De’ diritti dell’uomo libri VI …

Assisi, [recte Rome,] 1791.

4to, pp. xvi, 448; with an engraved frontispiece portrait; a crisp, wide-margined copy bound in contemporary quarter sheep and paste-paper boards, flat spine filleted in gilt with a gilt red morocco lettering-piece; hinges cracked but holding, extremities a little worn, spine lightly rubbed, old library label at foot of spine.


US $343€292

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First edition of Spedalieri’s treatise on the rights of man, an attempt to reconcile the principles of the Enlightenment underpinning the French Revolution with Christianity. For Spedalieri the rights of man lie in nature and in man’s natural desire to be happy. Rousseau’s contractual picture of society is also echoed in Spedalieri’s work. The legitimacy of the State is founded on the sovereignty of the people, who have the right to rebel against the prince, a mere delegate, when in breach of his pact. ‘Notwithstanding the hearty reception given to this work by Pius VI who said, “For a long while rulers have been asking quid est papa. Your book will teach them quid est populus”, a storm of criticism and refutation burst on the head of its author. Governments took notice of it and ... forbade its circulation’ (Catholic Encyclopedia).

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