Chronicles of Lucca by Giovanni Sercambi

Alternate Titles:

La Crónica de Lucca, La Cronica de Lucca de Giovanni Sercambi, Le croniche di Luccha, Chronik von Lucca von Giovanni Sercambi

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Alternate Titles

La Crónica de Lucca
La Cronica de Lucca de Giovanni Sercambi
Le croniche di Luccha
Chronik von Lucca von Giovanni Sercambi

Extent / Format

726 pages / 27.7 x 20.0 cm

Artist / School

Author: Giovanni Sercambi (1348–1424)


651 miniatures

Former owners

Paolo Guinigi

Short description

Up until the beginning of the 15th century, the Italian city of Lucca, like so many other cities in medieval Europe, was afflicted by political corruption, wars, murders, and outbreaks of plague. However, Paolo Guingi’s rise to power changed the destiny of the citizenry. In the Chronicles of Lucca, the author Giovanni Sercambi narrates the significant historical events of Lucca during the period 1164-1423, and illustrates his descriptions in over 651 richly-detailed miniatures.

Facsimile editions available


Chronicles of Lucca by Giovanni Sercambi

A chronic is a historical work of prose, which represents historic events organized in chronological order. While some of the chronicles of the Middle Ages are merely a listing of historically-important dates, others contain detailed accounts of the events of individual years and were furnished with splendid miniatures. One of the most beautiful and exciting city chronicles of the 14th and 15th centuries was composed by the Italian writer Giovanni Sercambi. He wrote a historical reference work about his beloved home city of Lucca. He recorded the special topographic and architectural features of the city, as well as important historical events and demonstrated the everyday life of the citizens of Lucca in the High Middle Ages in over 651 richly-detailed illustrations.

A Famous Scribe

Giovanni Sercambi lived from 1348 to 1424 and was one of the most important and highly-respected citizens of the Italian city of Lucca. The highly-educated Sercambi worked here as an apothecary and was simultaneously one of the most famous and influential authors in the city. Sercambi was a supporter of the ruling Gunigi family and served as a soldier and public functionary in their name. His Chronica delle cose di Lucca relates the history of his city from 1164 to 1423 and made him famous beyond the borders of Lucca and throughout Italy. Alongside his chronicle, he is known today above all for his works Novelle and Monito, in which he concerned himself with biological facts about the ancestry and provenance of the citizens of Lucca. With his comprehensive knowledge of the natural sciences and authorial ability, Sercambi was an important forerunner of the Renaissance.

At the Behest of the Princely Family

At the beginning of the 15th century, Lucca was tormented by political corruption, murders, and an outbreak of plague. In this same time, the House of Guingi emerged as the wealthiest and unquestionably the most influential family in the city. As a result of acts of revenge and assignations within the family, only the youngest son of the aristocratic house, Paolo, survived the year 1400. On November 21st, 1400, he was named the noble governor of Lucca, which he largely owed to the wise council of his friend and public official Giovanni Sercambi. His ascent to office marked the beginning of a 30 year period of relative peace and truce in the history of Lucca. One confronted conspiracies and moments of tension with wisdom, deliberation, and without vengeance, and the city also flourished economically. Sercambi’s chronicle allowed Paolo Guingi to record the fateful events of his city for the sake of posterity.

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