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Claudio Leonardi (1926-2010)
Leonardi's long research life shaped his studies in Milan with the Middle Latin Ezio Franceschini and in Friborg (Switzerland) with the Romance scholar Gianfranco Contini: the primacy of philology as a methodological approach in the humanities, the central position of Latin culture in the Middle Ages and early modern times, the complementarity of different disciplines And he embodied the dialogue with European and especially with German research in research and teaching at his academic workplaces of Siena, Perugia, Lecce and finally Florence, where he not only held the chair of Latin Philology of the Middle Ages, but also that of a Charterhouse Founded and managed Società per lo studio del medioevo latino (SISMEL) based near Florence. It became the cadre forge for philologically-oriented medieval studies in Italy and, thanks to the scholarship holders (including many from Germany), also abroad. The multiple award-winning, always modest in appearance Leonardi was not a dusty scholar who indulged in the longing for a philological predominance like in the 19th century. As early as the 1970s, he was interested in IT applications in medieval studies and advocated it vigorously. Only recently, several bio-bibliographical databases published by SISMEL (including the leading medieval bibliography Medioevo latino) were bundled into a digital online resource. His research spanned the entire Middle Ages, with a penchant for theological reflection from Gregory the Great to the Franciscans of the 13th century. Although he had given up the management of SISMEL a few years ago, he looked after the young researchers with unbroken energy. On the morning of April 21st, he asked the Charterhouse about the status of the projects. A few hours later, Claudio Leonardi died at the age of 84.
Michele C. Ferrari
Claudio Leonardi, the world's foremost champion of Medieval Latin literature, died at home in Florence on May 21, 2010 from heart failure and cerebral haemorrhage. Through his huge energies and abilities as scholar, teacher and administrator he was able to transform the field of Medieval Latin studies, to devise and create the works of reference and bibliographical orientation which are now fundamental to this field and to provide it with an efficient organ for publication (including, most recently, electronic publication in the form of the extensive web-based database MIRABILE), and with a well-furnished research library and meeting-place, a venue designed to promote research, consultation, and intellectual exchange in all the many areas of study encompassed by the Latin Middle Ages. Claudio Leonardi was born on April 17, 1926 at the village of Sacco di Rovereto (near Trento in the region of the Dolomites), where he maintained a residence throughout his life (excepting only his final years, he was extremely fit and active, and always thought of himself as a mountain man). During the early 1940s he attended the Liceo-Ginnasio "Antonio Rosmini" in Rovereto; and at the end of the war he went to the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, where from 1945 to 1949 he took is laurea in the field of the Medieval Latin under the direction of Ezio Franceschini (1906-1983), the holder of the first chair in Medieval Latin in Italy (established in Milan in 1939). (Like Claudio, Franceschini was from the Trentino and was an active mountaineer; also like Claudio, he was an alumnus of the Liceo Rosimini which he attended during the 1920s). During the years of his laurea, Claudio spent two semesters studying in Friborg (1947 - 48) with the great Romance philologist Gianfranco Contini (1912 - 1990), who remained a friend throughout his life, and whose huge library Claudio acquired for the Fondazione Franceschini after his death in 1990. After holding various temporary posts during the 1950s (including that of Secretary to the Repertorium Fontium Historiae Medii Aevi at the Istituto storico italiano per il Medoevo in Rome), Claudio was appointed scriptor in the Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana in 1960, where he was able to develop his expertise in medieval manuscripts (a later reflex of his time in the Vatican is his volume in the series of the catalogs of the Codices Vaticani Latini (nos. 2060 - 2117), published by the Vatican in 1987) . After a lengthy period of apprenticeship, so to speak, in the Vatican (1960-69), he was appointed in 1968 to a teaching post at the University of Lecce, from where in 1971 he was appointed Professor Ordinarius in the History of Medieval Latin Literature at the University of Perugia, a post which he held for three years, before moving to the University of Siena at Arezzo for three years (1974 - 76), whence in 1976 he was able to transfer the post to the University of Florence, where he founded the "Dipartimento di Studi sul Medioevo e Rinascimento." From then on Florence remained his home, with his activities based first in the Department and latterly, from 1987 onwards, at the Certosa del Galluzzo just outside of Florence, where he presided over the newly-founded and ever-expanding Società internazionale per lo Studio del Medieoevo Lation (SISMEL), on which more below. Claudio´s earliest publications were manuscript-based, a natural outcome of his years of employment as scriptor at the Vatican: editions based