MEMOIRS OF A ‘PRINCE PLEIN D’HONNEUR’

Memoires de monsieur le cardinal Reynard d’Este, protecteur & directeur des affaires de France en cour de Rome. Depuis l’an 1657 jusques au dernier de Septembre 1673 ... où on void tout ce qui s’est passé de remarquable, tant à Rome qu’en d’autres lieux ... Premiere [- seconde] partie.

Cologne, Henry Demen, 1677.

Two parts in one vol., 12mo, pp. [x], 413, [1]; [ii], 318, [6, contents]; woodcut initials, head- and tailpieces; quite tightly bound, light toning, small mark to half title of part I; a very good, attractive copy in contemporary calf, gilt fillet border with corner fleurons to covers, spine gilt in compartments with gilt-lettered red morocco labels, edges red, marbled endpapers, paper label at foot of spine; corners a little worn; book label of Mde De Lailly to front pastedown.

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Rare first edition of this memoir of the career of the influential Italian cardinal Rinaldo d’Este (1618-1673), compiled by one of his entourage who served with him for 16 years. Born in Modena, son of duke Alfonso III, Este was brought up in France, entered the church, and rose quickly. Elected cardinal in 1641, he became the leader of the French faction at Rome, the ‘protecteur de la France’ at the papal court. Over the coming decades, Este played a tricky role in balancing the interests of Modena, the pope, and Louis XIV, especially under the papacy of the Spanish-backed Alexander VII. While his timidity prevented him from scaling greater heights, there is no doubt that he played a significant role in the European politico-religious affairs of his day. Louis XIV described him as a ‘prince plein d’honneur’, and a man ‘de grande suffisance et dextérité dans le maniement des affaires’, making him abbot of Cluny in succession to Mazarin. The Memoires contains transcriptions of some of Este’s considerable correspondence, including letters to Henri-Auguste de Loménie, comte de Brienne, secretary of state for foreign affairs under Mazarin.

No copies are recorded on COPAC; OCLC notes only one copy in the US, at Yale.

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