8vo. lxxxii, (6) ff., title printed in red and black within woodcut border, two large woodcut initials and numerous small ones, full-page printer’s device on verso of final leaf. Bound in crushed morocco c. 1945, signed Capé, floral motifs gilt on covers, spine in six compartments with title gilt, morocco ex libris of Isidor Fernandez . Minor soiling to title but internally in good condition for a work of this kind.
Extremely rare early edition (first, 1530) of this collection of vernacular materia medica with recipes, unsigned and undated but attributable to the Parisian printer Pierre Sergent on the basis of the printer’s mark (see below). Printed in a small, popular format in French gothic for a lay public, this is a rare survival of a pocket self-help guide for those who could not afford professional care in early modern Europe. Goeurot’s importance in English medicine is evident from the numerous English translations his work enjoyed throughout the 16th century.
According to Goeurot’s preface to the reader, the present work was composed at the behest of his patron, Marguerite de Navarre (whose sick children Goeurot had personally attended). Goeurot’s own contribution to the text comes first, introducing the reader to the Galenic organization of the body before launching into discreet chapters on specific ailments of specific areas (eyes, ears, nose, stomach, etc.). Tooth pain caused by excessive heat or cold is discussed, as is the mysterious facial affliction noli me tangere (‘touch me not’) – probably lupus; melancholy (symptoms including a heavy head and terrible dreams) is treated separately to the section on ‘disturbances of the spirit’. Guerot’s own recipes are followed by a tract by Nicolas Houssemaine (ca. 1470-1523) on the plague, with cures ranging from rubies and emeralds to the herb Policaria, vinegar, and even a ‘beau pomme de Normandie’! (ff lxix). The collection is completed by a Traite du regime de santé by Pietro da Tossignano (d. 1401), translated from the Latin.
Goerot’s medical counsel was based on practical experience: a favorite of Marguerite de Navarre he tended to the Queen and her children before being appointed Royal Physician to her brother, Francis I of France. The large woodcut initial on the verso of Ai appears to depict the author (1501-1552) ministering to his patroness and her children.
All editions of the Sommaire et entretenement de vie are extremely rare in census. It was apparently first published in 1530 both in Alençon (the author’s home town) and Paris, before enjoying reprints as far afield as Lyon. Most notably, it enjoyed considerable success outside of France, being translated and often reprinted in English as early as 1544 (‘The Regiment of Lyfe’, ‘Spirituall preseruatiues against the pestilence’ etc.) and Italian. The present edition can be positively identified and dated to the press of Pierre Sergent by the large printer’s device, in particular by the tiny break in the woodblock between the O and the Y in the word MOY. With thanks to Antoine Coron of the Réserve of the BnF for checking BnF copies and advising us about the printer’s device.
Although allowances should be made for variant spellings of the title and/or author (ex: GUEUROT) OCLC locates three US copies of any edition: NYAM (1543), Harvard (1540s) and the NLM (1537 - this ed?).
* Cf. e.g. Durling 2122; also NLM 100936259.