A ROYAL AMERICANUM

The Imperiall historie, or the lives of the Emperours, from Iulius Caesar… 

London, Mathew Lownes, 1623. 

£13,500

FIRST EDITION thus. Folio. [xii], 867, [i]. A-4C⁶, 4D⁸. Roman letter, some Italic. Engraved title with figure of ‘Germanie’ above, Roman Emperor to left and German Emperor to right (Jonson, Anon 27), large historiated and smaller floriated initials, woodcut head and tail-pieces, typographical ornaments, ‘1713’ ms. with shelf mark and price at head of pastedown, engraved bookplate of Maurice Burrus at side, his purchase label “Maggs 1936’ on rear fly. Light age yellowing, some minor mostly marginal spotting, closed tear expertly restored on title. A very good copy in stunning contemporary olive morocco for Charles I, covers gilt ruled to a panel design, outer dentelle border of repeated small gilt tools, large fleurons to corners, central panel with an all over semée of alternate rose and lozenge tools, arms of Charles I gilt stamped at centres, spine with gilt tooled raised bands, gilt ruled in compartments with gilt ruled and gilt scrolled ‘false bands’ at centre of each compartment, richly gilt with small tools in each half compartment, edges gilt ruled, remains of blue silk ties, bound upside-down. 

A stunning copy of this work, the second edition of the English translation by Traheron of Mexia’s ‘Historia imperial y cesárea’, enlarged by the historian Edward Grimstone, in a  remarkable Royal binding for Charles I. This work was printed the same year as Charles’ trip to Spain for the ‘Spanish match’. “The other English-Spanish translation published in this annus mirabilis was an edition of Pedro de Mexia’s The Imperiall Historie, first published in 1604, with additional material written by the Sergeant at arms Edward Grimestone and dedicated to Lionel Cranfield the Lord High Treasurer.” Alexander Samson ‘The Spanish Match: Prince Charles’s Journey to Madrid, 1623’. The superb binding is similar in style and structure to one in the BL shelfmark c18c4, also with a dentelle border with an all over semi of small tools around the arms of Charles I. It is the work of the highest quality using the finest materials. It was most probably made for Charles’ library, and not just for one of the Royal chapels. It is hardly a coincidence that this work was published the year of Charles I’s trip to Spain for the ‘Spanish Match’, and the combination of this work in this binding would suggest a presentation copy to Charles, probably from Grimestone. 

“One of the later royal historians appointed in the age of Charles V, Mexia shared with his predecessor the distinction of writing a text that was popular both in Spain and abroad. Eight Castilian editions of his Historia Imperial y Cesarea were printed between 1545 and 1665 in Seville, Madrid, Basel and Antwerp. The Italian translation by Ludovico Dolce was even more successful. Between 1558 and 1688 at least seventeen Italian editions were printed in Venice, some of which included the lives of Charles V, Maximilian II, and Ferdinand. A German translation was printed in Basel in 1564, and two English translations by William Traheron and Edward Grimestone were published in London in 1604 and 1623, respectively. In total, at least twenty-eight editions were printed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, making it the most successful of the Spanish Imperial histories after that of Guevara. It surpassed Guevara, however, in the influence and reputation that it enjoyed in Spain, where it was considered a fundamental work by the educated class in the later half of the sixteenth century. Viewed as free of lies and exagerations of chivalric literature, the Historia Imperial was considered by some contemporaries to be the first general work of humanist history written in Castilian.” Thomas James Dandelet. ‘The Renaissance of Empire in Early Modern Europe.’

“Grimeston wrote a number of ‘continuations’ to large scholarly works including two editions of the Historie of France .. and his translation of Pedro Mexia’s The Imperiall Historie (1623) whose continuation had some topical overlap with Grimeston’s continuation for the third edition of the History (1621)”. Anders Ingram. ‘English Literature on the Ottoman Turks in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries’.

A stunning Royal binding. 

ESTC S114709. STC 17852. Lowndes 1541. Alden 623/82

L3056