BOTERO, Giovanni; BRECQS, Guido de.


BOTERO, Giovanni; BRECQS, Guido de. Mundus imperiorum

Oberusel, C. Sutorius, 1603


Small 4to. pp. (iv) 164, 35 (i) + 5 double-page engraved folding maps of Europe, Asia, Africa, the Ottoman Empire and the whole world, including the Americas. Roman letter. Decorated initials and ornaments. Slight toning or foxing to outer blank margins, title strengthened at gutter, paper flaw to lower outer blank corner of A3. A very good copy in late C18 quarter calf over marbled paper, original vellum covers beneath, spine just rubbed. Gaddesden Library bookplate to front pastedown, C17 ms. ‘Ερχιται νὺξ’ (St John 9:4), and contemporary ‘sum Johan[n]is Morris’ and early casemark (?) to title.  

A very scarce edition of an important history of world empires and a handsomely illustrated Americanum. Educated at the Jesuit college in Palermo and Rome, Giovanni Botero (1544-1617) was a poet and political theorist. In the 1590s, at the service of Cardinal Borromeo, he wrote his influential ‘Relationi universali’, on world geography and history, travel and discoveries. First published in 1598, the present work is a Latin translation of Part II, by Guido de Brecqs, concerning sovereign princes, their empires and the causes of their power; it incorporates an additional treatise on Italian states. It is accompanied by 5 beautifully engraved maps, recut to size, after those in the ‘Relationi’. America is illustrated in part in the map of Asia, and completely – as ‘America sive India Nova’ – in the world map, which shows New France, the Caribbean and native inhabitants (e.g., ‘anthropophagi’). Like Ortelius’s world map, it also features Terra Australis Incognita. Each section of the text provides information on the geography, natural (and commercial) resources, and history, including explorations (e.g., the circumnavigation of the world by ‘two bold English captains’). Book I focuses on European Empires. Book II discusses the rulers of the Middle East, the Emperor of China, Siam, Narsinga, Calicut, Persia and Japan. Book III, on Africa, provides accounts of the mythical Prester John, the Aethiopian Monomotapa and Seriffus. Book IV describes the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Spain, with its possessions in Europe, Asia and America. This last ‘Novus Orbis’ section focuses on the Caribbean, with mentions of Drake’s arrival in Hispaniola, as well as Cuba and Florida. 

 This copy was in the library – which included 1500 volumes – of the considerable English bibliophile John Morris (c.1580-1658). Whilst travelling extensively on the Continent, he gathered a large collection of European, especially Italian, works, eventually dispersed in 1660-1. ‘Morris usually inscribed his name on titlepages in the language of the book – “John Morris”, “sum Johannis Morris”, “Giovanni Maurizio”, etc.’ (cf. Book Owners Online). 

Only JCB copy recorded in the US. USTC 2133034; VD17 12:116449E; Alden 603/15. Not in Sabin, JFB or Cordier (Bib. Sinica or Japonica).
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