Chancellor Coluccio Salutati

Coluccio Salutati was born on 6 February 1331 (or, according to a recent hypothesis, 1332) in Stignano, now in the province of Pistoia. He studied in Bologna, became a notary and initially worked near his birthplace in the Nievole river valley.

He was appointed chancellor—the person responsible for drawing up and issuing official communal documents—in Todi (1367). Unhappy with the position, he unsuccessfully sought long-term employment with the pope in Rome. He was subsequently named chancellor of the Commune of Lucca (1370) and, starting on 19 April 1375, of the Commune of Florence.

Until his death (4 May 1406) and for posterity he was the very epitome of the Florentine chancellor, taking up the legacy of the first one, Brunetto Latini (Dante’s mentor) and spawning a prestigious line of humanistic chancellors. Two of them, Leonardo Bruni and Poggio Bracciolini, were his pupils and spiritual heirs (Entry n. 1) .

The Revolt of the Ciompi, the clash with the temporal power of the Church and the terrible—albeit ultimately victorious—battle against Milan occurred during this period. Salutati put all his artistry as a wordsmith at the service of Florence and even the city’s enemies acknowledged that his letters were far more terrifying than weapons.