First Printing of an Extensive Commentary on the Affairs of Europe By one of the Most Learned Men in Elizabethan England

A REPORT AND DISCOURSE WRITTEN BY ROGER ASCHAM, OF THE AFFAIRES AND STATE OF GERMANY AND THE EMPEROUR CHARLES HIS COURT, DURYNG CERTAINE YEARES WHILE THE SAYD ROGER WAS THERE.

(London: Printed by Iohn Daye, dwelling over Aldersgate, [1570?]). 186 x 140 mm. (7 1/4 x 5 1/2"). 3 p.l., 33 leaves. FIRST EDITION.

Attractive 19th century red morocco by Francis Bedford (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers framed by gilt and blind rules, gilt acorn and oak leaf tools at corners, raised bands, spine panels with gilt acorn at center, gilt titling, turn-ins ruled in gilt, all edges gilt. Woodcut ornamental border on title page, woodcut initials and tailpiece. Printed in black letter. Pforzheimer 14; STC 830; ESTC S100282. Very thin crack at top of front joint down to first band, one small dark spot to lower board, leaves pressed and probably washed, endpapers a little foxed, but still AN ATTRACTIVE COPY, the fine decorative binding solid and pretty, and the text quite clean and WITH REMARKABLY WIDE MARGINS.

This is a firsthand account of events at the German court during the later years of Emperor Charles V's reign, recorded by one of the most learned Englishmen of the period, Roger Ascham (1515-68), serving at the time as secretary to England's ambassador, Sir Richard Morysin. He reported on his experiences in Germany in the form of a letter to courtier John Astley, shedding intriguing light on the complicated European politics of the day and English perceptions of them. The work further documents Ascham's observations on the state of affairs and the leading personalities of Germany, including Marquis Albert of Brandenburg and Duke Maurice of Saxony, and it discourses on Italian politics, the Turkish menace, and the religious controversies then being aired at the Council of Trent. Known best as the author of "The Scholemaster" (first published in 1570), Ascham was tutor to the future Queen Elizabeth in 1548-50, reading both Latin and Greek authors with her. He desired to travel, however, and was appointed by Elizabeth's brother Edward VI to be secretary to Sir Richard Morysin, ambassador to Emperor Charles V. For two years Ascham was stationed in Augsburg, although he occasionally made side trips, including one to Venice. For the final 15 years of his life, Ascham served as Latin Secretary to Mary and then Elizabeth, a post of considerable importance, since nearly all of the diplomatic documents of the time were in Latin. Our volume is considered to be one of the best examples of the style of Ascham, whose works were among the first in English to be unencumbered with excess Latinity and Gallicisms. "His native English," said Disraeli, "is critical without pedantry and beautiful without ornament." Francis Bedford was perhaps the most successful London bookbinder of the 19th century, and the execution of his elegantly traditional decorative bindings is consistently of the highest quality. Often, as a concession to the bibliophilic fashion of the age, Bedford bindings contain texts that are washed and/or pressed; sometimes, these texts emerge from the process with an overall grayness and a considerable loss of strength in the leaves, but the ink in the present item still contrasts strongly with the paper, and, although the text cannot be described as especially crisp, neither is it limp.
(ST15630)

Keywords: Political Science