Niccoli, Niccolo, Lat. Nicolaus

, a very eminent contributor to the restoration of literature, and founder of the library of St. Mark at Florence, was the son of Bartholomew Nicolas, a merchant of Florence, and was born in 1363. He was intended, and as some say, for a time engaged, in mercantile pursuits, but preferring the cultivation of the liberal arts, he placed himself, on the death of his father, under Marsigli, or Marsilius, a scholar of considerable fame. So ardent was his love of learning, that when he had attained a competent knowledge of the Latin language, he went to Padua, for the express purpose of transcribing the compositions of Petrarch. To this laborious task he was compelled, according to Tiraboschi, by the mediocrity of his fortune, which prevented his purchasing manuscripts of any great value. His fortune, however, such as it was, and his whole time, he devoted to the collection of manuscripts or making transcripts, and accumulated about eight hundred volumes of Greek, Roman, and oriental authors. What he copied, was executed with great accuracy, and he was one of the first who corrected the defects and arranged the text of the manuscripts which he had an opportunity of studying. His house was the constant resort of scholars and students, who had free access to his library, and to many of whom he was a liberal patron. Poggio Bracciolini valued him highly in this character, and on Niccoli’s death, Jan. 23, 1437, published a funeral oration, in which he celebrated his prudence, benevolence, fortitude, &c. He was not, however, without his faults, and had disgusted some eminent scholars of his time by his sarcastic wit and irritability of temper. By his will he directed that his library should be devoted to the use of the public, and appointed sixteen curators, among whom was Cosmo de Medici; but as he died in a state of insolvency, this legacy would have been lost, had not Cosmo offered to pay his debts on condition of obtaining a right to dispose of the books. This being agreed to, he deposjted them in the Dominican monastery of St. Mark at Florence. This collection was the foundation of another celebrated library in Florence, known by the name of the Bibliotheca Marciana, or library of St. Mark, which is yet open to the inspection of the learned, at the distance of three centuries. It does not appear that he was the author of any literary work, except a short treatise on the orthography of the Latin language, in which he attempted | to settle various disputed points on this subject, by the authority of ancient inscriptions. 1


Shepherd’s Poggio Bracciolini, p. 40, 314, &c.—Roscoe’s Lorenzo.— Tiraboschi.