The latest ten books to be found on the project website are:
- Albertus Magnus [pseudo-]: Secreta mulierum et virorum (cum commento) [Augsburg: Johann Schönsperger, not before 1494] [two copies]
- Albertus Magnus [pseudo-]: Secreta mulierum et virorum (cum expositione Henrici de Saxonia) Augsburg: Anton Sorg, 12 June 1489
- Duns Scotus, Johannes: Quaestiones in librum I. Sententiarum [Venice]: Vindelinus de Spira, 5 Nov. 1472
- Platina, Bartholomaeus: Vitae pontificum [Venice]: Johannes de Colonia and Johannes Manthen, 11 June 1479
- Eusebius Caesariensis: Historia ecclesiastica [Utrecht: Nicolaus Ketelaer and Gerardus de Leempt], 1474 [two copies]
- Cornelius Nepos: Vitae imperatorum, sive De vita illustrium virorum Venice: Nicolaus Jenson, 8 Mar. 1471 [two copies]
- Valturius, Robertus: De re militari [Verona]: Johannes Nicolai de Verona, 1472
Included here is a beautiful copy of the first printed edition of Robertus Valturius’ work on military warfare, De re militari. It was produced in Verona in 1472.
The importance of this work is summed up nicely in the exhibition catalogue Printing and the mind of man (although now over forty years old, still a solid stand-by for brief introductions to ground breaking texts), so I am just as well to quote from it directly rather than paraphrase:
” … the first book printed with illustrations of a technical or scientific character, and also the first book with woodcuts by a native Italian artist … the illustrations show the equipment necessary for the military and naval engineer, such as apparatus for assault and defence, cannon, bridges, a battleship, &c. It was the handbook of the military leaders of the Renaissance, and Leonardo da Vinci, when acting as chief engineer to Cesare Borgia, possessed a copy.”
Such was the work’s popularity that it was quickly reprinted and translated into Italian. If you are interested in Italy’s fascination with manuals on siegecraft, we have a web article about an early 16th century manuscript on the same theme that will tell you more.
The woodcuts in this book are a practical – and stylishly executed – adornment to the text. The real beauty of our copy, however, lies in the scribal addition of epigraphic initials at the beginning of the Table and at the start of each of the twelve books.
These initials mimic the look of inscriptions made in stone, giving them a three dimensional quality. In our book they are supplied in two shades of red, and decorated further with interlacing in yellow and brown. Monumental inscriptions are also imitated in the book titles which have been supplied in manuscript capitals of different colours. In the title to Book I, the capitals are given in alternate red and blue. The stately effect is only slightly spoiled by a mistake in the spelling of “semper” (always) – the scribe omitted the letter “P” and has had to insert it above the “M”.
This is another book from William Hunter’s great collection.
Tags: book decoration, De re militari, epigraphic initials, Glasgow Incunabula Project, incunabula, interlace initials, rare books, Renaissance military manuals, Robertus Valturius, seige engines, siegecraft, Special Collections, Valturio