NOSTRADAMUS, Michel. Prophetie merveilleuse commençant ceste presente année et dure jusques en l\'an de grand\' mortalité, que l\'on dira 1563

Paris, Guillaume Nyverd, [1566]


FIRST EDITION 8vo. pp. 19 [i]: A-E4. Roman letter, some Civilité and Italic. Charming woodcut astrological device on title, grotesque woodcut initial, text within line rule, bibliographical note in a C19th hand on fly, engraved bookplate of Daniel Ruzo on pastedown. A very good copy crisp and clean in dark green cloth c.1900, title gilt on spine.

Exceptionally rare first edition of this prophetic almanack with prognostications to 1568; USTC locates only three copies in libraries and this is the only copy traced in auction records. Is is one of the, possibly apocryphal, works by Michel de Nostradamus produced in the final year of his life; it bears his signature at the end of the text in civilité script, and dates from 1566 or 1567 depending on the accuracy of the reference to “l’An passe 1565” on p.7. Subsequent editions were published as ‘Prophétie ou révolution merveil­leuse des quatre saisons de l’an’. “These astrological booklets of Nostradamus were the works of his that made the deepest impression on his contemporaries, as one can see quite easily by reading the pamphlets of his principal adversaries. It was only long after his death, and entirely through the agency of the faithful Jean-Aimé Chavigny, that the Prophéties or Centuries came to be considered more important — since nothing intrinsically led them to be considered in that way, not even in Nostradamus’ own eyes, since quite simply they consist entirely of quatrains nearly incomprehensible to the ordinary mortal of the 16th century. This shift in importance led to the setting aside of what was, in point of fact, the most essential part of his literary production. It was most probably in 1549 after his return from Italy that Nostradamus began publishing his famous almanachs and predictions in verse and prose. Unfortunately, none of these earlier pamphlets published before 1554 has survived to the present day. Nostradamus usually composed his predictions in the spring of the year preceding their publication. Regarding the printing privileges, they were often granted in the autumn and came only shortly before publication. Booksellers often took advantage of the traditional Lyon trade fair to get these booklets out onto the market” Benzara, ‘The Predictions and Almanachs of Michel Nostradamus’
Nostradamus claimed each of his predictions was based upon his astrological reading of particular events, though it is evident that a great deal of the work is copied from earlier Latin authors such as Livy, Plutarch, and other classical historians, and many are taken directly from Richard Roussat’s Livre de l’estat et mutations des temps (1549 1550). The Mirabilis Liber of 1522, which contained a wide range of prophecies by such authors as Pseudo-Methodius, the Tiburtine Sibyl, Joachim of Fiore, Savonarola and others was also a well used source. His considerable initial success was based on the fact that he was one of the first to re-paraphrase these prophecies in French. Further material was gleaned from the De honesta disciplina of 1504 by Petrus Crinitus, which included extracts from Michael Psellos’ De daemonibus, and the De Mysteriis Aegyptiorum, a book on Chaldean and Assyrian magic by Iamblichus, a fourth-century Neo-Platonist.
An exceptionally rare work, a rare survival as almanacks were, by nature, ephemeral and were almost always discarded.

USTC 55075. Rothschild. no. 213. Linet and Hillard no. 1451. Brunet IV 106. Chomarat 76; Benazra, page 79. Cantamessa 5631, recording 3 copies.
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