MACHIAVELLI, Niccolò Opere diverse in cinque parti

[Switzerland, n.p.], 1550 [1610-19?]


FIRST EDITION thus. 4to. 2 vols, 3 parts to first, 2 to second, separate t-ps to each, pp. (iv) 441 (i), (viii) 140; 14, 364 (ii), 185 (xix), (iv) 189 (i). Italic letter, with Roman. Woodcut author’s portrait to t-ps, 12 woodcut diagrams of army manoeuvres on the battlefield, 1 double-page bird’s-eye view of an army camp, decorated initials and ornaments. Vol. 1: small light damp stain to lower edges, occasionally frayed, few ll. slightly browned, paper flaw to one outer blank corner, vol. 2: t-p and last gathering a bit thumbed. A fine, clean, large paper copy in C17 French polished calf, rebacked in straight-grained morocco, double gilt ruled, gilt arms of Léonor d’Estampes de Valençay to covers, raised bands, spine double gilt ruled into six compartments, gilt corner- and centrepieces to each, gilt lettered, worn at corners. Chatsworth bookplate to front pastedowns.

First edition of the complete works of Machiavelli and a fine, large paper copy of the ‘Testina’ edition of Machiavelli’s works—one of the most mysterious imprints of these Renaissance masterpieces. Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian historian, writer, diplomat and politician who served for many years as senior official for the Republic of Florence until 1512, when the Medici regained power and he was first imprisoned and then exiled. His most famous work, the ‘Principe’, composed in 1513 and unpublished in Italy until 1532, was so controversial for the alleged ruthlessness the author advocated in ambitious princes that ‘Machiavellian’ became synonym with realpolitik and reason of state. The nickname ‘Testina’ used for this edition comes from the t-p vignette—Machiavelli’s bust—first used in Comin da Trino’s edition of 1541. It features Machiavelli’s historical, political and literary works, in 5 parts: ‘Historie Fiorentine’, ‘Il principe’ and its related texts, ‘Discorsi’, ‘Arte della Guerra’ and ‘Asino d’oro’, with ‘La Mandragola’ and ‘Clitia’. Five ‘Testina’ imprints were issued in total, all bearing the date 1550. In ‘Serie di testi’ (1839), Gamba classified them from 1 to 5, this copy being an instance of imprint n.5; Gerber renamed this imprint ‘A’, giving it chronological and qualitative priority. For typographical and bibliographic reasons, all have been attributed to Geneva printing presses in the years 1620-60, except for ‘A’ which was produced in surrounding areas (Gerber, ‘Mutual Relations I’, 172). ‘A’ was probably printed in 1610-19—certainly after 1588, when the edition of ‘Asino d’oro’ on which this text is based was published, and before 1619, as one of the copies bears a bookplate of de Thou who died in that year (Gerber, ‘Mutual Relations II’, 193). This imprint (n.5 or ‘A’) ‘obtained greater renown and enjoyed it longer than any other, for down to 1782 all following editions of these writings were based on it exclusively, the Accademia della Crusca made it the standard text of the author and its influence has not yet ceased to be felt’; this is ‘the only one among the five that can have any sort of value for the constitution of the text’ (Gerber, ‘Mutual Relations I’, 172). Léonor d’Estampes de Valençay (1589-1651) was abbot of Bourgueil, bishop of Chartres (1620-41), archbishop of Rheims and conseiller du Roi (1642)—an ally of Richelieu in the assemblies of the clergy and a major figure in the French Counter-Reformation. At Chartres he promoted diocesan reforms based on the doctrine of St Charles Borromeo, as well as reforms of the regular clergy and the introduction of new orders (Sauzet, ‘Les visites pastorales’, 28-29). His renowned library was sold in 1653, and is preserved in part at the BnF.

ssue A only at Stanford and Cornell in US (Columbia and Illinois unspecified).BM STC It., p. 399; Adams M10; Brunet III, 1274; Gamba 623 (n.5); Borromeo, Catalogo, p. 51. A. Gerber, ‘The Mutual Relations of the Five Prints of the Testina’ [I and II], Modern Language Notes 21 (1906), 171-75 and 193-97; G. Bonnant, ‘Les impressions genevoises ai XVIIe siècle de l’edition dite la “Testina” des oeuvres de Machiavel’, Annali della scuola speciale per archivisti…di Roma 5 (1965), 83-89; R. Sauzet, Les visites pastorales dans le diocèse de Chartres (Rome, 1975).
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