ELISABETH I Discours de la prinse de deux grandes navires envoyees de la part de la royne d’Angleterre au roy de Navarre

Paris, veuve François Plumion, 1589


FIRST EDITION. pp. 13 [i]. A-B4. (lacking B4 blank). Roman letter some Italic. Woodcut initials and headpieces, modern bookplate with monogram on pastedown. Cut a little short in upper margin fractionally trimming page numbering, light age yellowing, A very good copy in modern blue paper boards, title gilt on spine, a.e.r.

Interesting and very rare first edition of this piece of Catholic League propaganda, printed at Paris just weeks after the events reported, concerning the battle of Arques and the intervention of British troops and ships in Henri IV’s favour at Dieppe. Henry IV found himself trapped at Dieppe by the much larger force of the Leagues’ army under the leadership of the Duke of Mayenne. Henri moved his forces out of the town to Arques which he fortified. He managed to hold off the attack and won a decisive victory when The Duc of Mayenne’s forces retreated, once they realised that 4000 troops had arrived from England to relieve Henri’s position. This pamphlet reports the events in a very different light describing the battle a mostly a victory for the League and reports on the capture of two large British ships sent by the Queen to help Henri. It also reports the Queens determination to intervene on Henri’s behalf even if it means British invasion of France. Such was the strength of the League’s propaganda that Parisians were astonished when Henri’s army arrived on the outskirts of Paris as they had been lead to believe he was severely wounded or had even killed in the battle. The privilege for this work was given by the “Faculte de Theologie” in Paris and is dated October 1589. “As is typical with works of propaganda, the pamphlets of the League from this time attempted to engage the specific prejudices, preconceptions, and fears of their readers. The pamphlets were mostly anonymous or printed under pseudonyms, however, they were published by well-known partisans of the League. Pro-League printers in Paris during this time did not need to fear reprisals from the king—Paris was completely controlled by the League through the preachers in the local Paris churches, so there was little need to hide behind false imprints. There were originally hundreds of such pamphlets, according to the contemporary diarist Pierre de l’Estoile, but most of the pamphlets were destroyed during the early years of the reign of Henry IV when he instituted a major program of destroying them.” Lydia A. M. Fletcher. “Libels and Declarations: Pamphlets and Printers of the Catholic League.” A very rare and ephemeral pamphlet which gives most interesting insight into the use of propaganda during the wars of religion and specifically with its connection to the British Queen.

USTC 20302. Andrew Pettegree, etc. ‘French Vernacular Books, Livres vernaculaires français’ 18133.

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