LE PETIT, François

LE PETIT, François La Grande Chronique.....de Hollande, Zelande, Westfrise, Utrecht, Frise, Overyssel & Groeningen (etc.)

Dordrecht, De l\'Impression de Jacob Canin chez Guillaume Guillemot, 1601


FIRST EDITION. Folio, 3 parts in 2 vols., pp. (xxii) 650 (ii) ; 240 (xviii), (xvi) 780 (misnumbered 779) (xvi). Roman letter, Italic side notes, text in double column. Woodcut floriated and grotesque initials, both titles within splendid engraved architectural border with the instruments of learning above, of the arts, sciences and war at sides, and scenes depicting mercantile and maritime activity beneath, full-page portrait of the author and 57 three-quarter page engravings of emperors, governors and other important figures, including Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, by Christoph von Sichem. Contemp autograph of ‘Simeon Mahon, Chartain’ (Chartres) and autograph of ‘Challine Boilleau’ on title-page, Nicolas-Joseph Foucault’s engraved armorial bookplate on pastedowns, C19 armorial bookplate of the Earl of Macclesfield on fly, Shirburn Castle blindstamp to head of first three ll. of both vols. Closed tear (original paper flaw) in plate on A1 vol 2, I1 verso and I8 recto printed upside down, R2 inserted in the wrong place, paper flaw in Mm3 vol 2, light age yellowing, a few sheets browned, printers ink thumbing in a few margins. A very good copy, with generally very good impression of the plates, in contemporary calf, covers bordered with a single gilt filet, gilt laurel oval at centers, spines with raised bands blind ruled with gilt fleurons at centers, title gilt lettered in compartment, all edges of vol 1 yellow, those of vol 2 blue, head and tail of spines a little chipped, covers a little scratched.

First edition of this highly important and beautifully illustrated history of the Dutch Republic, printed privately for the author. The commendatory verses include one in Dutch by Nicholas Doublet. Although the author covers the whole of the country’s history up to 1600, about two thirds of the text is devoted to the C16th., making it one of the most detailed sources for the struggle for Dutch independence. Le Petit lists some 160 authors whose works he employed in his compilation, but much of its value lies in his use of mss. and original documents, and thus in his account of events otherwise unrecorded in printed histories. Le Petit’s own history reflects the unsettled nature of the times he wrote on: although born in 1546 at Béthune into a noble Belgian family, he later abjured Catholicism and fled to Holland where he served William Ist, Prince of Orange. By 1598 he was living in Aix-la-Chapelle where he wrote his “Grande Chronicle” and dedicated it to the Estates-General of the United Provinces. An account of the reputed Swiss engravers, Christoph von Sichem Sr. and Jr., is given in Nagler II pp. 309-11. The portraits are generally finely engraved and are often expressive and vital, especially the superb full page portrait of the author after the title.

About 16 pages in vol. I describe the geography of the New World, the supposed origins of its native inhabitants, the voyages of discovery, the conquest of the Indians, the climate, agriculture and resources of the Americas, their colonization, government and the missions, and the shameful treatment of the Indians by the Spaniards. Further pages deal with the expeditions of the Dutch to the East Indies and their commerce and colonization there. In vol. II Drake’s exploits against the Spaniards in the New World are recorded. “Cette chronique, écrite en mauvais français, est fort curieuse pour les nombreux faits qu’elle relate, et que l’auteur a puisés aux sources originales…. Il dit dans son épitre dédicatoire qu’il a décrit les choses après les avoir vues sur les lieux, et promet d’être beaucoup plus exact que Guichardin qu’il contredit souvent” (Nouv. Biog. Gén.). “En revanche la valeur historique du 2e vol., qui embrasse la période de 1556-1600, est incontestable; il contient, à coté d’extraits de plusieurs auteurs antérieurs, beaucoup de détails et de particularités qu’on chercherait vainement ailleurs.” Biblioteca Belgica.

A very good, totally unsophisticated copy, from the exceptional library of Nicholas Joseph Foucault (b. 1643, d. 1721), marquis de Magny, statesman and passionate archaeologist, whose library of was “parmi les plus précieuse concernant l’histoire de France” (Guigard II p. 221), and then, along with many of Foucault’s books, to the equally extraordinary library of the Earls of Macclesfield.

Simoni, L 77. Brunet II 991 \"Cet ouvrage est aujourd\'hui assez rare\" .Graesse IV,169. Bibl. Belgica L60. Not in JFB or Alden, European Americana..
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