BASTA, Giorgio [with] FIAMMELLI, Giovanni Francesco
BOUND FOR DE THOU
Il Mastro Di Campo Generale [with] Modo di Ben Mettere in Ordinanza Gli Esercitici uni Giunta di Alcune Cose Attinenti alli Governi di Stati e di Eserciti.(1) Venice, Giovanni Battista Ciotti, 1606 (2) Rome, Luigi Zannetti, 1603.
4to. Two works in one. 1) pp. (xvii) 146 (xi). 2) pp. (iv) 64. First in Italic, second mostly Roman. Slight browning, printer’s device on both title pages, Fiammelli’s in red and black, large woodcut initials throughout. Fine contemporary calf with high relief gilt crest of Jacques-Auguste de Thou (1553-1617) and his wife Gasparde de La Chastre with IAG family gilt insignia along spine. Shelf marks on outside and inside of upper cover. Scuffs and scratches, some surface loss to lower cover, little wear to head of spine.
Handsome copy of Giorgio Basta’s (1550-1606) renowned military manual which went on to be translated into German and French. The Italian general with Albanian roots was a prominent commander of the Habsburg army from 1591-1606 and was involved in the assassination of Michael the Brave during the subjugation of Transylvania in 1601. For this act he is often described in unsavoury terms in Romanian and Hungarian history books.
Basta’s prolific military career began under his father, Demetrio Basta, who fought in Italy under the Duke of Alba having escaped Ottoman Rule in Albania. During the 1580s Basta ascended the ranks, serving Philip II of Spain and fighting in the War of the Three Henrys as well as on behalf of the Catholics. Basta fiercely battled against Hungarians, Transylvanians, Vlachs and Tatars, and was reputed as one of the finest generals of the Empire. The latter part of the 16th century was littered with conflicts including the siege of Rouen and the Battle of Mirăslău in which Basta played pivotal roles. Following his appointment as commander of Transylvania, and the subsequent controversial assassination of Michael the Brave, Basta stepped back from military leadership and moved to Prague. This is where he composed several of his manuals utilising his extensive pools of knowledge.
Basta favoured a combination of tradition and innovation. The era he fought in saw dramatic changes in military equipment and style: sword became gun, heavily laden cavalrymen became light. His battle techniques revolutionised fighting on the plain, and emancipated the cavalry from their often sluggish forms to a quick and organised machine. Basta speaks knowledgably comparing differing fighting methods and contrasting the many European armies. This volume offers insight into a drastically transformative time in European military history, in which Basta himself was a preeminent player.
The second work is by the famed Florentine military engineer, Giovanni Franceso Fiammelli (C1565 – after 1613). Flammelli was active during the same era as Basta working under the commander of the Flanders Army, Alessandro Farnese, who influenced some of Basta’s tactics. Fiammelli used mathematics and mechanics to orientate and dictate the movements of an army, and fast became a leading advisor in Flanders as well as in his homeland. Serving in Rome he worked for the Pope and even successfully guided the Pontifical army towards Ferrera in 1598 despite dire conditions. He stepped back from his illustrious career to write a series of works in the early 17th century in Rome. The work focuses on techniques to order an army using the ancient mathematical principles of figures like Euclid, often drawing from his own experiences in Flanders.
Jacques Auguste de Thou (1553-1617) was a French historian, president of the Parlement de Paris and a copious book collector. He formed an international network of connections and allies, including Arnaud d’Ossat, François Hotman and Joseph Justus Scaliger and served both Henry III and Henry IV, and negotiated the Edict of Nantes. Under Marie de Medici he became conseil des finances and died in Paris in 1617. He wrote a number of works including his great historical chronicle Historia sui temporis which was inspired and fuelled by his extensive library. De Thou was the greatest French book collector of his day, of whom it was long said that a man had not seen Paris who had not seen the library of de Thou. “The De Thou library had a reputation as the finest private collection of its day; it numbered about 6,600 volumes at his death, and was greatly increased by his children.” P. Needham, Twelve Centuries of Bookbindings.Cockle 600 & 592; USTC 4030419 & 4036695.