The Spanish Order of Santiago, founded in the 12th century, is a religious and military order with international members, including women. Named after the Patron Saint of Spain, Saint James the Greater, it was originally establish for protection of the pilgrims on their route to Santiago de Compostela and to defend the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslim Moors, with the goal to protect Christianity. The Order of Santiago soon became a prestigious European order with its knights recognizable by the symbols of Santiago Cross, being a red cross, with the lower part shaped in a form of a sword and the arms as fleurs-de-lis.
A major step in the organization of the prominent Order of Santiago was made by Pope Adrian VI., when in 1523 he placed it under protection of the Spanish Crown, where it remains until this day.
The order published the first printed book with its regulations and decrees, relevant for the knights, already in 1503 (Sevilla, Juan Pegnitzer) and from then on regularly with updated text.
This is an especially handsome edition, with attractive wood-cut titles, decorated with Santiago crosses, printed in red. Our example, with venerable provenance, is ornated with an unique tooled and hand-painted binding.
The wood-cuts were made by a superb 16th century spanish engraver and goldsmith Juan de Arfe (1535- 1603).
A page, mounted with the inner margin on later blank sheets before the first printed title, bears old owner’s signatures in brown ink, written on one page, probably followed chronologically:
– A lengthy inscription by Lodovico (Ludovico) Guasco from a north Italian noble family. He mentions himself a knight of the Order of Santiago (probably late 16th century, or early 17th century).
– Galeazzo Pallavicino of Cremona (late 16th or early 17th century), from a prominent North Italian noble family, also known for its mentorship of artists. The signed name could refer to one of the three counts with the same name from the family Pallavicino (deceased in 1582, 1592,1666).
– Co. Teodoro, Count of Albani (possibly the canon of the Bergamo cathedral who in 1642 became the first principle of the Accademia degli Eccitati in Bergamo).
The book appears to be rebound in the time of Baroque. Binding with a coat of arms with an eagle, crossbones and four gold fleurs-de-lis, of an anonymous owner, whose name is abbreviated to Co. Sar. (Co. standing probably for Conte, a count). (Possibly 17th or early 18th century).
Ex-Libris of Paolo Vimercati Sozzi (1801 – 1883) mounted on a blank page. Vimercati Sozzi, a nobleman and a knight of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, was a prominent Italian collector, antiquarian and author, specialized mostly in Bergamo and North-Italian art. He was corresponding with contemporary European scientists.
Late 19th century book stamp by Williams and Norgate, booksellers in Oxford, mounted in the lower inner corner of front board.
Ex-Libris of Pietro Ciriaci (1885 – 1966), an Italian Cardinal of the Catholic Church, on the top of the first loose blank paper.
A Note on Rarity
We could trace examples in following institutions: Universitat de Barcelona, Biblioteca Nacional de España,
Universidad de Sevilla, Harvard University, Huntington Library, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Universitat Rovira i Virgili CRAI, Bibliothèque interuniversitaire Sainte-Geneviève.
References: OCLC 493003517, 865312663, 460956874, 807734147; Iberian Books / Libros Ibéricos (IB), Books Published in Spanish or Portuguese or on the Iberian Peninsula Before 1601 / Libros Publicados en Español O Portugués O en la Península Ibérica Antes de 1601, 2010, no. 5428 ; Sastre Santos Eutimio, la Orden de Santiago y su regla, Tesis Doctoral, Universidad Complutense de Madrid Facultad de Geografía e Historia, Madrid 2015, passim (on-line source: 5309859029.pdf (ucm.es)).