on Vatican manuscripts, such as his editions of the Latin decrees of medieval ecumenical councils, especially those of the Eight Ecumencial Council (published in Giuseppe Albergio's Conciliorum oecumenicorum decreta [Basel, 1962], esp. pp.133-62), or his monograph-length study of the glosses of Anastasius Bibliothecarius to the decrees of this same Council (869-70), as preserved in Vat. Lat. 4965 (Studi medievali 8 , 59-192, issued separately as a monograph from Spoleto in 1987). But the work which brought his name to the attention of the wider scholarly world was his extensive catalog of manuscripts of Martianus Capella, originally published as two long articles in Aevum (1959 and 1960), and then combined as a separate publication, I codici di Marziano Capella (Milan, 1961). Throughout his life he retained an active interest in the work of medieval commentators such as Remigius of Auxerre, and a substantial part of his publication is concerned with the medieval tradition of Martianus glossing and of commentary on classical authors more generally (eg "I commenti altomedievali ai classici pagani "in the Settimane of Spoleto, 22 (1975), 459-504). It was perhaps inevitable that, once he had accepted a university post, the demands of teaching would encourage a broadening of perspective. In Claudio's Case, his interest henceforth encompassed the entire Latin Middle Ages, from patristic authors such as Cassian and Salvian, and Benedict and Cassiodorus, to Renaissance authors such as Savonarola and Thomas More. (A clear sense of the vast scope of his interest can be gleaned from the huge - 900 pp. - volume of his collected papers, Medioevo Latino: La cultura dell´Europa christiana [Florence, SISMEL, 2004].) It is impossible to summarize the content of such vast scholarly production, but a number of predilections stand out, above all his concern with the Christian spirituality of medieval authors, from Bede and Ambrosius Autpertus through Anselm and St. Bernhard, to St. Francis and Joachim of Fiore. He was particularly interested in medieval mysticism, especially women mystics such as Catherine of Siena and Angela of Foligno. These concerns are reflected not only in articles and conference papers such as those reprinted in the above-mentioned volume, but in publications such as Scrittrici mistiche italiane (Marietti, 1988) [with Giovanni Pozzi], or the three-volume anthology of Medieval Latin spiritual writings entitled Il Christo (published by Mondadori in Milan, 1889-92), or the three volumes of La letteratura francescana (likewise published by Mondadori: the first two volumes appeared in 2004-5; he was completing the third volume, on St . Bonaventure, at the time of his death). Soon after he was appointed to the university teaching post at Lecce (1968), Claudio became a consigliere aggregato of the Centro italiano di studi sull´alto medioevo (CISAM) in Spoleto, and then from 1970 until his death a Consigliere of that organization, which is universally known as the publisher of the prestigious (and voluminous) journal Studi medievali, and as host of the annual Settimane di studio in Spoleto, which were established in 1952 and for more than fifty years have resulted in the annual publication of the Settimane di studio della Fondazione CISAM (see Omaggio al medievo: I primi cinquanta anni del Centro italiano di studi sull´alto medioevo di Spoleto, ed. E. Menestò [CISAM, 2004], which is lavishly illustrated with photographs of the consiglieri of CISAM and of many of those scholars who have given papers at the Spoleto Settimane, including many of Claudio Leonardi himself). As a result of his work with C.I.S.A.M. and his friendship with Gustavo Vinay (1913 - 1993), who was the holder of the second chair of Medieval Latin to be established in Italy (at Rome, in 1955), and who in 1960 had resuscitated Studi medievali in its third manifestation (terza serie), Claudio became in 1970 the general editor of Studi medievali, a post which he held from then until 2002. This editorial activity put him in touch with medievalists all over the world, and also equipped him to deal effectively with large scholarly projects involving authors in many countries and speaking and writing many languages. Once again it would be impossible here to give a complete list of all the multi-author publications which Claudio organized and saw through press, but one might mention two in particular: Lo spazio letterario del Medioevo, I. Il Medioevo latino (5 vols. in 6; Rome, 1992-98) [with E. Menestò and C. Cavallo], and La letteratura latina medievale (secoli VI-XV) (Florende, 2002), probably the best single-volume history of the Medieval Latin literature now available. This to say nothing of the many publications which were produced under his aegis by the Società internazinale per lo studio del Medioevo latino or S.I.S.M.E.L, to which we may now turn. His experience of editing Studi medievali made Claudio acutely aware of the vastness of the field of Medieval Latin literature, and of the lack of bibliographical guidance for scholars working in it. He was equally aware that this lack was partly a reflex of the newness of the discipline - the first two chairs in the field in Italy, held by his mentor Franceschini and his friend Vinay, were only established in 1939 and 1955 respectively, and even in Germany, where Ludwig Traube had held the first chair in the subject (established in 1888 in Munich), the discipline was less than a century old - in comparison, say, with long-established disciplines such as Classical Latin literature. He determined to do something about this. Accordingly, after first securing the financial support of the (Italian) Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche or C.N.R. (through the kind offices of Professor Francesco della Corte), he invited to Florence in 1978 a small group of Italian Medieval Latinists who shared his vision and who would be willing to cooperate in the enterprise: Rino Avesani in Rome, Ferruccio Bertini in Genoa, Giuseppe Cremascoli in Perugia, and Giovanni Orlandi in Milan (the essential point being that each of these scholars held permanent teaching positions in the subject, and would therefore be able to draw on the assistance of the research students under their supervision). With the addition of Claudio himself in Florence, these scholars headed up the five centers of redaction of the annual bibliographical journal which was to emerge from their efforts. They chose as their model L´année philologique, the French annual bibliography of classical studies founded in 1928 by the great Latinist Jules Marouzeau (1878 - 1964); their plan was to vet the previous year´s publication of all those periodicals which might contain an article on any aspect of Medieval Latin literature and related disciplines (but excluding such subjects as diplomatic, numismatics, art history, architecture, etc.). Some sixty-five journals were selected and assigned variously to the five centers of redaction. The details of each relevant article were typed on to filing cards and accompanied by a careful resumé of the article (any manuscripts mentioned in the course of the article were carefully recorded). When the work of ecording was complete, the filing cards were brought by the five heads of redaction to Claudio's apartment in Florence, where they were laid out on the floor of the dining room and then arranged in a carefully devised sequence: authors first , in alphabetical order, followed by the various disciplines (hagiography, historiography, liturgy, etc.). When the process of arranging the cards was complete, they were numbered in sequence - no small task, given that tens of thousands of cards were in question - and then conveyed to the printers at C.I.S.A.M. in Spoleto. The first volume of this annual bibliography, based on work published in 1978 and now named Medioevo Latino, containing some 4,600 entries printed in nearly six hundred pages (with indices of manuscripts, place-names and scholars), came out in 1980, dedicated to Franceschini and Vinay. Now in its thirty-second year, Medioevo Latino has appeared regularly each year since 1980; and, although it is now compiled electronically rather than from typed filing cards, its size has grown commensurate with the growth of the field: vol. XXXI contains more than 14,000 entries printed in 1,300 two-column pages in large folio format (it is also available in electronic form as part of MIRABILE: see below). Medioevo Latino established itself immediately and universally as the standard and indispensable guide to current scholarship in the field of Medieval Latin studies. Any scholar other than Claudio Leonardi might have been happy with this achievement and might have contented himself with editing Medioevo Latino and Studi medievali under the aegis of C.I.S.A.M. But Claudio was a brilliant and creative visionary. He saw that the work of collaboration which had led to the production of Medioevo Latino, with its individual centers of redaction, could be expanded so as to include international redactors, and could thus be used as the basis for an international society of Medieval Latin studies . With this vision in mind, he approached a number of governmental agencies, local, regional and national, and a number of banks, local and regional, with a view to securing funding; through his contacts with Ms. Malachia Falletti, then prior of the few Cistercian monks who inhabited the large and beautiful Certosa del Galluzzo, a Charterhouse located to the south of Florence which had been built in the fourteenth century and extended in the sixteenth, he acquired permission to house his new society in the Certosa. And in this way was born the Società internazionale per lo studio del Medioevo Latino or S.I.S.M.E.L .: an organization which had existed informally since 1978, but which first acquired legal status in January 1984, with Claudio becoming its first President. It currently consists of some 220 Ordinary Fellows (Soci ordinari) and some seventeen Honorary Fellows (Soci onorari), as can be seen on the Society's website:. At approximately this time occurred another event which was to have important bearing on the future of S.I.S.M.E.L. Ezio Franceschini died on March 21, 1983. Franceschini had never married; and it was his wish, and that of his sister Anna Maria, that his substantial estate should be put to the service of Medieval Latin studies. With Claudio's guidance was created the Fondazione Ezio Franceschini (FEF), an organization which was directed by Claudio himself and by and administrative committee which included as its honorary president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, sometime president of the Republic of Italy, who was an old friend of Franceschini. The Fondazione Franceschini