Edicts et ordonnances des roys de France… 

Paris, Jacques du Puys, 1580. 


FIRST EDITION. Folio, vol. one of four. pp. [cii] 827 [xlvii]; ã4, *6 , +-4+4, 5+6, a-d6, a-z6, A-Z6, AA-ZZ6, (ZZ6 blank), &&6, ãã-ee6, ii4 (last blank). Roman letter, some Italic. Du Puy’s beautiful large fountain device on title, fine grotesque woodcut initials, head and tail-pieces, autograph “Abraham Girard, 1620” Bookplate of Maurice Burrus on pastedown, his mms. purchase label on rear fly. Light age yellowing, rare marginal minor stain. A fine copy, crisp and clean with good margins in contemporary calf, covers with large central, gilt stamped scrolled and hatched arabesque, spine with raised bands, large fleuron gilt at centres, title gilt lettered in compartments, covers probably C19th overworked in gilt with a border of painted scroll work in yellow red and black, spine compartments in a similar style, small loss from head and foot of spine.

A beautifully bound copy of Fontanon’s major work, one of the first works to attempt a compilation of the Royal edicts in France. The already very handsome contemporary binding was probably over worked in the C19th with a sumptuous, beautifully worked, painted scroll-work decoration in a contemporary style. This overworking was not necessarily done to deceive but to supply the taste for such rich bindings both in England and France.

The Estates General under Henry III, particularly the Ordinances of Blois, called for the codification of French Royal Law. “More specifically, code 207 of Blois responded to the unanimous petitions from the estates with the promise to produce a one-volume compilation of French royal law. Before the King had time to carry out his promise, a private initiative saw the light of day which attempted just that. Antoine Fontanon, ‘avocat’ at the Parelment of Paris, published the first edition of his compilation in 1580. The preface explained that the mammoth task had been a collaborative enterprise, based on earlier attempts, especially that of Pierre Rebuffy. He was assisted by Adrien DuBrac, Pierre Pithou, and others. Fontanon’s compilation was impressive in its scale and accuracy. It was organised primarily not by date, but by subject matter, following the categorisation (though not the order) of the Ordinances of Blois. Fontanon made careful ‘abstracts’ of many edicts, noting alterations during their registration by the Parlement. Explicit in the work was therefore a defence of the authority of the Parlement and a vision of the French Monarchy as, since its institution ‘sous le nom du peuple Francois’, always moderated by the ‘loix tres-sainctes & coustumes louables’. That was not at all what Henry III had in mind. So, three years later, to coincide with the Assembly of Notables at Saint-Germain-en-laye, he asked the premier président of the Parlement of Paris, Barnabé Brisson .. to coordinate a new ‘official’ compilation.” Mark Greengrass ‘Governing Passions: Peace and Reform in the French Kingdom, 1576-1585

A fine copy in a beautiful binding.

USTC 45413. Saffroy 8703. ‘Ouvrage important sur les institutions, la noblesse et les matières féodales’. Andrew Pettegree. French Vernacular Books, 40681.


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Les coustumes generales de la ville de Bourdeaus, Seneschaussée de Guyenne, & païs de Bourdelois.

Bordeaux, Par S. Millanges, imprimeur ordinaire du roy, 1611.


4to. pp. 36. [A], B-D, E². Roman letter. Small woodcut ornament on title, woodcut initial, typographical headpiece, engraved bookplate of Bertrand and Mabel Rambaut, Baythorne Park on front pastedown. Light age yellowing, light minor waterstain to blank upper margin of last few leaves. A very good, well margined copy [many deckle edges] in fine French C19th dark green crushed morocco by Champs, spine with raised bands, title and date lettered direct in minuscule letter, edges double gilt ruled, inner dentelles richly gilt, combed marble end-papers, a.e.g.

