(London: [Printed by Henry Middleton] for Ralphe Newberrie, 1577). 195 x 145 mm. (7 5/8 x 5 3/4"). 4 p.l., 484 pp.,  leaves (lacking final blank). Translated from the Spanish by Edward Hellowes. FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH.
Contemporary dark brown calf "centre-piece" binding, covers with central blind-stamped oval medallion of an Islamic strapwork design, remnants of two ties, recently rebacked to style, stubs of vellum manuscript waste with Latin text in a 15th century batarde hand. Pastedowns and verso of final leaf with numerous early 17th century inscriptions and signatures, among them William Sandys, Ellezabeth Allenn, and P. Ambrose Rockwood; front flyleaf with bookplate of the Fox Pointe Collection; two letters from R. Murray to Patrick Maule, Earl of Panmure, dated July and August 1652, tipped in at front and rear; three pencilled lines in margin at the beginning of the majority of chapters; occasional contemporary ink marginalia. STC 12426; Lowndes II, 953-4; Palau 110335. Leather on covers a bit dry and crackled, medallions not in the highest relief, but the restored binding quite sound and generally very pleasing. Trivial defects in the text (small stains obscuring a couple of letters on two leaves, final leaf missing one-inch blank strip at tail edge, one leaf with insignificant paper flaw, occasional minor smudges, mostly marginal), but an excellent copy internally, clean and crisp.
Pleasingly bound in a style favored by Oxford binders of the day, this is an appealing copy of the first English edition of these brief biographies of 10 Roman emperors, written by the court historiographer to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and originally published in 1539 as "Una Decada de los Diez Cesares y Emperadores Romanos." The accounts by Guevara (1481-1554) cover the lives of Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Commodus, Pertinax, Julianus, Septimius Severus, Bassianus (Caracalla), Heliogabalus (Elagabalus), and Severus Alexander; they are written in imitation of the style of Plutarch and Suetonius, and draw from works by Cassius Dio, Herodian, and the "Scriptores Historiae Augustae." Guevara was known to take considerable liberties with facts and the historical record, leading some scholars to refer to this work as a "pseudo-history," while Britannica considers it "rather shallow." Nothing if not self-confident, Guevara said that the ancient histories were not any truer than his writings, and that he had as much right to fabricate material as Herodotus or Livy. He was also the author the very popular "The Dial of Princes," (falsely) purported by Guevara to be based on the writings of Marcus Aurelius. Translator Edward Hellowes (fl. 1574-1601) was an Elizabethan courtier who translated two of Guevara's works in addition to the present one, "The Familiar Epistles" and "The Art of Navigation"; S. O. Addy deemed his translations "quaint, lively and clear." The binding here is a style popular in Oxford in the second half of the 16th century, and the manuscript strips used in the binding appear to be from a land agreement that makes reference to Edward IV, king of England from 1471 to 1483, with the parties referred to in the document including John Woode, Brewster, and Osbert. The tipped-in letters to the Scottish peer Lord Panmure from Rob[ert] Murray of Edinburgh are difficult to decipher; the first seems to mention quantities of drink and the king of France, while the second mentions money owing to or from a "David Sowtas," a matter Murray has been unable to attend to due to "this unhappy business of my brother's." Patrick Maule, 1st Earl of Panmure (1585-1661) was one of Charles I's closest and most loyal courtiers; in 1651 he sent £2,000 to the exiled Charles II. The presence of the earl's letters suggest a Scottish provenance in the 17th century, likely a member of the Panmure family if not the earl himself. Our 20th century owner, Dr. H. R. Knohle, assembled the impressive Fox Pointe Collection of early English books. The book is seldom seen for sale: besides the present copy, RBH and ABPC list just one other on the market since 1983. (ST14946)
Add to Cart Price: $5,500.00
PJP Catalog: CA20BF.056