The first phase of the printing revolution started in Italy between 1470 and 1485. It is a time when many German or Flemish printers created printing houses almost everywhere in Italy. The first editorial praxis was based on faithful reproduction of a current manuscript (Trovato 103-104). Petrarch’s Rerum vulgarium fragmenta was the first work of Italian literature to be available in a printed edition. It was printed before Dante’s Divine comedy and the Bible in vernacular. It had a widespread circulation in the last decades of the Quattrocento. After the editio princeps printed in Venice by Vindelin of Speyer in 1470, there were 38 printings that produced about 20,000 copies (Balsamo 247). The choice of publishing the vernacular poems of Petrarch excluded the larger European market, based on the official culture still written in Latin but in Italy it enlarged the potential audience to involve a broader spectrum of upper classes, including lower nobility and bourgeoisie. The Valdezoco edition, printed in 1472 in Padua – based on Petrarch’s Vat. Lat 3195 that was at the time preserved in the family library of Tommasina Savonarola and Daniele Santasofia in Padova – is the most important among these late fifteen-century editions for what concerns the philology of the text. 

University of Oregon

National Endowment for the Humanities logo