De Rep. Anglorum Instauranda Libri Decem. (with) In Laudem Henrici Octavi. (and) De Illustrium Quorundum Encomiis Miscellanea.

London, Thomas Vautrollier, 1579.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. (xxiv) 379 (i). Italic letter; foliated woodcut initials and strap-work headpieces, some with contemporary colour, armorial woodcut portrait to verso of first title¬†page with contemporary hand colouring, title with woodcut ‘anchor of hope’ printer’s device with some red, thin ink smudge, neat early autograph of G. Carleton at head. A very good, clean, well-margined copy in C18th, straight-grained morocco over heavy boards, triple gilt and blind-ruled, corner gilt ornaments, spine gilt, re-backed in morocco re-back. Contemporary manuscript account of the contents, book by book, on first free end-paper, ‘underlying political meanings’ in Greek in contemporary hand at head; C17th list of contents of last two books at end, followed by results of battles in the war against the Scots, in a contemporary hand.

De republica Anglorum instauranda is an impressive work of some eight thousand lines of Latin hexameter, in contrast to the mode at the time for short poems and epigrams, examples of which are also included in this volume. It represents a landmark in English Humanism. The text is an allegorical epic in ten books about the state of Britain, and includes an elegy on the death of Lady Jane Grey. The first book sees Britannia personified, wounded by manifold iniquities and bemoaning her cruel fate, the Virgilian undertones evidencing Chaloner’s grasp of the Pastoral. It goes on to tacitly address principles of statecraft and government, covering i.a. the need for children to learn from the example of their parents and to have pride in fighting for one’s country, with the last book dwelling on the English constitution, interspersed with Classical references to the Furies, Ulysses, Nemesis and Tartarus.

The second, shorter, book is composed in praise of Henry VIII, while the third is an encomium to Queen Elizabeth and a selection of epigrams and epitaphs. Chaloner was particularly known for his translation into English of Erasmus’ Moriae Encomium, published 1549, and the comparatively low-profile of this work, published posthumously, remains inexplicable. Chaloner enjoyed a close friendship with Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, who sponsored the publication of the work, in memoriam. He also arranged the editing the poems, which was entrusted to a William Malin, who added a verse argument to each book.

Chaloner studied at both Oxford and Cambridge, accompanied Sir Thomas Knyvett’s embassy to the court of Charles V, under whom he served on the expedition to Algiers, and was knighted by the Duke of Somerset for his valour at Musselborough field. In later life he became a Member of Parliament, clerk of the Privy Council, and ambassador to France and Spain. A French scholar and printer, Vautrollier was compelled to flee London for Edinburgh having printed the controversial Jordanus Brutus, later gaining recognition as the catalyst for a great improvement in the standard of printing in Scotland.

STC 4938. ESTC S107652.


Print This Item Print This Item