Important acquisitions

Les annales et croniques de France

Author Gilles, Nicole.
Title Les annales et croniques de France
Imprint Paris: Barbe Regnault
Date of Publication 1560
Language French
Notes This book has been donated from the collection of the late John Buchanan-Brown (d. 2011), author and translator of French books. It includes a typescript article by him on the provenance of the book and in particular of one its owners, John Somer. The book also has a notable Scottish provenance, the contemporary calf binding being gilt-stamped with the name "Franciscus Stevartvs", presumably Francis Stewart, 1st Earl of Bothwell (1562-1612). Francis was a son of John Stewart, Lord Darnley, Prior of Coldingham, who was an illegitimate child of James V of Scotland by his mistress Elizabeth Carmichael. The first owner of the book, however, was John Somer (1527?-1585), an English diplomat, who probably purchased the book when he was in Paris in 1559 to 1562, serving Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, the English ambassador to the French court. Somer has signed the title page of vol. 1 of the book and and also written his motto "Iuste. Sobrie.pie" 'Soberly, righteously and godly' - taken from The Epistle of Paul to Titus in the New Testament. Somer has also made occasional corrections and annotations to the text in a neat and minute italic hand. Somer became a highly-regarded diplomat, being involved in negotiations with the French court during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and was renowned for his skills in deciphering letters written in code, such as the ones written by Mary of Guise to her brothers in France in 1560 which had been intercepted by the English. Ill-health prevented Somer from taking up the post of ambassador to the Scottish court in 1583, but his final job in 1584 was linked to Scotland, namely acting as one the minders of the captive Mary Queen of Scots; his skills as a code-breaker no doubt acting as a deterrent to Mary's supporters trying to send messages to her. He died the following year shortly after having managed to secure release from his job due to his ill health.
Shelfmark RB.l.282
Acquired on 01/03/13
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