RICCOLDUS FLORENTINUS (c.1251-1320). Contra legem saracenorum: Improbatio Alcorani. Edited by Antonio de la Peña. Seville: Stanislaus Polonus, 20 March 1500.
Chancery 4° (198 x 140mm). Collation: a-c8 d10 (a1r xylographic title, woodcut, a1v editor's prologue, a2r author's prologue, incipit printed in red, a3r chapter table, a3v text, d10r colophon, printer's device [B], d10v blank). 34 leaves. 35 lines. Type: 4:144G, 5:98G, 6:86G. Large woodcut of a friar disputing with 5 Muslims, woodcut white-on-black initials, woodcut printer's device within composite border, a few initial spaces with guide-letter. (Final 2 leaves lightly soiled, neat marginal repairs in last leaf.) Modern vellum, title lettered along spine, slipcase. Provenance: contemporary annotations -- note recording inquisitor's approbation, 1555 on title verso.
FIRST EDITION of a text important in shaping western attitudes to Islam. A Florentine Dominican, Riccoldo da Monte di Croce undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1288 and travelled extensively throughout the Middle East, living for a time in Bagdad, where he learned Arabic to facilitate his missionary work. The Contra legem saracenorum is his refutation of Islam, detailing contradictions in the Qur'an. It circulated widely in manuscript, was studied and used by Nicolaus of Cues, and was translated by Martin Luther in 1542. The significance of its first appearance in print at Seville in 1500 (a Catalan edition appeared in 1501) is highlighted by the early inquisitor's note of approbation written in the present copy. It contains the first use of the title woodcut showing a friar disputing with five Muslims, and the first use of Polonus's device. Polonus had previously worked together with Meinardus Ungut from 1491, and issued his first book alone in November 1499. H 13913; BMC X, 44 (IA. 52415); Haeb(BI) 577; IBE 4923; Kurz 319; Palau 267486; Vindel(A) V, 366, no.135; Goff R-190.