Folio. 2 volumes in one. ff. [ii] 127; [i] 232. Lettre Bâtarde in double column, ruled throughout in red, Regnault's large woodcut elephant device on both title-pages (Silvestre 43), second title with large grotesque woodcut letter, white on black crible initials of various sizes, nine large half or three-quarter page woodcuts, a further 69 woodcut illustrations in the text with repeats (cm), Nicolas-Joseph Foucault's engraved armorial bookplate on pastedown, C19 armorial bookplate of the Earl of Macclesfield on fly, Shirburn Castle blindstamp to head of first two ll, light age yellowing in places, very occasional thumb mark, small closed tear at gutter on t-p. A fine, well margined copy, on thick paper, crisp and clean with very fine impression of type and woodcuts, in contemporary French (probably Parisian) blind-stamped calf, covers blind ruled to a panel design, central panel in a 'Gril de St Laurent' design of vertical strips of repeated acanthus leaf and vase rolls in blind, outer panel with the same blind roll, spine, rebacked in the early C17, gilt in compartments with gilt raised bands, red morocco label gilt, joints and head and tail restored, covers a little rubbed and scratched, with small tears in lower cover, lacking clasps and catches, all edges gilt and gauffered.
A rare and beautifully illustrated edition of Guillame Fillastre's most famous work, composed between 1468 and 1473, first printed by Regnault in 1516 of which this edition is an exact copy. Guillaume Fillastre the younger was the illegitimate son of a Benedictine Nun and the humanist Cardinal Guillaume Fillastre (died 1428) after whom he was named. He was raised and educated in the ecclesiastical channel but he eventually joined the services of the Dukes of Burgundy. Devoted, on the one hand to the Pope and on the other to Philip, he achieved high status with both. He became counselor to Philip in 1440 and quickly rose to Prominence thanks to his erudition and diplomatic skill. The duke appointed him head of his counsel in 1457 and chancellor of the order of the golden fleece in 1461. Successive Popes nominated him Bishop of Toul in 1449 and of Tournai in 1460. Throughout his erudite career Fillastre had written many treatises to enhance the glory of the dukes of Burgundy and had patronised works of art to that effect. The Chroniques de France Manuscript which he presented in 1457 to Philip was modified to include passages of the History of Flanders to justify the Duke's aspirations to rule over a revived Lotharingian Empire. Fillastre wrote his history of the order of the Golden Fleece at the request of the Duke of Burgundy between 1468 and 1473. In it he set out to discuss the historical, spiritual and ceremonial significance of six fleeces from Biblical and Classical literature. It always makes the connection between the mythical past, history, the bible and the contemporary, giving examples of chivalry and modes of behavior expected of members of the order. It is also a general celebration of contemporary Burgundian culture which its links to the time of Charlemagne as well as implying military connections with Ancient Rome and philosophical connections with Classical Athens. Fillastre also wrote a third volume dealing with virtue and prudence that was never published.
A number of manuscript copies of the text were made for the important members of the order. They regularly have the same formulaic frontispiece to Book II representing the 1473 Chapter during which Fillastre presented his Histoire to Charles the Bold who had requested the text at the 1468 meeting. The miniature shows Charles seated under a blue cloth of honor embroidered with his arms, members of the order wearing the Order's collar and scarlet robes flank the Duke. Fillastre in the robes of the bishop of Tournai stands in the foreground presenting his work. This scene is copied in this printed version in a very fine three quarter page woodcut that appears at the beginning of both volumes. The large three quarter page woodcuts are mostly from Verard and were also used in Regnault's 1515 edition of 'Les Grandes decades de Livy.' There are also two smaller very beautiful and particulary striking woodcuts with solid black borders first used by Jean Bonhomme in his edition of the 'destruction de Troie', Paris 1484, one of the earliest illustrated books printed a Paris, also reused in the 1488 edition of 'Lancelot du Lac'. Most of the blocks used are from French incunable editions which gives the work its enormous charm. This printing represents the last flouishing of a golden age of works on chivalry, that were so much a la mode in Renaissance France; the link between the manuscript this early printed edition is very evident in the woodcut illustrations used.
A fine, large and totally unsophisticated copy from the exceptional library of Nicholas Joseph Foucault (b. 1643, d. 1721), marquis de Magny, statesman and passionate archaeologist, whose library of was "parmi les plus précieuse concernant l'histoire de France" (Guigard II p. 221), and then, along with many of Foucault's books, to the equally extraordinary library of the Earls of Macclesfield.
Adams F454. Moreau 1608. Brunet II 1258 'La seconde édition .. est aussi rare que la premiére'. Graesse II p.580 'Ouvrage curieux'. Not in Harvard, Fairfax Murray, BM STC or Brun.