Histoire de S. Loys IX. du nom, roy de France. Joinville, Jean de, ed. Claude Ménard. 1617 FIRST EDITION
BOUND FOR MARIE DE’ MEDICI, QUEEN REGENT OF FRANCE
Joinville, Jean de, ed. Claude Ménard. Histoire de S. Loys IX. du nom, roy de France. Par Messire Iean Sire de Ionuille, Seneschal de Champagne. Nouvellement mise en lumiere, suiuant l’original ancien de l’Autheur. Avec diverses pieces du mesme temps non encor imprimees, & quelques Obseruations Historiques. Par Me. Claude Menard, Conseiller du Roy, & Lieutenant en la Preuosté d’Angers. Paris: En la boutique de Nivelle. Chez Sebastien Cramoisy, 1617. First edition.
BOUND WITH Beaulieu, Geoffroy de and Guillaume de Chartres; ed. Claude Menard. Sancti Ludovici Francorum regis, vita, conversatio, et miracula. Per F. Gaufridum de Bello-loco Confessorem, & F. Guillelmum Carnotensem Capellanum eius, Ordinis Prædicatorum. Item Bonifacii Papae VIII. Sermones duo in Canonizatione, Bulla Canonizationis, & Indulgentia in translatione corporis ipsius. Omnia nunc primum ex ms. codd. edita, studio & curâ Claudii Menardi, Consiliarij Regij, Andegauensis Proprætoris. Paris: Ex officina Nivelliana. Sumptibus Sebastiani Cramoisy, 1617. First edition.
Quarto (9 5/8” x 6 9/16”, 244mm x 168mm): binder’s blank, ã4 ẽ4 ĩ2, A-Aaa4; *2, a-aa4, binder’s blank [$3 signed; –ã1, ē2, s3]. 296 leaves (198, 98), pp.  (title, blank, 9pp. dedication to Louis XIII, psalm, 5pp. to the reader, 2pp. contents (of both works), privilege), 1-372,  (6pp. index);  (title, blank, contents, privilege), 21-185,  (7pp. index). With two engraved full-page portraits by Gaultier.
Bound in olive morocco, likely by Clovis Ève. On the boards, a triple gilt fillet border surrounding a semis of fleurs de lis, gilt. In the center, the heraldic achievement of Marie de’ Medici, gilt (Olivier 2504, fer 2). In the corners, the crowned ciphers of Marie de’ Medici, gilt (2504, fer 4). On the spine, a double gilt fillet border surrounding a semis of fleurs de lis, gilt. Title gilt between double gilt fillets. Crowned cipher of Marie de’ Medici at center, gilt. Dashed gilt rolls to the head- and tail-pieces as well as to the edges of the boards. Marbled end-papers. All edges gilt.
Spine sunned. Some scuffing generally, but altogether an exceptionally solid and unsophisticated copy (A2-4 on new guards). Margins ruled in sanguine throughout. Excellent margins. A few pencil marginalia (X’s generally). The occasional spot, with some inkstains on the title-page. Hexagonal monogrammatic bookplate of Jean Bonna to the front paste-down. Label of Adolphe Bordes on the recto on the final blank.
Louis IX of France (1214–1270) was later canonized as Saint Louis for his zealotry; his reign is a peak of the French middle ages. At the age of 12, Louis became king after the death of his father, and his mother, Blanche of Castile, was regent until he came of age in 1234. Louis died in Tunis during a crusade, and in 1297, Pope Boniface proclaimed him a saint. This extraordinary arc was described in 1309 by Jean de Joinville. Why, then, was a new edition brought forth some three centuries later?
Claude Ménard (1574–1652) was a Catholic historian, and one of the great French textual critics. Ménard found in Laval a previously unpublished manuscript of Joinville’s life of St. Louis, along with several Latin texts related to the process of his canonization. He consequently brought out a much-improved edition of the Joinville Histoire, and published for the first time the primary-source material related to the transition from king to saint. Ménard’s endeavors on the subject were not, however, coincidental.
With the death of Henry IV (the first Bourbon king after two centuries of Valois) in 1610, his son Louis became king at the age of 8. Henry’s widow, Marie de’ Medici (1575–1642) served as her son’s regent until 1614. The mirroring of the early years of Louis IX can hardly be ignored (indeed, the portraits of Louis IX and XIII literally face one another), and so with hope of a second golden age under a beloved boy-king, Ménard brought out a fresh edition of his life and ascent to the heavens, and dedicated the work to his namesake.
The present volume, therefore, might seem to be a straightforward association copy: it belonged to the mother of the dedicatee of the work. The truth is far less rosy. Marie, daughter of the wealthy Medici of Florence — bankers to the French crown — was never fully accepted by the French aristocracy. She kept her own cadre of Italians at court, and was in turn viewed with suspicion as a bourgeois foreigner. Her regency was rocky, and when at last Louis came of majority at the age of 13, her diminished place at court placed her at risk.
By the age of 15, Louis XIII had consolidated enough power to shake of the maternal yoke, and with the “coup de majesté” banished Marie from court (and places under house-arrest at Blois) in April of 1617. Just two months previous (11 February 1617) the volume was given the royal privilege, shortly after which our copy will have been presented to the reine-mère. As her tears fell on the portrait of her son facing that of Louis IX, she plotted her return to power, and in February of 1619 Marie broke out of her chateau-prison to initiate the “guerre de la mère et du fils.”
Clovis Ève (ca. 1565–1635) followed his father Nicolas as relieur du roi (royal bookbinder), and is best known for these bindings “à semis” (or semées) viz. gridded with fleurs-de-lis and interspersed with the monograms and arms of their owners.
The fate of all royal material hinges, notionally, on the French Revolution. Adolphe Bordes compiled a library with a special interest in French religious texts and heraldry — the present volume must surely have been a centerpiece — and wrote on his booklabel that he acquired the volume from the library of William Beckford, the sensationally wealthy collector whose daughter became Duchess Hamilton. This is lot 1190 in the second portion of his legendary 1882 Sotheby’s sale, purchased by the London booksellers Ellis & White for £23.10.0 (some $4,000 in 2021 money). (The Beckford catalogue attributes the binding to Ruette, but Olivier’s inventory of Ève’s tools makes it far likelier that the latter was the binder.)
The book then came to be owned by Jacques Guérin, in whose Hôtel Drouot sale (7 June 1990) the present copy was lot 29. Guérin was one of the great twentieth-century French bibliophiles, and is best known as a collector of Proust (he owned the manuscripts of À la recherche du temps perdu). Its final owner before its acquisition (his sale, Christie’s London, 15 June 2015, lot 101) was Jean Bonna, the renowned collector of Old Master drawings. Bonna’s first passion, however, was early French first editions (especially illustrated), and he had a nonpareil collection of them.
Olivier 2504 (binding); not in Brunet or Lowndes.