Ubaldini, Petruccio (DNB00)
|←Vol 57 Tom - Tytler||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 58
UBALDINI, PETRUCCIO (1524?–1600?), illuminator and scholar, born in Tuscany about 1524, was of the ancient Florentine family Degli Ubaldini which gave a cardinal to the Ghibellines (cf. Dante, Inferno, x. 120), and an adherent, Fra Roberto Ubaldini da Gagliana, to Savonarola (Giorn. Stor. degli Arch. Tosc. ii. 211). A thorough examination of the Laurentian manuscripts made for the purpose of this article by the chief librarian of the Mediceo-Laurentian Library has failed to remove the obscurity which rests on Ubaldini's parentage, nor is anything to be gathered from Giovambatista Ubaldini's ‘Istoria della Casa degli Ubaldini,’ Florence, 1588, 4to. He came to England in 1545, entered the service of the crown, and was employed on the continent in some capacity which carried him back to his native land. He returned to England in the reign of Edward VI, and saw service in the Scottish war under Sir James Crofts, governor of Haddington (1549). The results of his experience of English manners, customs, and institutions he recorded in 1551, probably for the behoof of the Venetian Signory, in a ‘Relatione delle cose del Regno d'Inghilterra,’ now among the Foscarini MSS. (cod. 184, No. 6626c. 336–466) in the Imperial Library at Vienna. Some idea of its contents may be gained from Von Raumer's ‘Briefe aus Paris zur Erläuterung der Geschichte des sechzehnten und siebzehnten Jahrhunderts’ (Leipzig, 1831, ii. 66 et seq. Von Raumer drew his materials from a transcript of the ‘Relatione’ preserved among the St. Germain des Prés MSS. vol. 740, in the Bibliothèque Royale Nationale. Other transcripts are Bodl. MS. 880, and Addit. MS. 10169, ff. 1–125).
In the Mediceo-Laurentian Library is preserved (Plut. lxxvi. cod. lxxviii.) an annotated Italian version of the Pinax of Cebes, completed by Ubaldini in September 1552, and dedicated to Cosimo I, grand duke of Tuscany. Ubaldini was then resident at Venice, and it was not until ten years later that he settled in England, where he found a Mæcenas in Henry Fitzalan, twelfth earl of Arundel [q. v.]. Arundel presented him at court, where he speedily obtained other patrons. He taught Italian, transcribed and illuminated manuscripts, rhymed, and wrote or translated into Italian historical and other tracts. He also pretended to some skill in physic (see his letter to Sir William Cecil, dated 22 Nov. 1569, in Lansdowne MS. 11, art. 48, f. 111). His various accomplishments, however, yielded but a scanty subsistence, and on 20 May 1574 he craved Burghley's interest with the queen to procure him ‘a forfeiture of a hundred marks’ to relieve his embarrassment (ib. 18, art. 82, f. 178). In 1578–9, though in receipt of a pension, he was saved from arrest for debt only by the intervention of the privy council, and was compelled to compound with his creditors (Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Dasent, x. 403, xi. 415). In 1586 he was resident in Shoreditch (Lansdowne MS. 143, art. 89, f. 349). On two occasions he appears in the list of those who exchanged new year's gifts with the queen—once in 1578–9, as the donor of an illustrated ‘Life and Metamorphoses of Ovid,’ and the recipient of a pair of gilt-plate spoons, weighing five and a quarter ounces; and again in 1588–9, when ‘a book covered with vellum of Italian’ elicited from Elizabeth five and a half ounces of gilt plate (Nichols, Progr. of Elizabeth, ii. 263, 272, iii. 24, 25). That in 1580 he visited Ireland may perhaps be inferred from the fact that he compiled an account (since lost) of the repulse of the Spanish-Italian invasion of Kerry in the autumn of that year. In 1581 appeared his ‘Vita di Carlo Magno Imperadore,’ London, 4to (later edit.), 1599, a work interesting to bibliophiles as the first Italian book printed in England. He appears to have left England in the autumn—his passport is dated 31 Oct.—or winter of 1586, and resided for a time in the Low Countries (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1586, p. 365). At any rate, it was at Antwerp that in 1588 appeared his ‘Descrittione del Regno di Scotia et delle Isole sue Adjacenti’ (fol.), dedicated to Sir Christopher Hatton, the Earl of Leicester, and Sir Francis Walsingham; it is a free translation of Hector Boece's Chronicle, a transcript of which, made by him in 1550 and dedicated to Lord Arundel in 1576, is in the British Museum, Royal MS. 13 A. viii. The manuscript of the ‘Descrittione’ is in the library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, cod. ccxlvi. A handsome reprint appeared at Edinburgh (Bannatyne Club) in 1829, 4to. Ubaldini rendered into Italian in 1588 the narrative of the defeat of the Spanish Armada compiled for Lord Howard of Effingham, and added in the following year an original memoir in the manner of Sallust on the same subject, inspired by Drake and dedicated to Sir Christopher Hatton. The manuscripts of these works, entitled respectively ‘Commentario del successo dell' Armata Spagnola nell' assalir l'Inghilterra l'anno 1588,’ and ‘Commentario della Impresa fatta contra il regno d'Inghilterra dal Re Catholico l'anno 1588,’ are in the British Museum, Royal MS. 14 A. x–xi. A free translation of the former, entitled ‘A Discourse concerning the Spanish Fleet,’ was made by Augustine Ryther [q. v.], and formed the basis of Camden's narrative; it was reprinted in 1740, 8vo. The English original, preserved in Cottonian MS. Jul. F. x. ff. 111–17, has been recently edited by Professor Laughton in ‘State Papers relating to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada’ (Navy Rec. Soc. i. 1–18).
