“THE FIRST AND RAREST OF ALL EDITIONS”: ILLUSTRATED HISTORIE OF CAMBRIA, NOW CALLED WALES, 1584, THE FIRST WORK TO CLAIM THE WELSH DISCOVERED AMERICA, WITH EARLY REFERENCES TO KING ARTHUR
(CARADOC OF LLANCARFAN). The Historie of Cambria, now called Wales: A part of the most famous Yland of Brytaine, written in the Brytish language aboue two hundreth yeares past: translated into English by H. Lhoyd Gentleman: Corrected, augmented, and continued out of Records and best approoued Authors, by David Powel. (Colophon: London: Rafe Newberie and Henrie Denham, 1584). Small octavo, late 19th-century full brown morocco gilt, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, brown morocco spine label, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt and gauffered; pp. (16), 22, 401, (1), (12). Housed in a custom clamshell box. $12,500.
First edition of this rare and important history of Wales and Welsh royalty, illustrated throughout with woodcut portraits. This work was the first to attribute the original discovery of America to the Welsh in the 12th century and contains two very early references to King Arthur, including a description of the discovery of the bones of King Arthur and his queen: “the bones were of marvelous bignes, and in the scull were ten wounds, of which one was great, and seemed to be his deaths wound: the Queenes haire was to the light faire and yellowe, but as soone as it was touched it fell to ashes” (page 238). Handsomely bound.
"The first and rarest of all the editions" (Sabin 40914) of this famous history of Wales and Welsh royalty from the 7th to 13th centuries and the "Princes of Wales of the blood royall of England" from Edward I to Elizabeth. Caradoc of Llancarfan, a 12th-century Welsh ecclesiastic and historian, "was a friend of Geoffrey of Monmouth, who at the conclusion of his famous British History [one of the earliest and most important sources for the Arthurian legends]… says: 'The princes who afterwards ruled in Wales I committed to Caradog of Llancarvan, for he was my contemporary. And to him I gave the materials to write that book… Caradog's chief work ["Brut y Tywysogion"] was a sort of continuation of Geoffrey's fictions from the beginning of really historical times down to his own day. In its original form Caradog's chronicle is not now extant" (DNB). The work was translated into English in the 16th century by Humphrey Llwyd but remained in manuscript. David Powell, a Welsh historian, "was requested by Sir Henry Sidney, lord president of Wales, to prepare for the press an English translation… The work appeared, under the title The History of Cambria in 1584, with a curiously admonitory dedication to Sir Philip Sidney, the president's son; though Llwyd's translation was the basis, Powell's corrections and additions, founded as they were on independent research, made the Historie practically a new work… and later historians of Wales have to a large extent drawn their material from it" (DNB). Of "special interest for the American collector," this was the first work to attribute the original discovery of America to a Welshman (Sabin 40914). "On page 227 begins a detailed account of the voyage of Madoc ap Owen Gwyneth to America in 1170, crediting that Welshman with the discovery of the New World. Montezuma told Cortez that he was descended from a group of white men who had come to Mexico many years before, and Caradoc claims that these were the followers of Madoc whom he left in America" (Rosenbach 19:107). Printed in Roman and black letter. Illustrated with woodcut portraits, title page, large decorative woodcut initials, head- and tailpieces. STC 4606. Lowndes, 1376. Allibone, 336. Small inkstamp, shelf label; occasional old ink marginalia.
Expert repair to joints. A very nearly fine copy, handsomely bound.