(London: In aedibus Richardi Totteli, 1554). 142 x 92 mm. (5 1/2 x 3 5/8").  leaves (final two blank). Translated from the Spanish by John Wilkinson. FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH, First Issue.
19th century olive brown straight-grain morocco, covers with gilt rule border, raised bands, spine compartments with gilt turnip tool, gilt titling (inexpert repairs to front joint and head of spine). With woodcut initials. Front pastedown with engraved bookplate of the Fox Pointe Collection Library of Dr. and Mrs. H. R. Knohl. STC 987; ESTC S100247 (citing 1555 imprint). Covers a little scratched, joints and extremities a bit rubbed, short tear to head of spine, text with occasional minor stains or smudges, mostly marginal, otherwise an excellent copy, generally clean and very fresh internally, in a sound and pleasing binding.
Apparently unrecorded by STC, this is the exceedingly rare 1554 original state of the first printing of the first English translation of a history of the Schmalkaldic War. First issued in Spanish in 1550, this history was written by a man who had fought for Charles V in the 1546-47 war between the Holy Roman Emperor and an alliance of Lutheran princes known as the Schmalkaldic League. Ávila's account was admired for the elegance of its language and style, but has been criticized by later historians for its bias in favor of the emperor. It was extremely popular, being translated into French, Italian, German, and Latin soon after its initial appearance. The English translation did not appear until the Catholic Mary I had ascended the throne and had married the king of Spain. In his essay "Culture under Mary and Philip," historian Alexander Samson observes that the present work was one of the few vernacular translations to come out of the Anglo-Spanish court, and notes that "it is a telling choice, this time commemorating the emperor's struggle against his rebellious Lutheran subjects in the Holy Roman Empire. . . . The analogy between the religiously diverse German lands and England was all too apparent." The collation of our copy exactly matches that recorded by ESTC and OCLC, but where those copies have "An. Do. 1555" printed on the title page just before the place of publication, ours has "An. Do. 1554." This is an excessively rare book: except for our copy, neither RBH nor ABPC lists any copy of any English edition except the George D. Smith copy (dated as ours) sold at Anderson Galleries in 1921. The present volume comes from the Fox Pointe Collection of Howard Knohl, who in the 1980s began collecting English language first editions from before 1700, amassing a library of more than 4,000 titles, one of the largest privately owned collections in this area. (ST14938)
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PJP Catalog: 74.071