The Chronicle of an Anonymous Roman is a treasure of history writing and of medieval Italian literature. It was written by an unknown fourteenth-century Roman, probably a physician and a first-hand witness to many of the events he records. It offers the most important narrative of late medieval Rome during the Avignon papacy, situating the city in a broadly Mediterranean and European context. Most famously, it provides our most detailed account of late medieval Rome’s most famous son, Cola di Rienzo. The author deserves our gratitude for his vivid depiction of Cola, a charismatic man of humble birth but astonishing talent who rose to dominate Rome not once but twice.
Yet this marvelous work, which provides insights and information we can find nowhere else, very nearly did not survive. From the time it was written, it has all too often tended to be read in a piecemeal, selective manner. Until recently it was neglected by modern specialists unsure of how to categorize it or the fourteenth-century Rome it describes. Scholars have now come to cherish this chronicle both as a brilliant literary product and as a rich source of historical data about late medieval Italy.
Written in Romanesco, the chronicle leads us through the streets, rioni, and palaces of Rienzo’s Rome. But it also offers keen observations on Milan, Florence, Naples, and the Romagna; on Iberia, the eastern Mediterranean, France, and Hungary.
James A. Palmer presents the first complete English translation of the Anonimo Romano. He captures the style, spirit, and wry irony of this master historian. Palmer’s introduction examines the text, its mysterious author, and the world in which he wrote. He brings us a primer on fourteenth-century Italy and explores the moral and political examples and lessons that the Anonimo Romano offered his contemporary audience.
“James Palmer has proved himself a leader among a cohort of scholars challenging traditional narratives about late medieval Rome, the rise of humanism, and the transition from ‘medieval’ to ‘Renaissance.’ Palmer’s lucid introduction reveals the sophistication of the Anonimo’s critique and contributes to our appreciation of the diversity of historiography in medieval Italy. In more ways than one, then, this new translation of the Anonimo’s unique eyewitness account offers readers what Palmer fittingly calls a ‘gift of living memory.’”
— Carrie Beneš, New College of Florida, Author of Jacopo da Varagine’s Chronicle of the City of Genoa
“A complete translation to English, the very first of its kind, of the chronicle written by an anonymous Roman at the threshold of modernity, is a most welcome endeavor. James A. Palmer’s rich and learned introduction leads us through a pivotal period in European history while offering a glimpse into the complex political struggles in Rome. His translation preserves the intense and vivid style of the vernacular and the astonishing dynamic of the narrative, enviable for authors like Dante and Petrarch, if they had known it. The chronicle is nothing but a masterpiece of Italian literature.”
— Unn Falkeid, University of Oslo,
Author of The Avignon Papacy Contested
344 pp., 6 maps, introduction, annotated
English translation, bibliography, index.
History, Historiography, Rome, Italian Studies,
E-Book (JSTOR, ProQuest, etc.)
Pricing will vary.