The February 2019 rare book of the month is Marie de Romieu’s Les devis amoureux de Mariende et Florimonde, mere & fille d’Allience, printed in Paris in 1607.
This is truly a rare book in the sense that not many copies of it have been recorded in other libraries. Both the Heritage of the Printed Book database and the Universal Short Title Catalogue list one other copy, at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Marie de Romieu was a poet and translator, born circa 1545 and died circa 1590. Biographical details of her life are scarce, but we know that she lived in eastern France, in the Vivarais region, had an older brother named Jacques, and most likely had a son. Marian Rothstein writes that her poetry was influenced by Pierre de Ronsard and Philippe Desportes, as well as Hesiod, Ovid and Virgil.
Unlike other women authors of this period, de Romieu’s had much of her poetry printed, rather than circulated only in manuscript form. It was common during this time for women to circulate their writings in manuscript amongst their friends and social circle. During her lifetime, two works were printed, with a further four printed posthumously, including this volume. Those printed during her lifetime were: Instruction pour les jeunes dames (1572) and Les premières oeuvres poetiques (1581). Those printed posthumously were: Instruction pour les jeunes dames (1597); Les devis amoureux (1607); La messagère d’amour (1616); Discours de l’excellence de la femme (1618). All of these volumes are exceedingly rare and in many instances only one or two copies are recorded. It is therefore possible that other books were printed in the late 16th/early 17th century but that they simply have not survived or been attributed to de Romieu.
According to Marian Rothstein, Romieu’s most interesting works “are quasi translations of poems by Italian male authors. In keeping with the standards of her time, she translates them freely, incorporating modifications to suit her own sex, time, place, and station (which was presumably that of her audience). Romieu wrote mainly, though by no means exclusively, for women.” This book consists of a series of dialogues between Mariende (mere) and Florimonde (fille). According to Brunet, this edition is in fact the same work as the Instruction pour les jeunes dames, which itself was a translation of Dialogo della bella creanza, by Alessandro Piccolomini. This has been reiterated in a recent publication, La Raphaëlle, edited by Mireille Blanc-Sanchez.
The book was printed by Jean Corrozet, who was part of a longstanding printing family. His father (Galliot Corrozet) and grandfather (Gilles Corrozet) were both well-known printers in Paris. Galliot and Jean Corrozet used the same printer’s device.
This copy contains numerous faint pencil marks in the margins but no indication of previous ownership, although it was part of the Robert Ashley bequest of 1641.