MONSTRELET, Enguerran de

MONSTRELET, Enguerran de Le premier [-tiers] volume. Ensuyuant froissart, des croniques de France Dangleterre Descosse Despaigne, de Bretaigne, de Gascongne, de Flandres et lieux circonuoisins

Paris, François Regnault, 1518


FIRST EDITION thus. Folio, three vols in one. 1) ff. [viii], 136 [i. e. 236]. 2) ff. [vi] 143, [without last blank] 3). [viii], 182. Lettre Bâtard. Text in double column. Large woodcut calligraphic initial on each title, white on black floriated and calligraphic initials, Regnault’s large woodcut elephant device on each title and verso of each last, full page woodcut of presentation scene and quarter page woodcut of a scribe in vol. I, half page woodcut of a scholar with vision of Christ in vol. II, ‘Pamam’ in early hand at head of title of vol. II, ‘John Prickett 1775’ at head of first title, engraved armorial bookplate of William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire, on pastedown with pencil note ‘sold Christie’s, 30 June 1958, lot 76’. Light age yellowing, small marginal worm hole in a few leaves of vol. I, tiny marginal waterstain and light spotting in the last leaves of vol. III, small worm trail in lower blank margin in a few leaves of vol. III. just touching a few letters of one line. A very good copy crisp and clean in early French polished calf, covers bordered with a triple gilt rule, spine, backed in crimson morocco c.1800, with gilt ruled raised bands, richly gilt in compartments, the Devonshire monogram in upper compartment, corners and joints worn.

First edition of the chronicles of Monstrelet with the continuation up until 1516, beautifully printed in lettre Bâtard by Regnault with fine woodcut illustration. This fourth edition follows two undated editions by Vérard (circa 1500 and 1508) and a 1512 by Jean Petit and Michel le Noir, but is the first to contain the additions from 1498 to 1516 bringing the History up to the reign of Francois I. These additions were mostly taken from the ‘Mer des Histoires’. The work imitates the Vérard editions with the use of large grotesque calligraphic initials on the title pages and several large woodcut illustrations. Intended as a supplement to Froissart, the first book begins at about 1400 and goes up to 1422. The second begins with the reign of Charles VII and continues up to 1444. The last probably owes little to Monstrelet and is usually attributed to Mathieu D’Esscouchy; so far as 1467. The work recounts, in considerable detail, i.a. the civil war between the houses of Orleans and Burgundy, the occupation of Paris and Normandy by the English (the Agincourt expedition) and their expulsion, the exploits of Joan of Arc and the ending of the Hundred Years War. European events as far away as Poland are also recorded. Monstrelet (c. 1390-1453) was in the service of Jean de Luxembourg throughout much of the period he describes; his work includes, and in some cases comprises the sole surviving source for, large numbers of documents of the period, and much of what he relates he saw either at first hand or heard from an eye-witness. He was at Cambrai when Joan of Arc was captured and was actually present at her subsequent interview with the Duke of Burgundy. With the exception of matters concerning his master (where it would have been foolhardy) Monstrelet is by and large an impartial observer, merely recording what he saw and heard, and recounting it in very considerable detail. His work is the preeminent source book for the history of events in France, and especially of the English in France, in the C15. A lovely copy with excellent provenance: The Chatsworth copy from the library of William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire. Devonshire was Chancellor of the University of London from 1836 to 1856, and of Cambridge from 1861 to 1891. At Cambridge he endowed the building of the Cavendish Laboratory, named after him.

BM STC Fr. C16th. p. 316. Adams M-1616. Brunet III 1832. “encore rare.” Renouard-Moreau II, 1904. Not in Fairfax Murray or Mortimer.
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