CHALCOCONDYLES, Laonicus [ie Laonikos Chalkokondyles] (ca 1430 - ca 1470). Histoire Generale des Turcs, contenant l'Histoire de Chalcondyle, traduite par Blaise de Vigenaire, Avec les Illustraions du mesine Autheur. Et conteinuee jusques en l'an M.DC. XII. par Thomas Artus; Et en cette Edition, par le Sieur de Mezeray, jusques en l'annee 1661. De Plus, L'Histoire du Serail par le Sieur Baudier, les Figures et Descriptions des Principaux Officiers Et autres Personnes de l'Empire Turc, par Nicolai. Les tableaux prophitiques sur la ruine du mesme empire et la traduction des annales des Turcs, piece tres necessaire pour l'intelligence de tout le corps de cette Histoire, mise du Latin en Francois, par ledit Sieur de Mezeray. Paris: Chez Sebastien Cramoisy, Imprimeur & Libraire ordinaire du Roy, Rue Saint Jacques, aux Cicognes, 1662 [engraved title-pages date 1663].
2 volumes. Folio (14 x 8 6/8 inches). Half-titles, letterpress title-pages printed in red and black with large woodcut printer's device. Additional engraved historiated title-pages, volume one with 20 fine engraved vignette portraits of Turkish rulers, volume II with one folding woodcut plate of the Turkish Army, one double-page and folding engraved view of Constantinople (laid down on archival tissue), 5 vignettes of portraits of Turkish rulers, 64 full-page engraved plates of portraits of religious figures, characters and costumes (one plate torn across the image, one repaired in the margin affecting the image, one with a small hole in the centre of the image, one with pencilled annotations), one full-page view, 17 full-page engraved plates of emblems (that of the Berber woman repeated in place of the Persian woman, some occasional browning and spotting), woodcut head- and tail-pieces and initials throughout. Contemporary speckled calf, gilt (a bit worn at the extremities, and expertly strengthened in one or two places).
Chalkokondyles' History was first published in a Latin translation by Conrad Clauser at Basel in 1556, although the translation itself bears the date of November 1544. A French translation was published by Blaise de Vigenère in 1577, followed by Artus Thomas' (died 1614) edition, as here, with the addition of the important and superb illustrations.
Artus' collected edition contains additions to Chalcocondyles' original text and François de Mezeray (1610-1683), bringing the account up to date. The engravings in the second volume of different religious and ethnic peoples are after Nicolas de Nicolay (1517-1583).
Among Greek histories of the fall of Constantinople in 1453, "the work of Laonikos (ca. 1430–ca. 1465) has by far the broadest scope. Born to a leading family of Athens under Florentine rule, he was educated in the classics at Mistra by the Neoplatonist philosopher Plethon.
"In the 1450s, Laonikos set out to imitate Herodotos in writing the history of his times, a version in which the armies of Asia would prevail over the Greeks in Europe. The backbone of the Histories, a text written in difficult Thucydidean Greek, is the expansion of the Ottoman Empire from the early 1300s to 1464, but Laonikos’s digressions give sweeping accounts of world geography and ethnography from Britain to Mongolia, with an emphasis on Spain, Italy, and Arabia. Following the methodology of Herodotos and rejecting theological polemic, Laonikos is the first Greek writer to treat Islam as a legitimate cultural and religious system. He followed Plethon in viewing the Byzantines as Greeks rather than Romans, and so stands at the origins of Neo-Hellenic identity" (Harvard University Press online). cf. Blackmer Sale, lot 59 (Augustin Courbe imprint); cf. Lipperheide 1407.