CONESTAGGIO, Cerolamo Franchi di


The historie of the vniting of the kingdom of Portugall to the crowne of Castill.

London, Arn[old] Hatfield for Edward Blount, 1600.


FIRST EDITION thus. pp. [xii], 324, [viii]: A-2E, 2F. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut printer’s device (McKerrow 293), floriated woodcut initials. Early manuscript autograph “Ex-libris Joannis Johnson, Coll Mag. Cant” on verso of last Engraved armorial bookplate of James Ibebetson on pastedown, Richard Radcliffe’s below, manuscript ex-dono from ‘Richard Duncan Radcliffe to Albert George Sandeman, 1879’ above, Patrick W Sandeman’s on fly, early armorial stamp of John Blount on verso of title, repeated over that of Ibebetson. Light age yellowing, t-p backed, dusty on recto, predominantly marginal light waterstaining in places, verso of last a little soiled. A very good copy, with good margins, in early vellum over boards, later label, covers bordered with double blind rule, a little soiled.

First edition of the English translation of this most interesting history generally attributed to Juan de Silva, conde de Portalegre; the work deals with the recent history of the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal prior to and during the union of their crowns. “A history and description of Portugal and the East Indies containing a royal genealogy starting in 1090, a geographical description, Portuguese exploration and an anecdotal account of the wars between Portugal and Spain. Translated by Edward Blount (?) who had it printed in folio by Arnold Hatfield in 1600. .. Scott suspects that the real author was Juan de Silva, fourth Count of Portalegre, who concealed himself behind the name of Girolamo Franchi de Conestaggio.. Dedicated to Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southhampton by Edward Blount. No later edition.” A Bibliographical Catalogue of Italian Books Printed in England 1558–1603. Of particular interest is its treatment of the voyages of discovery and of Portuguese colonial expansion, especially in Africa (in battles against the Moors), Asia and the Southern Americas, its description of the states of the Colonies (e.g. Brazil apparently was only a penal colony while the Moluccas were prized for their cloves and nutmeg), and the role of the Jesuits in state affairs. Contemporary events in Europe are not ignored. The House of Hapsburg and the Prince of Orange figure fairly frequently and even the story of the request of aid from the people of Ireland to the Pope, against Queen Elizabeth I is recorded. The work begins with the genealogy of the Kings of Portugal from 1090 to 1527. The translation is almost certainly by Edward Blount (1565-1632), though it was also attributed to Marlowe, publisher and translator into English of a number of popular Spanish and Italian works of the day, including the first English edition of Cervantes. Interestingly the work has a double Shakespeare connection. It is dedicated by Blount to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare’s close friend and patron and Blount, of course, with Jaggard, was the publisher of Shakespeare’s great first folio.

The early autograph could well be that of John Johnson of Cranbrook (1662–1725) the theologian who published several theological works in the Laudian tradition.

STC 5624. Lowndes II, 508. Alden 600/31. Brunet II, 217 (referring to the original Italian edition); ‘ouvrage curieux, qui a eu beaucoup de succès dans le temps: il est Jean de Silvá, comte de Portalegre, qui accompagna Don Sébastien en Afrique en qualité d’ambassadeur d’Espagne’. JFB has 1589 Italian version only.


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BROSSIN, Jacques


Extrait des Descendans & Ascendans de Andre de Laval, Chevalier

n.p., n.p., 1630.


FIRST EDITON. 4to. 28 unnumbered pages A-C4, D2. Roman letter, some Italic. ‘Ce livre apartient a m’r Turgot du Baugouet’ in a slightly later hand at head of pastedown, engraved armorial bookplates of Turgot on front pastedown and Turgot des Tourailles on rear. Very light marginal age yellowing. A fine copy, crisp and clean with excellant margins, in contemporary polished limp vellum, covers double gilt ruled to a panel design, outer panel with large Fleur de lys gilt to corners, arms of Louis XIII at centres, three fleur de lys with crown above, within finely worked gilt wreath, spine with fine gilt roll, in long, of alternate lozenge and circles gilt, all edges gilt, lacking ties, lower cover with some minor stains.

