Nuovo Ragionamento del Fabricare le Fortezze. (with) Modo di formare con prestezza le moderne battaglie di picche, archibugieri, et cavalleria.

Brescia, Giovanni Francesco & Pietro Maria de’ Marchetti, 1571.


FIRST and only early editions 4to., ff. [iv] 35 i.e. 34 ; [iv] 30 [i]. Two works in one, separate title pages to each. Roman letter, Aldine-style anchor and dolphin device to both title pages, illustrations and diagrams to both works, one double page to first, 3 double to second, woodcut initials and large ornaments. Three bifolia diagrams to first work unsewn as issued, first title page very slightly soiled. Very good unsophisticated copy in contemp. English calf, a bit rubbed, blind panel with gilt central and corner fleurons, spine gilt in compartments, morocco lettering piece, small restoration, lacking ties. C14th English vellum manuscript stub, rubricated, blue initial, C16th manuscript autographs of Thomas Knyvett in Italic and Secretary hands on first title page, armorial bookplate of the Earl of Macclesfield on pastedown, Shirburn castle blindstamp at head of first two leaves, early press mark inside front cover and classification on blank verso of last.

The first work is an argument on how to build fortresses to make them safer, both in theory and practice, a reminder of the prestige Cataneo enjoyed as a military architect and mathematician whose treatises had a powerful influence on military building across the Mediterranean and the coast of Africa. It also covers how to measure great distances. The second explains in great detail how to calculate the necessary numbers and arrange formations of pikemen, artillerymen and cavalry, how to march and be effective in battle, with the help of illustrations.

Sir Thomas Knyvett (1539-1618), barrister, of a leading Norfolk family with estates in Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Staffordshire and Yorkshire started to build his splendid collection after the first flood of books and manuscripts from the monastic libraries.

At his death his library numbered approximately 1,400 titles and 70 manuscripts on various subjects, as recorded in his library catalogue now in Cambridge University Library, which also received much of his collection in 1715. Favouring original texts, he became proficient in many languages, nurturing a particular love of Italian, owning at least 80 Italian books. Never a very rich man, the size of his library is extraordinary for the period, and it is likely that many of his books were obtained second hand. This binding is typical of those bound for his collection. Of the five works by Cataneo listed in his catalogue (which mentions this volume), none were later gifted to Cambridge.

i. BM STC It. 158. Riccardi I 315, 5. Cockle 779. IA 133.930. Censimento 16 CNCE 10303. Cat. Col. Bibl. Esp. C 1188. Not in Gamba or Adams.


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