The Medici and the Badia Fiesolana

Badia Fiesolana 1

Badia Fiesolana

After the monastery of the Badia Fiesolana had been assigned to  the order of the Augustinian canons, their abbot Timoteo Maffei successfully persuaded Cosimo de’ Medici (1389-1464) to sponsor a complete renovation. Part of this enormous  effort was to provide the monastery, its pupils and outside readers with a functional library, the stocking of which Cosimo took personal charge, choosing as a model the literary canon composed by Tommaso Parentucelli (pope Nicholas V). The future pope had composed this list on Cosimo’s request for stocking the semi-public library of San Marco, and was thereafter applied with alterations also for other places. In the fifteenth century, comparative collection management for libraries must have seemed a new concept. In its structure and content, Parentucelli’s canon, a carefully considered outline of humanistic scientific history, is an extremely valuable tool, offering criteria by which to access the qualitative and quantitative stocking of a library in the 15th century. At the same time, it affords glimpses of public reading customs.