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Original scientific paper
Anselmo Banduri (1675–1743) – A Ragusan Benedictine in Paris
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Pages 131 - 186
As a child, Anselmo Banduri displayed a great interest in studying antiquity and its remains. This inclination of his found encouragement in his brother-in-law’s cabinet of antiquities and ancient coins. As an adolescent, Banduri joined the Benedictine Order and completed the probationary year in the monastery of St. James of Višnjica, just outside the Ragusan gate of Ploče.
Around the year 1696, Banduri left his native shores for good and sailed off to Italy, where he would stay in several Benedictine houses (such as St. Lawrence in Aversa near Naples, and the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome, where he completed the three-year course, receiving the degree of lector). Presumably in 1698, Banduri managed to settle for a longer period of time in Florence, in the famous Benedictine abbey of Badia Fiorentina. He was there able to dedicate himself fully to his favourite activities: searching through the contents of Florentine libraries (the Medici Laurenziana, the libraries of the Florentine monasteries of Badia Fiorentina, St. Mark and others). In Florence, Banduri would come across a large number of letters written by the fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian humanists Coluccio Salutati, Leonardo Bruni and Poggio Bracciolini, the publication of which, together with Petrarch’s dissertations De viribus illustribus and Familiares, discovered later in the royal libraries in Paris, would face strong papal opposition and thus end by being definitely abandoned.
Having won the attention of Grand Duke Cosimo III, Banduri soon started nurturing more ambitious hopes, especially after being introduced to the famous French Maurist Bernard de Montfaucon, at that time passing through Florence in search of Latin and Greek manuscripts. Becoming a valuable assistant to the French scholar, as the latter himself acknowledged, Banduri glimpsed the prospect of spending a couple of years in the renowned Paris abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, whose teachers’ board had the delicate task of choosing from an ever-growing number of aspiring student candidates. The difficulties that had to be overcome in order to earn the yearned-for student place in the Maurist abbey come clearly to light in the letters that Banduri addressed to Bernard de Montfaucon from Florence, in the period between May 1700 and September 1701 (this correspondence is now kept in the Manuscript Department of the French National Library in Paris, 17702, f° 117–131). On February 20, 1702, Paris was finally reached. Banduri settled in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where he would quickly join the “publishing teams” working on editions of collected works written by the Fathers of the Church.
Already in 1705, Banduri announced, in a booklet with the title of Conspectus operum sancti Nicephori, a two-volume collection of the works of St. Nicephorus, an eighth-century patriarch of Constantinople. Directed by the scholarly circles close to the abbey towards somewhat more valuable manuscripts, Banduri abandoned the edition of St. Nicephorus’ works and started working on compiling sources for his voluminous book of Byzantine history, the Imperium Orientale (Paris 1711, 2 vols. of approximately 700 pages each). During that period all the reports sent by Montfaucon to Banduri’s protector in Florence, Grand Duke Cosimo, contained only words of praise and delight. Such feelings were solidly based upon Banduri’s irreproachable religious manners and dedicated studies. All these favourable circumstances helped Banduri get elected, in 1715, as one of the three first foreign honorary members of the royal Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres. Three years later, another grandiose Latin work of Banduri’s, his Numismata imperatorum Romanorum a Trajano Decio ad Palaeologos Augustos (Paris 1718), essentially an extensive catalogue of later Roman and Byzantine coins, appeared on the scholarly market, but in the following year, the first voices of dissent could be heard coming from his fellow monks. The origin of their discontent lay in Banduri’s religious discipline, up to that moment faultless, which, over the years, lost some of its initial zeal. While working on his Numismata, Banduri grew ever more distant from abbey life, spending his days mostly in the vicinity of the clique surrounding the duchess of Orléans, Elisabeth Charlotte von der Pfalz, mother of the future regent, Philip II.
Madame, as she was known, greatly favoured Banduri’s numismatic work, being herself a woman of remarkable intellectual interests. Thus, in 1724, Banduri changed his address and moved to the Palais Royal, where he was appointed the chief librarian of the regent’s son, the young duke of Chartres. In his small Palais Royal apartment Banduri would spend the last two decades of his life. The Numismata would eventually carry the title of the last editorial project of his that came into being. Rather disappointed by the gradual eclipsing of his scholarly renown during his lifetime, he died on January 14, 1743.
A few months later, Nicolas Fréret pronounced a discourse in his honour at an assembly of the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres. Banduri’s Numismata would retain their scientific aura until the end of the eighteenth century and the publishing of Eckel’s Doctrina numorum veterum. The version of Constantine Porphyrogenitus’ De administrando imperio that Banduri included in his Imperium Orientale, based on the comparison that he made between the existing Meursius edition of the text and the newly found Paris manuscript, still serves as the basis for translations of the emperor’s treatise into modern languages.
Anselmo Banduri (Bandurović); Dubrovnik; Benedictine Order; Maurists; Florence; Paris