London: A. Hatfield for I. Norton, 1596. First edition in English. Beautifully bound to style in full panelled calf stamped in brown and gilt by Charles McLeish the Elder in 1913. All edges gilt. Triple-ruled dentelles. A square copy measuring 284 x 196mm, with just a bit of rubbing to the extremities. Armorial bookplate and tipped in verse to front pastedown. Collating , 397: bound without the errata leaf, else complete including the ornate title page and sixteen charts of genealogy (though the contents only call for fifteen). Occasional soiling or dampstaining, most notably to pages 83-86 and occasional paper flaws including leaves G3, Y3, and Dd3 not affecting text. In all, a pleasing copy.
A French diplomat, Phillip de Commines' role as a memoirist "establish him as one of the greatest historians of the Middle Ages" (Britannica). The son of a knight, he rose to prominence as a companion to Charles the Bold during the first expedition against Liege; and he became an ambassador to England, Brittany, and Spain before entering the court of Louis XI as an advisor. The present was the first appearance in English of Commines' personal history; and it established his legacy in the English imagination as "a writer of considerable talent, remarkable for his psychological perceptiveness, his sense of the picturesque, and his vivid narrative" though "his work contains many errors of fact and omission" (Britannica). (Item #4521)