by VINCENZO DA FIRENZE (VINCENTIO DA FLORENTIA)
1685. 4to. 210 x 150 mm. (8 ¼ x 6 inches). 436 leaves including about 20 blanks. With 73 full page drawings in pen and ink, pencil, and watercolor and many additional drawings in the text. With a 46 pp. printed text entitled, "Relatione de un'Ammirabil Prodogio accaduto nella Citta di Narni, poco Avanti l'Assedio di Vienna, Venice, 1685, illustrated with one folding plate. The manuscript is bound in full contemporary vellum. GENERAL OVERVIEW OF THE MANUSCRIPTThe manuscript celebrates the victory of the Hapsburgs over the Turks at the battle of Budapest in 1688, a crucial event in the Great Turkish Wars of 1683-99. The manuscript is dedicated to Eleanor Magdalene of Neuburg, the third wife of the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I of Vienna. Leopold was part of the Holy League, an alliance initiated by Pope Innocent XI (called the Savior of Hungary) and included Leopold I, the Venetian Republic, and armies from Russia and Poland. The Holy League was formed in 1683 after the Battle of Vienna to stop the Ottoman Empire from expanding its control of Eastern Europe and to recapture territory lost to the Turks in 1526 at the Battle of Mohacs. The victory at Budapest was a turning point in the conflict and this lengthy and complicated manuscript tells the story from religious, historical, astrological and prophetic perspectives. THE AUTHOR:Vincenzo da Firenze, an unknown but obviously highly educated and erudite priest is the author of the manuscript. The title, which translates to "Light, taken from the Shadows" suggest that Leopold's victory and the war with the Turks is only understood by examining the supernatural and cosmic forces that contributed to and predicted the defeat of the Ottomans. The manuscript is organized in two parts. The first, entirely in Latin, contains a series of sections which discuss the battle and Leopold's great victory, the Catholic Church's centuries old relations with the Turks, and the historical relations of the Europe powers and the Ottomans from the 12th century to the present. The author makes reference to many historical, biblical, and scientific sources, and mentions Galileo and his student Vincenzo as well as other near contemporary authors. He also includes a recitations of documents issued between the Turks, the Church and the European powers. Within each section he weaves information about astrology and prophecy and makes links between events, both historical and present day, that predicted the defeat of the Turks in Budapest. PART ONE:His main sources for his thesis are "the signs, found in the sun, moon, stars and water, formed by the Creator that are unexplained by the natural phenomenon of our time." Vincenzo focuses on reports of comets and their conjunction with constellations and stars and their trajectory across the European skies. He details information on the conjunction of Scorpio in 1643, Cassiopea conjunction of 1641 and reports of the movement of the moon over the sky of Vienna forming the symbol of the true cross. He writes of constellations which represent symbols of the swords, armament, and wounded warriors. He includes descriptions and stellar conjunctions which took place in 1644, 1645, 1647, 1648, 1650 and he illustrates all of these, and many other cosmic events with diagrams and drawings of the signs which were predictive of events in the Great Turkish Wars. PART TWO:The second half of the manuscript written mostly in Italian is divided in three part. The first part is an introduction, which discusses his support for astrology and prophecies as a means of understanding historical events. Part two is a long chapter which focuses on comets and their impact on natural disasters, earthquakes, epidemics, and war. Part three reverts to similar discussion about the wonders of the universe that he discussed in the Latin text and introduces the "Prodigio di Narni", where the entrails of a lamb was examined and a diagram was discovered that forecast the defeat of Turks in Budapest and predicted the conclusion of the war in favor of the Holy League. To support this prognostication, Vincenzo includes an anonymous, unrecorded printed text entitled "Relatione de un'Ammirabil Prodogio accaduto nella Citta di Narni, poco Avanti l'Assedio di Vienna", published in Venice in 1685. He also includes a transcription of a letter with testimony of three witnesses that attest to a dinner together where upon cutting into the animal being served letter forms were found in its entrails. From a historical perspective, what Vincenzo da Firenze is posing is an ancient pseudo-science called "judicial astrology," a method of forecasting events by studying the activities of the skies and the transit of comets. This perspective was discredited in part by the rise of astronomy and the work of Tycho Brahe and Galileo, both mentioned in his text and by the more acceptable "natural astrology" accepted by the Roman Church. Natural astrology, which focused on medical and meteorological astrology had wide use during the late Medieval and Renaissance periods and was considered a part of natural history until the late years of the 17th century. THE DRAWINGS:The 73 drawings in the text generally fall into four categories. Highly finished and accomplished pen and ink drawings highlighted with blue and white wash; brown ink narrative drawings, some with intricate designs and details executed with considerable skill; simple line drawings of lesser quality; and diagrams. The drawings associated with the Hapsburgs, the narratives of the war, and the signs of the zodiac are deemed to be rendered by well-trained though anonymous artists probably from the school of Vienna in the late 17th century. The diagrams show a trained hand, skilled at geometric patterns and designs. Some of the line drawings are executed in a very simple manner where the contour lines of the image are the only elements of the figure. The drawings associated with the appearances of comets and stellar conjunctions are some of the most beautiful and imaginative. There are also drawings of the constellations, a most notable one is Gemini, where one twin is black and the other white. The most inexplicable images in the manuscript are those associated with the prognostications described in the text. Drawings of entrails, disfigured human and animal forms, monsters, Siamese twins, implements of war, and cosmic signs all contribute to the wonder of this work. Yet these images in combination with Vincenzo da Firenze's account of both the known history of the wars with the Ottoman's and the unwritten spiritual and astrologic elements presented in this manuscript, make "La Luce tolta dall'Ombre" a most appealing and interesting work for future study.
(Inventory #: 753)