LEONARDO BRUNI (or Leonardo Aretino) (c. 1370 – March 9, 1444) 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.
* 1 Biography
* 2 Significance
* 3 Bibliography
* 4 Notes
* 5 References
* 6 External links
* 6.1 Latin texts online
* 6.2 German texts online
Leonardo Bruni was born in
Tuscany circa 1370. Bruni was the
pupil of political and cultural leader
Coluccio Salutati , whom he
succeeded as chancellor of
Florence , and under whose tutelage he
developed his ideation of civic humanism . He also served as apostolic
secretary to four popes (1405–1414). Bruni's years as
chancellor—1410 to 1411 and again from 1427 to his death in
1444—were plagued by warfare. Though he occupied one of the highest
political offices, Bruni was relatively powerless compared to the
Medici families. Historian Arthur Field has identified
Bruni as an apparent plotter against Cosimo de\'
Medici in 1437 (see
below). Bruni died in 1444 in
Florence and was succeeded in office by
Carlo Marsuppini .
De primo bello punico, 1471
Bruni's most notable work is Historiarum Florentini populi libri XII
(History of the Florentine People, 12 Books), which has been called
the first modern history book. While it probably was not Bruni's
intention to secularize history, the three period view of history is
unquestionably secular and for that Bruni has been called the first
modern historian. The foundation of Bruni's conception can be found
Petrarch , who distinguished the classical period from later
cultural decline, or tenebrae (literally "darkness"). Bruni argued
that Italy had revived in recent centuries and could therefore be
described as entering a new age.
One of Bruni's most famous works is New Cicero, a biography of the
Roman statesman Cicero. He was also the author of biographies in
Italian of Dante and Petrarch. It was Bruni who used the phrase
studia humanitatis , meaning the study of human endeavors, as distinct
from those of theology and metaphysics, which is where the term
humanists comes from.
As a humanist Bruni was essential in translating into Latin many
works of Greek philosophy and history, such as
Aristotle and Procopius
. Bruni's translations of Aristotle's Politics and Nicomachean Ethics,
as well as the pseudo-Aristotelean Economics, were widely distributed
in manuscript and in print. His use of
Aelius Aristides ' Panathenicus
(Panegyric to Athens) to buttress his republican theses in the
Panegyric to the City of
Florence (c. 1401) was instrumental in
bringing the Greek historian to the attention of
Hans Baron 's The Crisis of the Early Italian
Renaissance for details). He also wrote a short treatise in Greek on
the Florentine constitution.
Bruni was one of the very first
Humanists to be confronted with
Plato's discussion of same-sex relationships. (Reeser)
Bruni died in
Florence in 1444, and is buried in a wall tomb by
Bernardo Rossellino in the Basilica of Santa Croce,
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
article BRUNI, LEONARDO .
* Latin text and English translation:
Leonardo Bruni (April 2001).
James Hankins , ed. History of the
Florentine People. 1. translated by James Hankins. Harvard University
Press. ISBN 0-674-00506-6 .
Leonardo Bruni (November 2004).