De monarchia hispanica. Editio novissima, aucta & emendata ut praefatio ad lectorem indicat.

CAMPANELLA Tommaso (1641)


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Engraved title page, woodcut headpieces, ornaments and 3-5 line initials. 

24mo (119 x 60mm). [8], 376 pp. (376 misprinted as 379). Contemporary vellum over pasteboard (minor worming to spine, head and tail chipped and edges worn; hinges defective). 

Amsterdam, Ludovicum Elzevirium, 

Second Elzevier edition of Dominican monk Tommaso Campanella's second utopian work, written during his long, 27-year imprisonment for his involvement in a plot to overthrow Spanish rule in Naples. Written around 1600, it was not published until 1620, in Germany. The first Latin translation, by Elzevier, appeared in 1640; in English in 1654; and only in the nineteenth century was it printed in Italian. Willems asserts that this is a more correct reprint of the first Elzevier edition of the preceding year. 

A strong supporter of Galileo and profoundly anti-Aristotelian (for which he encountered the opprobrium of the Inquisition) Campanella (1568-1639) has been described as one of 'the most bizarre of early modern political theorists' (Pagden, 37) for his vision of universal, theocratic political power. In De Monarchia Hispanica, he advocates a universal Christian monarchy, led by the papacy and the king of Spain. Comparisons with Machiavelli, however, misrepresent Campanella's aims; while a significant proportion of this work advises the Spanish on power consolidation, his vision is not of subjugation under Spanish rule but rather, a community happy and spiritually united. 'Much of the De Monarchia Hispanica is, in fact, an attempt to persuade the Spanish monarchs to turn their kingdoms into a wholly different kind of society. [...] Spain would only be able to fulfil the role that God had clearly intended for her, if her kings complied with the dictates of prudence' (Pagden, 51). 

Campanella's writing taps into several of the key tropes of the utopian literature produced from the Renaissance through to the eighteenth century. Along with the clearly religious seam that runs through Campanella's thesis is, notably, the perceived potential for the creation of ideal communities provoked by encounters with the New World; he writes of the importance of a Spanish foothold in the Americas to counter Protestant power there. 

Provenance: Portion of bookplate of the Swedish 'Safstaholms Bibliothek' on inside front cover, and remnants of bookplate depicting cornucopia and Latin motto, on inside back cover, presumably German. 

Discoloration of title page and staining to final leaf, slight browning of margins; a few flaws and tears to lower and outer margins, not interfering with text, and some wear to extremities. 

A. Pagden, 'Instruments of Empire: Tommaso Campanella and the Universal Monarchy of Spain', Spanish Imperialism and the Political Imagination (Yale, 1998), 37-63. 

Willems, 971. 

Stock Code: 227887

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