Closer inspection reveals that this 1588 text is in fact a tri-lingual edition of the Libro del cortegiano, presenting the text in the original Italian, accompanied by the French translation of 1537 and then Hoby’s English in the third column, so that all three versions are simultaneously visible on a single page. This may have been a language-learning device: French was often used as a gateway language for Italian, as contemporary dictionaries and phrase books demonstrate.
The three different styles of typeface used for the three languages – Italian in italic, French in Roman, and English in blackletter – make it easy for the reader to distinguish the three columns; the choices also reflect the style of type commonly used for these three languages in the sixteenth century.
Baldassare Castiglione, translated by Thomas Hoby and anon, The Courtier of Count Baldessar Castilio (London: John Wolfe, 1588), sig. A1r. St John’s College, Cambridge, A.2.47(3). By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge.