A discourse touching the Spanish monarchy. Wherein we have a political glasse representing each particular country, province, kingdome, and empire of the world, with wayes of government by which they may be kept in obedience. As also, the causes of the rise and fall of each kingdom and empire . . . Newly translated into English, according to the third edition of this book in Latine.

London, printed for Philemon Stephens in Paul’s Church-Yard, 1654.

Small 4to (190 x 135 mm), pp. [viii], 232; contemporary calf; a little rubbed, joints slightly cracked at ends, but a very good copy, from the library of the earls of Macclesfield.


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First edition in English. The translator’s preface to the reader is unsigned, but the translation is usually attributed to Edward Chilmead (see Oxford DNB). He explains that he could not discover in which language the Discourse was originally written in, but that the recent [1653] Latin edition published by Elzevier at Amsterdam was the third and claimed to correct the corruptions in ‘the two former editions’. Gibson notes that it was first printed in German, translated from an Italian manuscript, in 1620.

‘Written in 1598 or 1599, rewritten about a year later, this political tractate prophesies and advocates the achievement of a universal Christian monarchy – the fifth great monarchy in history – by the Spanish king. Chilmead, in “The translator to the reader”, states that it presents “both in a methodical and copious way, a perfect model both of the original and principles of government”; however its utopianism has realistic limits, for Chilmead adds that Englishmen may learn from this advice to the Spaniards the good counsel of maintaining perfect unity among themselves and of sowing seeds of division among enemies’ (Gibson). The Spanish monarchy was ‘clearly not, as many of Campanella’s Protestant readers (and not a few of his Catholic ones) took it to be, a “Machiavellian” strategy for extending the power of the papacy and the Spanish monarchy, so as to reduce the peoples of the world “under the unsupportable tyranny both in [matters] civil and spiritual” of Spain. God’s design clearly indicated (in Campanella’s view, at least) that His agent in the final unification of the world was to be Spain. But the purpose of the universal monarchy was, he insisted, not merely protective. It was to make its citizens “happy” (Campanella never lost sight of either the Republic or Utopia), happiness and the unity of the entire community through knowledge and love being the true end of all states. It could never, therefore, be a matter of indifference what kind of society the future Spanish empire turned out to be. As he later told Louis XIII, no state can hope to survive under an unjust ruler, and the only possible source of justice is to be found in the true respublica where the king is the servant of his people and the laws he makes are not “useful to the king”, but “useful” to the community’ (Pagden, Spanish imperialism and the political imagination pp. 62–3).

Alden 654/31; Gibson 650; Palau 41135; Sabin 10198; Wing C401. ESTC notes variants of the title-page: a comma can be printed after ‘glasse’ (sixth line) and in the imprint ‘Church-Yard’ can be misspelt ‘Curch-Yard’.


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