CASTIGLIONE, Baldassare (CHAPPUYS, Gabriel)

CASTIGLIONE, Baldassare; CHAPPUYS, Gabriel (tr.). Le parfait courtisan

Paris, Par Nicolas Bonfons, 1585.

£ 1000

8vo, ã8 ê8 a-z A-V8, pp. (xxxii) 678 (=658) (xxx). Double column, French in Roman letter, Italian in Italic. Printer’s device on title page with motto: “proba me deus et scito cor meum” (Psalm 138:23). C19th ms. note on title page “Monneraye / Monneraye / bon garçon”, with name “Monneraye” appearing occasionally throughout the book on margins. Paper evenly yellowed because of aging, occasional small wormholes to outer and lower blank margin, no loss to text. Some light dampstaining and spotting, edges of initial leaves slightly worn. Rebound in modern vellum with yapp edges.


This is an early French translation of the most famous work by Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529). Castiglione was an Italian diplomat, soldier and author. He was born in Mantua, where he served the Gonzaga family and later moved to Urbino at the service of Guidolbaldo da Montefeltro. In 1506, he went to England in order to receive the Order of the Garter from Henry VII. In 1524, he went to Spain as a papal envoy. He died there in 1529.


Finished in 1518, this book sets forth the author’s ideal of a courtier. Particularly noticeable is the influence that this work had on French culture of the time:


“First published in Italian in 1528, Il Cortegiano was enormously influential throughout Europe. The first French translation, by Jacques Colin, appeared in 1537 at King François I’s request. Another translation, Gabriel Chappuy’s 1585 bilingual edition, testifies to the book’s popularity throughout the sixteenth century. Castiglione’s directives for the conduct of the courtier and his lady-in-waiting apply to the parallel situation of sixteenth-century humanist salons. Despite the obvious class difference, the Poitiers group resembles the Italian court in its makeup – both consist primarily of men – and its social practices, which place special emphasis on speech.” Kendall B. Tarte, Writing Places: Sixteenth-century City Culture and the Des Roches Salon, 2007.


Bibliography: BM STC Fr. C16th p. 94