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University of Texas at Austin

Ranuzzi Family:

A Preliminary Inventory of Their Manuscripts at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Ranuzzi Family
Title: Ranuzzi Family Manuscripts
Dates: circa 1450-1755
Extent: 623 bound volumes, 4 oversize folders
Abstract: This collection contains manuscripts, printed materials, scribal copies of books, more than 100 engravings, etchings, woodcuts, and watercolor sketches, and papal bulls documenting some 400 years of the political, religious, and cultural climate of Bologna, Italy. Major subjects included in the collection are history, literature, the sciences, church and government affairs, law, geography, and numismatics.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-03401
Language: Italian
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchase, 1968
Processed by: Maria X. Wells and John Kirkpatrick. The information in this finding aid was originally contained in a card catalog and two supplementary typescripts. These were scanned and edited into this form by Debbie Guidry and Joan Sibley.

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

In 1968 the Ransom Center purchased 620 volumes of manuscripts and printed matter collected by the Ranuzzi family of Bologna, Italy, that reflect some 400 years of Bolognese political, religious, and cultural life. While the collection dates from a group of medical manuscripts gathered by Antonio Ranuzzi, a physician and scholar, it was Count Vincenzo Antonio Ranuzzi (1658-1726) who was largely responsible for the formation of the Ranuzzi Library.
Through the influence of his grandfather, the Marquis Ferdinando Cospi, who spent the major part of his life at the court of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, Count Ranuzzi was received in 1671 as a Page to Prince Ferdinand de Medici. During the following six years Count Ranuzzi was educated in the sciences and humanities, enjoyed the company of learned and famous men, and began to collect manuscripts, mainly literary in nature or written to celebrate events occurring at the time. At the close of the seventeenth century, events in Europe influenced Count Ranuzzi to turn his attention to historical papers. Manuscripts on fortifications and firearms, on the Turkish wars, the capture of Buda in 1687, and the capture of Cyprus and Morea were added during the 1690s.
In 1689 Count Ranuzzi's uncle, Cardinal Angelo Ranuzzi, Archbishop of Fano, Nuncio at the court of Louis XIV, and papal Legate to Poland, died en route to Rome to attend the conclave where he was expected to be elected Pope. The large library that Cardinal Ranuzzi accumulated was left to his nephew. It included papers concerning the history of the Church and letters that he had written from France and Poland, in which he described the political situations in those countries and their relations with the Italian states.
From 1706 until his death in 1726, Count Ranuzzi's major goal was to increase his holdings of books and manuscripts and to catalog both the library and the family archives. In addition to the manuscripts left by members of his family, Count Ranuzzi acquired others from his friend Francesco Antonio Ghiselli, Canon of San Petronio and a renowned historian of Bologna. Most of the Ghiselli manuscripts concern the history of Bologna and its relations with several European countries and their histories. These manuscripts also contain a large number of French works translated into Italian, especially plays of the seventeenth-century authors Racine, Corneille, and Moliere.
With the French occupation in 1797, the Ranuzzi family fortunes and power suffered a setback. This decline, followed by the sale of the Ranuzzi palace in 1822, resulted in the dispersal of the Ranuzzi library that culminated in 1847 with the sale of some 800 volumes to the English booksellers John Payne and Henry Foss. In London the Ranuzzi manuscripts were offered to Sir Thomas Phillipps, but before he could decide on the acquisition, the British Museum bought 117 volumes. A further 72 volumes are in the State Archives in Bologna. The remaining portion of the collection was purchased by Phillipps, from which it passed to the booksellers William H. Robinson, Inc., and in turn was offered for sale en bloc at Sotheby's in London on 25 June 1968 by the Robinson trust.
The 620 volumes in the Ransom Center include manuscripts; printed materials; scribal copies of books; more than 100 engravings, etchings, woodcuts, and watercolor sketches; and papal bulls, totaling 5,354 manuscripts with an average of 200 leaves each. Major subjects include history, literature, the sciences, church and government affairs, law, geography, and numismatics. The volumes are arranged by their original Phillipps number, which span Ph 12467 to Ph 21964. Some volumes do not represent single manuscripts, but rather consist of a number of miscellaneous manuscripts bound together. Three appendices further detail the contents of three groups of these miscellaneous volumes: Ph 12705 - 12738; Ph 12739 - 12748; and Ph 12807 - 12890.
An exhibition of a selection of the Ranuzzi manuscripts was presented in the Peter Flawn Academic Center from March through September 1980 and at the M.D. Anderson Library, the University of Houston, in October 1981. The exhibition and catalogue were prepared by Maria Xenia Zevelechi Wells, Curator of the Italian Collections in the Ransom Center.
For further information, see:
  • Wells, Maria Xenia Zevelechi.
    • The Ranuzzi Manuscripts. Austin: Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, 1980. Printed catalog [pdf document].
    • "A Flourish of Pyres." FMR (International English Edition) 73 (April, 1995): 114-125.

Abbreviations Used in the List

  • A--Autograph
  • T--Typed
  • S--Signed
  • I--Initialed
  • Ms--Manuscript
  • Mss--Manuscripts
  • L--Letter
  • FL--Form Letter
  • N--Note
  • D--Document
  • C--Card
  • PC--Post Card
  • cc--Carbon Copy
  • p--Page
  • pp--Pages
  • nd--No date
  • inc d--Incomplete date
The symbols above are used in combinations: ALS means autograph letter signed; Tccms means typed carbon copy manuscript, etc.
Square brackets are used to indicate that the information is supplied from some source other than the manuscript itself.

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