Lo scettro del despota, overo del titolo, e dignità dispotale, discorso istorico, politico, e giuridico.

Naples, G. Raillard, 1697.

Large 4to, pp. ‘xxiix’ [i.e. xxxviii], 120; with an engraved allegorical title-page, engraved portrait of the author by the Italian engraver Teresa del Po, and woodcut head- and tail-pieces; printed shoulder notes in the text; very light occasional foxing, but a very good, wide-margined copy in contemporary stiff vellum, green morocco lettering-piece on the spine; vellum a little chipped and stained, especially to lower cover; a few contemporary notes or marks.


US $3345€3411

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Only edition of this extraordinary and rare study of legal, ceremonial, and political roles of the despot, a class of prince akin to a king and beneath an emperor in the power structures of both the Byzantine world and Renaissance Italy, and thus a title used both in Venice and throughout the Balkans and Greece. The work of the Neapolitan nobleman Andrea Giuseppe Gizzi (or Gittio), and dedicated to Silvestro Valiero, Doge of Venice (and thus a despot himself), Lo scettro del despota draws on legal and historical sources ranging from the ancient (Aristotle, Justinian) to the medieval and modern (Aquinas, Molina, de Soto, Botero, and others) to present a full survey of the origins and uses of the title (and related titles such as infante – the ‘despot’ originally referred to the heir-apparent of the Byzantine emperor), the ways in which the role diverges between West and East, the ceremonials attached to the title, and its use throughout Italy, and especially in the Kingdom of Naples (it was not until the next century that the term acquired the negative connotations it has today). Of particular interest is the Catalogo degli autori cited in the margins; this takes up an entire quire and lists some 350 sources, and can reasonably be said to be the earliest bibliography on the subject.

The fine portrait of the author, on page xii, is the work of the painter and engraver Teresa del Pò (1649–1716), who had been based in Naples since 1683.

OCLC finds four copies in the US (NYPL, Newberry, University of Chicago, Berkeley).

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