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
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.
1 Archaeological works
2 Historical works
4 External links
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 cows—the Campo
Vaccino—and pigs rooted in its unweeded vegetation. Flavio and
fellow humanists like
Leone Battista Alberti
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.
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.
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.
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.
This article includes a list of references, related reading or
external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline
citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more
precise citations. (November 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this
Repertorium Blondianum 
Rome Restored, Edited by Fabio Della Schiava and William McCuaig,
English translation, To be announced.
"Flavio Biondo". In
Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
"Flavio Biondo" in
Catholic Encyclopedia (1907).
Castner, Catherine J. (ed., trans., comm.). Biondo Flavio's Italia
illustrata: Text, translation, and commentary. Vol. I: Northern Italy.
(Binghamton, NY: Global Academic Publishing, 2005).
J. A. White (ed., trans.), Biondo Flavio, Italy Illuminated. Vol. 1:
Books I-IV, I Tatti Renaissance Library 20 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press, 2005) and Italy Illuminated. Vol. 2: Books V-VIII, I
Tatti Renaissance Library 75 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
De Origine et Gestis Venetorum (part of the Opera Basel 1531)
Historiae Ab Inclinatione Romanorum Imperii (part of the Opera Basel
Historiarum ab inclinatione romanorum imperii (Venice: Octavianus
Scotus, 1483; Hain *3248)
In Romam Instauratam
Roma Instaurata (part of the Opera Basel 1531)
Italia Illustrata (part of the Opera Basel 1531)
Triumphans Roma (part of the Opera Basel 1531)
Historiam Blondi forliviensis ab inclinatione Imperii romanorum
ISNI: 0000 0001 1850 1944
BNF: cb12431564m (data)