Commentary on:
Petition from and Privilege granted to Giulio Burchioni for publishing a combined volume of works on table service and household management (1593)

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Commentary on Sec. Brev. Reg. 208 F. 12 (Petition from and Privilege granted to Giulio Burchioni for publishing a combined volume of works on table service and household management: Il Trinciante by Vicenzo Cervio and Reale Fusoritto, and Il Mastro di Casa by Reale Fusoritto)

Jane C. Ginsburg


Giulio Burchioni’s Petition

The petition offers the usual plea to grant the privilege in order to recover the money and labor invested in the work’s publication. But it also advances a broader justification: granting the privilege will encourage others to be willing to expend personal effort to produce similar or other useful works. In other petitions, authors contended grants of privileges would encourage future labor and creativity, see Commentary_vat_1593, Commentary on Antonio Tempesta’s petition and privilege. In this contemporaneous petition, we see a publisher’s adoption of a wider public benefit rationale tying the privilege to future productivity not only of the petitioner, but also of others similarly situated. Public interest arguments were hardly new in 1593 to the rhetoric of papal privileges, but most prior references to the public benefit equated the public benefit with the publication of the particular book for which the privilege would be granted, rather than drawing a connection between a specific privilege and a general ecosystem of encouragement of investment in book production.


Burchioni’s privilege

The privilege contains all the standard elements, but describes one feature not set out in the petition. While the petition refers to “many additions,” the privilege further states that the book will be “adorned with many additions and illustrations.” The published book does include four pages of illustrations and a fold-out of illustrations in the back, depicting carving knives and forks, anatomically labelled chickens, and table settings. But if the petition did not specify the addition of images, one may wonder how the Papal secretary acquired that knowledge. It is possible that a patron of Burchioni’s imparted that information, although there is no reference to a patron in the petition, the privilege or the annotations at the back of the documents. By contrast, such references do appear in other documents, see, e.g., va_1603a,, va_1604, . Or perhaps Burchioni himself, if he had occasion to speak personally to the Papal secretary or an assistant, conveyed the further information about the book. The petition of Orazio Torsellini, va_1598, , refers to Torsellini’s unsuccessful attempts, at the behest of the Papal secretary, Cardinal Marcello Vestrio Barbiani, to present his petition in person to the Cardinal. As the same Cardinal approved Burchioni’s privilege, it is possible he learned of the illustrations directly from Burchioni’s presentation of his petition. Evidence, currently lacking, that Barbiani frequently requested personal presentations by petitioners would support this explanation of the informational discrepancy between Burchioni’s petition and the privilege that issued.


Books on Renaissance Household Management

Books on proper deportment and the running of households were a popular genre in the 16th and 17th centuries. Stemming from Baldassare Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier (1528), for which Castiglione received a Papal privilege that same year, see Arm XL vol. 18 (1528) F. 195 (No 313), 26 March 152, these books served as instructional manuals for personal and household presentation. Francesco Priscianese’s 1543 publication of Cola da Benevento’s household management manual, Del governo della corte d’un signore di Roma is another example of a broader trend of books published to appeal to “lifelong learners” popular during the Renaissance. For the Sake of Learning; Volume 18, Laurie Nussdorfer, Brill, 2016. pp. 173-194.Priscianese obtained a Papal privilege in 1543 for several books including Del governo della corte d’un signore di Roma, see ARM XLI vol. 28 f 220 (6 November 1543). The prevalence of privileges for books of manners and household management attests to their authors’ and publishers’ expectations of high sales, and accordingly high inclination to pirate them.

Regarding Il Trinciante, the Italian online encyclopedia of history, offers the following description (English translation by editor of Vatican Documents section) [for Italian original, see ]

Vincenzo Cervio, carver of Casa Farnese, with his treatise offers an important testimony on the complex liturgy of the convivial rite. Published for the first time in Venice in 1581 and then in Rome in 1593, with an addition signed by "Cavalier Reale Fusoritto da Narni" (according to some, the same Cervio), this work offers the description of great princely banquets, in which a chronicle of the receptions and the stage sets accompanies the lists of the dishes.

In the treatise there are chapters such as: "The way to receive a Pope, a King, and every other Grand Prince both from the towns and from the particular Lords," for which Cervio recommends specific protocols.

[Cervio continues] "We will also arrange the table based on the number of the most illustrious cardinals, who always want for the most part to eat among themselves. This table requires at least two servers and two carvers, with twelve pages to bring the food to the table. Two tasters with two adjuncts and two servants; a wine steward with two servants who continually go back and forth for wine, snow and fresh water, where it will be needed quickly. A secret kitchen only for the cardinals, with two cooks, two adjuncts and two waiters and a pastry chef with his assistant."


Persons mentioned in the petition and privilege

Marcello Vestrio Barbiani (? – 1606). Cardinal-Secretary of Brevi (papal letters). The son of a famous lawyer, Barbiani joined the Papal court after his wife, a Roman noblewoman, passed away. In 1596, he was granted a canonicate in the Vatican Basilica. Barbiani served in various capacities under Gregory XIV, Clement VIII, and Paul V, before passing at a very old age shortly before July 9th, 1606. See Giammaria Mazzuchelli, Gli scrittori d’Italia. Vol. 2,1 at 178 (1758).

Giulio Burchioniwas a noted bookseller in Rome at the end of the 16th century. He published works in Italian and Latin, including on Saint Briggita, the administration of the Church in Bologna, and works of Virgil and Sallust. He also published a book on Canon law.

Vincenzo Cervio(1510-1580). Cervio served as a carver for Duke Guidobaldo II of Urbino and Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. Cervio believed that the only true way to carve was to hold the food up on a fork, and then to apply the knife to the food in the air in a spectacular display. "Cervio, Vincenzo (c.1510–c.1580)." The Oxford Companion to Food, edited by Tom Jaine, Oxford University Press, Inc., 3rd edition, 2014. Credo Reference

Reale Fusoritto (active 1590s) served as Cervio’s successor to Cardinal Farnese, and later joined the household of Cardinal Alessandro Damasceni Peretti di Montalto. Little else is known of Fusoritto’s life. The Oxford Companion to Food, edited by Tom Jaine, Oxford University Press, Inc., 3rd edition, 2014. Credo Reference

Cardinal Alessandro Damasceni Peretti di Montalto (1571-1623) grand-nephew of Pope Sixtus V (Felice Peretti), who elevated him to a Cardinalship in 1585, at age 14. In addition to his ecclesiastical functions, Montalto was a significant patron of the arts. See, entry by Simone Testa in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (Treccani) - Volume 82 (2015), ; Salvador Miranda, Biographical Dictionary, The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church,

A marble portrait bust by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, in the collection of the Kunsthalle, Hamburg, can be seen here: .


Please cite as:

Ginsburg, J.C. (2022) ‘Commentary on Sec. Brev. Reg. 208 F. 12 (1593), in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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