1 libro zolfato di chiesa

Many kinds of writings appear in the households of wealthy Florentines, from the single gatherings of folios called quaderni to the libri di memorie or libri di ragione where official business accounts were kept. Religious, historical, or educational books, written in either Latin or the vernacular also appeared in the inventories, often tucked away in cabinets or chests for safekeeping. However, only one book of music has been found among the items in the Florentine inventories, in the household of the wealthy apothecary, Deo di Vanni. The libro zolfato di chiesa, that is, “a book with notated music for church” found in his home most likely provided notation symbols to allow the singer to use solmization syllables, which are similar to, but not exactly the same as, modern solfège.

The notated hymnal was listed alongside other books, including one in French and another on the topic of “philosophy or medicine.” More interesting, perhaps, were other items most commonly used for sacred purposes also found adjacent to the hymnal. These included several pieces of sendal, an expensive silken cloth used, in this case, to hold relics or mementos of the dead (listed as cosette de morti) along with a liturgical vestment, a beautiful red cope, also designated as coming “from the church.” The gathering of these items in one location suggests the hymnal may have been kept at the home to facilitate religious celebrations for members of the household.