TALLEYRAND-PÉRIGORD, Charles Maurice de (1754-1838) - SERRES, Jean de (1540-1598). La vie de messire Gaspar de Colligny seigneur de Chastillon, Admiral de France. Leiden: Bonaventure and Abraham Elzevier, 1643.

$ 3,800.00

TALLEYRAND-PÉRIGORD, Charles Maurice de  (1754-1838) - SERRES, Jean de (1540-1598). La vie de messire Gaspar de Colligny seigneur de Chastillon, Admiral de France. A laquelle sont ajoustés ses mémoires sur ce qui se passa au siege de S. Quentin. Translated by François Hotman. Leiden: Bonaventure and Abraham Elzevier, 1643.

2 parts in one volume, 12mo (4 6/8 x 2 6/8 inches). Wood-engraved printer's device on title-pages, headpieces and initials (inoffensive adhesion marks on a12v and b1r affecting a few letters, very short repaired marginal tear to b1 with the loss of one letter). FINE 18th-century citron morocco, once attributed to Fouquet, each cover decorated with a border of gilt filets with a small rose tool at each corner, the spine in six compartments with five raised bands, red morocco lettering-piece in one, the others decorated with fine squirrel and flower tools, gilt decorated inner dentelles, all edges gilt (extremities a little rubbed).

Provenance: with the ownership inscription of Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord (1754-1838), Prince of Benevento, Bishop of Autun, and French minister and ambassador, on the verso of the front free endpaper, his sale 8th May 1816, lot 2347; with the engraved armorial bookplate of Arthur Atherley (1772-1844), MP, on the front paste-down; with the Bibliotheca Elzeviriana bookplate of Edward Heron-Allen FRS (1861-1943) on the front free endpaper, with a an incorrect note in his hand regarding attribution of the binding to Talleyrand; with the modern armorial bookplate of A.L. McLaughlin on the rear paste-down; part of a group lot at Sotheby's Monaco 7 October 1980, lot 1531; from the library of Jean Bonna, with his discreet booklabel on the front paste-down, his sale Christie's 16th June 2015, lot 104


This celebrated history of the great French military leader during the Wars of Religion, Gaspar de Colligny, was first published in Latin in 1575, this French translation is by François Hotman, to whom the book was once attributed. Admiral Gaspard de Coligny became admiral of France in 1552, but when the "civil wars began in 1562, Coligny hesitantly joined the fight. He was not one of the best generals; he simply did not like war. Upon the death of the first Prince de Condé in 1569, Coligny became the sole leader of the Huguenots. Although severely defeated at Moncontour (October 1569), he rallied an army in southern France and advanced as far as the upper Seine valley, forcing the Peace of Saint-Germain (August 1570), which was very advantageous to the Huguenot cause.

"Returning to the court in 1571, Coligny rose rapidly in favour with Charles IX and began to exert considerable influence over the King’s policies. He proposed that a combined army of French Catholics and Huguenots fight against the Spanish in the Netherlands. Driving the Spanish from Flanders was only a secondary objective: by having the Huguenots serve France abroad successfully, Coligny hoped to secure their position within the realm. At the same time, he hoped to win favour with the king for himself.

"Catherine and Guise did not want war with Spain, their ally, and feared for their own influence over the king. At the instigation of Catherine an unsuccessful assassination attempt was made against Coligny on Aug. 22, 1572, in Paris. Charles visited him, promising a full investigation. Catherine, knowing that she would be discovered, played on her son’s fears and instabilities by telling him that the Huguenots were plotting to retaliate against him. In an outburst of rage, Charles ordered the deaths of the Huguenot leaders, including Coligny, and the massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day began. At dawn on the 24th, mercenaries of Henri de Guise attacked Coligny at his house, struck blow after blow, and finally threw him, still living, from the window; his head was then cut off by one of Guise’s henchmen" (Encyclopedia Britannica online).

This copy is from the library of the famous 'Lame Devil', Charles Maurice deTalleyrand-Périgord, cunning French statesman and diplomat noted for his capacity for political survival, who held high office during the French Revolution, under Napoleon, at the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy, and under King Louis-Philippe. When he was four years old, he is said to have fallen off a chest of drawers, dislocating his foot. "It is possible, however, that his clubfoot was congenital. At any rate, Talleyrand’s clubfoot was of cardinal importance in his choice of career. As Talleyrand could not follow the family tradition by going into the army, his parents intended him for the church. Once a priest, and even the bishop of Autun (Burgundy), Talleyrand served many regimes, notably Napoleon's empire for which he was the principal Foreign Minister, before betraying him for the restored Bourbon king..As ambassador to London, from 1830 to 1834, he played a vital part in the negotiations between France and Great Britain that resulted in the creation of a neutral kingdom of Belgium. His diplomatic career was crowned by the signing of an alliance between France, Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal in April 1834 (Encyclopedia Britannica online). Willems, 564. Catalogued by Kate Hunter