EUROPEAN CHRISTIANITY AGAINST THE OTTOMAN TURKS
Dell’Historia di S. Luigi IX e delle Cose piu Memorabili occorse nella Guerra da lui fatta con Saraceni per l’Acquisto di Terra Santa.
Venice, Francesco Baba, 1628.
FIRST EDITION thus. 4to. pp. (viii) 308 (xxxvi). Italic letter. Fine engraved architectural title with putti holding the arms of Louis IX above, signed M. Greuter, instruments of war and science to the sides, arms of the French Royal house beneath, woodcut printer’s device on recto of last. Large floriated woodcut initials, woodcut and typographical headpieces and ornaments, notes on the text in early hand on rear pastedown. Tiny worm holes to blank margins of title page, small burn hole in engraved border, light mostly marginal spotting, small light water stain in lower blank corner of first part, lower blank corner of Qq2 cut out, the occasional thumb mark and oil spot, small worm trail in blank upper margin towards end over two quires. A good, well margined copy, in contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, upper cover a little stained with ink spots, title manuscript on spine.
First edition of the Italian translation of this important and popular history of the crusades of Louis IX against the Turks for possession of the Holy Places, by the French historian, playwriter, and poet Pierre Matthieu, translated into Italian by Battista Parchi, and dedicated by him to Angello Contarini, the Venetian ambassador and patron of Galileo. Contarini was sent to London in 1625 to congratulate Charles I on his accession.
Matthieu studied with the Jesuits, where he quickly mastered Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, later studying law at Valencia, and practicing at Lyon. He was among the members of a delegation sent by the people of Lyon to Henry IV in February 1594 to assure him of their loyalty. The king toured the city the following year, and Matthieu was responsible for overseeing the ceremonies for the royal reception. The success of his intervention, and the protection of his patron Pierre Jeannin in Paris allowed him to obtain the title of historian. He was well received at Court, and was on close terms with the King, who was not averse to instructing him on the specifics of his reign.
Matthieu fell ill in Toulouse while accompanying Louis XIII during the siege of Montauban and died at the age of 58. He was the author of numerous histories, mostly covering the period of Henry III and IV and the civil wars, and a few monographs such as this one, which was particularly successful and was translated into both English and Italian.
The work extensively covers the two crusades of Louis IX, which, though unsuccessful, brought him great prestige, and reflects the contemporary concern with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. Book One gives a brief history of Louis’ youth and his accession to the throne, and describes the background and preparations for Louis’ first crusades. Book Two describes his approximately 15,000-strong army, including 3,000 knights and 5,000 crossbowmen, who sailed on 36 ships from the port of Aigues-Mortes, specifically built in preparation for the crusade. His arrival and stay in Cyprus are also detailed, besides his landing in Egypt and the capture there of the town of Damietta. Book Three describes the march to Cairo, the siege of Mansourah, and Louis’ eventual defeat and capture. Book Four describes the death of the King on his attempt at a second crusade and gives an account of his beatification. Much of his work is derived from Jean de Joinville’s ‘Histoire de Saint Louis,’ though Matthieu’s account is particularly vivid and entertaining.
BM STC It, C17. II p. 558. Brunet III 1531 “Ouvrage recherchee a cause des pieces qu’il renferme.” (of the edition of 1605).