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[VERGARA y ALBA, Francisco Ruiz de]

Regla, y establecimientos de la Orden y Cavalleria, del Gloriosso Apostol Santiago, Patron de las Spañas, con la Historia del Origen y Principio de ella.


(Colophon) Madrid, en casa de Domingo Garcia Morràs, 1655.


Folio.   (15), 220, (18) ff. (with errors in foliation).  With engraved title page, full page engraving of the Immaculate Conception and portrait of Philip IV by Pedro de Villafranca y Malagón.  Near contemporary vellum, remains of ties (head & foot of spine worn, front hinge split).   Traces of damp-staining, more pronounced on ff. 32-86, 91-155, 171-174, 191-199 & final (6) ff., tip of bottom corner of f. 20 torn off.  

First edition of this work setting out the rules governing the Order of St. James.   It was established by Pope Alexander III in 1175, its primary objective originally being to expel the infidel Moors from Spain, and the Order was the first to be committed to ransoming citizens enslaved by the Turks.   Over the centuries it had come to embrace the qualities characteristic of Spanish society of the Golden Age, religious fervour, the pursuit of honour, feats of arms in war, support for the ideal of the nation state, and the twin cults of hidalguía and purity of blood.   But the Order had since become a useful source of royal patronage.   The volume includes the rules introduced by King Philip IV in 1652 when, after an interval of nearly thirty years, he had summoned a General Chapter of the Orders.   Disregarding public opinion and to raise money for the war with France and the Catalan and Portuguese rebellions, Philip IV’s favourite, the Conde Duque de Olivares (d. 1645), offered hábitos for sale, and shocked conventional beliefs by declaring that the statutes of limpieza were unjust and impious (see L.P. Wright, “The military orders in sixteenth and seventeenth century Spanish society; the institutional embodiment of a historical tradition” in Past & Present, No. 43 (May 1969), pp. 57-61).   The work is enhanced by three fine engravings by Pedro de Villafranca y Malagón, who was appointed engraver to King Philip IV in 1654;  a portrait of the king painted by him hangs in the Prado.    Signature of Gonçalo Maldonado on f. (10).   



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