LEO AFRICANUS, Johannes (c.1494-c.1554?). Historiale description de l'Afrique. Antwerp: Jean Bellere, 1556.
8° (156 x 98 mm). Woodcut portraits in the text of Africa, Arabia, Egypt, Alexandria and numerous woodcuts in the text, initials, head- and tail pieces, early Plantin device to verso of last leaf with motto ‘Vitis Vera Christus’. (Tear crossing text on Zz2, occasional soiling, pale staining and marginal browning.) Contemporary blind-ruled paneled calf, inner panel with gilt-stamped corner ornaments, gilt-stamped fleurons at center on each cover (front hinge cracked, rebacked preserving original spine, corners repaired, modern leather ties). Provenance: “M.D.P.” (early initials on title-page).
Second French edition. Born Al Hassan Ibn Mahommed Al Wezaz Al Fasi, probably in Granada in about 1494, and receiving his education at Fez, the author travelled through most of northern Africa between 1507-1520. In 1520 he also journeyed to Constantinople and Egypt, only to be captured by pirates and presented to Pope Leo X in Rome, where he converted to Christianity.
This work was originally published as part of Ramusio's Delle navigatione et viaggi. It was translated into French by Jean Temporal and published by the translator in Lyon in the same year as this Antwerp edition. Of the Lyon edition, Alden writes: “Extracted and transl. from Ramusio's Venice, 1550, Primo volume delle navigationi, and including also Vespucci's narratives. The latter are not found in the Antwerp edns of Leo Africanus of this year” (Alden 556/25). Alden & Landis 556/25n; Atkinson 109; Howgego I, A17; Penrose, pp. 279-80.