is a legal entity (established in 1987) distinct from S.I.S.M.E.L .; it works in collaboration with S.I.S.M.E.L., but independently promotes research relevant to the medieval vernacular languages and literatures (among its resources are various databases and huge library which belonged to Gianfranco Contini, who died in 1990). Taken together the two organizations constitute an unparalleled center for the study of medieval literary culture. With its funding secure and its permanent location fixed, Claudio could begin to create in S.I.S.M.E.L. an effective organ for the pursuit of scholarly work on all aspects of the Latin Middle Ages. The five original heads of redaction of Medioevo Latino, with the addition of Giuseppe Scalia in Rome, became the "Founding Fellows" (Soci fondatori) of S.I.S.M.E.L. A small number of Honorary Fellows was invited to lend prestige to the nascent Society, and, in order to oversee its activities and to make of it a genuinely "international" organization, a small number of Medieval Latinists were invited to form a "Comitato scientifico “(Scholarly advisory committee); the "Comitato scientifico" currently consists of some twenty-three members from many countries including France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, and Switzerland, as well as Italy itself. The "Comitato scientifico" in turn oversees the work of various sezioni di ricerca ("research sections") engaged in various scholarly activities (exegesis, hagiography, philosophy, history of science, philology, lexicography, palaeography, etc.). But in spite of this and other committees, the overall direction and development of S.I.S.M.E.L. what in effect the work of one man: Claudio himself. As the creator and administrator of an organization such as S.I.S.M.E.L. Claudio Leonardi can only be described as a genius. He had from the beginning a clear vision of how he wished the organization to develop, and he was able to muster extraordinary energies in implementing this vision. He built up at the Certosa a very substantial research library of works pertaining to Medieval Latin literature, incorporating the private libraries not only of Ezio Franceschini, but also of medievalists who had been friends of Claudio, such as José Ruysschaert (quondam Prefect of the Vatican Library) and Lorenzo Minio-Paluello.The library continues to grow rapidly through the acquisition of books sent for review to Medioevo Latino and books and periodicals acquired through exchange with other scholarly institutions. With a research library in place and the expertise of the fellowship of S.I.S.M.E.L. to draw on, Claudio established at the Certosa a Corso di perfezionamento post-universitario (based both on SISMEL and on FEF) which has entitlement to award doctorates in research in Medieval Latin literature (from the beginning the Corso and its teaching program was organized by Claudio's former student, Francesco Santi, who has recently become Director of SISMEL and all its operations). Sometimes Claudio's vision ran counter to the opinion of the "Comitato scientifico", but in the end he always prevailed (and always, it must be said, to the advancement and betterment of S.I.S.M.E.L.). An example might be the difficult decision to extend the chronological scope of Medioevo Latino (and with it, by implication, the chronological scope of the Society.) The first volumes of Medioevo Latino had covered the period 500 to 1300. Claudio determined to extend the upper limit to 1500, so as to incorporate not only the late medieval authors but also humanist writers of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. But a chronological extension of this sort would bring Medioevo Latino into direct competition with the Bibliographie annuelle du moyen age tardif. Auteurs et textes latins vers 1250-1500, which had been published since 1991 by the Institut de recherche et d´histoire de textes (I.R.H.T.) in Paris, and had been created to fill the lacuna left by the original scope of Medioevo Latino. The proposed extension was discussed during a contentious meeting of the "Comitato scientifico" in 1994. I say "contentious," because not all members of the Committee agreed with Claudio's decision, and certainly not Louis Holtz, who was at that time the Director of IRHT and also a member of the "Comitato scientifico". But Claudio refused to relinquish his opinion, and after much discussion, some of it sharply worded, Louis Holtz with characteristic magnanimity withdrew his objections and Claudio's view prevailed; and from 1995 onwards, beginning with the vol. XV, Medioevo Latino has described itself as a Bollettino bibliografico della cultura europea da Boezio a Erasmo (secoli VI-XV). (I must add that, following the difficult meeting, Claudio warmly embraced Louis Holtz: their scholarly vision, after all, was fundamentally the same, and they remained close friends ever after, in spite of the decision; I also recall that the dinner following the meeting was one of the most jovial ever.) The decision had wide-reaching consequences for other aspects of the Society's work, not least for CALMA (Compendium Auctorum Latinorum Medii Aevi), which Claudio and I had launched in the mid-1990s, and which, following the decision to extend the chronological scope of the Medioevo Latino was obliged to incorporate treatment of humanist authors, who vastly outnumber medieval authors ( perhaps