3 March 2004
DUDLEY, Robert, Earl of Leicester (?1532-88) -- [?ARUNDELL, Charles (1540-87) and possibly others. Leycester's Commonwealth, in French:] Discours de la vie abominable, ruses, trahisons, meurtres, .. & autres tres iniques conversations. [Paris]: 1585.
8° (167 x 103mm). Half-page emblematic woodcut. 18th-century calf gilt, edges marbled and gilt (a little sunned, slight wear at spine ends). Provenance: James P.R. Lyell (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION IN FRENCH. The work was first published in Paris the previous year in English. It had three main aims: to defame the Earl of Leicester; to advance the Scottish claim to the English throne; and to calm religious tensions by blaming them on Leicester personally. The French edition is a bolder work, aimed at a French and largely Catholic audience. It intensifies the defamation of Leicester and contains additional charges against him, and it shows little concern for religious toleration. All early editions were actively suppressed by Elizabeth I. Its authorship has not been definitively resolved, but D.C. Peck suggests Charles Arundell, and possibly others of the Catholic Court party such as Lord Harry Howard or Thomas Morgan, the agent at Paris of Mary Queen of Scots (Leicester's Commonwealth, Peck ed., 1985). Cf. Allison & Rogers, Cat. of Catholic Books, 261; BLSTC French, p.143.
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