Privilege is granted to Aldus Manutius by the Venetian government for the production of his new italic typeface
Leonardo Lauredano, by the grace of God, Doge of the Venetians, etc., gives his greeting and expression of love to each and every one present to whom this letter has come. Aldus Manutius Romanus, a man of singular virtue and endowed with erudition has lived for a long time in this city and, with divine help has attended to correcting, printing, and publishing with utmost care and diligence as many books as possible both in Latin and in Greek, with the characters of both languages so ingeniously worked out and composed that they seem written by pen, a matter which has marvelously delighted the minds of all scholarly men. So that he can be better at leisure to amend books on a daily basis in both Latin and Greek and, for the common advantage of all learned men, publish them, accurately printed in his chambers, he has humbly sought that no one else in our dominion may be able to make or counterfeit Greek letters or print in Greek, nor make or counterfeit characters of even those Latin letters, which they commonly call cursive and chancery, or copy or cause them to be made, nor print books with those very characters, or sell those that have been printed elsewhere. And that no one else may be able to print with impunity what volumes he himself has had printed in type and will have had hereafter, or bring volumes printed in foreign territories to our state for sale, under penalty of losing his work and trade or his books from now up to ten years, and the sum of 200 ducats, however many times anyone will have dared to counterfeit. Let a third part of this penalty go toward the pious Orphanage of this our city, a third part to our rectors and our magistrates, to whom it will have been denounced, likewise let another third be the denouncer’s. Moreover, as we have understood, having heard well, considered, and carefully weighed the petition of Aldus himself, how much he has profited us and he can profit all scholars, both those who are, and will be afterward in years to come, and how many labors he has continually endured already for many years in inventing and fashioning characters of both languages so that they might imitate the hand of the best scribe; and as we have realized also how much and with what great care he has toiled at printing books so that each, thoroughly corrected, might go out into the hands of men, and indeed how much he has expended and does expend wholly in this state certainly and in his own worthy province, so that he may be able, in what manner he began, to persevere and to bring help to the enduring commonwealth of letters in this our city, in which, by divine help, he now has control of even the Neacademia which favor he sought, we have generously conceded to Aldus himself by the authority of our senate of the Rogators and by the tenor of those present. Therefore we wish and we effectively command each one of you to observe the courtesy and our concession and attend in like manner to observe inviolably the petition of the same Aldus, which we have submitted with all conditions imposed with the aforementioned Senate.
And if Aldus himself or his agents will have determined that the petition ought to be published in our states, lands, and our territories, it is our intention, that you see to it that it is made public in the customary locations and where it will have seemed advantageous utterly without any contradiction, just as we are especially confident in your obedience and we fully hope in the benevolence of the Friends.
Given in our Ducal Palace on the fourteenth day of November in the sixth census. AD 1502
Praise to God
Antoine-Augustin Renouard, Des annales de l’imprimerie des Aldes (Paris, 1834; New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll, 1991), pp. 504–5. Translated from the Latin by Jeffrey A. Streed.