Canzone nella natività di nostro signor Giesù Christo. Nella allegrezza della vittoria havuta contra i turchi.

Venice, Domenico Farri, 1572.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. ff. 4 unnumbered, A4. Roman letter, with Italic. T-p with printer’s device, decorated initial and tailpiece. Tiny hole to second fol. not affecting text, light marginal foxing and very faint water stain to last. An excellent, well-margined copy, crisp and clean, in black and brown floral paper over pasteboards. Printed ex-libris ‘Sefik E. Atabey’ to front pastedown, early inscription ‘L. [Ludovico?] Arcivesco di Monreale’ to t-p.

Excellent, crisp and clean copy of this very uncommon C16 poem celebrating the crucial victory at Lepanto in 1571, when the Holy League, led by the Spanish Empire and the Serenissima, crushed the Ottoman fleet. Giovanni Paolo Forzanini (fl. 1570-90) was a Jesuate friar from Castenedolo, near Brescia; he authored pamphlets on moral philosophy and theology, and six ‘canzoni’ on Lepanto. Written in December 1571 and published on January 1, 1572, the ‘Canzone nella natività’ presents the Christians’ happiness for the recent Ottoman defeat as spiritually akin to their joy for Christ’s nativity—e.g., ‘let’s praise Christ made human / Whilst enjoying the loot of the Pagans’. Like Forzanini’s ‘Cinque canzoni’, published the same year, it was one of hundreds of ‘lyrical-religious epics’ celebrating the victory at Lepanto, a popular though short-lived Italian genre at which even James VI of Scotland tried his hand.

This copy was in the famous library amassed by Ludovico II de Torres (1552-1609), Archbishop of Monreale. The nephew of Ludovico de Torres I, who had played a part in convincing Philip II to join the war against the Turks, he owned a miscellaneous collection of 76 pamphlets and broadsides on Lepanto published between 1571 and 1582, including copies of Forzanini’s ‘Canzone nella natività’ and ‘Canzoni cinque’.

Sefik E. Atabey owned a library of over 1300 books, manuscripts and maps printed before the mid-C19 and relating to the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East.

Only Huntington copy recorded in the US.

USTC 830429; Atabey 452. Not in Göllner. S. Mammana, Lèpanto: Rime per la vittoria sul Turco, Roma, 2007; F. Mango, Una miscellanea sconosciuta del sec. XVI: Note bibliografiche, Palermo, 1894.


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