Edicts et ordonnances des roys de France… 

Paris, Jacques du Puys, 1580. 

£4,250

FIRST EDITION. Folio, vol. one of four. pp. [cii] 827 [xlvii]; ã4, *6 , +-4+4, 5+6, a-d6, a-z6, A-Z6, AA-ZZ6, (ZZ6 blank), &&6, ãã-ee6, ii4 (last blank). Roman letter, some Italic. Du Puy’s beautiful large fountain device on title, fine grotesque woodcut initials, head and tail-pieces, autograph “Abraham Girard, 1620” Bookplate of Maurice Burrus on pastedown, his mms. purchase label on rear fly. Light age yellowing, rare marginal minor stain. A fine copy, crisp and clean with good margins in contemporary calf, covers with large central, gilt stamped scrolled and hatched arabesque, spine with raised bands, large fleuron gilt at centres, title gilt lettered in compartments, covers probably C19th overworked in gilt with a border of painted scroll work in yellow red and black, spine compartments in a similar style, small loss from head and foot of spine.

A beautifully bound copy of Fontanon’s major work, one of the first works to attempt a compilation of the Royal edicts in France. The already very handsome contemporary binding was probably over worked in the C19th with a sumptuous, beautifully worked, painted scroll-work decoration in a contemporary style. This overworking was not necessarily done to deceive but to supply the taste for such rich bindings both in England and France.

The Estates General under Henry III, particularly the Ordinances of Blois, called for the codification of French Royal Law. “More specifically, code 207 of Blois responded to the unanimous petitions from the estates with the promise to produce a one-volume compilation of French royal law. Before the King had time to carry out his promise, a private initiative saw the light of day which attempted just that. Antoine Fontanon, ‘avocat’ at the Parelment of Paris, published the first edition of his compilation in 1580. The preface explained that the mammoth task had been a collaborative enterprise, based on earlier attempts, especially that of Pierre Rebuffy. He was assisted by Adrien DuBrac, Pierre Pithou, and others. Fontanon’s compilation was impressive in its scale and accuracy. It was organised primarily not by date, but by subject matter, following the categorisation (though not the order) of the Ordinances of Blois. Fontanon made careful ‘abstracts’ of many edicts, noting alterations during their registration by the Parlement. Explicit in the work was therefore a defence of the authority of the Parlement and a vision of the French Monarchy as, since its institution ‘sous le nom du peuple Francois’, always moderated by the ‘loix tres-sainctes & coustumes louables’. That was not at all what Henry III had in mind. So, three years later, to coincide with the Assembly of Notables at Saint-Germain-en-laye, he asked the premier président of the Parlement of Paris, Barnabé Brisson .. to coordinate a new ‘official’ compilation.” Mark Greengrass ‘Governing Passions: Peace and Reform in the French Kingdom, 1576-1585

A fine copy in a beautiful binding.

USTC 45413. Saffroy 8703. ‘Ouvrage important sur les institutions, la noblesse et les matières féodales’. Andrew Pettegree. French Vernacular Books, 40681.

L3055

Print This Item Print This Item