Naples, M. Cancer 1552.
Folio (312 x 219 mm.). [iv], I-CXX leaves. Gothic type, double-column, THREE HALF-PAGE TEXT WOODCUTS and one smaller block, TEXT IN ORNAMENTAL WHITE-LINE WOODCUT BORDER STRIPS, white-line strips between the columns, woodcut arms of the dedicatee Pedro Álvarez de Toledo y Zúñiga marqués de Villafranca on the title.
CONTEMPORARY GILT BLACK MOROCCO WITH THE ARMS OF THE DEDICATEE PEDRO DE TOLEDO with a lily above and below, wide floral roll frame, fleurons at the outer corners, a fan tool in the inner corners, gilt-ruled spine, edges gilt and gauffered.
ONLY EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, OF THIS SPLENDID NEAPOLITAN ILLUSTRATED BOOK.
Viceroy of Naples, Pedro de Toledo (1484-1553) ruled the city — then Europe’s second most populous — with an iron hand from 1532 to 1552. He focused on its fortifications, shipyards, port defenses and actions against the Turks. His son García (1514-77), Captain General of the Galleys, fought on the front lines, oversaw munitions and provisions and negotiated for hostages with Constantinople. He also saw the Hystoria through the press.
In the late 1540s and early 1550s, the Turkish-Christian struggle raged across the Mediterranean. Both sides raided, plundered, took thousands of hostages (ransomed, sold or sent to the galleys) and coerced or slaughtered local populations. The contest had two great champions, Imperial Admiral Andrea Doria (1466-1560) and Dragut (or Turgut Reis, 1485-1565), so-called King of Pirates and Commander of the Ottoman Mediterranean navy.
The Hystoria tells and illustrates this story of blood, greed and bold political and military strokes. The woodcuts accurately depict the three separate assaults on Mahdia (Africa to Christians). Its capture was celebrated throughout Europe. The fourth block shows Monastir, the site of another Christian victory.
In the late 18th-century this copy was in the rich library of Don Antonio María Pascual de Borbón, Infante of Spain (1755-1817), who resided in Naples and was the younger brother of the kings of Spain and of Naples (all three were born in, or just outside, Naples). The title verso bears his characteristic mark: S.D.S.Y.D.A. (“Soy Del Señor Ynfante Don Antonio”). Napoleon plundered his books. Stamp of Richard Heber (1773-1834; Catalogue (VI.1834) 5510).
This first issue of the book has Toledo’s arms on the title and a fulsome dedication to Pedro with many references to García: it is by far the less common. The second issue has Spain’s royal arms on the title and a dedication to Prince Philip. Of the four copies recorded in American libraries, three are incomplete or made up: all are the second issue (Harvard (two), Kansas, Yale). In good condition (a few scattered leaves lightly foxed, lower portion of the first two leaves stained).
¶Göllner, Turcica…des 16. Jahrhunderts II: 928 (second issue); Toda y Güell, Bibliografia espanyola d’Italia 4542 (second issue); Manzi, La Tipografia napoletana nell ’500. II: Annali di Mattia Cancer 57 (second issue); EDIT16 CNCE 77656 (47691 second issue); Almirante, Bibliografía militar de España 775; Palau 286708-9 (second issue); Hellwald, Bibliographie méthodique de l’ordre souverain de St. Jean de Jérusalem 41; Ternaux-Compans, Bibliothèque asiatique et africaine 327.