by a ratio of ten to one), and whose incorporation inevitably retarded production of CALMA The decision also spelled the end of the organization A.M.U.L. (Associazione per il Medioevo e l´Umanesimo latini), whose President was Claudio himself, since its activities were entirely superseded by those of S.I.S.M.E.L. As a leader Claudio did not shrink from taking bold and difficult decisions. Perhaps the most momentous decision concerned the publication of the ever-increasing scholarly production of S.I.S.M.E.L. and F.E.F. In the beginning, Medioevo Latino had been published in Spoleto by C.I.S.A.M., and Brepols had subsequently published the Autographa Medii Aevi, produced under the aegis of F.E.F., in its series of Corpus Christianorum (5 volumes published from 1994 onwards). But Claudio was deeply dissatisfied by the amount of royalties paid by these publishers. The alternative was for S.I.S.M.E.L. to establish its own printing house, a suggestion which was first made by Agostino Paravicini Bagliani (who was subsequently to become Claudio's successor as President of S.I.S.M.E.L.). But this was an undertaking involving considerable risk and considerable initial investment (such as the acquisition of a warehouse). The matter was discussed at length in a meeting of the "Comitato scientifico" in 1997 (a difficult meeting in various ways, not least because the President of CISAM, Enrico Menestò, a former student of Claudio and one of his most loyal supporters, was present as a member of the "Comitato scientifico" and instinctively wished to retain the printing rights to SISMEL's ever-increasing scholarly publication). Once again Claudio’s opinion - that S.I.S.M.E.L. should indeed take the step of publishing is own scholarly output - prevailed. And thus was born, in 1998, the publisher Edizioni del Galluzzo. The first volume of Medioevo Latino to be published by the Edizioni del Galluzzo was vol. XIX, which appeared in 1998, and the first two volumes of a newly-created series entitled Millennio Medievale appeared late 1997. Since that time the publishing house has grown from strength to strength, now producing on average some fifty titles a year, including the various scholary periodicals produced under the aegis of SISMEL and its "sezioni di ricerca," such as Hagiographica (Sezione agiografica), Documenti e studi sulla tradizione filosofica medievale (Sezione filosofica), Micrologus and Micrologus' Library (Sezione storia, scienze e società), I manoscritti datezione d'Italia (Sezione filosofica) palaeografica), Filologia mediolatina and Te.Tra (Sezione filologica), and many more, not counting the Society's flagship publications Medioevo Latino and CALMA And in recent years, S.I.S.M.E.L. has moved into electronic publication in the form of its web-based database MIRABILE, which encompasses Medioevo Latino, C.A.L.M.A. and all periodicals listed above. Whether Claudio realized that S.I.S.M.E.L. would so quickly become the world's foremost publisher for medieval scholarship is difficult to say; but the success of Edizioni del Galluzzo, which now help to finance S.I.S.M.E.L.’s many operations, shows that his bold decision was fully justified. Caudio Leonardi was a man of immense personal warmth, sympathetic and gernerous to a fault. Although he was possessed of fierce determination, this aspect to his personality was always masked by his unassuming modesty and charm. He had a wonderful sense of humor, and a deeply-ingrained sense of pietas towards his mentors and predecessors. He was unquestionably a charismatic leader: it was simply impossible to refuse a personal request from Claudio, and his warmth and sympathy created huge loyalty among his students and colleagues, particularly those who worked tirelessly (and often with very little remuneration) for the various enterprises of SISMEL He was unfailingly loyal to these followers and they almost invariably reciprocated this loyality. I never saw a trace of vanity in anything he said or did: his sole intrest was in the promotion of Medieval Latin studies, not in personal aggrandizement. He was a deeply religious man, and a loving husband and father: he and his wife, Anna Maria Chiavacci (Professor of Italian at the University of Siena at Arezzo, and a distinguished Dante scholar known internationally for her multi-volume commentary on the Divina Commedia), had five children, including four daughters, and one son, Lino, who is Professor of Romance Philology at Siena and a member of Consiglio di amministrazione of both SISMEL and F.E.F. Claudio himself achieved international recognition for his work in Medieval Latin studies: he was a National Fellow of Accademia del Lincei (1985), and a Corresponding Fellow of both the British Academy (1988) and the Mediaeval Academy of America (2002). Exhausted, perhaps, by a life of such creative activity, Claudio now lies at rest in a columbare in a quiet corner of the cemetery at San Miniato, shaped by a stand of cypress trees. The column is marked with the simple inscription "Claudio Leonardi Sacco di Roverto April 17, 1926 - Firenze May 21, 2010." But his true memorial is S.I.S.M.E.L. and all its works, an organization which will bear the indelible stamp of his personality as long as it should exist.
Michael Lapidge, Vice-President, S.I.S.M.E.L.
The Journal of Medieval Latin 20 (2010), xviii-xxvii
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