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Antonio Catalano's Teaching Licence, Venice (1545)

Source: scanned from the manuscript held in the Venetian State Archives: ASV, Senato Terra, filza 2, 18 Dec 1545.

Antonio Catalano's Teaching Licence, Venice (1545), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

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Chapter 1 Page 1

Most Serene Prince

      Whereas I, Antonio Catalano, a French nobleman and Doctor from the University of Paris,
have made great and extreme efforts for a long time, as well as innumerable expenses, in order to
acquire the principal art or, rather, doctrine of grammar, this being the door and road which lead
one with ease to the other sciences of whatever kind they may be, and whereas many abandon it
because of the extreme efforts and long time that have to be spent on learning so many books and
consigning various sorts of rules to one's mind, and yet others do so for reasons of poverty, so that
in the greater part of the world people, despairing of so high an enterprise, allow such a virtue to
be lost, together with all the other benefits and honours which may be obtained though knowledge
of Latin; and so, Most Serene Prince, I, the aforementioned Antonio Catalano, after my long
efforts and assiduous study for 28 years, or more, in the liberal arts, have found an easy and brief
method for teaching the fundamentals of grammar, in such a way that within the briefest stretch of
time any pupil of mine of average intelligence is able to tell, from the mere pronunciation or
spelling of a Latin word, to what gender and declension it belongs, and with which class of adjectives
it agrees, as well as finding out many other beautiful and concise secrets which, in terms of their brevity
and the shortness of time it takes to communicate them, could not be revealed by any other than me.
And I, who am bound by the laws of Christian charity to my neighbours, was overcome by the thought of
this happy and noble Venetian Republic, where so many noblemen and men of a lofty frame of mind,
devoted to virtue, have their abode, and I chose it, over and above all the other cities of the world, in
order to reveal and teach here this skill and brief art of mine, and, after a while, some other, worthier
skills too, for the benefit and glory of this your Magnificent City. That is why, o Serene Prince, it is
just that since I teach a virtue of such worth, and can do so in so short a space of time, none of my
pupils to whom I have imparted such a virtue should be able to run a public school offering to teach
it there, without a specific licence from me, nor should anyone of them be allowed to have it printed
under his or another's name, to my detriment and loss. And so for this reason I beseech Your Serenity
on my knees to deign to push through the motion in your most excellent Senate, that none of my
pupils may venture to teach others this grammar of mine, nor to offer lessons to the public, nor,
above all, to have it printed under his or someone else's name, nor to give it to anyone outside of
your Most Illustrious Dominion, without a specific licence from me, during the space of ten years,
on pain of whatever penalties seem fitting to your Most Just Serenity, to whom I present my best
and humblest respects.

1545, 18 December

May it be granted to Don Antonio Catalano, Doctor from the
University of Paris, that for the next ten years no one shall be
allowed, without his consent, to teach grammar to others using
the new method with which he teaches it, to give public or
private lessons, or to print or cause to be printed this new
method in Venice or any other place under her jurisdiction,
or to sell there copies of it which have been printed elsewhere.
On pain of a fine of 200 ducats to be imposed on anyone
who acts against this, and also of losing the works in question,
which fine is to be divided in three parts and shared out between
the denouncer, the magistrate or authorities by whom the
punishment is executed, and to the supplicant Don Antonio.

Ayes_________ 99
Nays_________ 15
Not sincere____ 16

Translation by: Luis Sundkvist


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