RICHENTAL, Ulrich von (c.1365-1437). Concilium zu Konstanz. Augsburg: Anton Sorg, 2 September 1483.
Chancery 2° (260 x 193mm). Collation: [1-1610 1712 18-2410 258]. 248 leaves (of 250, without first and final blanks); one or two leaves cancelled or possibly supplied in quire 17. 35 lines and headline, double column. Type: 3:140G, 2:118G. 41 full-page woodcuts, 3 half-page and 1159 (Davies count) woodcut armorial shields, woodcut outline initials, ALL VIBRANTLY COLOURED BY A CONTEMPORARY HAND. (Some repairs, mostly marginal, touching text in a few leaves, occasional staining.) 20th-century black morocco tooled in blind reminiscent of gothic style by Gruel, title tooled in gilt on front cover (small crack on upper joint). Provenance: late 16th-century annotations on several coats-of-arms supplying identification or correction -- G de Berny (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION of a contemporary account of the Council of Constance. Richental was an eye witness to the Council, held in 1414-1418 in order to heal the papal schism, reform abuses within the Church and suppress the Bohemian and Wycliffean heresies. His account reports not only on matters at Council but also vividly describes town life in medieval Constance and events such as the burning of Hus and Jerome of Prague, and festivities and tournaments. The lively illustrations are from the Master of the Sorg Columna (von Arnim, Schäfer, 185). William Morris considered the book one of the outstanding books of the 15th century.
Richental's is the first printed armorial. A 16/17th-century hand provides identifications of some coats-of-arms where they are missing, and corrects the heraldic tincture in a few others, showing the work's continued use as a heraldic reference. BMC and BSB-Ink. give a different collation. The present copy agrees with Davies, Murray German and Bod.-Inc., although the distribution of the watermarks in quire 17 indicates that not all leaves are conjugate. RARE ON THE MARKET. Except for the Kreisler-Hauck copy sold at Christie's New York in 2006, no copy has been sold at auction since its previous appearance in the Kreisler sale in 1949. Many institutional copies are imperfect. HC(Add) *5610; BMC II, 350 (IB. 5958); BSB-Ink. R-178; Bod.-Inc. R-069; CIBN R-127; Davies, Murray German 353; Schreiber 5095; Goff R-196.