Anon [and John of Austria]
Sommier Discours des Justes Causes et Raisons, qu'ont constrainct les Estats Generaulx de Pais Bas, de pourveoir a` leur deffence: contre le Seigneur Don Iehan d' Austrice.
Seller ID: 1454
[A summary account of the circumstances which compelled the Estates General of the Netherlands to defend themselves against John of Austria]. Anvers [Antwerp]: Guillaume Sylvius, 1577. First edition (pp. , ). Quarto (19 cm), early nineteenth century full calf, five raised bands, fancy gilt titles and decorations to spine and edges. An early document associated with the wars for Dutch independence and the founding of the Dutch republic, describes those events arising out of the repression of Dutch protestants by the appointed agents of Philip II, the Hapsburg King of Spain. The first section of the book is an account of the various repressive measures undertaken by the king and his agents; the second comprises a number of letters (the originals in Spanish with French translations) to and from John of Austria implicating him in such activities. In 1576, following the death of Requesens, his governor-general for the Netherlands (which included Belgium, Luxembourg, and a piece of northern France), Philip selected his half-brother John of Austria to regain control of the region and put down once and for all the rebellious Dutch centres. Philip employed a mercenary army to occupy the region and prosecute his campaigns against the Dutch protestants, but, partly because he was also fighting an expensive war against the Turks and was therefore often short of funds, his hired armies often went unpaid or, at best, were paid very irregularly. Periodically, then, Philip's mercenaries mutinied and turned for satisfaction on the nearest promising civil population, cutting wide swathes through the country, looting and pillaging as they went. In the result, Philip's occupation of the Netherlands was unpopular even among otherwise loyal Belgian and French catholics to whose wealth and well-being his armies were a persistent but unpredictable threat. Indeed, the city of Antwerp itself was famously pillaged in just this way by Philip's hirelings. Arising out of of such callous practices as the sacking of Antwerp and the religious persecution of Dutch protestants, this document indicative of Dutch resistance to Spanish rule is contemporaneous with negotiations leading to the Pacification of Ghent, an agreement which served to link those cities and regions which were later to form the Dutch republic. The bookplate on the front pastedown bears the arms of a member of the British Order of the Garter ('Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense'), which comprisies typically twenty-four of the reigning monarch's most favoured subjects, often those who have rendered some great service to the Crown but sometimes who are simply favourite relatives. In this instance, the bookplate is very likely that of George John 2nd Earl Spencer, Lord Privy Seal and First Sea Lord, who was invested in 1801, for it is the Spencer clan's motto draped along the bottom of the royal arms ('Si Deus Pro Nobis Quis Contra Nos'). Close examination (and I mean 'close') reveals the bookplate to be the work of Perkins and Heath whose partnership under that name ran from 1819 to 1829 before being reconfigured. Heath was the royal engraver and his partner, an American, one of the most technically skilled steel engravers, a technique he perfected in post-revolutionary America for the printing of currency. Charles Spencer, George John's descendant, gives a vivid account of the Earl's bibliomania which was such that in acquiring an immense library of incunabula and antiquarian books he nearly ruined his family's finances. It is likely this book is from that library of 43, 000 volumes catalogued by Thomas Dibdin. A fine copy of a scarce book in a handsome early nineteenth century binding.
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