Criteria for Transcriptions

Abbreviations and abbreviated words

Abbreviations are expanded into the letters or words they represent, without the addition of parentheses, including words abbreviated by truncation (s. > signore; duc. > ducati) or contraction ( > maxime; > matre); by superscript (v.a ex.tia > vostra excellentia, pp.a > propria); by conventional formulas [per, pre, pro, ecc.]; and by shorthand characters that replace one or more letters in manuscript practice (mandar˜ > mandare).


Accent use is adapted to modern usage, distinguishing between acute and grave only in the case of e (è, cioè, but , poiché, perché).

The accent is also inserted for proparoxytone words (Italian parole sdrucciole) when they are ambiguous (prìncipi)  or enclitic (inviaròllo, dìcesi); and on a (when it means ha) and o (when it means ho).

For the third person plural of the verb avere, the h is added (anno > hanno) and retained in all appearances of the verb (haverete).

In order better to distinguish other verbal forms and to avoid homographs, accents are added in cases such as po > pò ( for può),  pagaro  > pagarò (for pagherò to distinguish from pagarono), andaro > andarò (for andrò ti distinguish from andarono), de ( for diedi, diede to distinguish from the preposition de).


Apostrophes are used to signal the syntactic elision of the definite article (che francesi > che’ francesi, de francesi > de’ francesi, a piedi > a’ piedi, da nemici > da’ nemici), for de (deve) and to signal aphaereses (lomperatore > lo ’mperatore); see also Word union and division.

Incipits and addressees

In the letters taken from copybooks, the addressee is placed at the beginning, while in the originals it is placed at the end.

Latin and other languages

Latin words are transcribed in regular font, as are words or sentences in other languages.


Every letter is  transcribed faithfully, including:

  •  j in any position, whether in Latin or Italian words (es. januarii, jeri, nuntij), and y;
  • u for the sonant labiodental is transcribed as v. (Mantoua >Mantovauiuere > vivere, uole > vole).
  • Ç retains the cedilla,
  • ę is transcribed with the diphthong ae, and attached letters (æ) are transcribed as separate letters;
  • gemination and degemination (doubling and undoubling of consontants) are retained.


Letters are capitalized:

  • At the beginning of every paragraph and after every period.
  • Capital letters are also used for proper nouns and for institutions, both religious (Sede Apostolica, Camera Apostolica, Rota, Conclave, Concistorio, Collettoria) and secular (Corte, Consiglio, Consiglio Secreto);
  • for countries (Regno di Napoli, Stato della Chiesa); and peoples (Fiorentini, Francesi);
  • for places (Parmigiana, Bressana, Piasentina, Mantovano);
  • and in the case of adjectives used as nouns, nomina sacra (Dominus, dominus Deus), sanctus and beatus, including feminine and plural forms (monasterium Sancti Benedicti, regula Sancti Benedicti);
  • for religious festivities (post Nativitatem, Pascae, Pasqua, Natale);
  • for  ecclesia and imperium when referring to the institutions (Chiesa Cattolica Romana e Sacro Romano Impero).
  • Lower cases letters are used for common nouns (chiesa, abbatia, castello); months; days; personal titles and roles (duca, conte); religious titles (vescovo, arcivescovo); and titles of respect (vostra excellentia, sua altezza serenissima).


Regarding transcriptions

Transcriber corrections are noted within the transcription, placing the corrected phrase before the error (mi è accaduto ] mi accaduto).

Regarding documents

Notes should also be added to indicate the textual nature of each letter if they are not indicated in the platform menu.

  • Autograph original= original letter penned by the author who signed it
  • Autograph minute= letter in the form of  minute (draft) by the author who signed it
  • Chancery original = original letter in the hand of a chancery secretary
  • Chancery copybook  = letter in the hand of a chancery secretary, filed in a copybook.

When possible, the name of the secretary is noted in square brackets, along with the identification of any other transcriptions (manuscript or print).

At the end of each transcription appear the initials of its main transcriber / IDEA researcher. Further information about the document’s editing appears in the Vetting History menu.

Numerals and digits

Arabic and Roman numerals are retained as they appear in the text. A dot is inserted between the number and letter of hybrid ordinals, and Roman numbers are capitalized (1530, MDXXXIV, X ‘decimo’, 2.da ‘seconda’), observing the augmented form (e.g. viiij = VIIIJ).


Pointed brackets are adopted to indicate lacunae (<…>) due to mechanical failure (support loss, stains, abrasions, ink evanescence); they are also used for speculative integrations or integrations based on evidence from different manuscripts (<pre>sto). Spaces left blank in the original text are indicated by three asterisks (Iohannes Baptista filius quondam *** de Covo).


Punctuation is adapted to modern conventions (weak pause: comma, semicolon, colon; strong pause: period).

Conventional signs and text types

If more than one hand is recognizable in the same letter, a back slash (/) indicates the shift from the main hand to another.

Words union and division

Words that appear divided in the text are merged according to modern spelling, such as adverbs (in vero > invero, in fine > infine) and linking words (fin che > finché, ben che > benché, per che > perché, pur che > purché, acciò che > accioché), while combined prepositions that are not joined by a double consonant (dela > de la, ala > a la) and univerbations (chabbiano > c’habbiano, cha > ch’à, laltro = l’altro) are transcribed as separate words; in cases such as sel and chel the point of division is based on the distinction between articles and pronouns (sel disse > s’el disse, sel duca > se’l duca; chel vole > ch’el vole, chel cavallo > che’l cavallo).

Cases of syntactic gemination are signaled by a period or a raised period:

  • selli > se ·lli ‘se li, se gli’;  selli  (‘se gli’) > se ·lli, chelli (‘che gli’) > che ·lli.

Example: Baldassare Castiglione to Isabella d’Este. Rome, 28 May 1519

[Baldassar Castiglione a Isabella d’Este Gonzaga. Roma, 28 maggio 1519]

[1] Illustrissima et excellentissima signora e patrona mia. El caldo grande e la faticha del scrivere non comportano ch’io scriva troppo lungamente a vostra excellentia, tanto più ch’io non ho che scrivergli, se non ch’io son qui sano e salvo. [2] Havendo basato gli piedi a nostro signore e condogliutomi in nome di vostra excellentia con sua beneditione, ne ho raportato da quella infiniti ringratiamenti, et offerte amorevolissime verso vostra praefata excellentia, tanto ch’io no ’l potrei dire. [3] Ho fatto questo medemo officio con molti di questi altri signori cardinali, li quali tutti mostrano riceverlo di somma gratia, maximamente monsignor de Cibo. [4] Nove non scrivo, perché quel poco che gli è, lo ho scritto allo illustrissimo signor marchese et al signor duca. Del resto vedremo presto quello che si pò sperare.

[5] A vostra excellentia baso le mani, et <in> bona gratia mi racomando humilmente.

In Roma, alli XXVIIJ di maggio MDXIX.

Di vostra excellentia

humil servo

  1. Castiglione

Daniela Ferrari and Roberto Vetrugno
Mantova/Toruń, 19 February 2015