Very rare edition in French, finely printed by Simon Millanges (Montaigne’s printer), of the ancient customary laws of Guyenne and Bordeaux. “Under Francois I the ‘Anciennes Coutumes de Guyenne’ (Ancient Customary laws of Guyenne) were reformed to take into account the local bourgeoisie’s demands. The three estates of the sénéchaussée of Guyenne assembled in February 1520 to modify the old Coutumier. Several articles were suppressed or changed and new ones were added. The work lasted five months and the reformed Coutumier went into effect towards the end of 1527. Its territory was extended to include the former sénéchaussée of Bordeaux. The new customary law of Guyenne, which heavily favored the bourgeoisie, consisted of 117 articles written in a rather disorderly fashion and without much equity. Questions of inheritance and testamentary succession strongly recentered customary law around the transmission of property, and the goal of the great majority of the articles was to provide better protection for private property and to favor bourgeois property owners over the feudal territorial rights of noble landlords. The first article sets the tone of this rewriting of the customary law. It stipulates that every son of a merchant family engaged in commerce of other business (banking, brokerage, purchasing) “can make commitments wothout his father’s consent, in matters concerning merchandise or business” For example, children had the right to do business under their own names without depending on the authority of their fathers. In the spirit of liberalizing mercantile law, Article V reorganised the law governing the legacy of goods to descendants by specifying that lineal transmission henceforth always had priority over feudal law. Inheritances, successions, transmissions, and donations of buildings, as well as the regulation of rents and mortgages, were subjected to new interpretations favorable to the rising bourgeoisie and represented more than sixty articles in the ‘coustumes generales de la ville de Bourdeaus, Seneschaussée de Guyenne,’ between 1520 and 1527. the revision of customary law at the beginning of the sixteenth century was the end result of a long process of political redistribution in Bordeaux and in Guyenne .. The oldest text of this Coutume was printed in Bordeaux in 1528 by Jean Guyart. The Coutume was reprinted by Simon Millanges in 1611 and 1617, and again by Jaques Mongiron Millanges in 1661 and 1666.” Philippe Desan ‘Montaigne: A Life.’

The work has many interesting details concerning the wine trade; for instance a chapter on the correct use of containers and barrels for holding wine, or on the theft of grapes. A rare work, that gives fascinating insight into a town that was intimately linked, through its trade in wine, with England, and with the transition from a feudal to a Bourgeois society.

USTC 6800215. [Two locations only, Both at Bordeaux.] This edition not in BM STC Fr. C17th or Brunet.


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CAESAR, Gaius Iulius

Commentarii tradotti di latino in volgar lingua.

Venice, Paolo Manuzio, 1547.


8vo, ff. [7], 256 [i.e. 251]. Italic letter, large printer’s device on title and final verso, 5 full-page woodcut illustrations and two double-page maps; very light, mainly marginal foxing and occasional small damsptain to gutter or margins, minor stain to upper edge of ff. 51-52; small clean tear at head of f. 54, not affecting legibility; original paper flaws touching a few letters on f. 245. A good copy in contemporary vellum, recased probably in C19th, contemporary title inked on lower edge, others on spine, a. e. r.; a few tiny wormholes, mainly at spine and rear; early bookplate scratched off front pastedown, early initials ‘LB’ on title.

The best edition of this first Italian translation of a landmark in Western literature, first published in 1512. Caesar’s own account of his military campaigns in Gaul, Spain, Africa, Egypt and the Civil Wars have been a perennial textbook to learn a terse and lively Latin but also proved very successful as a reading for a broader non-learned audience. The first vernacular translation appeared, for obvious reasons, in France and was rapidly followed by a Spanish and German edition. This transposition into the Italian vernacular was made by Agostino Ortica Della Porta, an early sixteenth-century poet from Genoa who also translated Sallust’s works. This accurate edition retains the famous set of illustrations of the 1513 Aldine edition of the original Latin text as well as the additional map of the Iberian peninsula taken from the Giunta edition of 1514 (cf. Mortimer, 96 and Essling, II/1, 1728).

BM STC It., 135; Adams, C 84; Brunet, I, 1461 (l’édition d’Alde … est la meilleure et la plus recherchée’); Graesse, II, 9; Renouard, 142:10 (‘la meilleure edition de cette traduction’).



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Discours de la prinse de deux grandes navires envoyees de la part de la royne d’Angleterre au roy de Navarre

Paris, veuve François Plumion, 1589


FIRST EDITION. pp. 13 [i]. A-B4. (lacking B4 blank). Roman letter some Italic. Woodcut initials and headpieces, modern bookplate with monogram on pastedown. Cut a little short in upper margin fractionally trimming page numbering, light age yellowing, A very good copy in modern blue paper boards, title gilt on spine, a.e.r.

Interesting and very rare first edition of this piece of Catholic League propaganda, printed at Paris just weeks after the events reported, concerning the battle of Arques and the intervention of British troops and ships in Henri IV’s favour at Dieppe. Henry IV found himself trapped at Dieppe by the much larger force of the Leagues’ army under the leadership of the Duke of Mayenne. Henri moved his forces out of the town to Arques which he fortified. He managed to hold off the attack and won a decisive victory when The Duc of Mayenne’s forces retreated, once they realised that 4000 troops had arrived from England to relieve Henri’s position. This pamphlet reports the events in a very different light describing the battle a mostly a victory for the League and reports on the capture of two large British ships sent by the Queen to help Henri. It also reports the Queens determination to intervene on Henri’s behalf even if it means British invasion of France. Such was the strength of the League’s propaganda that Parisians were astonished when Henri’s army arrived on the outskirts of Paris as they had been lead to believe he was severely wounded or had even killed in the battle. The privilege for this work was given by the “Faculte de Theologie” in Paris and is dated October 1589.