First edition of this extremely rare piece of trial evidence, beautifully bound in very fine limp vellum with the arms of Louis XIII, probably made for presentation to the king by the author. The work details the descendants of André de Laval who go back as far as Louis de Débonaire, the son of Charlemagne. This work was made as evidence gathered in reply to the defamation, by Jean Barbotin, made against Jaques Brossin, that he was not of noble decent. Brossin in reply to these accusations made this impressive genealogy, consulting the Royal historian Duchene, which assembles evidence of his lineage through the descent of his Grandfather, the knight Andre de Laval. Andre de Laval’s first son was revealed to be one of the ascendants of the royal family and other major figures of the Aristocracy; related to Henry IV, to Louis XIII, Marie De Bourbon, and Duc of Guise and Mary Stuart. The second son of Andre de Laval, Guy, was the ascendant in the seventh degree to the Cardinal de Richelieu and to Jacques Brossin, the author of this work. Brossin then produces further documentary evidence, which he transcribes in its entirety including; the letter from Catherine de Medicis recommending his father for marriage with one of the descendants of Andre de Laval; the letter of Henry II asking his grandfather to raise arms on his behalf; letters from Kings and Queens recommending the Brossin family, and the Brossin family genealogy. The work terminates with the genealogy of the family of Andre de Laval as far back as Charlemagne.

Jean Barbotin and his accomplices, who had accused Brossin of not being of noble descent, undoubtedly did not realise that he would thus be accusing the Royal family, by proxy, of the same thing, and that the charge of defamation would then be transformed to that of lèse Majesté. Jean Barbotin, on the strength of the evidence gathered in this work, was found guilty of this crime and executed along with his two accomplices. It would have been unusual for such a personal family document to be printed or to be so finely bound, however, Brossin, as a result of the court case for lèse Majesté, probably had a small quantity privately printed of which he had this copy finely bound with the arms of Louis XIII, who may have required a copy as it was a matter that concerned him personally. The quality of the materials used and the gilding of this binding are particularly fine.

Not in BM STC C17th Fr. Saffroy, Bibliographie généalogique héraldique et nobiliaire de la France, III, n°43777.


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LUSIGNAN, Estienne


Les genealogies de soixante et sept tres-nobles. (with) Les droicts, autoritez et prerogatiues que pretendent au royaume de Hierusalem, les princes & seigneurs spirituels & temporels cy apres nommez.

Paris, Guillaume le Noir, ruë S. Iacques, à l’enseigne de la Rose blanche couronnee, 1586.


FIRST EDITION of the second work. Two works in one. 4to. 1) ff. (iv), 128. 2) (viii), 40. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut printers device on both titles, full page woodcut of Melusine holding the arms of Luxembourg and Lusignan on â4 verso of first volume, floriated woodcut initials, grotesque headpieces, early inscription (illegible) on fly, autograph Pf Van Meldert de Deveal in C19th hand on verso, modern armorial bookplate on pastedown, C19th label above, ‘Ad usum don[?]’ in contemporary hand on fly. Light age yellowing, tiny worm trail at gutter well away from text. Very good copies, crisp and clean, in contemporary limp vellum, remains of ties.

Second edition of this important and early genealogy, bound with the first edition of the second work “Les Droicts, Autoritez et perogatives que pretendent au Royaume de Hierusalem.” Estienne de Lusignan was born in Nicosia, capital of Cyprus, and chose an ecclesiastical career under the guidance of the Armenian Bishop, Julian. After the fall of Cyprus he escaped to Italy and spent his fortune buying back his enslaved parents from Turkey. He moved to Paris in 1577 and was nominated Bishop of Limasso in Cyprus.

