POZZO, Paride Dal.


POZZO, Paride Dal. Dvello, libro de re, imperatori, principi, signori, gentil\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'homini & de tutti armigeri

Venice, s.n., 1521


8vo, ff. [200]. Italian letter, woodcut depicting two knights duelling in front of a panel of judges to t-p, woodcut floriated initials. Lower blank margin of t-p cut short and replaced removing inscription, slight age yellowing, intermittent light waterstains to upper corners and outer blank margins, light stain to outer blank margins of two ll., one or two fingermarks to ll. of prelims. A good copy in contemporary dark morocco, covers double blind ruled and stamped with flower and leaf tools, gilt tooled to a panel design with interlacing motif of leafy tendrils, small flowers and fleurs-de-lis, gilt centrepiece with French royal arms (House of Valois) on dotted ground, two gilt initials ‘M’ (gilt decoration superimposed to the original blind stamped covers), slight cracking to upper cover. Spine with blind ruled raised bands, cross-hatched blind decoration in compartments. C.1700 ms. “Titolo di questo libro si è Paris dal Pozzo” to fly and later “1a edizione” inked below.

A very good copy of the first exhaustive work on the duel of honour. The original blind stamped binding, likely of Italian manufacture (as suggested by the simple cross-hatched decoration on the spine), was then gilt to a panel design with fine tendrils of leaves and flowers in a style that became very popular in France at the half of the 16th century (see Hobson, p. 191; Needham 64). The Royal French coat of arms on the covers, accompanied by initials or monograms, appears on bindings made for several kings of the House of Valois and their spouses, but it was mainly employed by Henry II (1519-1559) – the style of the gilt decoration and the date of the work also suggest a connection with this ruler and his court. In this period, the initial “M” repeated multiple times is found on a binding made for Margaret of France (1523-1574), Henri II’s sister and wife of Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy (see: Belin, no. 2; another binding attributed to Margaret bearing the royal arms was sold at Christies in 2015, live auction 4035, lot 134).

Margaret has been described as the most learned woman of her century. “While producing no original literary work like her aunt and her niece, the second Margaret was of the three by far the most scholarly and, in a century of femmes savantes, perhaps the most learned of women. (…) She had early been imbued with a love for good letters. Having learnt Latin, Spanish and Italian in childhood, in later years she taught herself Greek and studied Hebrew” (Stephens). At her brother’s court, Margaret was patroness of poets and scholars of the cultural circle ‘La Pléiade’. She was fond of books and literature, including the contemporary Italian epic, and a collector: “One year she purchased no less than six commentaries on Horace, three editions of Cicero’s De officiis, and The Ethics of Aristotle in the original Greek and in a Latin translation.” (Stephens) Interestingly, in 1547, a famous and much debated duel took place at the royal court between Guy Chabot de Jarnac and Francois de Vivonne, which Margaret followed passionately, supporting Jarnac. The princess might well have taken interest in Pozzo’s treatise.

Paride Dal Pozzo (1410-1493) was an illustrious Italian jurist and courtier, professor of law at the University of Naples and counsellor to Kings Alfonso the Magnanimous and Ferrante. “Duello” is Dal Pozzo’s masterpiece, a pioneering juridical work on duelling laws and customs which made the author famous as the “father of Duellism” for centuries to come. First published in Latin with the title ‘De re militari’ in 1472, ‘Duello’ was translated in Italian by Dal Pozzo very shortly after. The Italian version (first printed c. 1475), abridged and revised, was directed – rather than to an audience of jurists – to “all noble and brave knights”, many of which could not read Latin. This rare edition is the second Venetian reprint of the original Italian translation – with the text reset, updated spelling and punctuation – and the first to include a charming woodcut on the title page.

The treatise, in nine books, is a complete juridical systematisation of the customary duelling practices, presenting all the cultural and technical problems of the duel through examples. There are sections explaining where duels can and cannot take place, who has the right to fight (the noble), how to appoint the judges and choose the weapons, what constitutes an acceptable reason for fighting, how the date of a duel can be changed, how to determine the winner in ambiguous situations, etc. The author focuses on countless curious problems, such as deciding who deserves more honour between a knight who cut off his opponent’s nose or the one who blinded his opponent’s eye – according to the author, the answer is the second, as the nose is a “useless and vile part of the head” compared to the “noble” eyes.

USTC 825302; EDIT 16 CNCE 15880; BM STC It. C16, p. 545. This ed not in Brunet or Graesse. W. Stephens, Margaret of France Duchess of Savoy 1523-74, A Biography (1912). T. Belin, Livres des XV et XVI siècles dans leur reliures originales (1914).

Out of stock