Florence BR 2756, which preserves the Lucidaire, the Dyalogue and the Terre de promission, has tended to be dated to c. 1300 in scholarship (e.g. Giannini 2006, 121). Establishing where it was made, however, has proven trickier: Nixon, for example, suggests the decoration is indicative ‘of a southern or Italian provenance’ (1993, 59); Giannini, on the other hand, points to the north-east of the oïl zone on the basis of the hand and scripta, noting that the decoration bears all the hallmarks of French work (2006, 123).

Medieval parrots in Paris BnF fr. 19093, f. 26r (at the back of the Florence manuscript is an extract of the ‘Novas del papagay’). Source: gallica.bnf.fr / BnF.

At the back of Florence BR 2756 are two folios (ff. 71-72) on which sonnets in a Florentine dialect and Italianized extracts from Arnaut de Carcasses’s (Occitan) Novas del papagay and Chrétien’s (French) Cligès were copied. We know that this material was bound with the rest of the manuscript by the 16th c. because someone wrote phrases (mottoes?) in French and Italian on fol. 71 and elsewhere in the volume that include the word ‘Coursant’/’Corsante’. This is no doubt a reference to Corsant (near Mâcon), and suggests the manuscript may have been in the hands of a member of the Andrevet family, who held the lordship of Corsant in the 16th c. The Andrevets had several ties with the court of Savoy. Philibert Andrevet III, for example, who married in 1507, was lord of Corsant and ‘Conseiller & Chambellan’ to Charles, duke of Savoy (Aubert de La Chesnaye Des Bois 1863, 1: 495).

Did Florence BR 2756 arrive in Italy with the Corsant family? Possibly, but there might be an even earlier Italian connection. If we distinguish between the large decorated initials that open the three principal works of the volume (no doubt French) and the smaller plain initials that were added a lot less carefully (and indeed often erroneously), we might note that the latter resemble unflourished initials added to manuscripts in northern Italy (see for example Paris BnF fr. 9685 and NAF 9603). If this manuscript was almost certainly in Italy by the 16th c., there’s also a possibility it arrived even earlier…

Bibliography

Aubert de La Chesnaye Des Bois, François-Alexandre (1863-). Dictionnaire de la noblesse, contenant les généalogies, l’histoire et la chronologie…, 19 vols (Paris: Schlesinger)

Giannini, Gabriele (2006). ‘Il romanzo francese in versi dei secoli XII e XIII in Italia: Il Cligès riccardiano’, in Maria Colombo et al. (eds), Modi e forme della fruizione della ‘materia arturiana’ nell’Italia dei sec. XIII-XIV (Milan: Istituto lombardo di scienze e lettere), pp. 119-58

Nixon, Terry (1993). ‘Catalogue of Manuscripts’, in Keith Busby et al. (eds), Les manuscrits de Chrétien de Troyes / The Manuscripts of Chrétien de Troyes, 2 vols (Amsterdam: Rodopi), 2: 18-85