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Budé, Guillaume

6, 500 

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Very beautiful copy of an extremely rare edition,
unmentioned in the Manuel

(Catalogue Firmin-Didot, 1884, n°483)

“France’s prodigy…” (Erasme)

From the library of Ambroise Firmin Didot, with ex-libris.


Budé, Guillaume. Summaire ou Epitome du livre de Asse fait par le commandement du Roy par maistre Guillaume Bude conseiller dudict seigneur et maistre des requestes ordinaires de son hostel et par luy presenté audict seigneur.
Paris, [Antoine Bonnemere], 6 juin 1527.

Small gothic 8vo [165 x 99 mm] of 62 ll., (2) ll.

Red morocco, triple gilt fillets on covers, ribbed spine decorated with floral ornaments, gilt fillets on leading edges, inner gilt roll-stamp, gilt over marbled edges. Binding signed by Lortic.

Rare second French edition, unknown to Brunet, of Guillaume Budé’s « major text ».

François Ier had asked Guillaume Budé to write a digest of his “ De Asse” in French.”
(E. de Budé, La vie de Guillaume Budé).

The first French edition was published in 1522.

Catalogue Firmin-Didot, 1884, n°483 ; Bulletin Morgand et Fatout, 147 ; En Français dans le texte, 40 ; Bulletin du bibliophile, 1842, Ve série, p.35.

The Summaire et Epitome, this “rare book” (Morgand et Fatout), had been a considerable success in all of Europe.

The title of this volume doesn’t give an accurate idea of its importance in the study of ancient history.” (Bulletin du bibliophile).

“Around the age of 23, the Parisian bourgeois Guillaume Budé (1467-1540) dedicates himself to the study of humanities with a fervor so intense that he will become a sort of hero of French humanism, and its fiercest advocate.

His reputation, established as early as 1508, reaches new heights with the publication of his major work, the “De Asse”

The starting point of this book is a text from the Pandectes where the different parts of the Roman money are enumerated. But the commentary expands and englobes all of Roman economy. Opposing texts from historians and juris consults and those of Pliny’s Natural history, he gives an estimation in modern value of all the monetary units and measures of Ancient Rome. In this way, he gives life to the Ancient’s multiple aspects of reality. At the same time, because he takes his reader with him on his difficult path, he offers a priceless document on the commentary genre, the philological method and the beginnings of numismatics. 

The author’s digressions, written in a very tense and ornate style that contrasts with the sobriety of the scientific exposé, are also of interest.

Budé was particularly proud of his work: in a dialogue with his friend François Deloynes, he opposes the possessions produced by wealth to real wealth : the one that comes from studies, research and a life of contemplation.

The “De Asse” takes on a “higher sense” and announces the future philosophical essays. Budé was finishing his book when Louis XII died. 

The “De Asse” rings in France’s arrival into the Renaissance under the reign of François Ier.

The text inaugurates a realistic and relativist conception of history which opens the way to Jean Bodin and Montesquieu.

Budé also vehemently criticized the abuses and scandals of his time (the power of money in the Church and the people’s poverty).

Guillaume Budé was François Ier’s secretary and advisor. He published a digest of his De Asse in French upon the king’s request. Appointed king’s secretary by Charles VIII, he was then sent as an ambassador to Rome, but because of his opposition to Leon X, asked to be called back. As of that moment, he always accompanied François Ier. He pushed for the creation of what will become the Collège de France in 1530. He was a friend of all the great intellectuals of his time, Erasmus, Thomas More, Etienne Dolet, Rabelais, with whom he corresponded in Greek and Latin. In 1522 he is appointed head librarian of the Fontainebleau library, which will later be moved to Paris to become the Bibliothèque Nationale.

Provenance : Library of Ambroise Firmin-Didot, with ex-libris. (cat.1884, n° 483) ; armored ex-libris bearing the motto “hoc erat in votis”.

Precious copy, wide-margined, preserved in its exquisite red morocco executed by Pierre Lortic.

Rare edition : only 3 copies are recorded in the national public institutions : Bnf, Saint-Omer and Le Mans.

This copy was sold during the Firmin-Didot sale of 1884 for 81 francs, which was a considerable sum at the time; in comparison, during that same sale, a copy of a “very rare first edition of the Mémoires de Sully, 1638” was sold 102 francs.

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