1580 Recueil des Roys de France, many engravings (coat-of-arms & portraits), important work often cited academically


You can see more pictures of this book at my public Flickr photo album at: https://flic.kr/s/aHskpNm4YL

Executive Summary
A nice early (1580) edition documenting the Kings of France, put together for Henri II in the 16th century. The work is widely noted and still respected because the author used archive sources for his history, rather than legend, marking this work more trustworthy than many other so called "histories".

The first part of the book describes each of the Kings (from Hugh Capet to Henry II) with portraits of each King in a medallion with the insignia of royalty, and sometimes with weapons (note that some medallions remained empty, 42 in portrait medallions and 16 empty medallions). There are also illustrations of twenty-three coat-of-arms.

The author also captured the history of ceremony at the French court, beginning from the times of the Germanic tribes. The author’s descriptions of ceremonies is often still cited in academic research of the French court.

The only other copy of this edition I can find for sale is selling on AbeBooks for $1350 with a significant water stain and later binding:

I find only seven other copies in the world’s libraries: http://www.worldcat.org/title/recueil-des-roys-de-france-leurs-couronne-et-maison-ensemble-le-rengs-des-grands-de-france/oclc/43092422/editions?editionsView=true&referer=br

Full Title

Recueil des Roys de France Leurs Couronne et Maison, Ensemble, le Rengs des Grands de France, par Jean du Tiller, sieur de la bussiere, protentotaire & secretaire du roy, greffier de son Parlement
Une Chronique abbregee contenant tout ce qui est aduenu, tant en fait de Guerre, qu autrement, entre les roys & princes, republiques & potentats estrangers: Par M 1 Du Tillet Euesque de Meaux freres

Rough English Translation:
Collection of the Crowned Kings of France and their Shields, Complete with the Major Houses of France , by Jean du Tillet, Sieur de la Bussiere , Protentotaire & Secretary of the King , Clerk of the Parliament

An abridged chronicle containing everything that has happened, both because of war, and not, between kings and princes and potentates, republics & strangers For M 1 Du Tillet - Euesque Meaux brothers

A PARIS, Chez Iaques of Puys , Bookseller jure in University of Paris, rue saint Jean de Lateran, the Samaritan woman. 1580. With privilege of the King.

About the Work

Google scanned a library copy of the same edition in its entirety which can be viewed at: https://books.google.com/books?id=pr9TAAAAcAAJ

The author, as a member of the court of Henri II, presented this work to the King which is based on academic research of archives, rather than legend.

The portraits were attempted to be as true as possible to the King they represented.

“The original manuscript of the Recuffil des roys de France by Jean Du Tillet in the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris contains a superb series of portraits of the French kings. A careful examination shows that these are true portraits derived from ancient monuments, either statues or original seals.” (H. Omont, C. R. Acad. Insc. 1907, pp. 587-589.)

After his history of the Kings and their families the author explores the history of royal ceremony going all the way back to the Germanic tribes. I find references to this study by many modern scholars exploring the pageantry of French nobility. This book is a go-to reference for the ceremonies of French royals.

About the Author from Wikipedia

He was clerk of the parliament of Paris (1521-1570), and secretary of the king Henry II.

Seller’s note: I happened upon one online account that said du Tillet hand delivered the true 1st edition of the book to Henri and his mistress (a copy each) in a binding with their initials on them. I can’t find verification of this.

His immense legal and historical erudition made ​​him indispensable, and he served four kings (François 1st, Henri II, François II and Charles IX). He was able to understand and analyze what new world was being born, and he wrote: "The Estate is the supreme power of the Kingdom of France" He had written the "Estate" and not the king. In that Du Tillet placed above the kings provisional holders of power, "Royalty, the Crown, abstract power and permanent" according to Jean Bodinn.
Until the Revolution, the works of Du Tillet were widely reprinted and quoted. In The Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu quotes the author as a familiar "See Dutillet". Balzac put him directly on stage in his novelistic essay "On Catherine de Medici."


See pictures. Also there are more photos available for viewing in the public Flickr photo album at:

Size: Sexto, 32 x 22 x 4.5 cm

Binding is covered in vellum. Some wear to front and rear cover. Boards are mostly straight.

Spine has small worm holes. The name on the spine is in gilt, which leads me to believe it’s a 17th or 18th century re-binding. The book was also restored at some point which is indicated by the repaired pages and strengthening to the flyleaf (see notes below).

All the page edges are sprinkled with red.

Inside the front cover are three different stock numbers. There is a piece of librarians tape up the middle of the flyleaf.

Some spotting and yellowing throughout the book (see pictures). There is some light damp staining along page edges but I find little to no instances where it impacts the text.

There is what appears to be a (German?) royal crown stamp on the title page. It’s a hawk/phoenix/vulture/? with a crown.

A few pages (like the title page and pages 14 and 15 in the pictures) have had small tears repaired professionally.

Inside the rear cover there is a graphite inscription on the 1st blank sheet (in Italian) which I believe gives some details of the restoration.

Despite flaws, a very clean and handsome copy that will look great in any collection. The book is sound and still retains a noble quality. I am proud to have it in my collection.

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