The Ryal book.

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Accession number: 
PML 698
Laurentius, Frater.
[Westminster] : [William Caxton], [about 1486]
[162] leaves : illus. (woodcuts) ; 30 cm (fol.)
Credit Line: 
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1902.

Title and translator from colophon (leaf u9r): This book was compyled [and] made atte requeste of kyng Phelyp of Fraunce in the yere of thyncarnacyon of our lord / M.CC.lxxix. [and] translated or reduced out of frensshe in to englysshe by me Wyllyam Caxtou [sic]. atte requeste of a worshipful marchaunt [and] mercer of london. Whyche Instauntly requyred me to reduce it for the wele of alle them that shal rede or here it. as for a specyal book to knowe al vyces [and] brau[n]ches of them. [and] also al vertues by whyche wel understonden [and] seen may dyrecte a persone to everlastyng blysse. Whyche book is callyd in frensshe. le livre Royal. that is to say the ryal book. or a book for a kyng. ... Whiche translacion or reducyng oute of frensshe in to englysshe was achyeved. fynysshed [and] accomplysshed the xiii day of Septembre in the yere of thyncarnacyon of our lord. M/CCCC.lxxxiii / And in the second yere of the Regne of Kyng Rychard the thyrd /.
Printed in Caxton's type 5:113G.
Date based on paper stocks and death of William Pratt in 1486.
Collation: a-t⁸ u¹⁰: 162 leaves, leaf a1 and u10 blank.
Paper format: Chancery folio
6 woodcut illustrations in text (Hodnett 251, 333, 323, 318, 332, 330, and 322). Woodcut initials.
Translated from the French by William Caxton, 13 September 1483.
BMC has author as Laurent d'Orléans.
Caxton's original was the Livre des vices et des vertues, or Somme le roi, composed in 1279 by Frère Laurent, Dominican, confessor to Philippe III, le Hardi, King of France, at the request of that monarch, whom Caxton confuses with his successor Philippe IV, le Bel. (BMC)
PML copy leaf dimensions: 28.3 x 20.3 cm.
PML copy missing 2 leaves: a1 and u10 (blanks).
William Pratt might be the unnamed mercer whom Caxton mentions in the Prologue and Epilogue.

Contemporary blind-stamped English calf over wooden boards (30 x 21.5 cm), sewn on 4 supports (leather straps) by Caxton's binder (Group B); rebacked and repaired. No pastedowns or fly leaves; plain endbands (modern). 2 clasps, catches wanting; rectangular with convex point and 2 concentric circles around nails.
Variant Title: 

Checklist title: Somme le roi


Hand decoration: No decoration, rubrication not required. Annotations: Notations throughout text by Albone, Archer (signed with crossbow, see leaves p5v and p8r), and others, including: title inscriptions (leaf a2r); 4 ways in which love is simulated (leaf b1v); 10 Commandments, in English and Latin (leaf b2v); "honorificabilitudinitatibus" in a 16th-century hand written on several leaves (esp. leaf i8v); When Jesus Christ was Twelve Years Old... (leaf k1r); Hostis non laedit, nisi cum tentatus obedit... (leaf o1v); Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy (leaf p5v) and Seven Coporal Works of Mercy (leaf p8r), both by Archer; Love inscription (leaf q2r), by Albone(?); excerpts/summary of Aquinas, Summa theologia II, 2, q. 184 (leaves u8v-u9v); also many pen trial and doodles.

Thomas Albone, inscription: Thomas Albone is my name with hande and pene I write the same / and if my pene had bene better then I woulde have mended my letter (leaf l2v); Thomas Archer (1554-1630), parson of Houghton Conquest and chaplain to James I, inscriptions and monogram (crossbow pointing down with TA to either side), price inscription: iiis iiiid (leaf a2r); Church Library at St. John's, Bedford, presented by Archer before 1630; afterwards passed on at St. Paul's, Bedford and about 1840 to the Bedfordshire General Library, Bedford, stamp (leaves a2r and u9r); Sotheby's London, 17 March 1902, lot 987, to Quaritch for Morgan; Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), purchased 31 July 1902.