230
230
[Agrippa, Heinrich Cornelius]
'A TREATISE OF THE NOBILITIE AND EXCELLENCYE OF WOMAN KYNDE, TRANSLATED OUT OF LATINE INTO ENGLYSSHE BY DAUID CLAPHAM'. [LONDON: IN ÆDIBUS THOMÆ BERTHELETI TYPIS IMPRESS.], 1542
Estimate
20,00025,000
LOT SOLD. 25,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
230
[Agrippa, Heinrich Cornelius]
'A TREATISE OF THE NOBILITIE AND EXCELLENCYE OF WOMAN KYNDE, TRANSLATED OUT OF LATINE INTO ENGLYSSHE BY DAUID CLAPHAM'. [LONDON: IN ÆDIBUS THOMÆ BERTHELETI TYPIS IMPRESS.], 1542
Estimate
20,00025,000
LOT SOLD. 25,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Books and Manuscripts Including Americana Online

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New York

[Agrippa, Heinrich Cornelius]
'A TREATISE OF THE NOBILITIE AND EXCELLENCYE OF WOMAN KYNDE, TRANSLATED OUT OF LATINE INTO ENGLYSSHE BY DAUID CLAPHAM'. [LONDON: IN ÆDIBUS THOMÆ BERTHELETI TYPIS IMPRESS.], 1542
8vo (121 x 84 mm). Woodcut title border dated 1534, woodcut historiated initial; occasional soiling, outer-margins shaved with occasional losses to side notes, repairs to A2-3, F3 with some text supplied in facsimile, F-G gatherings split along bottom gutter, marginal repair to Gnot affecting text, lacking final blank. Nineteenth-century calf to style, blind tooling to covers, gilt inner dentelles, edges stained red; extremities rubbed, front joints cracked but holding, some soiling to rear cover. 
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Provenance

Frauncis Demay(?) (contemporary signature to colophon)

Literature

ESTC S104365; Barbara Gold & Charles Platter, 'Sex and Gender in Medieval and Renaissance Texts: The Latin Tradition', 1997; Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Summer 2009  

Catalogue Note

The first English edition of Agrippa's treatise on the rights — and superiority — of women, an early articulation of some of the core tenets of modern feminism.

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535) was one of Renaissance Europe's leading, albeit controversial, intellectual figures. He wrote a number of works on magic and the occult sciences, which Mary Shelley would later cite as an important influence in the early intellectual life of a young Victor Frankenstein. His work in the occult sciences, in tandem with his attack on human learning ('On the Uncertainty and Vanity of the Arts and Sciences', 1530), led some more pious readers to regard him as "a sorcerer and associate of demons, detested by others as an irreverent mocker and subverter of religion and good morals" (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).  

Agrippa's 'De nobilitate et praecellentia foeminei sexus', represents an early and important entry into an emerging genre of "defenses of women" produced in Renaissance Europe. 'De nobilitate' was written in 1509 but not published until 1529, with David Clapham's English translation following in 1542. The book is structured in four parts: an analysis of Genesis as the basis for Christian misogyny, an enumeration of the God-given superior qualities of women, a catalogue of famous women from the Bible and antiquity who exemplify those qualities, and a reflection on contemporary restrictions placed upon women. "Agrippa argues that the contemporary treatment of women is contrary to both divine and natural laws. According to him, laws, customs, and education all contribute to the suppression of women. Changing such human constructs is his implicit goal... Not content with proving that women are equal, he enthusiastically sets out to prove their inherent superiority to men" (Gold and Platter, pp. 189-190).   

It was dismissed for generations as an expression of Agrippa's paradoxical intellectual program, but contemporary feminist scholars have argued that it should be taken seriously insofar as it anticipates some of the core tenets of modern feminism. Indeed, his program is clear from the opening pages, where he states: "[God] hath given but one similitude and lykeness of the sowle both male and female, between whose sowles there is noo maner dyfference of kind. The woman hathe that same mynd that a man hath, that same reason and speche, she goeth to the same end of blyssfulness, where shall be noo exception of kynde."

Exceedingly rare on the market — we can locate no other copies having appeared at auction.

Fine Books and Manuscripts Including Americana Online

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New York