The literature relating to the thirteenth century in Italy is of enormous extent, and to master it is a study for years. Even to make a satisfactory list for a student of the works best worth his reading would be a long and difficult task.
In the following notes and in those to the other lectures of this course, I propose to mention only a few of the more important works, and for the most part such only as may be accessible with comparative ease to the general reader, and such as may serve as an introduction to further studies.
Milman's "History of Latin Christianity," vols. IV and V, affords an intelligent, interesting, learned, and in the main, accurate account of the conditions of Europe and especially of Italy, in the thirteenth century.
The best History of Italian Literature is that of Gaspary (2 vols., 8vo.) either in the original German, or in the Italian translation. Bartoli's Storia della Leteratura Italiana, 6 vols., 12mo., the last vol. published in 1889, may also be recommended, but it is diffuse and the judgement of the author is less sound than that of Gaspary.
The book with a similar title by De Sanctis, 2 vols., 12mo., 3d ed., 1879, is of value; but is not free from the faults of the Italian genius.
Dante, et les origines de la Langue et de la Littreature Italiennes, par M. Fauriel, Paris, 1854, 2 vols., 8vo., was an excellent book in its time, and is still worth reading.
For Florence, the Chronicle of Giovanni Villani is of highest interest and importance. If the Chronicle of Dino Compagni were what it professes to be, a contemporary record of events, it would be of incomparable worth: and tho' it be of doubtful genuineness it is still of value.
The Chronica of Fr. Salimbene, mainly written in 1284, gives a most vivid, naive and picturesque image of the conditions of Northern Italy.
To enter into the religious spirit of the time the "Fioretti di San Francesco," and the "Life of St. Francis," by St. Bonaventura, should be read; and for the religious dogma and moral philosophy of the period, the "Summa Theologica" of St. Thomas Aquinas is indispensable.