Cosimo’s Cosmos: Cosimo Bartoli and Renaissance News

“Cosimo’s Cosmos: Cosimo Bartoli and Renaissance News” is a community-based project to transcribe the letters and newsletters written by Cosimo Bartoli, Medici’s agent in Venice, between 1562 and 1572. It is designed and coordinated by Sara Mansutti, PhD student in Digital Humanities at University College Cork and Doctoral Fellow at the Euronews Project, as part of her doctoral thesis on Cosimo Bartoli.

Cosimo Bartoli (1503-1572) was a true Renaissance polymath: he took part in the Accademia Fiorentina and supported the cultural programme of Cosimo I de’ Medici; he distinguished himself as a publisher, author and translator, in particular for the vernacular translation of Alberti’s De re aedificatoria; he was a close friend of Giorgio Vasari, to whom he also suggested some subjects for the rooms of Palazzo Vecchio.
In 1562 Cosimo Bartoli was appointed agent in Venice by Duke Cosimo I. For ten years, he faithfully served the Medici in Venice. He both administered Medici’s interests in the lagoon and in the Venetian hinterland and kept them up to date with all the information circulating in the cosmopolitan Venice, defined by Duke Cosimo as the city where “all the news of the world converges.”

So far, the study of Bartoli's Venetian years has focused largely only on his letters and on a few particularly important events, neglecting the work that engaged him daily in gathering information. For this reason, Sara Mansutti is creating a digital edition of Cosimo Bartoli's letters and avvisi. It will be a valuable resource for many scholars and students since Bartoli moved between art, culture, and diplomacy, and his documents are full of events and news from all over Europe.

To create this digital edition and deal with nine volumes of documents, she combines two different digital tools: on one side, she used Transkribus to transcribe the manuscripts automatically. After obtaining quite good transcriptions, she has set up a community-based project where people can help her correct and tag the texts. The project, called “Cosimo’s Cosmos: Cosimo Bartoli and Renaissance News,” also represents a way to engage the community through research and give other people the chance to see and work on these documents, otherwise closed in the archive.

Participants are asked to correct the automatically generated transcriptions and tag some words: the abbreviations; the persons who Bartoli met in person or with whom he had an epistolary exchange, to understand how and by whom he got information; and the place and the date in the header of the avvisi.

The project could also be used as an online teaching tool for learning Renaissance Italian: students will benefit from it since they are not asked to transcribe the documents from scratch (which could be scary) but to correct an already transcribed text. Directly reading XVI century primary sources will improve their understanding of the language, the abbreviations and the time in which Bartoli lived.

For more information and to participate in the community-based project, visit the dedicated website: 

Contact email:

Back to top