STIRLING-MAXWELL, Sir William (1818-1878). The Chief Victories of the Emperor Charles the Fifth. London and Edinburgh: Privately Printed for the Editor, 1870.

$ 1,800.00

Folio (18 x 13 4/8 inches). Limitation page, title-page printed in red and black, with lithographed allegorical vignette portrait of Charles V. Illustrated throughout with reproductions of contemporary and early portraits of Charles V, and from the works describing his campaigns. Original publisher's yellow and black patterned cloth (a bit worn with some loss to the extremities).

Provenance: inscribed to Fletcher Norton Menzies (died 1905) by the author on the limitation page; with the ownership inscription of Alex Pratt dated 1975.

Limited issue, number 101 of 200 copies.

Born at Ghent in 1500, Charles V was the last Holy Roman Emperor to be crowned by the Pope. A Hapsburg, and sovereign over so many lands that it was said of him that the sun never set on his dominions, to many of which he succeeded in 1506. However his entitlement to much of his kingdom was contested throughout his life, and was hard won. "In 1520 Charles left Spain to take possession of the German Empire to which he had been elected. The French king, Francis I, had been his rival for the dignity; Leo X thought that his interests in Italy were endangered by Charles' election. The Kingdom of Navarre was already a matter of contention between France and Spain, while France and the Netherlands wrangled over the original Dukedom of Burgundy as well as Tournai, Flanders, Artois, and some lesser territories. War had not broken out over these questions, and nothing indicated that Charles would be a warlike prince; but he had broken the alliance with France made under Chièvres. The Holy See opposed the election of Charles even more vigorously than France. As King of Aragon, Charles was heir to the Kingdom of Naples, a papal fief; the investiture had not yet taken place, but it could not be withheld. If he should also become emperor, and thus obtain a title to Milan as well, there would result a political condition against which the popes since Innocent III had constantly fought the union of Milan and Naples in one hand".

Charles V became embroiled in a great war, much of which is illustrated in this book, but none more controversially than the Sack of Rome on May 6th 1527. As early as 1524, the year after Clement VII became Pope, Francis I of France's conquest of Milan prompted the Pope to change his allegiance from Imperial Spain and to ally himself with other Italian princes (including the Republic of Venice) and France in the January of 1525. This alliance acquired Parma and Piacenza for the Papal States, the rule of Medici over Florence and the free passage of the French troops to Naples. However at the Battle of Pavia in February of 1525 Francis was captured by his bitter enemy Charles V and held captive in Madrid. So Clement re-affirmed his loyalty to Charles, signing an alliance with the viceroy of Naples. Once Francis was freed after the Treaty of Madrid in 1526 Clement changed sides again, and entered into the League of Cognac together with France, Venice, Florence, and Francesco Sforza of Milan. Then he issued an invective against Charles, who in reply declared him a "wolf" instead of a "shepherd", menacing a council convened to discuss the Lutheran question.  Meanwhile troops loyal (but unpaid) to Charles, led by Cardinal Pompeo Colonna pillaged Vatican City and sacked Rome on May 6th 1527.   Clement was held prisoner in the Castel Sant'Angelo, and was forced to change sides for one last time. On June 6, he surrendered, and  agreed to pay a ransom of 400,000 ducati in exchange of his life. Clement conceded Parma, Piacenza, Civitavecchia and Modena to the Holy Roman Empire.   In June of 1528 the warring parties signed the Peace of Barcelona. The Papal States regained some cities and Charles V agreed to restore the Medici to power in Florence. And, at last, in1530 Pope Clement VII crowned Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor: the pinnacle of Habsburg power, when all the family's far flung holdings were united under one ruler.

Having settled his kingdom in Europe Charles turned his attention to the Mediterranean and the Ottoman Empire. In 1532 the Turks attacked on land, and although Charles was successful in forcing them back, and in recovering a large part of Hungary, it was without inflicting any decisive defeat on the Turks. "In 1530, by the advice of the pope, he had given to the Knights Hospitallers, the defenders of Rhodes, the island of Malta, which barred the approach of the Turkish fleet to the Tuscan Sea. In 1531 and 1532 Andrea Doria had sought the Turks in their own waters, but the Turkish fleet avoided a battle. The sultan now sought to prevent the return of Doria by giving the chief command of his navy to Chairaddin, thus making the cause of the pirates his own. Charles thereupon decided to clear the Mediterranean Sea of piracy. In 1555 he personally took part in the campaign against Tunis under the leadership of Doria. He had the largest share in the victory, and urged an immediate advance on Algiers to complete his success. His commanders, however, opposed this plan, as the season was far advanced. This campaign established Charles' reputation throughout Europe" (Catholic Encyclopedia online).

Eventually Charles' furious campaigning undermined his strength making "it advisable for him to make his will. Warned by the grasping policy of Francis I, he determined to keep the possessions of his family together. He would not, however, leave them all to one heir, knowing how impossible it had been for even him to govern all to his own satisfaction... Charles requested the electors to accept his abdication and to elect Ferdinand his successor. This was done on 28 February, 1558. Shortly after the final decree of the Diet of Augsburg, in 1555, Charles convened the Estates of the Netherlands, and in their presence transferred the government to Philip. Three months later (16 January, 1556) he transferred the Spanish Crown to his son." (Catholic Encyclopedia online).

Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, was the pre-eminent scholar of the contemporary publications of the life of Charles V. He published a facsimile of 'The Procession of Pope Clement VII and the Emperor Charles V After the Coronation at Bologna' (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1875), and his word remained the last on the subject until it was superseded by that of Christian von Heusinger in 2001.

Between 1849 and 1852 Stirling-Maxwell commissioned a young London architect, Alfred Jenoure, to carry out alterations to his home "Keir House. The ambitious scheme transformed the neo-classical pile into an idiosyncratic expression of Stirling's tastes and interests. At the centre was his magnificent two-storey library, lined in cedar, with specially designed furniture and fittings. Dr Waagen found it 'too remarkable a room not to be mentioned' and noted that every surface was carved with mottoes, 'the study of which would occupy an ordinary length of life very profitably' (Waagen, 453). The books were beautifully bound and embossed with Stirling's armorial devices, and he himself designed the ex libris slips which incorporated his mottoes, such as Gang Forward and Poco a Poco. Stirling's book collecting covered several related areas, as documented by his catalogues: An essay towards a collection of books relating to the arts of design, being a catalogue of those at Keir (1850; updated, 1860) and An essay towards a collection of books [of] proverbs, emblems, apophthegms, epitaphs and ana (1860). The obsessive nature of his collecting was exemplified by his large accumulation of emblem books, now in Glasgow University Library, which numbered around 1200. It was probably the largest collection ever amassed and its owner was one of the most important figures in the nineteenth-century revival of interest in emblems" (Hilary Macartney for DNB).