Compendium recenter editum de multiplici Parisiensis Universitatis magnificentia, dignitate, et excellentia, eius fundatione, mirificoque suorum suppositorum, ac officiariorum et collegiorum nomine. Praeterea supplementum de duabus artibus et Heptadogma pro erigendo recenter gymnasio, multis cum aliis utilibus documentis.

Paris, Toussaint Denis, 1517.

4to, ff. [4], 20; gothic letter, printer’s device on title.


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First edition of the first account of the University of Paris, ‘probably the earliest monograph on any university’ – E. P. Goldschmidt.

It gives a history of the University (and colleges) from its foundation, with its constitution, and an account of the principal faculties, Theology, Law, Medicine, and the Liberal Arts, including grammar and dialectic. Here too are the details of the academic hierarchy, from the Chancellor down, with the details of the election and jurisdiction of the various officers. Other sections are devoted to the reform of the university, the faculty of arts in particular, and the abolition of the post of Public Lecturer in Ethics. Towards the end is a section on the Distribution of Afternoon Hours and on Granting Relaxation: ‘Youths should not be permitted to work at night after the eleventh hour, unless under pressure of necessity … On Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays students should have moderate relaxations. Lectures, however, should always be given, nor should any day pass, following the example of Apelles the painter, without a line. In these three days the pupils may enjoy roast meats …’

Student behaviour is also a consideration: ‘Youths are to be admonished on certain matters however insignificant they may seem, as namely to comb their hair, to clean their shoes, and clothes, and always to have a girdle or belt around their garment’.

The account also throws light on the book world in renaissance Paris. The University is to employ ‘Twenty-four Booksellers of whom four are termed Great and twenty Small; four Parchmenters, namely, four sworn masters; four Vendors of Parchment dwelling in Paris; Workers or Artificers in Paper, who must have mills for making paper, are seven in number, of whom three must be from Troyes, and the other four from Corbeil and Essones; two Illuminators of Books; two Binders of Books; two Writers of Books, namely, sworn masters of the Crafts’.

There is an annotated English translation of the Compendium (University of Pennsylvania Press and Oxford University Press, 1928).

Moreau II, p. 432 (no. 1622).


(b). [SIGNOT, Jacques.] La totale et vrai descriptio[n] de to[us] les passaiges, lieux et destroictz: par lesq[ue]lz on peut passer et entrer des Gaules es Ytalies […]. Paris, Toussaint Denis, 1518.

4to, ff. [40], gothic letter, with a woodcut of St. Denis on title and numerous large woodcut criblé initials; a few annotations in a contemporary hand; without the map of Italy (apparently absent from all extant copies except one at the BNF, see below).

Second edition, a reprint of the same printer’s edition of 1515. This is the first printed work specifically to describe the Alps and the Alpine passes, a significant advance in the development of systematic travel in Europe. A third, undated, edition appeared c. 1520. All are very rare.

Originally written in or soon after 1495, when the author had been asked by Charles VIII to reconnoitre the passes through which the French army might march in order to invade Italy, the work’s first appearance in print coincided with Francis I’s first Italian campaign. It begins with descriptions of ten Alpine passes, noting for example that the Col du Mont Genèvre ‘is the best and easiest passage for artillery’. There follows a general description of Italy and an itinerary entitled ‘Chemin de Paris a Romme’. The second half of the work comprises a gazetteer of the cardinals of the Church together with an alphabetical list of French abbeys, priories, etc., with the amounts of their taxes, the names of the diocese being given both in Latin and French.

The present copy lacks the extremely rare woodcut map of Italy, as apparently do all extant copies except for one at the BNF. The British Library copy lacks the map, and of the six copies listed on OCLC (Cambridge, The Hague, Lyon, Otago, Utrecht and Yale), none is described as containing a map.

Fairfax Murray 512 (without the map); Moreau II, p. 505 (no. 1948).

(c). CANCELLARIA APOSTOLICA. Taxe ca[n]cellarie apostolice & taxe sacre penite[n]tiare itide[m] aplice. Paris, Toussaint Denis, 26 August 1520.

4to, ff. [4], 42, gothic letter, three woodcuts on title: arms of the Pope, those of France, and the printer’s mark.

The famous compilation devoted to the manifold fees and dues charged by the papal chancery and penitentiary. These tariffs for various permissions and pardons, which include the ‘taxes’ for absolutions from some very gross crimes, were first published by Pope Sixtus IV in 1471. Originally they circulated freely but the early reformers found them effective ammunition (they even issued their own ‘amended’ versions like the notorious ‘Taxe des parties casuelles de la boutique du Pape’ edited by A. du Pinet in 1564) and ever since their use has been restricted if not suppressed.

Moreau II, p. 624 (no. 2469).

Together three works in one vol., 4to, small paper flaw in inner margin of one leaf (g3) of first work, with loss of two or three letters; contemporary ink name on title; bound in French contemporary doeskin. £12,500

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