PARUTA, Paolo Discorsi politici

Venice, appresso Domenico Nicolini, 1599


FIRST EDITION. 4to. 2 parts in one. pp. [xliv last blank], ff. 12, pp. 13-350, [ii blank], 351-636, [ii]; pp 21, [iii last blank]. [*4, ** , a-b , c , A-2Y , 2Z², 3A-4N ; A-C .] (lacking the two blanks after Nnnn4). Italic letter, some Roman. Woodcut portrait of the author within roundel on title, fine historiated and grotesque woodcut initials, grotesque head-pieces, woodcut ornaments, bookplate of Maurice Burrus on pastedown, manuscript note concerning the binding in C19th hand on fly. Light age yellowing, first few leaves a little browned, some minor mostly marginal spotting, autograph rubbed from head of title leaving a few tiny holes. A very good, crisp, well margined copy on super-quality thick paper, in magnificent contemporary Venetian crimson morocco, covers quadruple gilt ruled with a central round scroll to two panels, outer panel filed with a rich pattern of gilt hatched scroll tools, central panel with elaborate gilt corner-pieces around a central oval with gilt floral border, arms of Clement VIII gilt at centres painted in white and blue, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, spines richly gilt in compartments with small tools and corner-pieces, edges gilt hatched and ruled, a.e.g. head and tail of spine very expertly and invisibly restored, gilt work in upper and perhaps lower compartment renewed, lower corners almost invisibly restored.

A magnificent copy, superbly bound in fine contemporary red morocco for presentation to Pope Clement VIII, with his arms finely painted on the covers, of the first edition of Paruta’s most celebrated work on Politics. The work was brought to press by the author’s son, Giovanni, shortly after Paulo’s death in 1598. It gives an excellent overview of the political theories of a Venetian, anti-Machiavellian statesman, and exerted a profound, though not always recognised, influence on the political science of the seventeenth century: Paolo Peruta (1540-1598), entered the service of the Serenissima whilst still very young, was a diplomat and senator, governor of Brescia and finally Proveditor of St. Mark’s (in 1596). Paruta was also an important Venetian historian and political theorist. “Born in Venice of a noble family from Lucca, Paruta studied in Padua before returning to Venice in 1561, where he held many important diplomatic and political positions for the Republic, including the post of city historian after the death of Pietro Bembo in 1579. Paruta continued this ongoing civic project but wrote his own contribution to the history in Italian rather thatn Latin. His Istorie veneziane (1605, the History of Venice) treats the events that occurred between 1513 and 1552 in twelve books. It received an English translation in 1658 by Henry Carey, Earl of Monmouth, an important English interpreter of the works of Paruta, Campanella, and Boccalini… It is Paruta’s political treatises that are most influential. In the Discorsi politici (1599, Politick Discourses – also translated by Carey in 1657), Paruta continues the debate opened by Machiavelli’s Discorsi on the causes for Roman greatness, offers explanations of his own, which often take issue with Machiavelli’s, and accentuates the importance of the mixed form of government he believed Venice to posses. Unlike Machiavelli, who emphasized a state’s establishment, the more conservative Paruta was most interested in its preservation. This book was an important source for Montesquieu’s Considerations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur decadence (1734).” Cassell Dictionary Italian Literature.

Clement VIII, born Ippolito Aldobrandini, was Pope from 2 February 1592 to 1605. He was renowned for his political astuteness; perhaps the most remarkable event of his reign was the reconciliation to the Church of Henry IV of France, after long negotiations, carried on with great dexterity through Cardinal Arnaud d’Ossat, that resolved the complicated situation in France. Henry embraced Catholicism on 25 July 1593. After a pause to assess Henry IV’s sincerity, Clement VIII braved Spanish displeasure, and in the autumn of 1595 he solemnly absolved Henry IV, thus putting an end to the thirty years’ religious war. The connection between Paruta and the Pope was a real one as Paruta had been the Ambassador for the Republic of Venice to the Pope from 1592 to 1595. His negotiations with Clement VIII, though often difficult, had always been successful. In 1598 Paruta had been sent to Ferrara to “compliment” the Pope for his conquest of the duchy – which Venice, in fact, very much disapproved of.

A magnificent copy of this important first edition.

BM STC It. C16th. p. 491. Gamba 1562 ‘Bella ediz. in caractteri corsivi’.
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