Saturday, March 22, 2014

Foreign titles

I don't know if I ever mentioned the Bulgarian edition on this blog:

But now I can't allow the Chinese edition to go unmentioned:

Can't help wondering what language (if any) might be next.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Royal order for the founding of a book trade guild

Below is my transcription from the Brussels State Archive of Philip II's orders to the city of Antwerp on 24 November 1557 to institute self-regulation of the book trade by means of a guild ("une confratrie ou gulde"). The solution that the city government hit on was to establish a "nation" of printers and booksellers as part of the Guild of St Luke, a long-established body for the art trade. A year later, a similar measure was taken in London by Philip and his wife, Mary, in chartering the Company of Stationers.

The combined effects of unattended children and prawn crackers make the digitization of the paper notes (now twenty years old) a matter of urgency, and this looks like a handy place to find them again.

ARB, Audientie 1709/2, fo. 47

xxiiije Jour de Novembre 1557

Le Roy

Chiers et feaulx, Considerans que depuis la publication des placcars et ordonnan[ce]s cydevant publyees sur le faut des Imprimeurs, bibliopoles et libraires On a trouve et se trouvent encoires Journellem[ent] grands abuz et malversations au faut de ceux stil. Imprimans et vendans des mauvais et dangereux livres a ceux bon plaisir sans avoir regard aux placcarts et ordonnan[ces] susd[ites]. Dont a succession de temps pourroyent soudre grands Inconveniens endroict la Religion de N[ost]re S[ain]te foy catholicque. A ceste cause desirans de tout n[ost]re coeur oster toutes occasions par lesquelles la S[ainte] Religion catholicque pourroit [unclear]emement estre schandalisee ou diminuee Et y mettre meilleur ordre Nous avons trouve tres requis et convenable de mectre sur et dresser en n[ost]re ville danvers une confratrie ou gulde de tous Imprimeurs, bibliopoles, libraires et aussi des lyeurs Des [unclear] Residens en n[ost]res ville DAnvers, Et comme cecy est une chose Qui concerne la pollice de ladi[te]s ville Nous vous Requerons et neantmoins ordonnons aux auqquelle avecq vous n[ost]re marcgrave Danvers [unclear] et adviser parensemble comment lon pourra plus commodieusement faire et dresser lad[ite] confrarie. Et de ce [unclear] en Anvers nous advertir bien particulierem[ent] Pour apres y ordonner comme lon trouvera convenir A tant Chers et feaulx

Aux Bourgm[est]res eschevins et conseil de n[ost]re ville danvers.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Louis Baekelandt (1773-1803), gangster

A reader kindly writes to draw my attention to a lapse on page 172 of the first edition of A History of the Low Countries, about the gang of Louis Bakeland (a menace to society who was to become something of a folk hero in later romanticized versions of his adventures), saying:
I don't find any reference to Bakelandt operating in "French Flanders". He certainly did operate in West Flanders (het Vrijbos) and in fact he was captured in my grandmother's hometown of Ichtegem

The reference to French Flanders has already been cut in the second edition, but I thought I would take the occasion to look into the matter (slightly) more deeply. At the bottom of this post is a map showing the approximate locations of the crimes for which Baekelandt and his accomplices were executed, according to the printed Dutch translation of the sentence of the criminal tribunal of the Département Lys brought out at the time:

(Not quite a primary source; there is a 1928 edition of the original trial documents, by Ernest Hosten and Egied Strubbe, that I don't have immediate access to: De bende van Bakelandt: hare misdaden en veroordeeling volgens het bewaarde procesbundel.) The crimes they committed included housebreaking, extorting money with menaces, armed robbery, robbery with violence, highway robbery, murder, and attempted murder. All this took place very firmly within the borders of present-day Belgium. They operated from a number of inns and safehouses and (as my correspondent says) a woodland hide-out in the "Vrijbos", all pretty much in the same area as the crimes and slightly to the west (but not so far west as to be over the present-day border with France).

View Baekelandt in a larger map

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Asking the way in early-modern Europe

One of my favourite unknown early-modern books is Colloquia et dictionariolum septem linguarum: Belgicae, Anglicae, Teutonicae, Latinae, Italicae, Hispanicae, Gallicae (Conversations and mini-dictionary in seven languages: Dutch, English, German, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French). It seems to have been printed first in Antwerp (one of the great mercantile cities where all seven of the languages could be heard spoken), but there are also editions from Liège and Padua, and perhaps elsewhere.

