With woodcut Chinese characters
Dell' historia della China, descritta nella lingua Spagnuola...
et tradotta nell'Italiana, dal Magn. M. Francesco Avanzo, cittadino originario di Venezie... Venice Andrea Muschio 1590
Small octavo, pp.[xxx], [2, blank], [40, index], 462. Three Chinese characters on pp.114-5. Bound in contemporary limp vellum, manuscript title on spine. A little cockled, hinges strengthened. Text with faint marginal stains to preliminary and final leaves. Overall, an attractive copy.
Cordier BS 11; Löwendahl 30
An early Italian edition of this popular history, first published in Spanish in 1585 at Rome, and in Italian translation the following year. By 1600 it had been published in seven European languages across many editions. Mendoza, an Augustinian friar, was commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII to write what became the 'most influential and detailed work on China prepared in the sixteenth century... and one of the best-sellers of its day' (Lach I/ii, p.743). Its popularity may be accounted for by the great demand throughout Europe for a comprehensive and authoritative survey of China in vernacular languages. The author never visited China but his book was the first major attempt to collect the information made available by the Portuguese and Jesuits and other material reaching Europe via Spanish missionaries and administrators in the Philippines. He relied heavily on the eyewitness accounts of the Portuguese Dominican Gaspar de Cruz, his fellow Augustinian Martín de Rada, who visited Fuijian in 1575, and Galeote Perreira, imprisoned in China from 1549 to 1552 for illegal trading, whose account was published by de Cruz. Sabin, 27775, claims this to be the first western book to include Chinese characters.