EMILIO, Paolo Historia delle cose di Francia

Venice, Michele Tramezzino, 1549


FIRST EDITION thus. 4to ff. [xxviii] 354 [ii]. Italic letter, woodcut printer’s device of the Sybilline Oracle on title, another similar on blank verso of last, fine nine line historiated woodcut initials, two early autographs inked over on title, ‘1549’ in contemporary hand at head, ms. press mark to f.f.e-p. ink stain to gutter and lower margin of ss1 and 2, very light marginal foxing in places, the occasional marginal thumb mark or stain. A very good, clean, well margined copy in contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, early restoration to outer edge on upper cover.

First Italian edition of Aemylius’ interesting and pioneering history of the French Kings, and the first edition in the vernacular; the French translation of the Latin by Regnart, published by Morel, did not appear until 1581. Aemylius published the first four volumes of his work in 1517, two following volumes in 1519, and dying in 1529 left materials for the compilation of the concluding four, undertaken by his friend and countryman Zavarizzi. The first edition of the whole work was published in 1539 by Vascosan, which was used for his translation. Aemylius, or Emilio, was a Veronese who, having made a reputation in Italy, was called to France under Charles VIII to write a scholarly history of that country. Charles VIII, who appointed him ‘orateur et chroniqueur du roi,’ in an outburst of royal library enthusiasm, instructed him to write this chronicle of the Franks in the style of the classical historians, then flourishing in Italy and beginning to attract admirers in France. He became the first modern secular historian of the French monarchy and his concise and readable work achieved considerable popularity. The work is particularly good on French political, military and diplomatic history and as such is a major source book for the history of her neighbors, in particular England’s. Divided into ten books, stretching from the fifth century to the death of Charles VIII in 1484, only the first six were actually completed by Aemylius; the last four were finished, but left in such disorder they needed to be rearranged for the press from the notes and material he left at his death; further material was added to subsequent editions by later hands. This beautifully printed edition has a large and most useful index.

BM STC It C16. Graesse I 25. Not in Adams or Brunet.

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