Voices from the 17th Century: Angelo Notari Corresponds With His Doctor



In spite of Angelo Notari living to the age of ninety-seven, we know relatively little about his life. Born in Padua, Italy, he came to settle in England at the beginning of the seventeenth century where he was one of a handful of Italian musicians employed at the courts of Charles I and Charles II, as well as other nobility.

To my knowledge, only one letter in Notari’s hand survives from his lifetime, written in 1642 just before the start of the English Civil War while he was a member of the household of Lady Herbert. Notari was in his mid-seventies when he wrote the letter to what is presumed to be his doctor. You can imagine that at his age medical concerns were always an issue.

“All this time I have been living in the hope of coming to see Your Excellency personally and to kiss your hand; but as I see that my Lady Herbert continues to put off her decision to come to Bath and to bring her little boy with her, I did not wish to miss the opportunity of paying my respects…and of reporting to you that I have finished copying the book of medicine which I promised you, but do not send it because I have found many faults in the original and wish, with your help, to amend them, as I intend to keep a copy for myself as well; none die less I live in the hope of seeing you this summer in Bath, and if my hope should be vain, I will come, God willing, to find you in Gloucester, when you go to visit your home town, and will bring the book with me. Meanwhile I ask Your Excellency to favor me with a prescription to cure an ailment, as you promised me when you were here at Grainge; I assure you that I will keep in the utmost secrecy anything that comes from your hands, and will remain eternally indebted to you. I shall be very pleased to hear news of you some time. I pray you to excuse my troubling you and to keep me in your good favor, and in conclusion may God bring you everything good, and I kiss your hand.”

Learn more: Notari’s brief biography.

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