"THE IDEAS OF GENGHIS KHAN WERE REVOLUTIONARY IN THE 13TH CENTURY… AND IN THE 18TH CENTURY, WHEN THE FOUNDERS OF AMERICA REDISCOVERED HIM": FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF PÉTIS DE LA CROIX'S HISTORY OF GENGHIZCAN THE GREAT, 1722, WITH LARGE ENGRAVED FOLDING MAP, IN CONTEMPORARY CALF BOARDS
(GENGHIS KHAN) PÉTIS DE LA CROIX, François. The History of Genghizcan the Great, First Emperor of the Antient Moguls and Tartars; In Four Books… now Faithfully Translated into English. London: J. Darby, et al., 1722. Octavo, contemporary full polished brown calf gilt sympathetically rebacked, black spine label; pp. (i-ii), iii-ix, (7), map, 1-448. $6200.
First edition in English of the French historian's highly influential work on the life and rule of Genghis Khan and his formidable empire, featuring the Mongol ruler's radical vision of religious tolerance that proved a major influence on Jefferson, who, "among the Founders… purchased the most copies of Pétis de la Croix's History," with folding engraved map, in contemporary calf boards.
Genghis Khan, founder and ruler of the Mongol Empire, commanded "the biggest land-based empire the world has ever seen, stretching from the Black Sea in the west to Korea in the east" (Peers, Genghis Khan, xvii). Viewed as one of history's most ruthless conquerors, he nevertheless "realigned the world's major religions, influences, and established new trade patterns. The effects remain as keystones in Eurasian history" (Man, Genghis Khan). In addition, "seemingly every aspect of European life—technology, warfare, clothing, commerce, food, art, literature and music—changed during the Renaissance as a result of the Mongol influence" (Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, xxiv).
This influential biography of Genghis Khan by Pétis de la Croix, a noted 17th-century French historian, fundamentally "initiated the modern study of the Mongol empire" (Hayes, Road to Monticello, 199). It was of particular importance to Thomas Jefferson who, "among the Founders,… purchased the most copies of Pétis de la Croix's History." While Jefferson certainly formulated his "idea of religious freedom before reading about Genghis Khan," he was particularly drawn to the Mongol ruler's concept of religious tolerance and his first law: "a general law offering freedom, in very simple words, for every one of every faith… what Jefferson found in the biography was a specific way to translate the desire for religious freedom into law… He bought copies of the biography in the original French language for himself and offered them as gifts for others." To historian Jack Weatherford, "the ideas of Genghis Khan were revolutionary in the 13th century, when he lived, and in the 18th century, when the founders of America rediscovered him" (Genghis Khan and the Quest for God, xx-xxiii; emphasis added). Pétis de la Croix devoted a decade to this work which was published posthumously in the 1710 first French edition by his son. This biography substantially includes his translation from the original Turkish history of Genghis Khan by Abul Khayr Tash Kuprizadeh; the volume's last 40 pages consist of an extensive bibliography of works consulted by Pétis de la Croix. Translated from the French by Penelope Aubin. Containing large engraved folding "Map of the Northern Asia"; engraved initials, ornamental head- and tail pieces. Bound without rear publisher's catalog. ESTC T105637. See Sowerby 309. Early armorial bookplate of Richard Strachey, Ashwick Grove (Bath). Born in 1781, he was the third son of Sir Henry Strachey, 1st Baronet, who served in the House of Commons from 1768-1807, and played a key role in negotiating a peace with America that culminated in the 1783 Treaty of Paris. Later bookplate of A.I. Ward. Bookseller ticket.
Interior quite fresh with light scattered foxing, minor expert paper repair to folding map at tab, expert repairs to corners of contemporary calf boards.