Villani, John

, a Florentine historian of the fourteenth century, was the son of a native of that place, and is supposed to have been born about the end of the thirteenth century, as he was somewhat older than an infant in 1300, when he informs us he went to Rome to see the Jubilee, and young as he was, first formed, on that occasion, the design of writing his “Chronicle.” Before, however, he began this work, he visited various parts of Italy, France, and the Netherlands, and having collected much information, began to compile his history as soon as he returned home. His first intention was to write only the history of Florence, a city which he imagined would rise in splendour and prosperity as Rome declined, but he was induced to extend his plan to the events of other countries wherever they could be introduced. In the mean time the public employments to which his merit raised him, delayed the completidn of his history for many years. Tnrice, 1316, 1317, and 1321, he was one of the priors of Florence; he had also some office in the mint, and at various times was employed in the service of the republic. He died of the plague in 1348. He had written his history up to this period, and his brother Matthew Villani made a continuation till the year 1363, when he also died of the plague. The work then fell into the hands of Philip Villani, son to Matthew, who made a still longer addition to the labours of his father and uncle. The first edition was printed at Florence by the Junti in 1537, fol. and was often reprinted. The last, corrected from three ms copies, was printed at Milan in 1729, 2 vols. fol. The original part by John Villani, is, like most chronicles, mere compilation of fabulous history, until he comes to his own times, | when he is allowed to be accurate and useful, and the same praise is due to his successors.

Philip Villani also composed the “Lives of the illustrious Men of Florence,” which Mazzuchelli published for the first time in 1747, not, however, the original text, which is Latin, but an ancient Italian translation, with copious and learned notes. Philip was appointed, in 1401, to give lectures on Dante in the chair which Boccaccio had filled. He was again appointed to the same office in 1404, and it is supposed he died soon after. He was the first author of a local literary history, and much use has since been made of his Lives of the celebrated Florentines. 1

1 Tiraboschi. Ginguer>d Hist. Lit. d’Italie. —Saxii Onomast.