“As is typical with works of propaganda, the pamphlets of the League from this time attempted to engage the specific prejudices, preconceptions, and fears of their readers. The pamphlets were mostly anonymous or printed under pseudonyms, however, they were published by well-known partisans of the League. Pro-League printers in Paris during this time did not need to fear reprisals from the king—Paris was completely controlled by the League through the preachers in the local Paris churches, so there was little need to hide behind false imprints. There were originally hundreds of such pamphlets, according to the contemporary diarist Pierre de l’Estoile, but most of the pamphlets were destroyed during the early years of the reign of Henry IV when he instituted a major program of destroying them.” Lydia A. M. Fletcher. “Libels and Declarations: Pamphlets and Printers of the Catholic League.”

A very rare and ephemeral pamphlet which gives most interesting insight into the use of propaganda during the wars of religion and specifically with its connection to the British Queen.

USTC 20302. Andrew Pettegree, etc. ‘French Vernacular Books, Livres vernaculaires français’ 18133.


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Les annales Dacquitaine faictz et gestes en sommaire des roys de France et Dangleterre, pays de Naples et de Milan. Revues et corrigees par lacteur et de nouvel iusques en lan Mil cinq cens xxxvii.

Paris, Jehan André, 1537.


Folio. ff. [10] CXCIX. Lettre bâtarde, t-p in red and black, white on black floriated initials plus one large criblé and one grotesque. Ms ex-libris on upper margin of t-p in English hand “a Joanne Prentt”, recording the book’s purchase in Paris in 1539 and of “Nicolai Von Bodeck Dantzigi Anno 1652” in lower margin, C19 armorial bookplate of a Marquis on pastedown. A very good cleant copy in C17 mottled calf, upper joint cracked at head. Spine gilt in compartments, red morocco lettering piece, edges speckled red, old Quaritch collation note in pencil at end.

Unrecorded new and expanded edition of Jean Bouchet’s most important work continued up to 1537, though similar printings can be found by Richard du Hamel, Jehan Macé, Sergent Pierre, Guilaume le Bret and A Girault.

Jean Bouchet (1476-1555(?)) was a public prosecutor at Poitiers and writer of the «Grand rhétoriqueurs », a literary movement supported by Louis XII’s court. Jean d’Auton, abbé d’Angle and Louis XII’s historiographer and poet, taught him poetry and instilled in him the taste for history. Bouchet was close to the important La Tremoille family and became a member of Anne of Brittany’s court at the request of the Duchess de la Tremoille, Gabrielle of Bourbon. However he is really remembered now more as a historian than as a poet. After eight years of research in all Poitou and having recorded Louis II La Tremoille’s recollections of the reigns of Charles VIII, Louis XII and Francois the First, he published the first version of his “Annales d’Acquitaine”, the first historical work about a French province. It is a valuable text for the history of Aquitaine and of France but for English history as well, with their long involvement with the Duchy of Guyenne. The author continued his work until the end of his long life in 1557, the last corrected edition was published the day after his death.

It seems that booksellers often changed the t-p but the colophon, collation and the printing date stayed/ are the same. In these editions the last leaf is often cancelled, maybe to conceal the device of another printer. The present edition was unauthorized and the addition up to 1537 were not by Bouchet, who warned his readers against them in the fourth edition of 1545.“ « Au commancement de l’an mil cinq cent trente cinq, les présentes Annales d’Aquitaine furent imprimées a Poictiers pour la troysicsme foys. Depuis et l’an mil cinq cents quarante, aultre imprimeur que le mien, les a imprimées a Paris pour la quatriesme fois; et continue mon histoire sans moy, iusques audict an mil cinq cents quarante en mon nom: qui est crime de faulx, me supposant contre vérité ce qu’ils ont continue estre de mon ouurage, combien que ce soyent choses triuiales et non sentans l’histoire. »

Nicklas Von Bodeck was probably the mayor of Dantzig between (1664-1675) and author of “Sehnliche Klage des Nicolai von Bodeck iiber dessen Tochter Barbara. Danzig 1653 ”and “Auf das Ehrenfest des Nicolaus von Bodeck und Coustantia Giesen. Danzig 1648”. Sadly we have not located John Prentt.

For eds. by other printers see: BNF, Index Aureliensis, V; Brunet, Supp. I, 161.


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