Scudery's Curia politiae (1654) with four plates

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Scudéry, M. (Georges) de. Curia politiae: or, The apologies of severall princes: justifying to the world their most eminent actions, by the strength of reason, and the most exact rules of policie· Written in French by the acurate pen of Monsieur de Scudery, governour of Nostre-Dame. And now faithfully render'd into English. With the figures of many emperors and kings. London: Printed for Humphrey Moseley, 1654.

Wing (2nd ed., 1994), S2140; ESTC R17187

First Thus. Binding: Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good Condition; Ex Lib. Item Type: Book.

Pagination: 186 p.: [13], 1-140, 145-190. [1] p.,[4] leaves of plates : ports. Includes the final page, the order to print from “the Council of State at Whitehal[l],” issued by John Thurloe, Secretary, and dated 13 December 1653). Paging slightly irregular: p. 121 is set as p. 122; p. 141-144 omitted in numbering, but the text and register are continuous despite the break in pagination. It appears some plates were removed, since other copies report 10 to 14 plates and this copy only has four. Size: 9" -11" - Small Quarto (Sm. 4to).

An English publication of the 1648 French work which expresses royalist sentiments six years after the death of Charles I and early in Cromwell’s Commonwealth (1649-1660). The publisher, Humphrey Moseley, was known to have royalist sympathies and at least two of the plates were by Robert Vaughan, a royalist indicted by the Commonwealth authorities in 1651 for publishing a portrait print of Charles I.

In his preface, the author says he has “made choice of twenty Princes (out of universal History) and have selected the most eminent actions of their reigns for the subject of this discourse …” (pp. [iv ]-[v]). For each he provides a speech, proclamation or letter from the king, followed by what is termed a “Censure,” though the meaning here is more along the lines of a critique or simply an extended comment. Tom Hopkins, his is blog post about the copy held in the collection of Worcester Cathedral, contrasts “de Scudéry’s blatant and explicit adoration for monarchy” in the French original against Moseley’s more toned down language expressing the people’s “sovereign right to judge, and either praise or condemn monarchical leaders. Such a view,” Hopkins writes, “would have sat much more comfortably in interregnum England – while the original preface was anathema to the values of the English republic.”

The plates are not original to this work but appear to have been selected from what the printer had available. The names on the plates, for example, are spelled differently from the text and at least two of them show up in other works on their subjects. The engraving of Tamerlane, for example, appears in engraver Robert Vaughn’s The Povrtraitvres at large of Nine Moderne Worthies of the World (London, 1622). Other engravings in that work include Mahomet and Solyman the Turk, which, based on the style, are likely to be the plates that appear here, as well. However, I was unable to find any reproductions of those plates to be able to confirm the source.

The four remaining plates are as follows:

Mahomet the Greate (facing p. 33) – “Mehmed II, commonly known as Mehmed the Conqueror, was an Ottoman Sultan who ruled from August 1444 to September 1446, and then later from February 1451 to May 1481” (Wikipedia).

Solyman the most Magnificent (facing p. 113) – “Suleiman I, commonly known as Suleiman the Magnificent in the West, was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1520 until his death in 1566” (Wikipedia).

George Castriot, otherwise called Scanderbeg, Prince of Epirus, Scourge of the Turkes (facing p. 122) – Castriot is an Albanian national hero. Although he was educated in the Muslim faith and kept at the court of Sultan Murad II, when the Ottomans planned to attack Albania, he escaped,  reverted to Christianity and successfully resisted the Ottoman forces, protecting his homeland for a quarter of a century. This plate appears first in Marin Barleti’s The historie of George Castriot, surnamed Scanderbeg, King of Albanie (London: for William Ponsonby, 1596).

Tamerlane, Emperor of Tartarie called the wrath of God and terrour of the World (facing p. 163) – “Tamerlane (April 8, 1336–February 18, 1405) was the ferocious and terrifying founder of the Timurid empire of Central Asia, eventually ruling much of Europe and Asia. Throughout history, few names have inspired such terror as his. Tamerlane was not the conqueror's actual name, though. More properly, he is known as Timur, from the Turkic word for ‘iron’” (Kallie Szczepanski, 2019, “Biography of Tamerlane, 14th Century Conqueror of Asia”). Bowers (1996), in his article “Tamburlaine Engraved, 1622-1673,” reproduces the plate and says of it, “its value for reception study of Tamburlaine’s influence and for cultural interpretation of the theatrical conceptions of social and personal assertion is of compelling importance” (p. 544). He also notes that the same plate was used in Curia Politiae (p. 545).

Rebound; quarter bound in a gray paper spine with a red morocco label with the title in gilt and marbled paper over boards. The corners are turned, but not worn through.

Text block is tight. The paper is tanned from age and darkened and brittle in places around the edges, although without any foxing. The frontis of an orb surrounded by the four cardinal virtues and topped by an eagle bearing crown and sceptre is on the verso of the first leaf; the recto of the leaf is grubby (probably from when it was originally disbound) and there chips around the edges, all in the margin except for one touching the upper left corner of the engraving. There are four full-page plates bound in.

The top page edge is black (from gilding?). The side and bottom page edges are darked.

Ex-Lib. There is a red stamp of the verso of the title page with cataloging information. A small,  round red stamp has been liberally applied: head of the title page, lower corner of the dedication page, page in the preface, first text page, scattered pages throughout, the final order page with the council's order appointing Moseley as printer and on each of the plates.

Shipped Weight: 1 lb 3 oz.

Inventory No: 1240.