Penned on November 27, 1467, by the prospective Duke of Milan Ludovico Maria Sforza, the notebook contains a grammatical, literary, and historical commentary on the Rhetorica ad Herennium (late 80s BCE).
Composed under the guidance of humanist Francesco Filelfo, the booklet was meant to show the young boy's mother, Bianca Maria Sforza, Ludovico's progress as a student. The Rhetorica ad Herennium, an unsigned treatise from 90-80 BCE, was one of the most popular rhetoric textbooks used during the Renaissance.
Once Ludovico had written his annotations, expert illuminators took over the decoration, adorning the eight parchment pages with coats of arms and scenes inspired by ancient Greek and Roman history.
In January 1863, the codex was given to Victor Emmanuel II of Italy by the marquis Vittorio Emanuele Tapparelli d’Azeglio, who had purchased it in London in 1860.