GRIMESTONE, Edward. The Generall Historie of Spaine.

London, A. Islip & G. Eld, 1612


FIRST EDITION THUS. Large folio. Pp. (vi) 1380 (xxviii). Roman letter. Woodcut historiated architectural border to tp, historiated head and tail pieces and floriated initials. Bookplate of Adrian Bullock, 1989, to pastedown. Autograph of Henry Smith, 1660, to ffep with probably his price-mark in upper outer corner, ms initials of Henry Smith to tp in upper and lower outer corners with case-mark, occasional marginalia, early ms to last with events and historical figures and page numbers. An exceptionally good, clean, well margined copy in handsome slightly later speckled calf with gilt border and tools to corners, later morocco label and date to spine, edges speckled red.

First edition in English of this monumental history of Spain from early Greek, African, Italian and Phoenician settlers right up to an expanded section by Grimestone himself from the years 1583-1612. The original French text was by Louis Turquet de Mayerne (c. 1550-1618) and was translated and added to by the English sergeant-at-arms and prolific linguist Edward Grimestone (d. 1640). The original French text offers flattering descriptions of the role of Philip II in achieving Iberian Union, stating “there was a great joy, as also in Portugal, and thanks given to God for so happy a victory, which put King Philip in a peaceable possession of the Realme of Portugal”. Grimestone’s additions present a different tone, which gives heavier emphasis on the Portuguese side and plays down Philip II and the Spanish accession. This more anti-Spanish take would have appealed to the English Protestant audience. The work is organised into 31 books which provide a chronological history of Spain, followed by a section on ‘Observations touching the state and government of Spaine’ and useful lists including the past leaders of Spain listed with their bloodlines and offspring, and finally a table of “the most memorable things contained in this Historie of Spaine”.

Edward Grimestone was an enormously active translator who published several histories including of France, the Netherlands, Venice and the present. He was sworn in as sergeant-at-arms to assist the Speaker in the Parliament in 1609. The Historie of Spaine was allegedly the source for Philip Massinger’s Believe as You List, a Caroline era tragedy about Sebastian of Portugal and Philip II of Spain.

This work combines deep admiration of Spain and its past with contemporary critiques of the actions to take over Portuguese autonomy and the rule of Philip II. Robert A. Valdeón argues that translations of this kind were also a Tudor-era tool to encourage the English to colonise and expand its empire in the way of the Spanish, as well as to obtain more personal social, political and economic benefits for the translator himself (Valedeón Roberto. ‘Translation, a Tudor political instrument’, Target, 2019).

“Includes numerous refs to Spanish in New World”. (Alden 612/79).

ESTC S114485; Palau Tomo 8 385; Lowndes Vol 8 1524; Alden 612/79; Sabin 47118.
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