MACHIAVELLI, NICCOLO [DACRES, EDWARD-trans.] Nicholas Machiavel's Prince. Also, the life of Castruccio Castracani of Lucca. And the meanes Duke Valentine us'd to put to death Vitellozzo Vitelli, Oliverotto of Fermo, Paul, and the Duke of Gravina. Translated out of Italian into English; by E.D. With some animadversion noting and taxing his errours.
London: printed by R. Bishop, for Wil: Hils, and are to be sold by Daniel Pakeman at the signe of the Rainebow neare the Inner Temple gate, 1640. First edition of Il Principe in English. Contemporary or near-contemporary calf, spine in five compartments, all edges sprinkled. 5 3/8 x 3 inches (14 x 7.5 cm); [12 (but minus the last 2 pp.)], 305,  pp., collating A^(6) [-A6] B-O^(12). Binding worn, front joint starting at foot, internally a very clean, fresh copy.
FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH of Machiavelli's enormously influential 1532 study of the nature of effective political leadership, and a foundational work of political theory. N.B. This copy lacks the second leaf of Machiavelli's preface, A6, as noted. The first use of the word "Machiavellian" cited by the Oxford English Dictionary is 1568, and the word was used frequently thereafter, so the influence of the work in England was widespread and significant. Shakespeare certainly read the book (he cites "murderous Machiavel" in Henry VI, part 3), likely in one of the many manuscript translations that circulated; there are four such 16th century versions known.
The book was put on the Catholic Church's Index of prohibited books in 1559, and the ecclesiastical authorities in England also seem to have banned it, for as Margaret Bald in Literature Suppressed on Political Grounds remarks "The English translation was published in 1640 when episcopal censorship broke down." This was a brief window of opportunity; it was again listed in 1643 for a further period. Edward Dacres justified his translation with the words "This book carryes its poyson and malice in it; yet mee thinks the judicious peruser may honestly make use of it in the actions of his life, with advantage." It is worth noting that Machiavelli was favored reading for rulers as diverse as Louis XIV and Napoleon. The Life of Castruccio Castracani deals in somewhat similar terms with near contemporary Italians who had perpetrated criminal deeds for reasons of political expediency, and was probably a source for Mary Shelley's novel Valperga: or, the Life ... of Castruccio, Prince of Lucca. Bertelli & Innocenti Bibliografia Machiavelliana XVII/38; Gerber III, p. 104, no. 2; PMM 63; STC 17168.
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