SANSOVINO, Francesco

SANSOVINO, Francesco Origine de Cavalieri

Venice, Camillo & Rutilio Borgomineri, 1566


FIRST EDITION. ff. [viii] 152. Italic letter, small woodcut printer’s device on title, early autograph inked over, contemp. and early press marks on fly. Historiated woodcut initials, four full page woodcuts of the insignia of the orders of the Garter, Golden Fleece, Savoy and St. Michel, some light age browning to first two quires, small oil stains on three lls. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, small tear to spine

First edition of Sansovino’s popular and interesting treatise on the history of the chivalric orders of Europe, dedicated to Cosimo de Medici, in which he describes their respective origins, rules, and membership. He starts with a good definition of a Knight “Onde si vede senza alcun dubbio che cavaliero, nell’una e nell’altra lingua, non vuol dire altro che dignità, provenuta nello uomo dallo essercizio dell’armi fatto a cavallo, percioché dicendosi cavaliero si intende persona di qualità e degna di onore”. In his introduction Sansovino divides the various orders into three categories; Knights of the Cross, the Collar and the Sword. He then discuses in detail the various orders of knights of Europe past, such as the Templars, and present such as the Knights of Malta, giving examples of specific knights and listing the names of knights of the highest orders, followed by thirty one short biographies of famous Italian knights. He finishes with interesting descriptions of the Islands of Malta and Elba. Born in Rome in 1521, Francisco Sansovino was brought to Venice following the sack of his native city in 1527. He studied law in Padua and Bologna, and after attempting a career at the court of Pope Julius III, returned to Venice. Sansovino typifies the figures who moved in the editorial circles of the period. A polygraph author of poetry, prose writings on literature, history and rhetoric, as well as a translator and editor, Sansovino not only compiled, translated, and annotated texts for Venetian printers, but opened his own printing house, publishing around thirty editions, many of good quality, between 1560-62 and in 1568. He was widely read during the Renaissance, especially his historical works. This first edition is quite rare and of one of Sansovino’s rarer works.

BM STC It. C16. p. 608. Graesse VI 267. Not in Adams, Gamba or Brunet.
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