Eusebius. Venice, 1470

EUSEBIUS, Bishop of Caesarea
(c. 260–c. 340).
De evangelica praeparatione.
Translated by George Trebizond (1396–1486).
[Venice]: Nicolaus Jenson, 1470. (06290)

The coat-of-arms on the first leaf of this book, accompanied by the monogram “IO,” is believed to be that of Ioannes Simonetta (d. 1491), ducal secretary and historian at the Milanese court of Duke Francesco Sforza (1401–1466). A nearly identical armorial on Simonetta’s tomb at Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan differs only in the inclusion of a crown above the lion’s head; other armorials of the Simonetta family likewise omit the crown. Simonetta’s Commentarii rerum gestarum Francisci Sfortiae (Milan: Antonius Zarotus, 1482) glorified the Sforza dynasty and asserted its legitimacy as rulers of Milan.

Compiled in Greek by Eusebius, the “Father of Church History,” De evangelica praeparatione (“Preparation for the Gospel”) was translated into Latin by George Trebizond. It is an erudite critique of pagan Greco-Roman theology that argues in favor of Hebrew scripture as the foundation of Christianity. Nicolaus Jenson’s first edition of this work displays one of the most stately Roman fonts ever created, one that appealed to Italian humanists for its revival of ancient paleography. Similarly, the white-vine decoration of the initials in Bridwell Library’s copy was meant to evoke ancient manuscript illumination.

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Joannes Simonetta's tomb in Milan

Fifteenth-Century Authors' Books
Eusebius. Venice, 1470