Paris, s.n. 1598.
8vo. [xx], 218 [r. 220] leaves, 219-222p., , 19,  leaves. FOUR HIGHLY PERSONAL ALLEGORICAL ETCHINGS — that on the title shows a prison cell and all manner of restraints.
GILT-RULED FLEXIBLE IVORY VELLUM WITH THE CROWNED CIPHER OF GASTON D’ORLÉANS in a cordiform scutcheon (Olivier-Hermal-Roton 2560,5), panels and flat spine covered in lilies, later gilt-lettered spine label, green and yellow silk headbands, all edges gilt, ruled in red.
BASTARD, TRAITOR, MURDERER, SPY — SECRETARY OF STATE: a most remarkable man and autobiography.
A powerful and intimate advisor of Philip II of Spain, Pérez countersigned all imperial edicts, conspired against the king’s brother and killed his secretary. Pérez’s fall began with accusations of embezzlement, then of treason, murder and adultery (with Philip’s mistress). Torture and incarceration followed.
He escaped in 1590, fled to Paris then moved to London to gather intelligence for Henri IV of France. He survived assassination attempts by the Spanish and fomented anti-Spanish sentiment — the so-called Black Legend — through an alliance with the Earl of Essex and through this autobiography.
It was wildly popular as a political document, reviling Spain and her ruler, and as a literary work. Its over-the-top style became the fashion among young bloods in England and France. Pérez has been proposed as the model for the fantastical Spaniard, Don Adriano de Armado, in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour's Lost.
This copy belonged to Gaston d’Orléans (1608-60), who repeatedly conspired against his brother Louis XIII and attempted to kill his chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu. A refined collector, Gaston created two libraries, one in Paris and one at Blois, where he long lived in exile for his mischief. How did he read Pérez’s self-justificatory account of perfidy and rebellion?
It subsequently belonged to John Evelyn (1620-1706; Evelyn Library III (1978) 1155 & pl. 10).
THIS COPY MAY BE UNIQUE for the two unsigned and unnumbered leaves at the end, printing the Spanish Inquisition’s 1615 condemnation of Pérez for heresy. The complex bibliography of the “1598” Paris printings remains unresolved.
¶Bravo-Blondeau, Contribution à une étude de la Légende noire: les Relaciones d’Antonio Pérez (PhD Dissert., 1994) passim; Pérez Gomez, Antonio Pérez escritor y hombre de estado passim & 178,6; Marañón, Antonio Pérez “Spanish Traitor” passim; Muir, The Sources of Shakespeare’s Plays 78; Ungerer, Anglo-Spanish Relations in Tudor Literature 81-154; Gatulle, “Livres, ‘belles-lettres’ et théâtre” in Gaston d’Orléans, prince rebelle et mécène 1.VII-15.X.2017 edd. Constant & Gatulle 179-84; Palau 219034-5 & 219037-8.