Comiença la Cronica del Serenissimo Rey Don Juan el Segundo deste nombre, impressa en la muy noble y leal ciudad de Logroño: por mandado del catholico rey don Carlos su visnieto ….
by [CRÓNICA del Rey Don Juan el Segundo].
Logroño, Arnão Guillen de Brocar, 1517.. First Edition. Folio (36 x 24.5 cm.), contemporary blind-tooled calf, boards nicely refurbished (but with some recent damage to corners and rubbing to spine); very skillfully rebacked, and with new clasps. Large woodcut on title-page, 2 full-page woodcuts, printer's device below colophon. Gothic letter (Norton types 8:117G, 10:99G, 18:68G), printed in red and black throughout. Minor soiling and stains (including some marginal dampstaining on first few leaves), 4 tiny wormholes touching a few letters per page through quire q. Crisp; overall in very good to fine condition. Early manuscript record of sale at foot of title, in ink. (2 blank), (26), 254 [i.e., 255], (2 blank) leaves, signed 10, A-B8, a9, b-z8, aa-hh8, ii6. *** FIRST EDITION. This magnificent classic was produced, according to the colophon, at the command of Charles V by his printer Arnão Guillen de Brocar; this is the first intimation we have that Brocar had been appointed royal printer. Later editions appeared in Seville, 1542 (colophon: 1543); Pamplona, 1591; Valencia, 1779; and finally in 1877. (See Simón Díaz.)The large woodcuts, initials and printer's device are striking examples of the art of contemporary Spanish book illustration. The title-page woodcut shows the king enthroned, with two figures kneeling before him; one, presumably the author, is reading from a book. Lyell notes that the borders are especially fine (Early Book Illustration in Spain, p. 286, with illustration of title-page as fig. 224). The full-page woodcut of the Crucifixion on the verso of 10 is signed by "I.D.", whom Lyell calls "one of the master Spanish woodcutters, and one of the few whose work can be identified" (p. 286 and fig. 225). Facing the first page of text (f. B8v) is a full equestrian portrait of D. Juan II, surrounded by smaller woodcut portraits of the other dramatis personae (five women, three men). The printer's device that appears at the end of the Crónica is the first appearance of what Norton calls Brocar's "E" device. In the upper compartment is a portrait of the printer kneeling before the emblems of the Passion, and in the lower are 2 archangels supporting a coat of arms with the monogram "AG" and the figure of a boar.D. Juan II, King of Castile from 1406 to 1454, was a weak ruler but a notable patron of literature and the chivalric arts. The son of Henry III and Catherine of Lancaster, he ascended the throne at the age of two. His 48-year reign - the longest in the history of the Trastámara dynasty - was a period of continuous disorder and rivalry among the nobility. Amiable but of weak character and will, D. Juan had little interest in government. At an early age he fell under the influence of Álvaro de Luna, who became the king’s constable and favorite, and one of the most powerful men in Spanish history. Luna’s hold over the king inflamed the nobility and neighboring kingdoms, causing rebellion, hostilities and court intrigues. The Crónica is antagonistic to Luna, blaming Spain’s troubles on the king’s indifference and Luna’s ambition. Yet this was a period of high intellectual achievement, fostered by the king’s taste for and patronage of literature. Though a failure as a statesman, D. Juan II made his court an important literary center from which Renaissance classicism and humanism spread throughout Spain.The Crónica, which begins with the death of Henry III and continues until the death of D. Juan II, is organized by the years of the king's reign, each subdivided into chapters. It contains transcriptions of numerous important original letters and other curious contemporary documents. Distinguished by its meticulous attention to sources, it is considered more reliable and trustworthy than any previous Castilian chronicle, and is of the greatest historical value. Given the extraordinary importance of Álvaro de Luna during the reign, it is not surprising that he should be a central figure, nor that the culminating episode of the work is the description of his beheading.Scholars disagree over the authorship of this work to the point that Simón Díaz, Ward, the Catalogue of the Hispanic Society, the Catálogo colectivo and others list it simply under Crónica. The prologue is by Álvar García de Santa María ( 2r-v), and the colophon adds that the work was "corregida por el Doctor Lorenço Galíndez de Carvajal," professor at Salamanca and a member of the royal council. Fitzmaurice-Kelly (p. 102) ascribes the work to Álvar García de Santa María (fl. 1455), member of a leading Jewish converso family from Burgos, and unknown others. O'Callaghan (History of Medieval Spain, p. 646) says the work was begun by Álvar García de Santa María, retouched by others, and the final revision was by Lorenzo Galíndez de Carvajal. Ticknor (History of Spanish Literature I, 183-6) ascribes various parts of it to Álvar García de Santa María, Juan de Mena, Juan Rodrigues de Padron, and Diego de Valera, but believes the work was put together in this form by Fernán Pérez de Guzmán. (Pérez de Guzmán [ca. 1390-1460] was active in public affairs at the time, but his opposition to Luna led to an early retirement.) Ward states, "It is probably the work of the celebrated converso Álvar García de Santa María, who drew on many earlier chronicles for his compilation" (p. 305).Arnão Guillén de Brocar, probably a Frenchman, began printing in Pamplona in 1490. By 1502 he had moved on to Logroño, where he produced the first of many works by the great scholar Antonio de Nebrija. Possibly at Nebrija's recommendation, Brocar became official printer to the University of Alcalá de Henares and produced one of the monuments of early Spanish typography, the Complutensian Polyglot Bible, 1514-1517 (Norton 27A). He eventually opened printing offices at Toledo and Valladolid as well. The Crónica was one of the last works produced by Brocar at Logroño, just after he was appointed royal printer, and is especially notable in that the gothic letter and commentary types, the device, and most of the woodcut initials were new to Brocar's press. Brocar probably died in 1524.*** Palau 64966. Catálogo colectivo C3687. Simón Díaz III, 5473; cf. X, 3781, where the Seville, 1542 edition is listed under Lorenzo Galíndez de Carvajal. Lyell, Early Book Illustration in Spain pp. 285-8. Haebler, Early Printers 49 & 119: "a masterpiece of typography." Norton, Descriptive Catalogue 427 and (on Brocar) p. 159; Printing in Spain pp. 44-5. Anninger 50. Ward, Oxford Companion to Spanish Literature p. 305 ("accurate and lively, the chronicle is better written than those in the Alphonsine tradition") and p. 230. Davies, Devices of the Early Printers 48, and pp. 170-1. Updike, Printing Types II, 47, 65. Gallardo 3440. Ticknor Catalogue p. 266. HSA p. 157. Évora, Livros impressos no século XVI, Tipografía espanhola 188: calling it an octavo (!), with only (14), 240 ll. Coimbra, Catálogo dos Reservados 843: 2 copies, the second lacking the title-page and 12 other leaves. Salvá 3117. Heredia 3131. Not in Adams. KVK worldwide (51 databases searched) adds one copy at Biblioteca Nazionale centrale- Roma, and one copy at Biblioteca universitaria Alessandrina - Roma). NUC: DLC (Rosenwald Collection). (Inventory #: 21067)
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