Descriptions of Ireland, Moscow, and Sea Creatures

Giovio, Paolo. Pauli Iovii Novo Comensis episcopi Nucerini Descriptiones, quotquot extant, regionum atq[ue] locorum. Quibus (ut eius omnia hoc postremo volumine complecteremur) de Piscibus Romanis libellum verè aureum adinnximus.

Basileae: per Henricum Petri et Petrum Pernam, mdlxi [1561]. 169 x 116 mm (6.5 x 4.5 in). Octavo. [16], 239, [1] pp.; 180, [10] pages. In Latin.

Bound in limp vellum. Manuscript spine title. Early manuscript binding waste. Early autograph on title page: Ad [usmos?] Theodorici Joha[n]nis Roij minoris ecclesis [traisil?] vicarij.”

Binding merely good; covers buckling and uneven, repaired ca. early 20th century with inner hinges reinforced with linen tape and later end papers. Text block extends past the covers by about ⅜ in. Interior very good with text quite crisp. 

First edition of a trio of works on history, ethnography, and ichthyology by Paolo Giovio. 

One of the first descriptions of Ireland of the 16th century. The first part is a description of Britain, Scotland, and Ireland, first published in 1548. The geography and people of each region are discussed, several biographies of distinguished individuals are offered, followed by a lengthy chronicle spanning the years 801 to 1547, from the reign of Egbertus I to Edward VI, and finally a genealogical chart shows Henry III’s descendants down to Edward VI (with a few manuscript additions and corrections (!)).  

An important source for European knowledge about Russia. This is immediately followed by a description of Moscow, with a separate title page (“Moschovia, in qua Situs Regionis Antiquis Incognitus…”). This account, first published in 1525, is based on testimony from an envoy sent by a Muscovite prince to visit Pope Clement vii. It was an important source for knowledge about Russia in 16th century Europe. 

Lastly, fish and sea creatures. The final work focuses on fish and sea creatures and was the first published work by Giovio when it first appeared in 1524. Though it enumerates several varieties of fish, it is more of a popular work that includes witty anecdotes, suggestions for cooking, and notes on medicinal and nutritional aspects of the consumption of fish. 

Paolo Giovio (1483–1552) was born in Como, graduated from the University of Padua with a degree in medicine, and, though he practiced for some time, devoted much of his life to his true passion, the writing of history. Giovio attempted to grow knowledge of the world he lived in and did so by writing accounts of far-flung places like Ireland and Moscow and numerous biographies that were widely read. He also collected paintings of what he believed to be the most illustrious individuals, reproductions of which are at the Uffizi Gallery. A modern biography remarks that Giovio, while no innovator, encapsulates much of the common sense of people of his class in 16th century Italy, which is perfectly captured in this posthumously published portable edition of his selected works.

One other copy currently on the market for 2,000 gbp. 

VD 16 g 2058

USTC 602783


In stock

Stock Code: 1135B16 Collection: Catalogue:


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