Editio princeps, (first printed edition), 1531 Chronicles of Jacques de Guyse (Guise). 3 volumes in 1 binding. Woodcuts.


All three volumes of Jacques de Guise's Chronicles of Hainaut (but also Belgium, France, Germany, etc.); first editions, all. A well-used, but cared for copy. At the time of listing, several other sellers are offering the chronicles at approx. $5k U.S.. I'll price this copy at half that for the condition; a cost-effective opportunity to own an important 16th century European chronicle.

About the Work -

De Guise’s history of Hainaut was written in Latin, circa 1380, and dedicated to Count Albert I of Hainaut. A Franciscan, De Guise wrote that he was descended from a distinguished Hainaut family, from which many members had served the princes of Hainaut. De Guise was awarded the Doctor of Theology at the University of Paris. He turned to history of the region he knew best, Hainaut, because he had noticed that this history was not written, while several neighboring nations, long subject to Hainaut, had famous ones.

De Guise produced his chronicle by exploring the memoirs and chronicles of city libraries, the archives of abbeys and churches, as well as the charters of princes and bishops; his compilation extends well beyond Hainaut.

Some authors, or their writings, are known only by him, or almost exclusively by him, such as the texts of Hugh of Toul, Nicolas Rucleri and the history in several volumes of Lucius of Tongeren (on page 80 of the first volume, Jacques de Guyse reports a fragment of the sixth chapter of the Histories of Lucius, where he speaks of the foundation of Belgis by Bavo, prince of Phrygia and cousin of Priam, an episode considered by many authors as a fable.

Jean Wauquelin is thought to have translated the work to French circa 1450, for the court of Philip the Good.

The French translation was then printed in the sixteenth century (printed in Paris, for the shop of François Regnault), in three volumes, by the care of Jacques de Leussach, called Lessabe, who, despite 25 years of work, does not manage to finish this work before his death. Four volumes were promised on the title page of the first volume, but only three were printed.

The first volume was entitled (roughly translated): The First Volume of the illustrations of Gaulle-Belgium, antiquities of the country of Haynau and the great city of Belgians, now called Bavay, from which proceed the causeways of Brunehault; and of several princes who have reigned and founded several cities and cite the said country, and other singular and worthy of memory things that happened during their reigns, to Duke Philippes de Bourgongne last deceased.

The second (published the same year) is titled: Second volume of the Cronics and annals of Haynnau and surrounding countries.

The third was published in 1532, but only covered to the year 1258.

All three are here bound together.

About the Typographic Details -

The first volume contains two full-page woodcuts of the author presenting his book to Philip the Good. The third volume contains a smaller woodcut of a scribe at his desk, surrounded by books. Also, the third volume contains a full-page woodcut showing the King of France presiding over parliament, with a scribe writing, a blacksmith forging coins in the background, as well as knights fighting. All three volumes have a title page framed with decorative elements, the first two volumes' printed in red and black. Decorated and inhabited initials throughout. Printed in two columns, in a gothic text. At the end of the first volume, we find Regnault's printer's mark of an elephant. At the end of the third volume, we find du Pre's galleon printer's mark.

Bibliographic Details -

Universal Short Title Catalogue (USTC) number 8426. Not rare, found in many of the best libraries.

Pettegree, Walsby and Wilkinson, French Vernacular Books, Books Published in the French Language before 1601 - 245967, 24568 and 24570

Physical Attributes -

Measures approx. 30 x 21 x 4.5 cm. Leather binding, boards framed in double blind fillet. Spine with five raised bands; title in gilt in one compartment, "1531-32" at base of spine in gilt compartments.

Pages v1 - Title leaf, [6], 142

Collation v1: Title leaf, a6, a8, b-y6, z8

Pages v2 - [4], 82

Collation v2 - a4, A-N6, O4

Pages v3 - [6], 108

Collation - a6, A-S6

Condition -

See pictures. Collated complete, per the signatures of the quires, per USTC (except USTC is wrong on V2 ending at O6 as both my copy and the Google scanned copy end at O4, which the printer signed as "fine"; also, the last page number per USTC is 82 which is signed O4).

Well-used, but repaired as time went by. Old repairs and wear marks testify that this book was used and appreciated.

Fresh binding, with a few ring marks (small marks in leather), scratches, etc.; one faint x scratch. Fore-edge of various depths due to mounting, repairs, etc.; some edges trimmed close for same reason.

Old repairs throughout, many pages mounted at gutter (a1-e2 volume 1, m1-n6 volume 2, title-g1 v3) and some holes, tears, corners with old paper repairs (some repairs using old library tissue-tape). Title page with inscriptions in an old legal hand (I can’t decipher them), dating them to the 16th century. Thumbing, toning, candle-ember spots, and some rust spots throughout. Also, page edge with some chipping, fraying, etc.. Occasional page-edge tear throughout. Occasional moisture marks throughout also, mostly at gutter. Occasional annotations and stray ink marks. 2nd plate at 1st chapter mounted. Manuscript page numbering at top margin, does not continue throughout. Some quires seem a little shaken, as the stabbing did not catch the repairs at both ends of gutter, but binding is very sound. 3” of bottom margin of V2D6 missing, just touches bottom line of printing. Last leaf with writing, doodling, chipping to top corner affecting text (of last two leaves), mounting, etc but 16th century manuscript date.

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