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BUCHANAN, George.

Ane Detectioun of the Duinges of Marie Quene of Scottes,

Touchand the Murder of hir Husband, and hir Conspiracie, Adulterie, and Pretensed Mariage with the Erle Bothwell. And ane defence of the trew Lordis, mainteineris of the Kingis graces action and authoritie. Translatit out of the Latine quhilke was written.

London: printed by John Day, [1571] Stock Code: 128756
£17,500.00
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When "rude Scotland hes vomited up ane poisoun, must fine England lick it up for a restorative?"

First edition thus, highly uncommon, a translation in Scots dialect of Buchanan's De Maria Scotorum Regina, from the Latin edition printed the same year, but including a number of items not included there. It has been described as "the most important" of the early tracts against Mary, Queen of Scots, and "the standard narrative about her descent into criminality" (McElroy).

Buchanan's attack on Mary may have been written under political instructions and certainly contains false allegations. In the wake of the rising of the northern earls in late 1569 and Elizabeth's excommunication in 1570, it was printed in both Latin and Scots by John Day, always keen to publish political tracts helpful to the regime, to justify Mary's continued incarceration in England. It is suggested that the translator was the humanist and administrator Thomas Wilson (1523/4-1581), who, in the year following publication, "delivered a strong speech in favour of the execution of Mary, queen of Scots, a position he was to hold until it was carried out in 1587" (ODNB). Some scholars have described the translation as "pseudo-Scots" - Wilson was a Lincolnshire man who apparently never set foot north of the Border.

"This book, perhaps more than any other, shaped the now familiar narrative of Mary as an increasingly unhinged tyrant who ultimately descended into reckless criminality and desperate conspiracy. The text embodies both the formality and the sense of inevitability that surrounds a criminal show trial performed before a court of law, balancing argument and the piling on of an overwhelming body of evidence (following on actual 1568 commissions convened in closed hearings on the matter at York and Westminster). The material printed here for the first time in October 1571 was an immediate response to the Ridolfi Plot, which would have married the Queen of Scots to the Duke of Norfolk and unseated Elizabeth at the hands of Spanish invaders. An English-language translation in an affected Scots dialect - suggesting no English participation though, in truth, a work of pure English propaganda - Ane detectioun of the duinges of Marie Quene of Scottes (1571), appeared immediately thereafter to amplify the effect of this Latin original" (archaeologyofreading.org, retrieved 27 November 2020).

This copy has the first state of the title page, as given by Pforzheimer, with "actioun" spelled out in full and differences in lines 11-13. Pforzheimer describes Buchanan's book as "one of the most essential documents for the study of the Casket mystery".

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Description

Small octavo (143 x 97 mm). Contemporary limp vellum, sides with gilt supralibros of a Tudor rose and the intials A.G. within a gilt frame, lacks ties. Modern folding case by J. F. Newman & Son of Dublin.

Illustrations

Complete with final blank, Y4.

Condition

Early ownership inscription to title; modern collector's bookplate of Howard Knohl. Vellum wrinkled at front fore edge, spine darkened, two small marks to title, a little browning to upper margins of first gathering (perhaps sometime reinserted), short closed tear at foot of M3, paper generally clean and strong, wide outer margins, retaining a few uncut fore edges, very good.

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