LAVARDIN, Jacques de.

LAVARDIN, Jacques de. Histoire de Georges Castriot, surnommé Scanderbeg, roy d\\\\\\\'Albanie

Francheville, Jean Arnauld, 1604


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo. ff. [xx], 447, pp. 47 [i], pp. [xxiv], (table). *-*8, i4, A-3N8. *8, 2*4. Blanks i4 and 3K8 present. Roman letter, some Italic. Title in red and black with small woodcut printer’s device, floriated woodcut initials, grotesque woodcut head and tail-pieces, typographical ornaments, contemporary inscription on fly, “Louys Sigougneau, Angevin, en l’année 1606 m’achepta à La Haye en Hollande pour 15 solz.- Non recipit sordidum virtus Amatorum”. Slight age yellowing with intermittent light spotting (poor quality paper) occasional mark, title a little dusty, occasional pale minor waterstain in uppers margin. A good copy in contemporary vellum over boards.

First edition of this interesting and influential translation by Larvardin of the ‘Historia de vita et rebus gestis Scanderbegi’ by Barletius with the additional anonymous ‘Chronologie Turcique’, a chronology of events from Mahomet II to Osman II. This edition by Arnauld was shared with Pierre de la Roviere at Saint Gervais. In France, Barletius was first translated by Jacques de Lavardin (1575-85), in 1576 who added further material; the work includes a sonnet about Scanderbeg dedicated to Lavardin by the illustrious poet Pierre de Ronsard. Barleti as he was known in Albanian, was an eyewitness to the Turkish invasion of his native city, Shkodrës. He published this account of George Kastrioti, the prince known as the Christian Alexander, roughly 40 years after Kastrioti s death. This French version was itself translated into English 20 years later. Instead of Ronsard’s French sonnet, the English version included a sonnet by the English poet Edmund Spenser. Throughout the 16th century the name Scanderbeg became a rallying point for Europe in opposition to Ottoman incursions. In 1423, when Murad II invaded Epirus, Scanderbeg was one of the three princely hostages handed over to the Turk; he spent the next 20 years in Ottoman service, his brilliant abilities gaining him the high favour of the Sultan. George’s fighting skill was compared to that of Alexander the Great (Iskander), hence he was called “Iskander bey,” or Scanderbeg. Around 1443, not long after his father’s death, Scanderbeg left the Ottoman army and reclaimed his father’s land. He abandoned Islam as well, and reverted to Christianity. For much of the next 25 years, until his death from illness in 1468, he fought victoriously, mostly by way of guerilla warfare in the mountainous regions near Krujë, against superior Ottoman forces, and was greatly appreciated by the Vatican, as well as by other Christian allies in Europe, for holding off Ottoman advances through Albania toward the rest of Europe. In the truce of 1461 Mohammed acknowledged him as Lord of Albania and Epirus. Though his kingdom fragmented after his death, Scanderbeg’s role in resisting the Ottoman advance was invaluable in the preservation of Christendom. This translation by Lavardin was written within the context of the reign of Henry III and the vicious religious and civil war taking place in France, in which Islam is presented as the punishment for the sins of the Christians and the consequence of their internal divisions. However the Historie of Georges Castriot is primarily a work about the political history of Europe rather than Christian-Muslim relations.

USTC 6807601 (Pierre de la Roviere edn). Brunet I 658. Göllner 2201.609. Blackmer 964.
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