Institution Royale de toutes les ordres militaires de la Chrestienté.France, 1669.
Folio, 327 x 302mm. ff. 58. Black-brown ink, in French, approx. 12 lines per page, plus final 2 ll. added c.1759. Watermarks: 2 interlaced Cs surmounted by crown; shield with Greek cross surmounted by crown. 67 full-page or smaller hand-drawn and hand-coloured heraldic shields, military devices or crosses, one heightened in gold, explanatory text below or on facing page. Few edges untrimmed, light age yellowing, first 2 ll. slightly browned. An excellent, clean copy, on good-quality paper, in contemporary French mottled calf, joints repaired at head and foot, early ms casemark (and price?) ‘n.3577 1vol 6ll’, early ms ownership inscription erased, to front pastedown, C19 armorial stamp ‘Sig Dom De Recourt’ at foot of title.
Manuscript, on paper.
A very handsome, well-bound French heraldic ms, in excellent condition, with 68 hand-drawn and hand-coloured large shields, military crosses or devices, in original colouring. It is a compendium of 67 military orders of Christendom established by royal edict, from the Carolingian period onwards, flanked by a short history and reasons for their foundation, and an explanation of their rituals and arms. The obvious source is Favyn’s ‘Theatre d’honneur et de chevalerie’ (1620); there the scribe found long descriptions of the history and customs of each order, as well as detailed engravings of their shields, crosses and emblems, here reproduced with occasional variations. (The shield of the Ordre du Croissant was mistakenly drawn like that of St Michel.) The famous orders, e.g., du Saint Esprit, de la Cordelière, de Saint Jean de Jerusalem, de la Jarettière and du Toison d’Or, are mixed with lesser-known. For instance, the Ordre de la Sainte Ampoulle was created by Clovis, and renewed by Louis XIII in 1610. It sought to perpetuate the memory of a miracle by which an angel carried the ampoule with sacred ointment to St Rémy, despite the protests of the people who stopped the deacon who was carrying it. The Ordre du Dragon Renversé, founded by Sigismund of Hungary in 1418, was criticised by heretics (i.e., Protestants) as the reversed dragon was seen to symbolize the demise of the Empire. The crosses or devices include those of the Ordre de St Jean d’Acre, de St Julien de Poitier and des Chevaliers d’Alcantara. A C18 owner added two final ll. for the Ordre de Saint Louis, established in 1693, and the Ordre du Mérite Militaire, founded by Louis XV in 1759. He noted his additions on the titlepage and added a paragraph clarifying information on the history of the Ordre de la Sainte Ampoulle.