The Roman & Byzantine Emperors - Profusely Illustrated with Medallion Portraits

Huttich, Johann (ca. 1490-1544); Weiditz, Hans (ca. 1495- ca. 1536), artist

Imperatorum et Caesarum Vitae, cum Imaginibus ad vivam effigiem expressis. Libellus auctus cum elencho & Iconiis Consulum ab Authore. M.D. XXXIIII.

Strasbourg: Vuolphgangus Caephalaeus, 1534


Quarto: Aa-Bb4; A-X4, Y6; aa-dd4. Complete.

FOURTH AND MOST COMPLETE EDITION. This is "the first with the ‘Elenchus’ and the first with this title." (Fairfax Murray)

Bound in contemporary blind-ruled calf over wooden boards with clasps and catches intact. Aside from some minor wear to the extremities and minor losses to the spine, the binding is very nicely preserved. Internally, this copy is in excellent condition with wide margins. The main title features an elaborate woodcut border. There are also two divisional woodcut title pages and two leaves bearing large printer’s devices. Excellent.

Fourth and most complete edition of Huttich’s "Imperatorum et Caesarum Vitae", his most important work, first published in 1525. 

This volume is profusely illustrated with several hundred woodcut images, most of which are by Hans Weiditz. Each is accompanied by a short biography.

"The medallions of the emperors [and their families] are 268 in number, commencing with Julius Caesar and ending with Frederick III, Maximilian I and his son Philip the Fair, Charles V and Ferdinand I. Most are enclosed in ornamental borders with fauns, cupids, Adam and Eve, Godfrey of Bouillon, Hercules etc." (Fairfax Murray) 

The first section covers the imperial families from Julius Caesar to Gallienus, the son of Valerian. This section is followed by “thirty tyrants”, a group of third-century would-be usurpers and self-proclaimed Augusti and Caesares.

The Eastern Empire and the Rise of Constantinople:

The book continues with Diocletian and the tetrarchs (284-307 CE); the Constantinian (306-364 CE), Valentinian (364-392 CE) and Theodosian (392-455 CE) dynasties. Next come the "Imperatores Orientales", beginning with Marcian (whose rule marked the revival of the Eastern Empire); the Leonid (457-518), Justinian (518-602 CE), and Heraclian dynasties (602-695 CE), and the rulers of the "Twenty Years Anarchy"(695-717 CE.) The section on the Byzantine Empire concludes in 813 CE with Nikephoros I and Michael I Rhangabe ("Kouropalates.")

Huttich ends his chronology with the revival of the western imperial line, the "Imperatores Occidentales"(i.e. the Holy Roman Emperors), beginning with Charlemagne and concluding with the reigns of Charles V, Emperor of Germany and his brother Ferdinand I.

This edition includes a supplemental section: "Elenchus Consulum Romanorum" a chronological list of the consuls printed between decorative woodcut borders. This section concludes with a series of woodcut medallions. The ornate divisional title border shows scenes from the Iliad including Achilles dragging Hector around the walls of Troy.

"Besides the borders, there are 84 medallions, obverse and reverse, in the same style as the preceding, apparently by Weiditz." (Fairfax Murray) "

A friend and correspondent of Erasmus (who dedicated his translation of Lucian's 'Convivium' to Huttich) and Ulrich von Hutten, Huttich studied at the University of Mainz when the city was a stronghold of the new antiquarian learning. While accompanying Frederick II on a diplomatic mission to Spain, Huttich collected pamphlets describing Spanish and Portuguese voyages to the Americas, later published as 'Novus Orbis' (1532). "Huttich work falls into the category of Bildnisvitenbücher, collections of portraits of famous men and women, accompanied by biographical sketches… The second edition of Vasari's 'Lives of the Artists' (1568), in which each biography is accompanied by a woodcut portrait elaborately framed, was clearly influenced by this type of popular literature. The Renaissance cult of the hero, of 'virtus' and 'fama', helps explain the widespread appeal of these works, in which the humanists, as Rave points out, sought to combine the two devices employed by the ancients to immortalize their great men, the 'vita' and the 'effigies'. The growing sense of national identity during this period also played a part in the production of volumes devoted to kings, legendary heroes, and literary lights of France and Germany, a motivation that explains much of the content in the numismatic books of Huttich and Rouille."(Cunnally, "Images of the Illustrious")

Adams H-1248; BM German p.427 (602.b.I); Chrisman H5.1.4b; Fairfax Murray #219; Campbell Dodgson II, 148; Brunet III, p.392; Cunnally, pp. 197-198