Greek Manuscripts in Renaissance Venice: The Library of Guillaume Pellicier and its contribution to Europe's intellectual heritage

Lead Research Organisation: University of London
Department Name: Warburg Institute


The spread of classical texts in Greek into Italy, and from there to France and other nations, was decisive for the cultural and intellectual innovations of the European Renaissance. Yet the precise practices, relationships, and goals involved in acquiring and organizing these works, including the changes brought by the arrival of printing, remain significantly understuded. They can be best understood by detailed examination of specific collections and collectors. This project focuses on the library of one remarkably active and effective collector, Guillaume Pellicier (ca. 1490-1567), a French bishop and ambassador of François Ier to Venice. It will produce a detailed description of the collection (which is today held for the most part at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin), the digitisation of its contents, and a detailed study of the history of the transmission of Greek culture in sixteenth-century Venice and of private and public libraries in the Renaissance. The project will contribute significantly to our understanding of the ways in which books were produced and circulated, and of the role played by the second and third generation of Greeks settled in Italy in the transmission of the Greek cultural patrimony to modern Europe.
The investigation and analysis of this corpus will offer new views on the survival of manuscript production in the age of printing, an aspect of book production that is under-represented in academic research and underestimated in global studies of written culture.
This project will make the library accessible to researchers and the general public alike and will provide tools for the conservation, protection and promotion of the collection as a prime example of the cultural and intellectual heritage of Europe. It also aims to offer the general public a better understanding of cultural life in Venice and of the cultural policy of King François Ier, particularly in regard to Greek culture.
The project will be led by Raphaële Mouren (London; PI). Her expertise in the history of scholarship and the transmission of Greek literature in 16th c. Italy will be key to the project as will her command of the norms and formats of manuscript description and critical edition archival documentation. The Co-investigator will be Rosa Maria Piccione, a classicist and a specialist in the transmission of Greek culture and manuscript production and in sixteenth century Venice. Two postdoctoral researchers will support the project, working on the manuscript catalogue. A consultant on a short contract will help us investigate archives in France and Italy. Richard Gartner, a specialist in metadata and digital libraries, will design the structure for the dataset in XML (TEI, METS) and CIDOC-CROM. An international advisory board will provide additional expertise in the key areas of palaeography, manuscript studies, the history of libraries and digital humanities. The project is supported, both financially and in-kind, by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.
The project will expand our knowledge of manuscript production in the age of printing and the creation of libraries in sixteenth-century France and Italy. It will make available hidden material that might support PhD theses and wider scholarship in the field; it will be of value to the work of librarians and metadata specialists; it will create a significant corpus of data and metadata in a variety of interoperable formats for reuse and sharing and will generate a range of publications in several disciplines. Its outputs will be of interest to a large range of non-academic professional audiences as well as the general public.


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Description collaboration to Pinakes 
Organisation Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Within the Pinakes Project, our RA Elisa Bianchi (in the role of external collaborator) as collaborated in improving existing records from the manuscripts we are studying and cataloguing as part of the project, implementing the bibliography and fitting the information about ownership, provenance and scribes, in order to give to the users an updated general overview of the Pellicier's book collection on Pinakes.
Collaborator Contribution none so far (but something to come in the next future)
Impact OUtputs are the improvement of existing records in Pinakes. The next stage will be the creation of records that are missing in Pinakes.
Start Year 2023
Description blog entries for the project research blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact we are publishing regularly on our research blog with the idea of sharing questions of methods regarding studying, describing, cataloguing manuscripts in the ditial age, with a special interest for metadata, interoperability and ontologies. Authors of the blog entries until February 2024 are Raphaële Mouren, Rosa Maria Piccione, Elisa Bianchi and Richard Gartner
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023,2024
Description conference panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The project team was invited to present a panel at a conference in the University of Cyprus on 'Greek Books in the Sixteenth Century between Venice and the Eastern Mediterranean'. Our panel, with presentations from the PI, the Co-I and the digital librarian, focused on the project and its methodology

Since the panel took place in September, we got feedback from ECRs in the field and we are trying to organise a training session, led by us, to train young researchers on the use of interoperable metadata for their research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
Description interview of Co-I for SPK magazin 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact SPK magazin, The journal of the Stiftung Prussischer Kulturbesitz, interviewed the Co-I Rosa Maria Piccione about the project: "EIN EINZIGES WUNDER: DIE GRIECHISCHE BIBLIOTHEK DES GUILLAUME PELLICIER"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2024
Description interview of the 2 research assistants for the local institution blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Rita Yates, for the Warburg Institute blog, interviewed the 2 Research assistants Elisa Bianchi and Dimitrios Skrekas about the project and their role. The Warburg Institute blog reaches a large audience internationally and this blog entry has increased substantially the awareness about our project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2024