Important acquisitions

Historiarum de rebus Ungaricis

Author Isthvanfius, Nicolaus
Title Historiarum de rebus Ungaricis
Imprint Cologne
Date of Publication 1622
Language
Notes Note: This stunning goatskin binding, bound for King James I (James VI of Scotland), has been attributed to the royal binder John Bateman. The spine and the covers have been entirely tooled in gilt fleur de lys within roundels enclosing small flowers, with the royal arms gilt tooled in the centre of both covers. Appointed as royal binder in 1604, Bateman probably also used a number of quite angular cornerpiece tools in addition to thistle and other smaller ornamentations. Fields (or semis/semées) of fleur de lys were very much in vogue on French bindings from the 1540s onwards and this style was used by English* binders during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. According to Davenport, this form of ornamentation (thistles, tridents, and stars were also employed) was used for James more than for any other sovereign. These distinctive and dominant semis of fleur de lys are found only on folios bound for James and at least four other folios in this style have been attributed to Bateman. As the royal binder he bound many works for James as well as for his sons Charles (when he was Prince of Wales) and Henry, who died in 1612. The designs for these bindings were relatively simple, usually with the respective coats of arms tooled in the centre of the covers. John Bateman was one of only two binders active during the reign of Elizabeth I whose name and work is known. He was the son of John Bateman a London clothworker. Beginning on 29 September 1567, Bateman served a 12 year apprenticeship, and became free of the Stationers' Company in January 1580. He seems to have run a large bindery and is recorded as taking on a number of apprentices between 1584 and 1605. John and his son Abraham received the appointment of royal binder (for life) to James I by warrant dated 3 May 1604 for a yearly fee of £6. Little is known about Abraham. He was apprenticed to his father and was freed by patrimony on 13 April 1607. He took his first apprentice in June 1608 and two further apprentices are recorded. In the Wardrobe accounts between 1609 and 1615 there are frequent mentions of payment made to John Bateman for binding a variety of religious and secular books. Of particular interest is a mention in a warrant to the Great Wardrobe of 1613 of a number of books 'in Turquey lether wrought over wth small tools'. Bateman was one of a few binders using goatskin imported from Turkey. He was still royal binder during Charles I's reign and was last issued with a livery in 1639/40. However no bindings made by him for King Charles survive. The last Bateman binding was for a book printed in 1635. The text of the volume is also noteworthy as it provides further evidence of James's interest in European affairs. It would have provided him with some context for events unfolding in central Europe in the early stages of what was to become the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). Featured on the title page engraved by Balthasar Behrvazin (?), is a central medallion portrait of Ferdinand II, the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary and Bohemia. It was his conflict with Frederick V, the Elector of the Palatinate and husband to James's daughter Elizabeth, which sparked this long series of wars. This book constituted an important addition to James's extensive collection of printed material relating to the affairs of the Palatinate and of the German Empire in general. The book is the first edition of this seminal history of Hungary, covering the period 1490-1607, a time when the Turks were exerting enormous pressure on strongholds of European Christendom. Hungary in fact had been annexed by Sulieman the Magnificent in 1540. The author, Nicolaus Isthvanfius (also known as Miklos Istavanffy, 1536-1615), in addition to being an historian was also a statesman and a soldier, who both fought against and negotiated with the Turks. Much of the work, which he wrote after his retirement from public life, deals with events that Isthvanfius actually witnessed or learnt about at first hand. It is one of the principal source books for the history of the Turks in 16th century Europe. Another edition, riddled with errors, and with an account of the siege and relief of Vienna (1683) was published in 1685. Aside from the binding, the book itself is a significant addition to the Library's collection of continental books. This is a rare text: only 4 other copies of this book have been traced, one of which is in Britain (BL). Provenance: King James I, Chichester Cathedral Library, W.A. Foyle (bookplate on upper flyleaf) -- lot 449 at Foyle sale July 2000, sold for £2350 **The Library now holds the following items belonging to James: Bdg.m.104 Chard, Simon. Germanicarum rerum quatuor celebriores vetustioresque chronographi. (Frankfurt, 1566) With Scottish royal arms Adv.Ms.19.2.6. Stewart of Baldynneis, John. Ms. of Ane abridgement of Roland Furious translait out of Ariost, etc. (c.1585) Bdg.m.89. Bellarmine, Robert, Saint. Disputationum Roberti Bellarmini Politani. (Ingolstadi, 1601) Fanfare binding by Simon Corberan, Paris, with Scottish royal arms Gray.645 Camden, William. Brittania. (London, 1607) with non-royal coat of arms K.99.a Cotgrave, R. A dictionary of the French and English tongues. (London, 1611) with non-royal coat of arms Adv.Ms.33.3.4 -- early 17th century copies in French of treaties between France and her allies 1552-1615 With royal coat of arms Ry.III.a.11. James I. The workes of the most high and mighty Prince Iames. (London, 1616) with non-royal coat of arms RB.2081(1). James I. A meditation upon the Lords Prayer. (London, 1619) RB.2081(2). James II. Two meditations of the King Maiestie. (London, 1620) Adv.Ms.33.3.3 Anonymous English treaties about the war with Spain. (c.1621) with non-royal coat of arms *See H.25.b.10 - James Keppler, Harmonices mundi libri V (Lincii Austriae, 1619), bound for Charles as Prince of Wales, binding decorated with coat of arms in centre on field of large fleur de lys within a border of thistles.
Shelfmark Bdg.l.43
Reference Sources Birrell, T.A. English monarchs and their books: from Henry VII to Charles II. (London, 1987) Davenport, Cyril. 'Royal English bookbindings', in The Portfolio. (London, 1896) Foot, Mirjam. The Henry Davis Gift: a collection of bookbindings ? v.1 Studies in the history of bookbinding. (London, 1978) Foot, Mirjam. Studies in the history of bookbinding. (London, 1993) Horne, Herbert P. The binding of books (London, 1915) Maggs. Bros. Bookbinding in the British Isles: sixteenth to the twentieth century. (Cat. 1075) (London, 1987) Nixon, Howard M. Five centuries of English bookbinding. (London, 1978) Nixon, Howard M. and Foot, Mirjam. The history of decorated bookbinding in England. (Oxford, 1992) Royal English bookbindings in the British Museum. (London, 1957) Specimens of royal fine and historical bookbinding, selected from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle. (London, 1893)
Acquired on 28/06/01
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