Manchester

'Rare' Giovanni Boccaccio work found in John Rylands Library

The manuscript and Giovanni Boccaccio
Image caption Giovanni Boccaccio wrote the original of the discovered work in around 1360

A rare manuscript by one of the medieval period's greatest thinkers has been found in a university library in Manchester.

The manuscript, found at the John Rylands Library, is a French translation of a work by 14th Century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio.

The copy was made in 1400 by French humanist Laurent de Premierfait.

The University of Manchester's Dr Guyda Armstrong said it was a "researcher's dream" to discover such a document.

Dr Armstrong, a senior lecturer in Italian, said the work was a "collection of biographies of famous figures from history".

"It's a book in the 'mirror for princes' genre, where the horrible histories of the past are used as a political guide for rulers, and is notable for its critique of tyranny."

The manuscript, titled Des Cas Des Nobles Hommes Et Femmes, is a translation of Boccaccio's 1360 work 'De Casibus Virorum Illustrium.

The manuscript was purchased by the university in 1963 from a Parisian bookseller, but was never catalogued.

Dr Armstrong said it was "a testament to the riches of the Rylands' collections that works of this importance are still being discovered".

She said only a few copies of the de Premierfait translation, the first of two he made of the Boccaccio text, survived worldwide.

She added that she hoped the "completely unknown and unstudied manuscript" would now be digitised to allow scholars around the world to study it.

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