Paris: Le Petit Laurens for Jean Petit at Paris and for Jean Alexandre, Jean Alisot and Charles Debougne at Angers, c. April, 1499.
Chancery folio: 27.2 x 18.7 cm. 144 leaves. Collation a8, b-z6, rum4
SECOND EDITION (1st ed. Lyons 1491/2), “Dated about Apr. 1499 in CIBN after the state of the device”(ISTC).
Very fine copy in 16th c. French paneled sheep with skillful restorations, with a central gold tool and fleurons at the angles of the boards (wear at extremities, upper hinge chipped). The text is in excellent, fresh condition with just the lightest of staining, small repairs and two short clean tears (no loss) to edges of title, final leaf mended at gutter. With 3 woodcut scenes (1 of them repeated), Jean Petit’s elaborate printer’s device, and criblé initials. The blind impression of bearer type is visible on the first leaf.
Second edition of “Le songe du Vergier”(“The Dream of the Orchard”), a French translation, with important additions, deletions, and modifications of the Latin “Somnium viridarii”, a dream-dialogue between a knight (chevalier) and a cleric (clerc), commissioned by the French King Charles V (1338-1380).
The dialogue concerns the important question of whether the French kings or Rome have jurisdictional authority over the Church within France. In the dialogue, the knight champions the right of the French monarchs and French clergy to direct the Church without interference from Rome (a doctrine known as Gallicanism). The cleric argues -less convincingly- the Catholic Church’s position.
The book is illustrated with three large woodcuts (one of them printed twice). Only one of these appears in the first edition of 1491. The woodcut depicting the dream is attributed by Baudrier to the Master of the Ars Moriendi of Jean Siber. In the scene, based on a painting in the manuscript presentation copy, the dreamer sleeps beneath a tree. To his right are the figures from the dream: “Queen Spiritual Power (puissance spirituelle) and Queen Secular Power (puissance séculière) on either side of King Charles V, whom they implore to regulate the destructive conflicts between their two servants, the Clerc and the Chevalier (not pictured), who carry on the debate on behalf of their respective queens.”(Kaminsky)
The other two woodcuts appear here for the first time. The first, which shows the author presenting his book to the enthroned king is (like the woodcut of the dream described above) partly derived from a painting in the presentation manuscript. The other shows an abbess in her study, surrounded by books, seated in an elaborately carved chair before a lectern.
Charles V commissioned the “Somnium viridarii” between 1374 and 1376; according to a note in the presentation copy, he also commissioned the French version, which was finished in 1378. The “Somnium” has been attributed to Évrart de Trémaugon, cleric, jurist, and counselor to King Charles, but other legal advisors to the king -Raoul de Presles and Phillipe de Mézières- have also been proposed as the author. Whatever his identity, it is highly likely that the author of the “Somnium viridarii” was also responsible for the French version. It has also been suggested that King Charles himself had a hand in the work.
The work combines two literary forms, the dream (exemplified by the Somnium Scipionis of Cicero and the near-contemporary (1372) “Somnium” of Giovanni da Legnano) and the disputatio, notable examples of which include works by “Pierre de Cugnière, Pierre Bertrand or Durand de Saint-Pourçain, all composed in 1329, in Paris or in Vincennes, as part of the assemblies convened by King Philippe VI of Valois.”(See Miethke and Bouchindhomme, Théorie politique dans les dialogues bilingues au XIV e siècle: Public et fonction du "Somnium Viridarii" ou "Songe du Vergier" d'Évrart de Trémaugon, in Revue de l'histoire des religions, April-June 2014, p. 285)
For the presentation copy of the manuscript, now in the British Library, see M. Schnerb-Lièvre, 'Le songe du vergier édité d'après le manuscrit Royal 19 C.IV de la British Library', Paris, 1982, I p.XLIII-LXXXVIII (CIBN).
ISTC iv00142000; HC 16005; BMC VIII 163; BSB-Ink S-500.050; Bod-inc S-252; CIBN S-317; Goff V-142 = V-143. ISTC records 9 copies (including this one) in North America: GW Law, LC (2), Morgan, Huntington, Newberry, Chicago, Michigan. The first edition is represented by 6 copies in North America: Harvard, Morgan, BYU, Newberry, Yale, Williams.