Chronographiae libri quatuor;

priores duo sunt de rebus veteris populi et praecipuis quatuor millium annorum gestis, posteriores e D. Arnaldi Pontaci, … chronographia aucti, recentes historias reliquorum annorum complectuntur … subjuncti sunt libri Hebraeorum chronologici, eodem interprete.

Paris: In the shop of the widow of Martin Le Jeune, 1585 Stock Code: 111377

Sacred chronology from one of the oldest schools in the world

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From the library of St Albans School, Hertfordshire, one of the oldest schools in the world. The school was founded within St Albans Abbey by Abbot Wulsin in 948 and was the first school in the world to accept lay students not intending to join a religious order.

The bookplate here has the school motto Mediocra firma, used between the 16th and 20th centuries, meaning "the middle course is safe" (compare mediocritas aurea, "the golden mean"). The motto was adopted in the late 16th century by the Bacon family and used by Francis Bacon, Viscount St Alban, who spent most of his childhood at Gorhambury, near St Albans, in the substantial new house built by his father in the 1560s. Gorhambury was named after Geoffrey de Gorham Gorron, near Le Mans, Maine, France, who was Master and subsequently Abbot of St Albans in the 12th century.

The school coat of arms is composed of the cross of Saint Alban together with the school motto. The cross of Saint Alban is a saltire, signifying that Alban was martyred but beheaded, not crucified. As the meaning of "mediocrity" later took on a pejorative slant, the school has since changed its motto to Non nobis nati ("Born not for ourselves"), adapted from that of Geoffrey de Gorham.

Gilbert Génébrard (1535-1597), Archbishop of Aix, was a French Benedictine exegete and Orientalist, who translated many rabbinic writings into Latin. His sacred chronology was first published as Genebrardus, Chronographia in duos libros distincta (Louvain: Johann Foulerum, 1572). It is continued here by Arnaud de Pontac (d. 1605). This is the second edition from the shop of Martin Le Jeune (Juvenis), one of the leading 16th-century Christian Hebrew printers in Paris, who died about 1584. The title to the second part has his name as the printer, dated 1584; the general title is dated 1585, "apud viduam".

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Folio (358 x 225 mm), in two parts. Contemporary French calf, skilfully rebacked with original spine compartments laid down, compartments with gilt centre tools with gilt arms of St Albans School added either side, the second gilt-lettered, sides with leaf-form centrepieces in gilt, single gilt rule borders.


Woodcut printer's device to title, roman and Hebrew types.


St Albans School woodcut bookplate to front pastedown. Corners a little worn, a few trivial marks, but a very good, tall copy with wide margins all round.


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