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Collection Overview

Falconieri, Ottavio, 1646-1676
Ottavio Falconieri Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.4 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1


Consists of selected papers of the Italian humanist and cleric Ottavio Falconieri (1636-1675). Included are thirteen manuscripts (either autograph drafts or secretarial copies) of texts mostly written in Rome, 1661-74, and 135 autograph drafts and secretarial copies of outgoing letters from Falconieri to Cardinal Francesco Barberini (1597-1679) and others, chiefly written from Brussels between February 1673 and December 1674.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of selected papers of the Italian humanist and cleric Ottavio Falconieri. Included are thirteen manuscripts (either autograph drafts or secretarial copies) of texts mostly written in Rome, 1661-74; and 135 autograph drafts and secretarial copies of outgoing letters from Falconieri to Cardinal Francesco Barberini (1597-1679) and others, chiefly written from Brussels between February 1673 and December 1674. Written in Italian, Latin, and Greek. Approximately 500 pages in total. An additional five undated items in manuscript were added later. Another addition of political papers and reports dated 1669 through 1674 was added in 2015.

The manuscripts are: 1. "Vita di S. Francesco di Sales," probably 1661. 2. "Dissertazione intorno all'antichità dell'uso delle staffe," n.d. 3. "Discorso o dissertazione sopra il Diptico Consolare..." n.d. 4. "Orazione ... l'apertura del Conclave," 1669/70. 5. "Ragionament[o] morale," given in the presence of Queen Christina of Sweden (1626-89; r. 1632-54), at the Accademia Reale, which she founded in Rome, 1674. 6. Untitled lecture on the question of who may call himself a true hero, n.d. 7. Untitled text concerning Johannes Buno (1617-97), Universae historiae cum sacra, tam profana idea (1661). 8. Untitled text concerning the planned publication of the Exercitia spiritualia in decem dies divina, by the Franciscan Recollect Sulpicio from Nanterre, n.d. 9. Untitled text concerning Jan Lindeborn, Spongia contradictionum, sive genuinus sensus eorum locorum quae in scala Jacob virginibus (1667). 10. Draft letter concerning matters of censorship, including two treatises by Pietro della Seyne, De Hellenistica Lingua, and another concerning the Septuagint. 11. Falconieri's notes on his role as "Consultore della Congregazione dell'Indice," 1666. 12. Untitled text concerning a woman pregnant with the Antichrist, 1664. 13. "Osservazioni" for an unidentified Accademia, possibly the Accademia Reale, n.d.

Most of the letters were written by Falconieri while living in Brussels as a diplomatic representative of the Papacy with the title of internuncio of Flanders. The letters are addressed to Falconieri's superiors ("confratelli"). The bulk appear to have been written to Cardinal Francesco Barberini. Falconieri also wrote to him from London, August-October 1673, including a 23-page political account of "affari d'Inghilterra." Falconieri's correspondence with Barberini covers many subjects, including church affairs, international politics, books and learning, and everyday life. The collection also includes two undated letters in Latin addressed to Nicolaus Heinsius (1620-1681), two to Stefano Gradi (1613-1683), and several letters in French for a certain "Sieur de Colmar"(?). The collection also includes a one-page undated manuscript of "Osservazioni" relating to one of the learned academies with which he was associated.

The political papers and reports were once part of the collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps, and are bound together in Middle Hill boards. The papers include: 1. 18 original unsigned reports from Liège, 4to and sm 8vo June and July 1673, 41p. These give news of the siege of Maastricht by the French etc. 2. A letter (1 page) to Falconieri dated Paris 6 July 1669 mentioning 'vostre histoire du Commendon a esté si bien recue, qu'il n y a presque plus d'exemplaires. Néanmoins je feray l'impossible pour augmenter le nombre de quinze ou seize, quoique(?) vous gardez tous relier. Tant y a qu'on parle de le réimprimer de nouveau, and plus de le tourner en français'. This may be a reference to De vita J.F. Commendoni, published in Paris in 1669, and subsequently published in a French translation in 1695. The work is attributed to A.M. Graziani. Cardinal Giovanni Francesco Commendone (1523-84) had as his secretary Antonio Maria Graziani (1537-1611). In addition to the printed text there is a manuscript in CUL (Add. Ms. 4518) which belonged to Libri and then Sir Thomas Phillipps (16330). 3. Other letters from Namur, Strasbourg, and Brussels on political and military matters. A letter about the nuns of Berlaymont in Brussels (3p) 4. Notes in Italian about churches in Cordoba, Seville and Lisbon with a small drawing 17p 5. A Hebrew-Spanish glossary, 2p. 6. A letter from Brussels 9 March 1674 signed 'François nelson' informing Falconieri of a letter just received from London from someone who has just become secretary to the Duchess of York, talking about a disagreement between Lord Halifax 'un des plus grands enemys des catoliques' and the Queen [Catherine of Braganza] largely concerning her Portuguese servants, whom she will not abandon, and reporting on a naval incident between a French ship and an English frigate near Plymouth. 7. A series of news reports written in Italian 28 December 1673-October 1674, the first mentioning herring fishing by the Dutch, Surinam, and the commerce of the Indies.


The letters are arranged chronologically, the manuscripts in number order.

Collection Creator Biography:

Falconieri, Ottavio, 1646-1676

Ottavio Falconieri (1636-1675) was one of the major personages of the literary and artistic circles around Queen Christina of Sweden in 17th century Rome. Though well known as an archaeologist and despite his wide scientific interests (he was member of the most famous academies of his time, the Accademia del Cimento as well as that of Crusca, was the rediscoverer of the literary opus of Torquato Tasso, completely forgotten at the time, and was artistical and archaeological advisor to Leopoldo de Medici), Falconieri joined the clergy and had a brilliant career. He became abbot of St. Girolamo in Fiesole and was ultimately elected private secretary under Clement X.

Collection History


Purchased from Antiquariat Inlibris in January-April 2009 (AM2009-84, 2009-105). Later addition acquired June 2015 (AM2016-3).

Custodial History

Provenance: (a) Lorenzo Maria Gianni, who acquired the manuscripts and added wrappers and titles. (b) Conte Lorenzo Magalotti (1660-1711) received the manuscripts after asking Gianni which writings of Falconieri might be published to increase his fame posthumously. Gianni's undated letter to Magalotti is in the final folder. (c) The Ottavio Falconieri papers were later in the library of Orazio Falconieri, at the Palazzo Falconieri, in Rome. Several manuscript bears the oval library stamps of the Bibliotheca Horatii Falconeri for 1770 and 1834. The library was dispersed in the 19th century. The Princeton University Library owns two other manuscripts from this library.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Don Skemer in February 2009. Finding aid written by Don Skemer in February 2009. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager (2015) in 2012. 2015 addition added by Chloe Pfendler.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Ottavio Falconieri Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1