BRUTO, Giovanni Michele


Florentinae Historiae libri octo priores.

Lyon, apud haeredes Iacobi Iuntae, 1562


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. (xxx) 463 (xxxi). Roman letter, some Italic. Printer’s device to t-p, decorated initials. Intermittent light age yellowing, small worm trail to first five ll. affecting a few letters, couple of wormholes to outer margins of last few gatherings, faint water stain to outer margins of couple of final ll. A very good, clean copy in contemporary half German pigskin over bevelled wooden boards, brass clasps, blind-tooled to a panel design, outer border with roll of floral tendrils, centre panel with rolls of fronds and rose at head and foot. Spine in five compartments, raised bands, later label, title inked to fore-edge, small piece of wood missing from upper outer corner of lower cover. Handpainted armorial woodcut bookplate of Wiguleus Hund of Lautterbach 1556 to front pastedown (some offset to fep), printed armorial bookplate of Christian Gobel of Hofgiebing 1640 and C19 bibliographic inscription to fep.

Very good, clean copy, handsomely bound, of Giovanni Michele Bruto’s controversial history of Florence. Born in Venice, Bruto (1517-92) was a Hermit of St Augustin and a historiographer. He soon left the convent and started a life of frequent travels, during which he encountered humanists like Reginald Pole. In the 1550s, the Papal printer, Paulus Manutius, first substituted Bruto’s name with an alias due to suspicions of heresy which would accompany him throughout his life. In 1562, Bruto was in Lyon, in touch with circles upholding anti-Medicean views—ideas which also pervade ‘Florentinae Historiae’. The preface is a long and complex apology of the volume, contextualising it within the Western historiographic tradition from ancient authors like Livy to more recent ones like Paolo Giovio. Giovio’s ‘Historiae’ (c.1520s), caught between praise and criticism of the Medici, is often cited as an inspiration. Leaving historical chronology in the background, Bruto examines the recent history of Florence through its civic and national policy and the character of its governors, none of whom is spared criticism. For instance, in the course of three pages, Cosimo de’ Medici is called ‘fortunatus’, powerful and magnanimous as well as seriously flawed with vice and cupidity. The Medici sought to curb the circulation of this work by seizing and destroying numerous copies, hence its relative scarcity.

Wiguleus Hund of Lautterbach was a Bavarian jurist and historian. He held numerous political offices including that of imperial counsellor to Duke Albrecht V, ambassador of Duke William IV to Emperor Charles V, and negotiator on the recall of the Jesuits in the early 1550s. He was the author of three antiquarian ‘Stammen Bücher’ of Bavarian princely and aristocratic families.

Christian Gobel von Hofgiebing (1590- 1658) was a Bavarian doctor of law and imperial councillor to Duke Albrecht V.

BM STC Fr., p. 84; Brunet I, 1307; Pettigree and Walsby, French Books, 59315; Baudrier, Bib. Lyon., VI, 308: ‘assez rare’.
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