The Knight without Fear

(MAILLES, J. DE.) Histoire du Chevalier Bayard, Lieutenant général pour le Roy au Gouvernement du Dauphiné, et de plusieurs choses mémorables advenues en France, Italie, Espagne, & és Pays bas, Du Regne des Roys CharlesVIII, Louis XII, & François I, depuis l’an 1489, jusques à 1524. A Paris, Chez Abraham Pacard, 1616. Title printed in red & black, printer’s mark and a beautiful engraved portrait of Bayard. xx, 479, (33: index (1-27), errata (p. 28-31), privilege (32-33)) pp. 4to. Contemporary mottled calf, richly gilt spine with raised bands, red label with gilt lettering, sprinkled edges, a few minor imperfections, a very nice copy.

€ 850

Not in Quérard, La France Littéraire; BMSTC, French Books 1601-1700, D.1310 (listed under Du Terrail).
First edition of this interesting history of the Chevalier Bayard, Pierre Terrail, Seigneur de Bayard, better known as “the knight without fear and beyond reproach” (le chevalier sans peur et sans reproche). He himself however, preferred the name given him by his contemporaries for his gaiety and kindness, “le bon chevalier”, or “the good knight”.
Bayard fought in a large number of battles in the late 15th and early 16th century: in 1494, he accompanied King Charles VIII of France’s expedition into Italy to seize the Kingdom of Naples. This campaign is now known as the Italian War of 1494-1498; he was knighted after the 1495 Battle of Fornovo, in which he captured a standard. Shortly afterwards, entering Milan alone in pursuit of the enemy, he was taken prisoner, but was set free without a ransom by Ludovico Sforza; Bayard was the hero of a celebrated combat of thirteen French knights against an equal number of Spaniards, and his restless energy and valour were conspicuous throughout the Italian wars of this period. At the Battle of Garigliano in 1503 he single-handedly defended the bridge of the Garigliano against 200 Spaniards, an exploit that brought him such renown that Pope Julius II tried unsuccessfully to entice him into his service; in 1509, the League of Cambrai was formed between France, the Holy Roman Empire, Spain, and the Papacy; in an effort to wrest from Venice its territorial empire in northeastern Italy. For this campaign, the king commissioned Bayard to raise a company of horse and foot. Up until that time, French infantry had been a despised rabble. Bayard’s company became a model for discipline, high morale, and battlefield effectiveness; and played a key role that year in rescuing the French vanguard at the Battle of Agnadello, on 14 May 1509; against the Venetian forces led by Bartolomeo d’Alviano.
The Chevalier Bayard died during a campaign in Italy in 1524. As a soldier, Bayard was considered the epitome of chivalry and one of the most skillful commanders of the age. He was noted for the exactitude and completeness of his information on the enemy’s movements, which he obtained by careful reconnaissance and a well-arranged system of espionage. In the long history of mounted warfare, he rates highly as one of the greatest cavalry leaders of all time.
In the midst of mercenary armies, Bayard remained absolutely disinterested, and to his contemporaries and his successors, he was, with his romantic heroism, piety, and magnanimity, the fearless and faultless knight (le chevalier sans peur et sans reproche). His gaiety and kindness won him, even more frequently, another name bestowed by his contemporaries, le bon chevalier. – Attributed by the BnF (notice FRBNF33992817, this edition) to Jacques de Mailles, secretary of Du Terrail, the dedication has been signed by Theodore Godefroy who was the editor and under whose name the book is also sometimes listed; BMSTC lists it under Du Terrail, Cioranescu 33407 under Godefroy, Hauser (376) claims the book was first published as La Très joyeuse, plaisante et récréative histoire du gentil seigneur de Bayard, composée par Le Serviteur Royal (Paris 1527) and states that the “Serviteur Royal” is probably De Mailles. The dedication is to Louis XIII, the notes are by Etienne Pasquier and De La Valette, the last 33 pages contain the Table, Fautes, Privilege and Achevé d’Imprimer; the printer’s mark is a nice engraving by Léonard Gaultier and shows how an angel interrupts the sacrificing of Isaac by Abraham; a very nice copy from the library Philibert and Jules Germain Cholet and Léon Picard, with bookplate on front paste-down.