THE VATICAN INVENTORIES
The long negotiations for the purchase of the Urbino collection began after the appointment of the German scholar Lucas Holste as first custodian of the Vatican Library (1653-1661), who some years before had personally visited the Urbino library and had remained highly impressed, and after the election of Alexander VII (1655-1667) as pope, who was also a patron and bibliophile.
On June 23, 1657, the community of Urbino was induced to accept the request of the pontiff, who decided to donate 10,000 scudi to the city and promised the concession of certain “graces” to alleviate the debts of the community itself. A brief written on August 7th provided for the transfer and established the procedures of it, which took place between November and December of the same year.
Holste had not only played a key role in the negotiations by formulating various estimates of the collection (contained on ff. 39r-46r of Barb. lat. 6535), but also, in view of the transport, he set up an inventory, now marked Vat. lat. 9475, consisting in pre-printed cards, or tags with the identifications: «Scanz (ia), Ord (ine) N (umero)» at the top and «Cassa e N(umero)» at the bottom, with an equal number of tags glued to the backs of the respective manuscripts (the tags are still partially visible on the bindings of some of the volumes, such as the Urb. lat. 669, 326 e 328). Alessandro Vanni had also marked the collocation number of the Urbino library and a brief note regarding the content of the volume, while Holste himself had noted corrections or additions.
After the arrival of the manuscript collection to the Vatican, it was divided into three different collections, according to language, which created the classifications of Urbinati latini, Urbinati graeci, and Urbinati ebraici; six Arab manuscripts were integrated into the Arab collection still “open” at the time (Vat. ar. 155, 212, 216, 221, 228, 229, see Guida ai fondi, pp. 538-553).
The Latin manuscripts, unlike the Greek and Hebrew ones, underwent numerous changes in their organization and placement. They were reordered for the first time according to subject and author, then numbered and cataloged by the learned Dalmatian Stefano Gradi (Stjepan Gradić, 1613-1683). After the death of Holste, Gradi was appointed as the second custodian (1661-1682). His inventory, currently marked Urb. lat. 1388, preserves two systems of organization.
Probably looking for a system that also accounted for the needs dictated by the different formats of the codices and consequently, to take better advantage of the available space, the ordering was changed more than once. The same Urb. lat. 1388 gives testimony to this fact on f. 52r, where there is a fragment of an inventory with a different collocation system that has since been lost to us. This other inventory was perhaps requested by Lorenzo Zaccagni (1657-1712), second custodian of the Vatican from 1684 and first custodian beginning from 1698 (see Peruzzi, «Lectissima politissimaque volumina», pp. 381, 383).
Urb. lat. 1388, f. 2r, f. 52r
Another inventory was compiled by Zaccagni, thanks to the assistance of the second custodian (1698-1711) Giovanni Battista De Miro. This inventory reveals a modification as to the system of placement of the codices, which had always been articulated according to a criterion of the different disciplines, along with the consideration of their dimensions. It contains descriptions that are similar to those of Gradi. «The subdivision according to disciplines is derived from the Indice vecchio, especially for the first 500 manuscripts, which for the most part date back to the era of Federico: arrangement thus begins with sacred texts, followed by the Fathers of the Church, theologians, jurists, philosophers, doctors, scientific texts, grammarians and orators, poets and historians»; this subdivision is repeated twice, in relation to size (original text: Peruzzi, «Lectissima politissimaque volumina», p. 382). The calligraphic and official copy, which was completed in 1719 (after the author’s death) with an illustrated frontispiece, is preserved in the manuscripts Urb. lat. 1772-1773 and contains the description of Urb. lat. 1-1026. The same shelfmarks created by Zaccagni are still in use today. This inventory then continued to develop through descriptions from the eighteenth and nineteenth century, which may be found in Urb. lat. 1768, 1774-1778 (see Vian, Dal Platina al Bishop, pp. 272-273; Guida ai fondi, pp. 541-542; Peruzzi, «Lectissima politissimaque volumina», pp. 382, 383).
Urb. lat. 1772, f. 1r
Over time, especially during the eighteenth century, the Urbino collections also incorporated manuscripts unrelated to the original provenance of the collection. Such additions were modest for the Greek and Jewish collections, but were more considerable for the Latin collection, which for some time was considered “open” (Guida ai fondi, p. 541; Critelli, «L’impazzamento nel collocare una sì gran machina di cose», pp. 275-279).
The current collection of the Urbinati latini consists of 1,779 shelfmarks, cataloged in three volumes by Cosimo Stornajolo (Cod. Urb. lat. 1-500, 501-1000, 1001-1779; for further bibliographical information see Guida ai fondi, pp. 552-553).
Between 1661 and 1669, the Urbinati greci were also rearranged and cataloged according to subject and author by the first custodian (from 1661), Leone Allacci (approx. 1586-1669). Allacci left a copy of his work in Barb. lat. 3069 on ff. 3r-44r, with shelfmarks that do not completely correspond to the current ones. Tommaso de Iuliis, scriptor latinus (1659-1712), created a polished copy of this inventory, which was revised with an additional index of authors and complemented by the inclusion of the current shelfmarks; it currently resides under the shelfmark Urb. lat. 1769. After the assignment of the new shelfmarks, the codices were again described between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and may be found in Urb. lat. 1768, ff. 186r-211r, 244v and in Urb. lat. 1770 (Guida ai fondi, pp. 542-543; Peruzzi, «Lectissima politissimaque volumina», pp. 377-378, 383).
Urb. lat. 1769, f. 1r
The current collection of the Urbinati greci consists of 165 shelfmarks (but 163 items), cataloged in Stornajolo, Cod. Urb. Graeci; for bibliographic indications see Guida ai fondi, p. 550.
The Urbinati ebraici were described by Giulio Bartolocci (1613-1687), scriptor hebraicus (from 1650), in the catalog datable ante 1661, currently marked under the shelfmark Vat. lat. 13199, ff. 111r-134v, with index on ff. 174r-182r. Another index relative to the Hebrew codices is found in Urb. lat. 1771, on ff. 186r-204r, and was done by scriptor hebraicus (1650-1668) Giovanni Battista Iona (Iona, d. 1668, see Guida ai fondi, pp. 547-548; Peruzzi, «Lectissima politissimaque volumina», pp. 376, 383). The collection of the Urbinati ebraici currently consists of 59 shelfmarks, cataloged in Hebrew Manuscripts in the Vatican Library, pp. 599-638; for bibliographical information see Guida ai fondi, pp. 548-549.
Urb. lat. 1771, f. 186r