COLET, Claude, trans.


COLET, Claude, trans. Histoire Palladienne.

Paris, Estienne Groulleau for Vincent Sertenas, 1555.


FIRST EDITION thus? Folio. ff. [4], CXXXIIII. Roman letter, little Italic. Woodcut printer’s device to title, 39 ¼-page woodcut scenes of Palladine of England’s life and chivalric deeds, decorated initials and ornaments. Handful of ll. minimally toned, the odd minor marginal spot. A fine, clean copy in English polished calf c1800, rebacked to match, original spine onlaid, single gilt ruled to a panel design, small heraldic monogram of William George Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, gilt to corners, gilt centrepieces with his arms of John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe, to covers, couple of minor light stains, corners bumped, C19 bookplate of Chatsworth and modern label of K. Rapoport to rear ffep, faded autograph ‘Herbert Fle[tcher?]’ in a C17 English hand to title and one leaf.

A very fine copy, of illustrious provenance, of the first French version of this scarce, charmingly illustrated work on chivalry, translated by the obscure Claude Colet. This is one of two editions of 1555, priority not established; both are recorded in just a handful of copies. ‘Histoire Palladienne’ is the French translation of a Spanish adaptation (1545), of the renowned ‘roman’ ‘Amadis’. Colet was celebrated in the preface by Étienne Jodelle, a member of the ‘Pléiade’, for his translation of the 9 books of ‘Amadis’. At first critical of the lack of literary value of medieval romance, Jodelle came to accept Colet’s theory that these works were not to be intended as history, but as purveyors of moral teachings in pleasant disguise. ‘Histoire’ focuses on the life and deeds of Prince Palladine of England, most chapters beginning with an exquisite, bespoke woodcut illustration. The story moves from his birth in London, to the jousts organized for his christening, his knighting by King Milanor, and adventurous stories of his deeds in England, Wales (Norgalles) and Scotland, including saving damsels and decapitating a knight. The work also features the deeds of other knights, such as the ‘Dead Knight’, who fought in Portugal against the opponent who killed him, and the ‘Knight-without-Repose’.

This copy was in the libraries of two major English bibliophiles. John Ker (1740-1804), 3rd Duke of Roxburghe, whose remarkable library was sold in 1812 (lot 6173). ‘The sale […] was a most sensational affair and the total of £23,342 was an extraordinary one at the time […] The Roxburghe Club was inaugurated in commemoration […]’ (de Ricci). Roxburghe also owned several medieval mss of vernacular romances. William George Spencer Cavendish (1790 – 1858), 6th Duke of Devonshire, started collecting in 1812, ‘by extensive purchases at the Roxburghe sale’ (de Ricci, p.78), the present copy being among his earliest acquisitions.

No copies recorded in the US. USTC 37667; Pettegree & Walsby 40372; Brunet II, 129: ‘assez rare’; Le Petit 6726. Not in Morton, Tchemerzine or Fairfax Murray. A Catalogue of the library of...John duke of Roxburghe (1812).
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Out of stock