Flavio Biondo

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Flavio Biondo
Flavio.Biondo.Historie.jpg
Decades of History from the Deterioration of the Roman Empire, Italian translation by Lucio Fauno, 1543
Born1392
DiedJune 4, 1463(1463-06-04) (aged 70–71)
Scientific career
Fields Humanism and history
Patrons
Influences Strabo

Flavio Biondo (Latin Flavius Blondus) (1392 June 4, 1463) was an Italian Renaissance humanist historian. He was one of the first historians to use a three-period division of history (Ancient, Medieval, Modern) and is known as one of the first archaeologists. Born in the capital city of Forlì, in the Romagna region, Flavio was well schooled from an early age, studying under Ballistario of Cremona. During a brief stay in Milan, he discovered and transcribed the unique manuscript of Cicero's dialogue Brutus. He moved to Rome in 1433 where he began work on his writing career; he was appointed secretary to the Cancelleria under Eugene IV in 1444 and accompanied Eugene in his exile, in Ferrara and Florence. After his patron's death, Flavio was employed by his papal successors, Nicholas V, Callixtus III and the great humanist Pius II.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Renaissance humanism

Renaissance humanism is the study of classical antiquity, at first in Italy and then spreading across Western Europe in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. The term humanism is contemporary to that period, while Renaissance humanism is a retronym used to distinguish it from later humanist developments.

Archaeology is the study of human activity in the past, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes.

Contents

Archaeological works

Flavio published three encyclopedic works that were systematic and documented guides to the ruins and topography of ancient Rome, for which he has been called one of the first archaeologists; subsequent antiquaries and historians built on the foundations laid down by Flavio and by his older contemporary, Poggio Bracciolini. At the time the ruins of ancient Rome were overgrown and unexplored. When in 1420 Bracciolini climbed the Capitol he saw only deserted fields. The Forum, buried in eroded topsoil, was grazed by cowsthe Campo Vaccinoand pigs rooted in its unweeded vegetation. Flavio and fellow humanists like Leone Battista Alberti began to explore and document the architecture, topography and history of Rome, and in the process revived a vision of Rome's former glory.

Topography of ancient Rome

The topography of ancient Rome is a multidisciplinary field of study that draws on archaeology, epigraphy, cartography and philology.

Poggio Bracciolini Italian scholar, writer and humanist

Gian Francesco Poggio Bracciolini, best known simply as Poggio Bracciolini, was an Italian scholar and an early humanist. He was responsible for rediscovering and recovering a great number of classical Latin manuscripts, mostly decaying and forgotten in German, Swiss, and French monastic libraries. His most celebrated find was De rerum natura, the only surviving work by Lucretius.

Capitoline Hill hill

The Capitolium or Capitoline Hill, between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the Seven Hills of Rome.

Flavio Biondo's gravestone in Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Rome 21 Flavio Biondo all Araceli.JPG
Flavio Biondo's gravestone in Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Rome

Flavio's first work was De Roma instaurata (Rome Restored, 3 vols., 1444–1448), a reconstruction of ancient Roman topography. It was and remains a highly influential humanist vision of restoring Rome to its previous heights of grandeur by recreating what Rome used to look like based on the ruins which remained. This work was the first systematic and well documented guide to the ruins of Rome, or indeed any ancient ruins, and he has thus been called one of the first archaeologists.

The second was the highly popular De Roma triumphante (Rome Triumphant, 1479) about pagan Rome as a model for contemporary governmental and military reforms. The book was highly influential in reviving Roman patriotism and respect for ancient Rome, while presenting the papacy as a continuation of the Roman Empire.

Paganism non-Abrahamic religion, or modern religious movement such as nature worship

Paganism, is a term first used in the fourth century by early Christians for people in the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism. This was either because they were increasingly rural and provincial relative to the Christian population, or because they were not milites Christi. Alternate terms in Christian texts for the same group were hellene, gentile, and heathen. Ritual sacrifice was an integral part of ancient Graeco-Roman religion and was regarded as an indication of whether a person was pagan or Christian.

Roman Empire Period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–395 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. An Iron Age civilization, it had a government headed by emperors and large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome. The Roman Empire was then divided between a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople, and it was ruled by multiple emperors.

Historical works

Biondo's greatest works were Italia illustrata (Italy Illuminated, written between 1448 and 1458, published 1474) and the Historiarum ab inclinatione Romanorum imperii decades (Decades of History from the Deterioration of the Roman Empire, written from 1439 to 1453, published in 1483).

The Italia illustrata (1474) is a geography, based on the author's personal travels, and history of fourteen Italian regions (regiones). Unlike medieval geographers, whose focus was regional, Biondo, taking Strabo for his model, reinstated the idea of Italy to include the whole of the peninsula. Through topography, he intended to link Antiquity with modern times, with descriptions of each location, the etymology of its toponym and its changes through time, with a synopsis of important events connected with each location. This first historical geography starts with the Roman Republic and Empire, through 400 years of barbarian invasions and an analysis of Charlemagne and later Holy Roman Emperors. He gives an excellent description of the humanist revival and restoration of the classics during the first half of the fifteenth century.

Strabo Greek geographer, philosopher and historian

Strabo was a Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian who lived in Asia Minor during the transitional period of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.

Charlemagne King of the Franks, King of Italy, and Holy Roman Emperor

Charlemagne or Charles the Great, numbered Charles I, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and Holy Roman Emperor from 800. He united much of western and central Europe during the Early Middle Ages. He was the first recognised emperor to rule from western Europe since the fall of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier. The expanded Frankish state that Charlemagne founded is called the Carolingian Empire. He was later canonized by Antipope Paschal III.

The Holy Roman Emperor was the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages and the early modern period. The title was, almost without interruption, held in conjunction with title of King of Germany throughout the 12th to 18th centuries.

Flavio's greatest work is the Historiarum ab Inclinatione Romanorum Imperii (Venice, 1483), a history of Europe in thirty-two books, from the plunder of Rome in 410 by the Visigoths, to contemporary Italy (1442). Using only the most reliable and primary sources, it used a three-period framework, with Italy reviving in Biondo's own time and breaking free of earlier trends. Leonardo Bruni also used a three-period framework in History of the Florentine People, written at about the same time as Biondo's work.

Visigoths Gothic tribe

The Visigoths were the western branches of the nomadic tribes of Germanic peoples referred to collectively as the Goths. These tribes flourished and spread throughout the late Roman Empire in Late Antiquity, or what is known as the Migration Period. The Visigoths emerged from earlier Gothic groups who had invaded the Roman Empire beginning in 376 and had defeated the Romans at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. Relations between the Romans and the Visigoths were variable, alternately warring with one another and making treaties when convenient. The Visigoths invaded Italy under Alaric I and sacked Rome in 410. After the Visigoths sacked Rome, they began settling down, first in southern Gaul and eventually in Hispania, where they founded the Visigothic Kingdom and maintained a presence from the 5th to the 8th centuries AD.

Leonardo Bruni Italian humanist, historian and statesman

Leonardo Bruni was an Italian humanist, historian and statesman, often recognized as the most important humanist historian of the early Renaissance. He has been called the first modern historian. He was the earliest person to write using the three-period view of history: Antiquity, Middle Ages, and Modern. The dates Bruni used to define the periods are not exactly what modern historians use today, but he laid the conceptual groundwork for a tripartite division of history.

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