The generall historie of the Turkes, …vnto the yeare 1638[London], Printed by Adam Islip, 1638
FIRST EDITION thus. Folio, pp. [xii], 1500, [xx], 31, [xxxiii]: A-5Z , 6A , 6B , 6C-6Q 6R , 6S-6X , [par.]-2[par.] , 3[par.] . “”The liues of the Othoman kings and emperors” has separate dated title page; pagination and register are continuous. “A continuation of the Turkish historie, from the yeare of our Lord 1628, to the end of the yeare 1637. .. By Thomas Nabbes” (caption title) has separate pagination; register is continuous.” ESTC. Roman letter, title within fine engraved architectural border by Lawrence Johnson with Royal arms at head, Turkish and Christian warriors at either side respectively and battle scene at foot (Johnson p.34), grotesque woodcut initials, head-pieces, and ornaments, 33 engraved portrait busts within ornamental frames in fine impression. Light age yellowing, rare and inoffensive age browning, title fractionally dusty, occasional minor spot or mark. A very good copy, crisp and clean, in handsome contemporary speckled calf, covers bordered with a double blind rule, spine with raised bands, double blind ruled in compartments, tan morocco label gilt lettered with gilt corner and border-pieces a.e.r. vellum stubbs, a little rubbed at extremities.
Last and most complete of the early editions of the first large scale history of the Turks in the English language. It is a monumental volume which took Knolles twelve years to write; this edition is enlarged with a continuation to 1637 by Thomas Nabbes taken principally from the despatches of the British Ambassador at Constantinople. The illustrations are mostly of Sultans and Viziers but there are some non-Turkish portraits e.g. Scanderbeg, Sigismund of Transylvania and Tamerlane; there are six more engravings than in the first ed. Most of the portraits are reverse copies of Theodor de Bry’s from Boissard’s Vitae et Icones Sultanorum, 1596, with new borders elegantly supplied by Johnson. Remarkably, these and the title page are virtually the only known examples of his work.
Knolles is now of greater interest for a C17th. English view of the Ottoman empire and some rather splendid prose than as an historical source book, but well into the C19th. his was the authoritative work on Turkish history. Dr.Johnson could not praise it too highly, Coleridge read Knolles’ account of the great siege before setting out for Malta and Byron ascribed to his childhood reading of it his lifelong fascination with the Levant. “The recent victories of Mahomet III over the Christians must have rendered the Turkish question of vital interest to the security of Europe, and the struggle remained in the balance till the end of the seventeenth century. There is no wonder in consequence at the popularity of Knolles.”, Hind II pp.37-8.
“Published in 1603, Richard Knolles’ monumental work is popularly known as The Generall Historie of the Turkes.The opening section describes the Saracen and Seljuk Turkic kingdoms that preceded the Ottomans in Anatolia.., and the last section is a long essay entitled ‘Discourse of the Greatnesse of the Turkish Empire’. These sections generalize about the Ottomans and view them (in an oft quoted phrase) as “the present terror of the world”. The heart of the work, however, is The Lives and Conquests of the Othoman Kings and Emperours, thirteen books each devoted to the character and accomplishments of an individual sultan. In a thousand pages, Knolles provides for English readers the most richly detailed accounts of the sultans’ exploits to date. .. the Generall Historie went through six editions, continued and updated by other hands. Judging by the dog-eared condition of the many surviving copies, the folio was eagerly read,and Knolles’ literary influence continued even after his history was out of date.” Linda McJannet. ‘Citing “the Turkes’ Own Chronicles”: Knolles’ Generall Historie of the Turkes.’ESTC S112920. STC. 15055. Lowndes III 1286. Blackmer 920.2487.