A FLORENTINE FROST FAIR AND FIREWORK FESTIVAL

Relazione delle feste fatte in Firenze sopra al ghiaccio nel fiume Arno il 31 dicembre 1604.

Florence, Libreria Popolare, Tipografia Righi, 1885.

8vo, pp. 15, [1]; paper uniformly toned, as in all copies, but a fine copy; in the original printed green wrappers.

£275

Approximately:
US $372€328

Add to basket Make an enquiry

Added to your basket:
Relazione delle feste fatte in Firenze sopra al ghiaccio nel fiume Arno il 31 dicembre 1604.

Checkout now

A limited edition nineteenth-century reprint of the rare description of the festival held on the frozen river Arno in Florence in 1604, published in only fifty copies (of which ours is numbered 10).

Originally published by Bartolomeo Sermartelli in 1604, and reprinted shortly after in the same year by Alessandro Guiducci, the anonymous account describes the magnificent festival on the ice organised by Don Virgilio Orsini, held on 31 December 1604, during an extremely cold winter which had resulted in long stretches of the river Arno being frozen over.

On the day, thousands of spectators crowded on the bridges of Carraia and of Santa Trinita, and on the banks between the two. At an appointed hour, from behind heavy curtains strung up beneath the bridge of Santa Trinita, a long procession emerged. The parade opened with drummers and trumpeters, followed by a series of barefoot characters wearing the strangest masks (carefully described in the account). These were followed by a group of youngsters sitting on small wooden footstools, who were to later race each other with hilarious consequences. Last to appear were a group of noblemen, each on decorated sledges shaped as chariots pulled by four men, who would take part in a mock joust following the parade, and each holding a sign with either a motto, a madrigal, or a sonnet. The description of the extravagant costumes of the noblemen is detailed and fascinating, ranging from fantasy costumes, such as magicians, to costume inspired by foreign courts, including Fillipo Valori dressed like a Turkish woman, and Don Virginio Orsini, the organiser of the festival, dressed as a Pasha. Last among the jousters was Manfredi Malaspina, dressed as Pluto, holding fireworks and on a sledge in the shape of a dragon, also spewing fire. The procession was closed by the Della Fonte brothers, on a float shaped as a boat, with fireworks shooting from every corner.

After the parade had reached the bridge of Carraia, the competitions started: first the palio of the barefoot characters, where the contestants kept slipping and falling, to general hilarity; next came the race of the youngsters on footstools, barely able to control their direction; and finally the Saracen joust, where the contestants on chariots would face the traditional armour-plated dummy representing a Saracen. After dusk, the whole show ended with a spectacular firework display in honour of the Medici.

Both the original 1604 edition and the 1885 reprint are exceedingly rare outside of Italy: OCLC finds copies of the 1604 edition at Tufts University, British Library, and BnF, while the 1885 reprint can be found at Illinois, BnF, and Cologne.

Early Modern Festival Books Database (University of Oxford) 1236.

You may also be interested in...

[RICHARD, Charles-Louis.]

Lettres d’un archevêque, a l’auteur de la brochure intitulée: Du droit du souverain sur les biens-fonds du clergé & des Moines, & de l’usage qu’il peut faire de ces biens pour le bonheur des citoyens.

First edition, uncommon, of this response to an anticlerical essay by the Chevalier de Cerfvol by the Dominican theologian and anti-philosophe Charles-Louis Richard (1711–1794). De Cherfvol had argued against the wealth of the clergy, and in particular of the religious orders, and proposed a means in which this could be better put to use for the wider population. Richard, who also wrote against Voltaire and met his end thanks to a Jacobin bullet, goes through de Cherfvol’s essay, questioning his claims that the clergy had contributed little to the cultural and intellectual life of France, emphasising the ways in which the Church had provided a moral grounding for the country, and explaining the proper role of religion in society, and the appropriateness of financial (and other) donations to the Church, both from individuals and the state, and of the maintenance of the status of both secular and religious clergy.

Read more

FARMERS AND RULERS CAIROL, M. de.

Réflexions historiques et politiques, sur les revolutions qu’a essuyé l’agriculture sous différens gouvernemens, principalement dans le Languedoc, sur son état actuel dans cette province, & sur les moyens de l’améliorer.

Very rare essay on the state of agriculture in France, and in particular in the Languedoc, examining the ways in which the policies of various governments (from the Romans and Visigoths onwards) have affected agricultural production, the current situation, and the ways in which matters could be improved. Throughout, the author’s concerns, although concentrated on agricultural production, are broader: he constantly reminds the reader of the extent to which the rural people of the Languedoc, although blessed with a clement climate and fertile land, are nonetheless at the mercy of the whims of their rulers, whether through the imposition of taxation or arbitrary and ill-informed decisions made de haut en bas about the crops to be produced and the methods to be employed. A lengthy set of notes, taking up the second half of the book, quote Montesquieu and Hume, describe agricultural practice in England, and present a number of statistical tables. We have found no information about the author, but it would be reasonable to assume that he was not unsympathetic to the events of the end of the decade.

Read more