(London: Thomas Orwin, 1590). 181 x 131 mm. (7 1/8 x 5 1/8"). 4 p.l., 56 pp. Newly Perused Second Edition.
Attractive crimson crushed morocco by Riviere & Son, covers with frame of black and gilt rules, oblique gilt lilies at corners, raised bands, spine panels with gilt palmette centerpiece, gilt titling, gilt-ruled turn-ins, all edges gilt. Printer's device on title page. Front pastedown with armorial bookplate of Thomas Francis Fremantle, Lord Cottlesloe. Cockle 45; STC 25733; ESTC S120635; John X. Evans, "The Works of Sir Roger Williams," p. cxxxix. Leaves lightly washed and pressed (in keeping with bibliophilic fashion at the time of binding), faint dampstain to first leaf and last two leaves, one trivial smudge, otherwise quite a fine copy, the text clean and fresh and the fine modern binding unworn.
This study of 16th century Spanish military discipline and strategies written by a respected soldier who had served with the Spaniards in their campaigns against the Dutch was instrumental in replacing the longbow with the musket as the principal English weapon of war. A soldier from the age of 17, Sir Roger Williams (1539/40-95) spent his life in uniform, eventually serving as second in command to Robert Devereaux, the Earl of Essex. Describing Williams as "among the most advanced practitioners of the art of war in the 16th century," DNB notes that this work "demolished the case of traditionalists for retaining weapons such as the longbow," and it "dissected honestly the performance of the generals under whom [Williams] had fought." The work "was intended as a manual for Essex and for the new generation of officers whose careers the earl intended to promote." Military historian John X. Evans declares this to be "almost the only Renaissance military text written by an Englishman that is incontrovertibly authoritative and comparable in quality to the most advanced and influential Continental works on sixteenth-century warfare. Measured against most military textbooks of the age, it is remarkably instructive, comprehensive, and, rarest of all virtues, practical." Its value extends beyond the military, however: DNB deems it "an excellent historical source, not only for the wealth of information he provides, but for [its] extraordinary honesty." DNB says that the fractious but undeniably able Williams is thought to be the model for one of Shakespeare's beloved characters, Fluellen, the professional Welsh soldier in "Henry V." This is a rare work in either of its two versions dated 1590 (ours apparently being the later): RBH and ABPC locate just four other complete copies at auction since 1938. (ST15856)
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PJP Catalog: 76.161