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Miscellany

Maggi, Girolamo, and Pierre François Sweerts. Hieronymi Magii Anglarensis De tintinnabulis liber postumus. Amstelodami: Sumptibus A. Frisii. 1664.

Girolamo Maggi, ca. 1523-1572.

In its war against the Ottoman Empire, the Venetian city-state commissioned civilians without combat experience as military planners. In 1570, Maggi - a lawyer - oversaw the battle in Cyprus, which was then a major Venetian colony. Two years later, Venice lost the war and Maggi was jailed in Constantinople’s slave prison.

Maggi wrote De Tintinnabulis (“The Bells”) and De Equuleo (“The Horse”) while in jail. The first is a history of bells ; the second, a history of torture devices. He dedicated the works to influential politicians in hope he would be freed.  The manuscripts to were smuggled out to these politicians, but no one replied.

In May 1572, Maggi escaped and took refuge in the Venetian embassy. Unfortunately, diplomatic law mandated his return to the authorities who subsequently strangled him to death.

The Jesuits published a first printed edition of these works in 1608-1609. The Library’s enlarged but diminutive edition adds notes and copperplate illustrations.

Maggi’s two works are curiosities but have limited intrinsic value based on their future historical context, as the JPL’s copies were once the looted spoils of the Nazi regime.