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GUISCHARDT, Karl Gottlieb.

Mémoires critiques et historiques sur plusieurs points d’antiquités militaires

par Charles Guischard, nommé Quintus Icilius,

Published: Berlin: Haude et Spener, 1773

Stock code: 104149

Price: £4,000

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True first edition, predating the Paris edition by a year. Guiscahrdt was born in Magdeburg in 1724, the son of Huguenot refugees he was intended for the church, “and at Leiden actually preached a sermon as a candidate for the pastorate. But he abandoned theology for more secular studies, especially that of ancient history” (Britannica, 1911). He served under the prince of Orange during the campaigns of the War of the Austrian Succession in Holland 1747-8, and following the peace travelled to England to extend his researches into ancient military history. In 1757 he published his Mémoires militaires sur les Grecs et les Romain at the Hague, and, through the interest of Ferdinand of Brunswick joined the suite of Frederick the Great, where in a joking dispute with the king he gained the nom de guerre of Quintus Icilius, under which name he commanded a free battalion through the later stages of the Seven Years’ War. Guischardt’s “battalion, as time went on, becoming a regiment of three battalions, and he himself recruited seven more battalions of the same kind of troops. His command was almost always with the king’s own army in these campaigns … the day of Frederick’s triumphant return from the war saw the disbanding of most of the free battalions, including that of Quintus, but the major to the end of his life remained with the king”. He was made a lieutenant-colonel in 1765, and received his full colonelcy in recognition of the present work, essentially a study of Julius Caesar’s campaigns in Spain, in 1773. He died in 1775. Gat commends Guischardt’s work in the development of Enlightenment military theory, emphasising that; “Historical study was the basis of military theory”, and placing him alongside Maizeroy as “the most important expert of his time on the art of war in antiquity” (The Origins of Military Thought, p.39). The Macclesfield copy with the blind stamp through the prelims, and bookplates to the front endpapers, North Library plate to the front free endpaper, and on the pastedown that of Lieutenant-General George Lane Parker, younger son of the Second Earl, who served for more than twenty years in the 1st Foot Guards. In 1773 with the rank of Major-General he was appointed Colonel of the 20th Foot and saw service in the War of Independence. One of his contributions to the Shirburn Castle Library was a remarkable collection of books detailing the professional interests of a soldier in the latter part of the eighteenth century. This a typically handsomely-presented and wonderfully preserved copy of a genuinely uncommon and important book.

Quarto (256 200 mm). Contemporary sprinkled calf, red morocco label to the spine, compartments richly gilt, foliate gilt edge-roll, edges stained green. Frontispiece and 18 other plates, maps and plans, all but 2 of them folding, 2 title-page vignettes, and one engraved head-piece, errata leaves bound at the rear. Minimal shelf-wear, tan-burn to the margins of the endpapers, light toning to the text, and occasional mild off-setting from the plates, paper flaw to the corner of Aa4 with minor loss, but none to text, overall a very good copy in superb unrestored contemporary condition.

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