“The work of Veccerius … became an important source for the Généalogies of Estienne de Chypre de Lusignan (1537 – 1590). As his name suggests, Estienne was a descendant of the Lusignan Kings of Cyprus and Bishop of Limassol. He wrote his Genealogies for Francois de Luxembourg-Piney, in which he presented the genealogies of sixty-seven noble dynasties that can all be traced back to the Merovingians. … In this book, Melusine and the search for her true historic identity are a recurrent theme. This may be unsurprising, since it is that very figure that enabled the author’s own glorious dynastic roots to be connected with those of his patron, or, as he wrote, ‘The house of Luxembourg, according to our opinion and that of many others, derived from the House of Lusignan.’ He also sees Melusine on the crest worn by “all members” of the house of Luxembourg and Lusignan as clear proof of his hypothesis.” Pit Péporté. “Constructing the Middle Ages.”

The second work is the first edition of Lusignan’s interesting treatise on the various claims of the main European noble houses, including the Papacy and the Patriarchy, over the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The first chapter concerns the rights over the Kingdom exercised by his own family. He then discusses the rights of each of the Royal families of Europe and their connection to the Kingdom, including the English Royal family through the exploits of Richard the Lionheart. Very good crisp copies of these two works.


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Vera genealogia e discendenza della Serenissima et Inuittissima Prosapia D’Austria. Breuemente descritta da Cornelio Vitignano

Naples, Iacomo Carlini and Antonio Pace, 1599.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. (xii) 27 (i). Italic letter with some Roman. Woodcut arms of Austria on title, a larger version on verso, large woodcut grotesque initials and head and tail-pieces, typographical ornaments, woodcut printer’s device on verso of last. One quire lightly browned, very minor occasional spotting. A very good copy in magnificent contemporary Italian red morocco gilt, covers gilt ruled to a panel design, outer dentelle roll, second panel filled with charming gilt floral roll incorporating grotesque heads, central panel with the large gilt arms of Cardinal Vidone at centres, fine gilt floral tools to corners, all filled with semé of small lozenge tools, spine with gilt ruled raised bands with stars gilt in compartments, remains of ties, tiny expert restoration to head and tail of spine and one corner, all edges gilt.

A superb example of a prestigious early seventeenth century Italian morocco binding belonging to Cardinal Vidone, on an interesting and appropriate work tracing the early genealogy of the House of Austria. Vidone, having studied at Pavia and Perugia, came to Rome during the pontificate of Pope Clement VIII (1592 – 1605). His rise from relatively lowly status up the Church administrative hierarchy was rapid, due to his considerable talent and skill. He became “Abbreviatore di parco maggiore” in 1604, Chamberlain of Honour to the Pope and Vice-legate of the Marche in 1606, Referendary of the Tribunals of the Apostolic Signature of Justice and of Grace, and Cleric of the Apostolic Chamber in 1609. He was later made Governor of the Civitavecchia in 1612, a post which he held until 1623, then President of Romagna from 1623 to 1625.

His success earned him the important post of Treasurer General of the Apostolic Chamber, and Commissary General of the Papal army in 1625, through which he effectively shouldered the burden of running the entire administration of the Papal domains. He received the red Cardinal hat on August 30, 1627, and the title of Ss. Quattro Coronatti, ‘pro illa vice’ deacon on October 6, 1627. His relatively short period as a Cardinal allows us to date this binding quite precisely to between 1627 and 1632, most probably crafted in Rome. The sumptuous and fine workmanship is in excellent condition, the gilding still bright and fresh with hardly any fading or rubbing. It is easy to imagine such a richly worked binding in the hands of a Cardinal.

Vitignano dedicates the work to Philip III of Spain with a short essay and poem, and includes another dedication by Giovanni Baptista de la Porta. He attempts to trace the history of the House of Austria back to the Roman Empire using inscriptions found on ancient monuments in Rome and Naples. Beautiful and very well preserved.

BM STC It. C16th. p. 734.


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