The fourth chapter of this much-reprinted early-modern phrasebook is entitled “For to aske the way: With other familiar communications.” The English version of the chapter runs as follows (quoted here from the Liège, 1610 edition, which is neither the first nor the last, with obvious misprints corrected but otherwise in the original spelling):

A. God save you maister Robert.
B. Sir, God geeve you a good life.
A. How doth your health, since I sawe you?
B. So so.
A. Me thincketh that yo doo not so well as you were wont.
B. How knowe you that?
A. By your face which is so pale.
B. I have had five or six fittes of an ague, which have much weakened mee, and have taken away all my stomack.
A. It is an evell sicknesse. Whither ride you so sely?
B. To Antwerp, to the Sinxson* fayre.
A. And I also: if you wil, we will go together.
B. It pleaseth mee very well, but you ride a little too fast for mee.
A. Let us ride as you will, it is all one for mee, for my horse ambleth very easely.
B. And mine doth trot to hard. Now let us ryde in Gods name: what folke be they that do go before us?
A. I knowe them not trulye, they be marchants: let us pricke our horses for to overtake them, for I am afrayde that wee be out of our way.
B. We be not, be not afrayde.
A. Yet it is good to aske it.
B. Aske of that shee sheapherd.
A. My shee freend, where is the right way from hence to Anwerp?
C. Right before you, turning nether on the righte nor on the left hand, till you come to an high elme tree, then turne on the left hand.
A. How many miles have we from hence to the next village?
C. Two miles and a half, and a little more.
A. Now let us go at leasure, for I am out of doubt: I see the tree wherof shee hath tolde us. It is very dustie, the dust doth put out my eyes.
B. Take this taffeta to put before your face, and it will keepe you from the dust, and from the sunne.
A. It is no neede, for the sunne goeth downe: I am afraide that we shall not come by day light to the towne.
B. Yes forsooth. But the worst is, that this way is daungerous because of theeves, they did rob thother day a riche marchant hard by this tree, the which maketh mee afrayde to be robbed, except wee take heede.
A. I see the steeple of the towne, except I be deceaved.
B. Truly, it will be late before wee come thether. I doubt, that wee shall not get in.
A. Yes forsooth, they do not shut the gates before nyne of the clock.
B.  It is the better for I would not lie gladly in the suburbs.
A. Nor I too.
B. Let us aske of these folks for the best inne of this towne.
A. Take no care for that, I know well the best lodging of the towne, it is in the red lion in the camerstrate. Let us make hast I pray you, for mee thinke they take upp the drawbridge.
B. I am so weery that I can not go any farder, and moreover my horse halteth, I do thinke that a naile doth pricke him, or hee is hurt upon the backe and then this cawsie** is so hard, that it bruseth mee altogether.
A. Let us ride in then.

*Sinxson = calque of Dutch ‘Sinksen’, Pentecost
**cawsie = calque of Dutch ‘kassei’, cobblestone

Friday, May 4, 2012

Second edition

My advance copy of the second edition arrived by post a few days ago. It will be generally available from July.

The new edition is about 40 pages longer than the first edition. What, you ask, are the major changes?

Well, in the publisher's words the changes to the new edition include "bringing the story right up to today" (well, up to June 2011: once the typescript has been delivered it's difficult to make any major changes or additions).

There is also "fresh coverage of immigration, multiculturalism, and the resurgence of nationalism in the Low Countries" — something touched on very briefly in the first edition (finished in 2005), but developed at more length here (still modest length: it has to fit in with 2000 years of other history).

The new edition "outlines the countries' recent economic successes and failures". "Recent" meaning since 1973, I suppose, and do bear in mind that this really is an outline, a sketch as it were.

The book now "includes a new list of political parties and governments since 1918", something which was lacking from the first edition. If it really is a lack. How important is it to a reader to have such a thing? Still, hopefully somebody somewhere will find it useful, and the main purpose it to unburden the prose by packing the party-political developments into a tabular format.

There's also (unmentioned by the publisher) new material on popular entertainment. New in the sense that it wasn't in the first edition: it's about the decades immediately after the Second World War.

The first edition was copy edited and printed in Britain. The new edition was copy edited in India and printed in China. I suppose I shouldn't cavil: without such savings they might not have thought another edition of my work was worth the expense.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Dutch trade mission to China

This was the topic of my contribution to a recently published book on The Dutch Trading Companies as Knowledge Networks.

What particularly interested me was not so much the mission itself, as the way that the report of it published a decade later was co-opted in different ways by certain Catholics in both Antwerp and Amsterdam as a way of giving a more positive spin to the activities of Jesuit missions in China.

That report, it must be said, was not only compendious, but also copiously and beautifully illustrated.

Friday, November 13, 2009

New edition?

I'm preparing a proposal for a second edition. Does anybody have any comments about what they'd like to see in the book, or what they thought redundant?