La storia di Raugia.

Lucca, Vincenzio Busdraghi, 1595.

£2,750

4to, pp. (4) 52, (4) 53-120, (4) 121-184, (12). Roman and Italic letter, printed side notes. Woodcut architectural title border with figures of putti, masks, garlands and shield inscribed “Libertas”; floriated and historiated initials, typographical ornaments; colophon with printer’s woodcut device on p. 184. Light age yellowing and foxing, some spotting, small paper flaws to a couple of leaves, minor browning to first ll. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, edges sprinkled red, early case mark inked to spine in compartments, remains of ties, text block loosening, “Del’ Cont’Ugo della Gherardesca” in early hand on front endpaper and family library stamp (C19) to lower corner of t-p.

Rare, apparently second, extended edition of this first interesting account of the history of Ragusa (Dubrovnik), original city of the Eastern Adriatic coast. There are no recorded copies of the first ed., supposedly published in 1588 (L. Matteucci, Saggio di un catalogo delle edizioni lucchesi di Vincenzo Busdrago, 1917-1918). Fra Serafino Razzi (1531-1611) was a Florentine scholar and Dominican monk. After travelling in Italy and France, between 1577 and 1578 he was Head of the Dominican monastery of Ragusa, in Dalmatia. He also wrote on theology, philosophy and hagiography, and composed liturgical music.

Between the 15th and 16th centuries the merchants and the city squares of the flourishing republic of Dubrovnik inspired numerous literary works. For instance, in the “Discourses on Livy” (Book 1) Machiavelli included Dubrovnik in his political analysis, as a model of aristocratic republicanism. From 1358 to 1808 Ragusa existed as a free town and state. Although it was surrounded by enemies (the South-Slavic states, the Turks and Venice), the city retained its independence thanks to proficient diplomacy with the Hungarian-Croatian state, the Ottoman empire, the Roman Pope and the Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs.

Taking the model of Nicolò Ragnina’s chronicle, Razzi wrote an account providing valuable information on commerce, religion, architecture and language, especially Venetian and Slavic. The work reveals an ambivalent image of the “Serenissima”. If on one side Venetians are depicted as plotters against Dubrovnik’s independence, on the other the Venetian republic is praised as an ideal government, along the lines of the famous “myth of Venice”.

The first part of the work includes a letter from the author to Dubrovnik’s rulers with thanksgiving for their support and a list of the 132 aristocratic families. The second part consists of three books, preceded by prefaces. After an introduction regarding the origins of the Dalmatian people from Noah and his descendants, and the geographical features of the region, the first book describes the events until 1400, from the foundation of the city (526) on the ruins of Epidaurus, to the countless battles against the Venetians from 871 to the end of the 14th century, and the intervention of the Byzantine and Hungarian Emperors. The deadly plague of 1348 is briefly mentioned and several pages are dedicated to the erection of the churches and to miraculous events from the lives of Saints (the eremite Ilarione, Saint Blaise, etc.). The second book deals with the period from 1400 to 1540, especially focusing on the Ottoman wars and the action taken by the Pope and the Spanish governors, until the alliance between Dubrovnik and the Hungarian Empire. Razzi shows his interest in the Uskoks issue, negatively reporting their terrible exploits (robberies and rapes) during the war against the Turks (1537-40), when they operated under the Venetian authority. The third book is a wide overview of the geography (particularly the islands), the cities, buildings and religious celebrations.

The last part contains a prayer for the city, a letter addressed to the archdeacon of Ragusa, Maurizio Bucchia (18 March 1595) and the “Description of the Gulf and City of Cattaro” by the noble Giovanni Bona de Boliris, a composition of 331 Latin hexameters glorifying the Bay of Cattaro and other localities of the fabulous Gulf.

This copy probably belonged to the Comte Ugo della Gherardesca (1588-1646) from the ancient Tuscan family, who married the noble Lucrezia Capponi. He was a writer of military history and a courtier to Cosimo II, a knight of San Stefano and a senator.

Only the New York Public Library and Forger copies recorded in the US. Not in Adams, BM STC IT, p. 551; Brunet, IV, 1129. Not in Blackmer and Göllner.

L2383

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