In 1591 appeared, with a dedication to the queen, to whom the manuscript had been presented in 1576, Ubaldini's ‘Vite delle Donne Illustri del Regno d'Inghilterra et del Regno di Scotia’ (London, 4to, 2nd edit. 1601; cf. Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Wornum, i. 169, and Macray's article on foreign authors' dedications in Bibliographica, 1897). In a small volume entitled ‘Parte Prima delle brevi Dimostrationi et Precetti Utilissimi, ne i quali si trattano diversi propositi morali, politici et iconomici,’ 1592, 4to, Ubaldini attempted the rôle of the sententious philosopher. In 1594 he laid before the queen a brief memoir on methods of taxation, which she graciously received and encouraged him to develop. It remains in Lansdowne MS. 98, art. 22. The same year appeared his ‘Stato delle Tre Corti. Altrimenti: Relationi di alcune Qualità Politiche con le loro dipendenze considerabili appresso di quei che dei governi delli stati si dilettano, ritrovate nelli stati della Corte Romana, nel Regno di Napoli, et nelli stati del Gran Duca di Thoscana; cagioni secondo la natura di quell genti sicurissime della fermezza di quei governi,’ 4to. ‘Scelta di alcune Attioni et di varii Accidenti occorsi tra alcune Nationi Differenti del Mondo; cavati della Selva dei casi diversi,’ 1595, 4to (a mere scrap-book), and ‘Militia del Gran Duca di Thoscana. Capitoli, ordini, et privilegii della Militia et Bande di sua Altezza Serenissima prima così ordinati dalla buona et felice memoria di Cosimo Primo Gran Duca di Thoscana; et di poi corroborati da i successori suoi figliuoli,’ 1597, 4to (a description of the military system of Tuscany) complete the tale of Ubaldini's prose works.
His ‘Rime,’ printed in 1596, 4to, evince a mastery of the technique of the sonnet and the canzone, but they possess no great originality, and are by no means free from conceits. Two of Ubaldini's letters are preserved in the Advocates' Library (Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. App. p. 124); two others are in the Archivio Mediceo, 4185, at Florence.
The date of Ubaldini's death is uncertain. By his wife, Anne Lawrence (m. 21 Jan. 1565–6), he appears to have left issue a son Lodovico, who signed himself Lodovico Petrucci (Royal MS. 14 A. vii.), but must apparently be distinguished from Ludovico Petrucci [q. v.].
A few specimens of Ubaldini's skill in illumination and caligraphy are preserved in the Royal MSS.: viz., on vellum, 14 A. i. ‘Un Libro d'Essemplari’ (elegant extracts); 14 A. viii. ‘Un Libro della Forma et Regola dell' eleggere et coronare in Imperadori’ (dedicated, with two prefatory sonnets, to the queen); 17 A. xxiii. (mottoes from the gallery at Gorhambury, a chef d'œuvre given by Sir Nicholas Bacon to Lady Lumley); 2 B. ix. (Psalter from the Vulgate dedicated to the Earl of Arundel in 1565); on paper 14 A. xvi. ‘Un Libro d'Essemplari scritto l'anno 1550’ (fragments of correspondence and other scraps); 14 A. xix. ‘Le Vite et i Fatti di sei Donne Illustri,’ dedicated to the queen in 1577 (a distinct work from the ‘Vite delle Donne Illustre’ printed in 1591); 17 A. xxiv. (sentences, chiefly metaphysical and moral, collected from various authors for the use of Edward VI). Stowe MS. 30, a polyglot and polychrome vellum prayer-book presented to the queen in 1578, may also be by Ubaldini's hand, as certainly is a partially illuminated Latin prayer-book presented to her in 1580, now in the Huth Library (Cat. v. 1).[Ubaldini's works; Baretti's Italian Library, p. 186; Fontanini's Biblioteca, ed. Apostolo Zeno, 1804, ii. 289; Walpole's Anecd. of Painting, ed. Wornum, i. 169; Biogr. Univ.; Bradley's Dict. of Miniaturists; Italian Relation of England (Camden Soc.), Introd.; Addit. MS. 24492, p. 70; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. x. 28, 144; Athenæum, 17 April 1897. See also Reg. St. Mich. Cornhill (Harl. Soc.) and St. Mich. Cornhill Marr. Lic. 1520 (Harl. Soc.); Archiv. Stor. Ital. v. 381; Zouch's Life of Sidney, p. 332; Dugdale's Antiq. Warwickshire, ed. Thomas, i. 523; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. ed. Herbert, pp. 1171, 1186, 1805; Coxe's Cat. Cod. MSS. in Coll. Aulisque Oxon. ii. 102; Bandini, Cat. Cod. Lat. (Ital.) Bibl. Mediceæ Laurent, v. 303.]