(Amsterdamo: Apresso Abramo Wolfgang, 1693). 158 x 92 mm. (6 1/8 x 3 5/8"). Two volumes. FIRST EDITION.
Contemporary stiff vellum, covers with blind-stamped lozenge ornament, raised bands, red morocco labels (rear pastedowns lacking, revealing binding structure beneath). In a fine modern brown cloth drop-back box. WITH 60 ENGRAVINGS (including the two frontispiece portraits of the Queen), all of which are portraits with the exception of two bird's-eye-view maps. Front pastedown with engraved armorial bookplate of The Honourable John Hay of Lawfield, Esq., and morocco book label of Austin Smith. Vellum a little soiled, morocco labels slightly chipped, margins trimmed a bit close (just grazing the fore edge of two portraits), isolated tiny rust spots, one small marginal wax stain, other trivial imperfections, but A FINE COPY, clean and fresh internally, the bindings quite sound and well-preserved.
This is the first significant biography of Elizabeth I, written by an Italian historian and satirist Gregorio Leti (1630-1701)--a writer not known for his strict adherence to the facts. Despite having had access to two of the best libraries in England for his research, that of the Earl of Anglesey and of Gilbert Brunet, many of the stories contained herein are specious at best, and may or may not have been based on actual documents. This is particularly true of the various embellishments and gossipy tidbits relating to the young Elizabeth and her mother, Anne Boleyn. Under the guise of authority as the first "proper" biography of the Virgin Queen, many of these anecdotes went unchecked and passed into the canon of lore about the life of Elizabeth I, with other authors picking up and reproducing without question what Leti published here. While this book seems to have been enormously popular on the Continent, going through several editions and several languages over the subsequent 50 years, we can only speculate as to why it was never translated into English. Having been exiled from Italy and then from England for publishing certain works that offended the wrong people (namely the Catholic Church and Charles II), perhaps Leti was not the safest choice for the English market. The present work is animated by numerous plates containing the portraits of the key players of the Tudor period, including Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Mary Stuart, Phillip II, Thomas Cromwell, and, of course, Elizabeth herself in the frontispiece to each volume. (ST14085)
Add to Cart Price: $1,600.00
PJP Catalog: RBMS18.013