SAVONAROLA, Girolamo. De Simplicitate Christianae Vitae.

[Strasbourg], Lazari Zetzneri, 1615


12vo. Pp. (x) 208. Roman letter. Printer’s device to tp, ornamental initials. Bookplate of Charles Maurice De Pourtalès to pastedown, above, Charles de Rohan, Prince de Soubise’s casemark ‘3.CPT2J22’, repeated on upper cover. Light browning (indifferent paper), small tear to outer margin of two prelims. A very good, clean copy in handsome contemporary dark brown morocco gilt, arms of Jacques de Thou and his second wife Gasparde de la Châtre, minimal wear. Aeg.

Most handsomely bound and of impeccable provenance, by the Italian preacher and friar Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498) and edited by the German jurist and publicist Christopher Besoldus (1577-1638). Savonarola was active in Renaissance Florence and was known for his religious prophecies and abhorrence of secular arts and culture. His works called for the Christian faith to be revered with renewed respect and intensified practice, the present volume being no exception. Savonarola called for reform in light of the corruption of the Roman Church and papacy, and commanded his followers to return to Christian doctrine and live a simple, puritanical life away from the excesses of Rome. He claims prophetic gifts, and experienced visions of biblical floods, a ‘new Cyrus’ that would invade Italy from the north, and predicted Florence would become a New Jerusalem, if people would adhere to his teachings. Having risen to the upper ranks of Florentine life to become its virtual ruler, he fell from grace due to his extreme views and incensement of the mob and was eventually tried and condemned to death.

Christopher Besoldus was a prolific publisher, with over 100 scholarly writings known today. He knew 9 languages including Latin and Hebrew and, though born Protestant, publicly converted to Catholicism in 1635. His publications are seen as one of the significant causes of the Thirty Years’ War; he wrote on topics ranging from federalism, public finance and the dependency of the Württemberg monasteries on the Empire.

Jacques-Auguste de Thou (1553-1617) was one of the most important book collectors of his time, his library amassing over eight thousand volumes. The arms on the cover of the present work are from his marriage to Gasparde de la Châtre (1577-1616), his second wife and mother to six of his children. This work can be traced from his library where it passed to the Abbot Jacques-Auguste de Thou who sold it at auction in 1679. It was bought by the Marquis de Ménars and resold in 1706 to Cardinal Armand-Gaston de Rohan. Following his death it was inherited by his nephew Charles de Rohan (1715-1787), Prince of Soubise, ally of Louis XV. His library was auctioned in 1788-89 after his death. The bookplate on the pastedown is of Charles Maurice de Pourtalès (d. 1951).

Graesse VI 281; Not in Brunet.
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