Machiavelli, Niccolò (1469-1527)
Historie fiorentine di Niccolo Machiavelli cittadino, et segretario fiorentino. Florence, Bernardo Giunta, 27 March 1532.
4° (205x133 mm). Collation: [A]4, B-Z8, AA-EE8. , 9-224 leaves. As in many copies, lacking the final four-leaf quire signed FF, with the errata (fols. FF1-2), fol. FF3 blank, and the printer's device (FF4v). Due to a mistake in type settingfols. 139v (S3v), 140r (S4r), 141v (S5v), and 142r (S6r) are misprinted (see below). Italic and roman type. Woodcut printer's device on title-page. Contemporary limp vellum, recased. Flyleaves renewed. Preserved in a cloth case. A verygood, genuine copy. Light browning, a few pale marginal waterstains.
Rare first Florentine edition – printed only two days after the appearance of the first edition issued in Rome by Blado – of this landmark of historiographical literature, a keystone of Machiavelli's approach to Florentine history, a groundbreaking work significantly written in Italian vernacular rather than Latin. After Machiavelli's death in 1527 there was a rush to publish his remaining works, and a fierce rivalry arose between the Roman printer Antonio Blado and the Florentine printer Bernardo Giunta to be the first to press. Although Giunta had been given the approval of Machiavelli's heirs and rushed to honor his fellow Florentine with elegant editions of his works, Blado's and Giunta's editions of the Historie fiorentine appeared almost simultaneously. It is generally presumed that Blado's Roman edition, dated 25 March 1532, preceded Giunta's by two days. Some copies of the Giunta edition, as in this case, are dated 27 March 1532 in the colophon, while others are dated 16 March 1532, a feature which could in fact re-open the debate overwhich one constitutes the true editio princeps. It is possible that Giunta printed an incorrect date of 16 March to convince the public that his edition was indeed the first and to match the date of Giunta's dedication to Duke Alessandro de' Medici, printed on the verso of the title-page, which is followed by Machiavelli's dedication addressed to Pope Clemens VII. This volume is one of only a handful of copies in which leaves 139v, 140r, 141v, and 142r of quire S do not contain the pertinent text, but rather that already printed on leaves 139r, 140v, 141r, and 142v respectively, a highly interesting attestation to an error that occurred in the typesetting of one sheet of this quire, which was quickly corrected. In this copy, quire S could therefore actually belong to a first issue. In 1520, Machiavelli was commissioned by Giulio de' Medici to write an account of the history of Florence. The book he produced “is the first example in Italian literature of a national biography, the first attempt in any literature to trace the vicissitudes of a people's life in their logical sequence, deducing each successive phase from passions or necessities inherent in preceding circumstance, reasoning upon them from general principles, and inferring corollaries for the conduct of the future” (Britannica).
Camerini 227; Pettas 243; Bertelli-Innocenti 17.