ILLUSTRATED SAMMELBAND ON MUSCOVY AND THE OTTOMANS

Türckische Historien. (with) Moscoviter wunderbare Historien.

1) Frankfurt, Paul Reffler, in v. Kilian Rebarts, 1570; 2) Basel, haer. Nikolaus Brylinger & Marx Russinger, 1567.

£13,750

Folio. Two works in one, separate t-p to each. Large Gothic letter, in red and black. Decorated initials. I) Three parts in one, ff. (xxviii) 85 (iii); ff. 105 (v); ff. 56. 18 large woodcuts of Ottoman sultans. II) pp. (xxiv) 246 (vi). Printer’s device to t-p; woodcut of Tsar with arms of Moscow to verso; five full-page woodcuts of bison, weapons, skis, sledges, and Russian cavalry; three engraved double-page maps of Muscovy with arms of the Herberstein family, two on stubs. Light age browning, a bit heavier to a few ll., intermittent light water stain towards outer margins, small ink splash to first t-p, marginal worm trail to one gathering, lower outer corners a bit marked, traces of dividers to a few outer margins. Good, well-margined, clean copy in contemporary German pigskin over bevelled wooden boards, two clasps, fore-edges blue. Blind-tooled to a triple-rule panel design, outer border with interlacing foliage, second with allegorical female figures of Caritas, Spes, Fortitudo, Fides, and binder’s monogram ‘MG’, third with male heads in roundels and arms of Augsburg and Saxony, and another unidentified, ‘MG’ repeated, central panel with two rolls of images of Sts John and Peter, and Christ, surrounded by male heads in roundels, arms of Augsburg and another unidentified. Lower cover slightly rubbed.

The handsome binding, the detail of which remains very crisp, was made by Matthias Gärtner (e.g., EBDB r003532 and EBDB r003484), active in Augsburg between 1563 and 1590.

A finely illustrated sammelband of uncommon German ethnographic surveys of Muscovy and the Ottoman territories. I) Translated and edited by Heinrich Müller, ‘Türckische Historien’ is an adaptation of influential contemporary works on the Ottomans. The first part is based on the Italian version of the ‘Palinodia de los Turcos’ by Vasco Díaz Tanco de Fregenal (c.1490-c.1573), a Spanish humanist and polymath. It is a compendium of the history of the Turks inspired by Paolo Giovio’s renowned ‘Commentario de le cose de’ Turchi’ (Rome, 1532). Like traditional ethnographic accounts, it employs anecdotes and vivid episodes to enrich historical events, spanning the origins of the Turks and the war between Selim III, Charles V and the Serenissima. Unlike its source, this translation is handsomely illustrated with portraits of Ottoman Sultans. The second part, which bears a separate t-p and the date 1565, is based on ‘I cinque libri della legge, religione, et vita de’ Turchi’ (Venice and Florence, 1548) by Giovan Antonio Menavino (b. 1492). It is an account of the time Menavino spent at the court of the Sultan of Constantinople after being captured by the Turks aboard a ship, and contains a wealth of information on Turkish customs, laws, religion, institutions, and army, including observations on temples, burials, and ‘hospitals’ for the relief of pilgrims, travellers, the poor and sick. The third part, with a separate t-p and the date 1563, is an edition of ‘Ursachen des Türkenkriegs’ (Strasbourg, 1558) by Johannes Aventinus (Johann Georg Turmair) (1477-1534), a German historian and philologist. Aventinus analyses the religious, political and military causes of the Turkish wars, adding that the papal crusades had corrupted the principles of a just war with the market of indulgences. II) ‘Moscoviter wunderbare Historien’ is a translation of ‘Rerum Moscovitarum Commentarii’ (1549) by the historian and diplomat Sigmund von Herberstein (1486-1566). Written between 1517 and 1527, it relies heavily on Herberstein’s personal experience and interactions with Russian people, whose language he could speak. The woodcuts and maps are in excellent condition; this is one of the earliest illustrations of the use of skis. The maps depict the topography of Muscovy, from its boundary with Livonia to Siberia, its physical conformation, rivers, lakes, and vegetation, and the first modern plan of the city of Moscow. They are elegantly engraved and in such fine detail that individual features and buildings are easily identifiable. 

I) Only Harvard copy recorded in the US.

USTC 695747, 626839, and 627141; Göllner 1264.

II) Only Kansas copy recorded in the US.

USTC 676477; Graesse III, 245; BM STC Ger. p. 397.

L2769

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