The Jesuit centre in Fiesole where Fr.Beckx went from Rome to reside for thirteen years, is close by two fifteenth-century buildings constructed at the order of Cosimo de Medici’: one is a Medici villa and the other a former monastery known now as the Villa San Girolamo.
It was also at Fiesole that Guido di Pietro became ‘Fra Angelico’ and – according to Vasari – worked first as a book-illuminator. Leonardo’s first attempt to fly occurred in Fiesole too. (No, it’s not an argument, just an appreciation).
And – as you may know – it was also in Fiesole that Guglielmo Libri died in his own villa in 1869, passing on his remaining manuscripts to the care of his nominated executor Count Giacomo Manzoni, who was a renowned bibliophile in his own right, with a personal collection of more than 300,000 books (yes, three hundred thousand). Fiesole may be small, but it’s an interesting place.
On the other hand, if we turn to Parma, a place which Wilfrid mentioned in some early accounts of the manuscript’s past, we have a 12thC document from a very short-lived monastery once existing there, San Savino in Piacenza. As you see, and as Jim reeds said when introducing it to the old mailing list, that document has ” glorious gallow [letters] all over it” .
That ‘gallows-rich’ document was published in Cappelli’s Dizionario di Abbreviature Latini ed Italiani (as jim noted) an edition of which had been published in Milan in 1912. I cannot help but wonder whether that is where Voynich got the idea for mentioning Parma. Who knows?
But here’s the thing. Why did the Jesuits leave Fr.Beckx’ trunk with all the books in it for 25 years after his death? Being a Jesuit, Beckx had no personal property, and normally all the things he’d had for his own use in life would have immediately been redistributed or, in the case, of books, returned to wherever they should have been.
And if the books had been in the trunk so long… wasn’t there something about some chap going to the Villa Mondragone (or somewhere) and the librarian checking the shelves and saying that it should have been there, but wasn’t? Doesn’t that imply some sort of recognised description of the work, and a catalogue which told which shelf it should have been on?
Or are we saying that the the librarian had just remembered its proper position for all those 25 (or 25+13) years?
But if there were a shelf-list, why is there no sign of any accession number other than one which is ascribed to Wilfrid’s hand?
And if there were a catalogue only – sorry, but wouldn’t any Voynichero give their eye teeth to be able to read an original description of the manuscript, from the library which (supposedly) used to have it on their shelves? And wouldn’t the information be worth a fair bit in terms of Voynich studies?
All a bit awkward… unless …