Item description for The Treatise of Lorenzo Valla on the Donation of Constantine: Text and Translation into English (RSART: Renaissance Society of America Reprint Text Series) by Christopher B. Coleman...
The Donation of Constantine is the most famous forgery in European history. Written in the eighth century, it was allegedly a fourth-century document by which the Emperor Constatine the Great gave extensive privileges and property to Pope Sylvester I. This document was accepted as genuine for seven centuries and was cited by at least ten popes in contentions for the recognition of papal control. Lorenzo Valla's 1440 treatise established the Donation of Constatine was forged, and made him a pioneer of modern historical criticism.
The reprint is of the 1922 edition of Valla's treatise and presents the Latin text and English translation of it and the forged donation document on facing pages.
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Studio: University of Toronto Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.02" Width: 6.02" Height: 0.56" Weight: 0.67 lbs.
Release Date Nov 11, 1993
Publisher University of Toronto Press
ISBN 080207734X ISBN13 9780802077349
Reviews - What do customers think about The Treatise of Lorenzo Valla on the Donation of Constantine: Text and Translation into English (RSART: Renaissance Society of America Reprint Text Series)?
A useful edition Dec 18, 2001
The authenticity of the Donation of Constantine was demolished in the renaissance by the irascible Italian Lorenzo Valla. This book contains a useful introduction, and then parallel Latin and English texts of the Donation (in the abbreviated form known to Valla) and then of Valla's refutation. Originally published in 1922, the editor remarks that when he wrote, despite the fame of the Donation, there was no copy of Valla's works to be found in any US library. The book is the foundation stone of all historical and textual criticism, and deserves first-hand knowledge.
The introduction is clear and informative, with a minimum of opinion. It is useful to learn that Valla composed the book as part of Alfonso of Aragon's campaign against the renaissance Papacy (the Reformation was about to begin at this date, and the abuses of the papacy a scandal throughout Christendom).
The Latin text includes a critical apparatus - Coleman collated the only complete MS, as well as the standard editions. The translation is clear and the footnotes useful without being intrusive. Mercifully the book is free of polemic. Philological notes are made, but these are not too heavy.
The text is well worth reading to see to what extent Valla's methods are still valid today, which many of them are. Of course the book is a declamation, not a modern study, and the violent language reflects the custom of the time. Coleman indicates that he used it with his own students as a means to introduce them to the principles of historical criticism; the practise is sound, and should be more widely adopted.
All in all a very useful edition of a classic text, which deserves to be better known.