4to, pp. , 150, , with 4 folding plates and numerous illustrations throughout the text (some double page); handsome woodcut architectural border to title, engraved initials, head- and tail-pieces, woodcut device to final page; text in Latin, with occasional French in civilité type; first few leaves dusty at head and very slightly frayed at foot; very good in seventeenth-century stiff vellum, title in ink at head of spine in later hand; covers and spine dusty, very small chip at head of spine; armorial bookplate to front pastedown, 'From the Sunderland Library, Blenheim Palace, purchased, December, 1881, by Bernard Quaritch, 15 Piccadilly, London'.
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De arte bellica, sive de designandis ac construendis arcibus et propugnaculis, necnon et de iis oppugnandis, expugnandis, ac propugnandis: de itinere exercitus, ac castrametatione: quando expediat manus cum hoste conserere: ac tandem, quid imperatori sit in procinctu cauendum vel eligendum.
First Latin edition, scarce on the market, of this handsomely illustrated military classic, first published in Italian at Brescia in 1564. Edited and published by Jean de Tournes, this edition is dedicated to Henry IV of France. The military architect Cataneo (active 1540–1584) was considered, during his lifetime, to be one of the greatest military strategists in Europe. Born in Novara, he worked predominantly in Brescia and Mantua, and acted as advisor to Vespasiano I Gonzaga, founder of the town of Sabbioneta. His numerous publications met with considerable success.
De arte bellica opens with chapters on geometry and mensuration, before turning to the practicalities of designing and constructing fortresses, with numerous illustrations of bastions and defensive walls. Cataneo then gives advice on both defending and attacking strongholds, illustrating his text with woodcuts depicting cannons, infantry with muskets and pikes, cavalry, and breached defences. The book ends with directions for measuring out and setting up camps, in valleys, and by woods and rivers, for example.
Provenance: from the library of Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland (1675–1722); lot 2539 in the Bibliotheca Sunderlandiana sale catalogue of 1881; purchased at the sale by Bernard Quaritch.
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