SEYSSEL, Claude de.

SEYSSEL, Claude de. Histoire singuliere du roy Loys XII de ce nom, pere du peuple, faicte au parangon des regnes & gestes des au tres Roys de France

Paris, Gilles Corrozet, 1558


8vo. Ff. [viii] 73 [i]. ã8, A-H8, I10, (without final blank). Roman letter, some Italic. Charming floriated woodcut initials, Corrozet’s rose and heart woodcut device on verso of last. Light age yellowing, the odd marginal spot. A good copy in seventeenth century speckled calf, edges gilt scrolled, rebacked to match?, all edges sprinkled red.

First edition of Claude De Seyssel’s important work with a new title and an interesting new preface, probably by the editor Gilles Corrozet. It was first published in 1508 as ‘Louenges du roy Louys XII’, a panegyric of Louis XII in the manner of Pliny. Claude de Seyssel, (c.1450-1520) was a Savoyard scholar, diplomat, and churchman, successively Bishop of Marseille and archbishop of Turin. He served under Louis XII and was sent on diplomatic missions in Flanders, Switzerland, England and Italy. He collaborated with the Byzantine refugee Janus Lascaris on translations of ancient Greek historians, Lascaris translating from Greek to Latin and Seyssel from Latin to French; between them they produced the first French translations of Herodotus, Thucydides, Diodorus, Appian, Xenophon. Seyssel is particularly remembered for two works of political history and theory both relating to the the reign of Louis XII; this work and a similar work ‘La Monarchie de France’. He was “among the first to render articulate …. the conception that the ruler, whatever his title, was in fact restrained by the law and custom of the community”. Hunt.

“Guillaume Bude rejoiced over Louis XII’s death .. depicting the joy of the French people at the news of the Kings’s death; the two days of mourning were in fact days of festivity…. On the other hand Claude de Seyssel – a jurist and diplomat – sought to show that Louis XII was the ultimate model of kingship in his ‘Louanges du Roy Louis Douzieme’ (1508) … Claude de Seyssel was a member of the courtly ruling elite involved in a debate about the French aims in Italy, and therefore the justification of the Milanese enterprise. It was important for him to emphasise that such support was completely distinct from flattery, and that glorification of Louis XII’s deeds was not contrary to Christian humility. Seyssel stressed that his intention was not adulation but moral edification. To write about a living king was justified, in his eyes, not only by its capacity to arouse amazement but also by the benefits of wonder – that is civic and political gains. Seyssel tried to convince his readers that Louis XII deserved praise for his ability to modify and inspire and ultimate model of virtue. Consequently, he tried to prove that Louis was more worthy than all his French predecessors (including the legendary Charlemagne and Saint Louis).”Joan Pau Rubiés etc. ‘Exploring Cultural History: Essays in Honour of Peter Burke’ Corrozet’s edition is prefaced with an interesting introduction in which he describes the work as more than a history but as a little map or guide for people in navigating the present situation in France.  “Seyssel’s writings ‘can stand comparison with that of Erasmus, Machiavelli, and Thomas More.” Gough.

USTC 10238. Michel Bouchereaux. ‘Recherches bibliographiques sur Gilles Corrozet’, no. 97. Pettegree. 47913.