VALENCIENNES, French Flanders. PIERRE DE NAVARRE. Antiquité de Valentiennes en forme d'abregé recueilee, 1643, [with continuation to 1660]. CONTEMPORARY MANUSCRIPT. Folio (295x190mm), 296 leaves (mis-foliated 286), written mostly by one or two scribes in a neat mid-17th-century bâtarde bookhand, with another hand on a few leaves towards the end. With an engraved map, an engraving of the Palace of Chymay, of a bearded lady and a double-page engraving of a performing elephant, 5 broadsides mostly printed by Jean Boucher in Valenciennes, one on two sheets, another in verse burlesque (1647-60); 3 double-page WATERCOLOURS. Early 19th-century English straight-grained morocco (a little rubbed).
A wonderful and detailed chronicle, describing all aspects of life in Valenciennes from the earliest times. Most of the book chronicles events of the 16th and 17th century. The original work up to 1643 ends with folio 224 (mis-foliated 214), and continues up to 1660, in the same style and mostly by the same scribe, but presumably by another chronicler. The work deals with ordinances and decrees, punishments, full details of citizens sentenced to be decapitated, battles and prisoners of war, royal visits, such as that of Charles II in 1649, processions, celebrations and fireworks; also theatre and performances; baptisms, engagements and marriages; descriptions of miracles, the birth of 'enfants monstrueux' and of Siamese twins born 7 August 1651 (with cut-out illustrations pasted-in), and the events relating to the churches and monasteries of the city. Particularly interesting is an eleven page poem 'Combat des moines de St.Paul contre les Carmois hors la Porte Cardon pour le corps d'un seigneur de Berlemont: an langaige depravé et rhetorique inusite'.
The illustrations include 3 double-page watercolours:
1. The 'Combat des Moines' of 1311, when the monks of St.Paul fought the Carmelites for the priviledge of carrying the body of the seigneur de Berlemont at his funeral.
2. A view of the Chateau de Valenciennes (slightly damaged)
3. The 'Canardrie'. A duck-pond constructed by order of the governor of the town, Comte du Bourquois, with the agreement of the prelate, in 1640; depicting ducks being chased into nets by a dog, people of the town looking on.
The inserted double-page engraving showing the elephant performing seventeen tricks, with captions in Dutch, was printed separately on two sheets and probably sold on the occasion of the performance in Valenciennes in 1640. The performance is described on the verso in manuscript.
This manuscript seems never to have been printed, but there is a copy in the Bibliothèque Publique de Valenciennes (MS 851). There it is not attributed to Pierre de Navarre.