Dijon, Petrus Metlinger 4 July 1491.
4to (218 x 153 mm.). [ii blank], [ii], , [4 blank]p. Gothic type (86 text, 106 leaded to 120 summaries, 185 first word of each privilege), 35 lines per page (text), TWO FULL-PAGE WOODCUTS (165 x 105 mm.) & THREE SERIES OF LARGE RESTLESS WOODCUT INITIALS; in the first full-page cut the Virgin Mary shelters Cistercian nuns & monks; in the second Pope Paschal II issues a privilege to obeisant Cistercian saints & monks surrounded by cardinals & with Cîteaux Abbey at the center; both blocks have letterpress within the image area (see below). Gilt ruled dark brown morocco with light brown morocco inlaid Renaissance scrollwork (E. Vignal), inlaid spine compartments, gilt lettered title & date, blind ruled turn-ins. ONLY EDITION: THE FIRST BOOK PRINTED IN DIJON AND ONE OF THREE PRIVATELY PRINTED ILLUSTRATED FRENCH INCUNABLES. Jean de Cirey became abbot of Cîteaux in 1476 and assumed leadership of the Cistercians. He immediately inventoried the abbey’s rich library, obtained important papal protections and chronologically organized the entire corpus of some 150 ecclesiastic and secular documents (one issued by Richard the Lion Heart). He provided summaries of each, and, for the most important, added his own commentary. To disseminate the assembled texts, Cirey called Petrus Metlinger (already prototypographer of Besançon and Dôle) to Dijon early in 1490 and installed him in Petits-Cîteaux, the Cistercian guesthouse in Dijon. Metlinger produced this beautiful book directly under the supervision of the abbot, who mandated that THIS MASSIVE COMPENDIUM WAS “TO BE KEPT SECRET AND NOT TO BE COMMUNICATED, GIVEN, OR SOLD UNLESS TO CISTERCIAN CONVENTS” (Claudin). Cirey’s secretary and THE BOOK’S EDITOR, HUMANIST CONRADUS LEONTORIUS (1460-1511) AUTHENTICATED EACH COPY BY SIGNING AND ADDING HIS PARAPH on the final printed leaf. The present example passed to the nuns of Nôtre-Dame de Fontaine-Guérard in Normandy (title inscription). THE LARGE WOODCUTS ARE UNIQUE TO THIS EDITION. The exuberant initials were used ?once again. Both were executed on Cirey’s commission. The imagery of the two large blocks reinforces his intent: as the Privilegia safeguards the Cistercians so do the Virgin Mary and the Holy See. The cutter, one Wilhelm, departed Dijon in April 1491, after completing the initials and the two large blocks, but apparently before the text for the full-page cuts had been composed. These verses were accommodated at the time of printing by excising one piece from the first block to insert the letterpress quatrain in the banderole and two pieces from the second block for the quatrain (banderole, above) and distich (below). At least two early readers annotated about thirty pages. One added the text of a privilege of 1257 (omitted by Cirey) on the final two blank leaves, which one Fibert corrected and authenticated in 1665. A fine, fresh copy (forty leaves with a few minor worm holes, one leaf neatly repaired).H 9391 = HC *13367; BMC VIII: 409; Goff P-976; ISTC ip00976000; Fairfax-Murray, French 457 (3 reprodd.); Claudin, “Private Printing in France during the Fifteenth Century” in Bibliographica III (1897): 344-70, esp. 363-6; Guignard, Les monuments primitifs de Règle cistercienne XC-XCVII, CII-CXII & 650-2; Hind, History of the Woodcut II: 620-1; Schulte, Die Gesch. d. Quellen u. Lit. des canonischen Rechts II: 66n. 2; Wolff, “Conradus Leontorius. Biobibliographie” in Beiträge z. Gesch. d. Renaissance u. Reformation (1917) 363-410, esp. 379-82; see Hartmann, Die Amerbach-korrespondenz I: 5, 18, 19 & 206. Item #8046