sat alongside other varieties. This article considers the interactions between those Latins, both within Italy and across the length of Europe, to distant Britain. There was a very practical reason to accept there was a range of Latinities: the need to be understood; this is reflected in the debate between Flavio Biondo and Leonardo Bruni on the languages of ancient Rome. Likewise, humanist creativity was sometimes dependent on other forms of Latinity: a telling example involves Tito Livio Frulovisi’s Vita Henrici Quinti and its debt to a florid Anglo-Latin text, the Vita et Gesta Henrici Quinti. The differences, however, were not solely between humanists and others, as is shown by the contrasts between some humanists’ epistolae familiares and their official writings as chancellors: in this regard, Leonardo Bruni’s letters to Humfrey, duke of Gloucester can be compared with those of his counterpart in Genoa, Jacopo Bracelli, to Henry VI of England. Finally, the use in England of humanist ghost-writers — Pietro del Monte and Antonio Beccaria — in the 1430s and 1440s gives a suggestion of how the ‘new’ Latin was perceived far from its homeland.

Item Type: Article
Additional information: Special issue, Latinity after Antiquity by guest editors Graham Barrett & Oren Margolis
Uncontrolled keywords: humanism, Leonardo Bruni, Tito Livio Frulovisi, Antonio Beccaria, Jacopo Bracelli, Pietro del Monte, Lorenzo Valla, Rome, England, Flavio Biondo
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DG Italy
P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: David Rundle
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2021 15:21 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2023 12:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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