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Queens' College : De rebus gestis Francorum

Emili, Paolo, -1529

Queens' College

<p style='text-align: justify;'>It was as Royal Historian to Charles VIII of France that the Veronese humanist Paolo Emilio (d. 1529) was invited to prepare this chronicle of the deeds of French kings. Writing in imitation of ancient models, Emilio began with Chlodio (c. 392–445/8) and continued up to Charles VIII (1470-98). Josse Badius published partial versions of the history in 1517 and 1519 before Emilio’s work became available in its entirety in an edition by Michel Vascosan in 1529. In this Emilio’s text was supplemented by Du Tillet’s chronicle in table format of French kings dating back to the legendary Pharamond (c. 370–427). The present edition of 1550 includes Du Tillet’s table and is bound with additions by Arnoul Le Ferron (Paris, 1554), who by extending Emilio’s chronicle up to the time of Francis I (1494–1547) brought it up to date.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This copy is of particular interest on account of the copious annotations in it by its former owner, Sir Thomas Smith (1513-77). He studied at Queens' and achieved considerable distinction as a humanist scholar and Tudor politician. Twice named ambassador to France by Queen Elizabeth I, he enjoyed particular success on his second embassy with the signing of the Treaty of Blois (1572) between Elizabeth I and Catherine de Medici of France, through which their two countries aligned against Spain.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Smith’s keen interest in the politics of sixteenth-century France is reflected in the notes, marks and doodles that proliferate in the margins of this book. Amongst many fine examples in the final section by Arnoul Le Ferron can be included the elaborate marginalia and portraits on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(869);return false;'>f. 130r</a>, depicting key protagonists involved in the signing of the Treaty of Cambrai in 1529 (Louise of Savoy, mother of Francis I of France, and Margaret of Austria). Also depicted is the meeting of Pope Clemens VIII and Francis I of France in Marseille in 1534 for the marriage of Francis’ son, Henry, Duke of Orleans (future Henry II of France) to the Pope’s niece, Catherine de’ Medici. Smith’s doodling symbolises their marriage with the inclusion of a ring beneath their two names.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This copy was one of the highlights in the library’s exhibition, <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>‘Books and Power: The Renaissance Library of Sir Thomas Smith (1513-1577)’</a> (Sept-Dec 2017).</p>

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