French Royal Bindings of the 17th-19th Centuries

Books with Royal Bookplates

Henry IV

Henry IV the Great (Henri IV, Henri le Grand; 1553-1610) is the first king of France from the Bourbon dynasty (since 1589), King of Navarre (since 1572 under the name of Henry III). The first his wife was Marguerite Valois ("Queen Margot"), the daughter of Henry II and Catherine de Medici. This marriage was childless. The second wife (since 1600) was Maria de Medici. The couple had six children, including the future King Louis XIII and Gaston, Duke of Orleans. Henry IV is revered in France as a peacemaker, who completed almost half a century of Religious Wars and strengthened the shaky authority of royal power. However, the instability, caused by with religious conflicts, remained in France for several decades (Henry himself was stabbed in Paris by the Catholic fanatic Ravalliac).


Boguet, Henry (1550-1619).

Discours des sorciers, avec Six advis en faict de sorcelerie. Et Une instruction pour un iuge en semblable matiere : par Henry Boguet Dolanois, grand iuge en la terre S. Oyan de Ioux, dicte de S. Claude au comté de Bourgongne. N'estant ce que l'autheur a cy devant mis en lumiere sur le mesme suiect, qu'un eschantillon de ce qui est traitté en ce livre. Troisiesme edition. — A Lyon : chez Pierre Rigaud, 1610.

8° (108 х 174 mm). The brown leather binding with gold embossing. A forged super ex libris of Henry IV — the monogram «HD» surrounded by four crossed letters «S» is placed on the front and back covers (is established by: GUIGARD J. Nouvel armorial du bibliophile. T. 1. P. 22).

Provenance: Załuski, Józef Andrzej (1702-1774) (the stamp «I. A. ZALVSKI» is on the title page).

Shelf mark:

A Discourse on Witches by Henry Boguet A Discourse on Witches by Henry Boguet A Discourse on Witches by Henry Boguet by Henry Boguet A Discourse on Witches by Henry Boguet

It is a debatable question whether books with the monogram "HD" and crossed out letters "S" belonged to Henry IV, although it can be said for sure that it relates to the Bourbons. In the National Library of Russia this copy came from the library of the Zaluski brothers, as evidenced by the characteristic notes and the stamp of Josef-Andrzej Zaluski on the title page. Notworthy are engravings depicting ancient Roman ruins and camels at the foot of the Egyptian pyramids, pasted on the front and back fly leaves.

The book contains the third edition of the demonological treatise A Discourse on Witches by Henry Boguet. Henry Boguet (1550-1619) was a judge in Burgundy and France's most ruthless inquisitor. He was the inspirer for the witch-hunts that swept across the county of Franche-Comté in the first decade of the 17th century.

Here, in 1598, eight-year-old Louise Maillat was suddenly paralyzed. Parents decided to conduct a rite of exorcism for expelling demons from her. During it, five demons flew out of the girl's mouth in the guise of a wolf, a cat, a dog, a merry trait and a griffin. All were red as fire, except for a black cat, they had the size of a baby ball. Flying a couple of circles over the bed, the demons disappeared, and the baby immediately recovered. On the question of the priest who put the evil eye on her, she pointed to the local woman Françoise Secret. The suspect was immediately arrested and after careful interrogations confessed that she was seduced by the devil, had intimacy with him, participated in the Sabbath, but denied that she had ever turned into a wolf, so the last charge was dropped from her. Henry God personally sentenced her to death by fire and told about this process in the first chapters of his A Discourse on Witches.

Very curious chapters can be found in the treatise, for instance, "Can Someone Place a Demon into the Body of Another Person", "How Satan Defeats Us," and "On the Copulation of the Demon with the Witch and the Sorcerer", "On the Day and Place of the Sabbat", "On the Strength and Effectiveness of the Cross against the Demons and their Accomplices" and so on. Thus, the book is a French analog of the famous Hammer of the Witches. According to legend, A Discourse on Witches's author himself ended his life on fire, being charged of relations with evil forces.


Arenberg, Charles d' (1593-1669).

Flores Seraphici  Ex amoenis Annalium hortis Adm: R.P.F. Zachariae Bouerij Ord: FF. Minorum S. Francisci Capucinorum Definitoris Generalis collecti. Sive icones, vitae et gesta virorum illustrium; (qui ab Anno 1525. Usque ad annum 1580. in eodem Ordine, Miraculis, ac vitæ sanctimoniâ claruêre) compendiosè descripta. Auctore R.P.F. Carolo de Aremberg Bruxellensi, eiusdem Ord: Praedicatore. — Coloniae Agrippinae [Köln] : apud Constantinum Munich, 1640.

2o (230 х 368 mm). The brown leather binding with gold embossing. The false super ex libris of Henry IV — the monogram «HD» surrounded by four crossed letters «S» on the front and back covers of the binding (is established by: GUIGARD J. Nouvel armorial du bibliophile. T. 1. P. 22).

Shelf mark:

Charles d'Arenberg. Flores Seraphici  Charles d'Arenberg. Flores Seraphici  Charles d'Arenberg. Flores Seraphici  Charles d'Arenberg. Flores Seraphici  Charles d'Arenberg. Flores Seraphici 

Despite the monogram "HD" on the covers of the binding, attributed to Henry IV by the famous researcher J. Gigar, this book could not belong to the king, because it was published in 1640, thirty years after his death.

The Flores seraphici — the biography of the famous Franciscans of the sixteenth century, created by the Father Charles (born Antoine d'Arenberg, 1593-1669), Prince of Arenberg, Count of Senengem, who, at the age of twenty-three, relinquished all worldly pleasures for the Order of Capuchin. Subsequently, Albert, the Archduchy of Austria, offered him the bishop's throne, and Pope Innocent X wished to grant him a cardinal hat, but the humble monk invariably refused. The Father Charles was famous as one of the most educated people of his time. In addition to historical studies, he occupies himself with astronomy, architecture and theology. The presented book is richly decorated with numerous engravings and represents a remarkable masterpiece of German printing in the mid-17th century.