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HENRICUS GLAREANUS (Heinrich Loriti), Panegyricon; De situ Helvetiae et vicinis gentibus; De quattuor Helvetiorum pagis; Pro iustissimo Helveticorum foedere panegyricon, with Commentary on the Descriptio Helvetiae and List of Extra-Helvetian Places in Latin, with German translation

In Latin with a few words in Greek and German, imprint on paper, hand-colored; manuscript on paper
Basel, Adam Petri, 1514 (imprint) and Basel, c. 1515, likely before 1517 (manuscript)

TM 484


Small in-4, printed [34] pp. + manuscript [7] ff., complete, collation (sig. A-D4 + E1 [a singleton] + a single quire of 7 leaves [of 8, last leaf of quire a cancelled blank]), on paper, with watermark of manuscript second portion close to the type Briquet, “Tête de boeuf sommée d’une croix Tau,” although no identical match nonetheless close to Briquet no. 15157 (Zurich, 1479-1512, Basle, 1481-1501 et alia) and no. 15178 (Wittenberg, 1514; Dresden, 1514-1515, Leipzig, 1518), manuscript written in a cursive hand, in brown ink, in up to 38 long lines (justification 165 x 105 mm.), manuscript portion ruled in light red ink, red capitals strokes and paragraph marks (printed section) and highlighted in red ink (manuscript portion), 4 engraved ornamental initials on criblé grounds, woodcut title-page border (signed Urs Graf), woodcut armorial composition and repeated isolated block with Imperial arms (signed Urs Graf), 16 woodcuts of Arms of Swiss Cantons, all woodcuts hand-colored, profuse marginalia in the printed portion, both interlinear and marginal, same cursive hand throughout responsible for all the annotations (imprint and appended manuscript), except on sig. C 3 verso, where there is another rather upright cursive hand. Bound in a restored binding, original boards remounted, dark brown blind-stamped calf, smooth spine (modern), covers paneled with blind fillets, outer border with scrolling leafy tools, central panel with intersecting fillets and repeated stamps of rosettes and leafy ornamental tools (covers a bit worn but expertly restored), renewed endleaves (Some foxing and dampstains, although never hindering legibility; some leaves trimmed short with a few words from some marginalia cut short; overall a clean copy of the editio princeps of Glareanus’ Descriptio Helvetiae, made unique with its contemporary coloring, rubrication and profuse marginalia). Dimensions 215 x 160 mm.

Rare first edition of a geographical, historical, and linguistic account of Helvetia or the Swiss Confederacy composed in hexameters by Henricus Glareanus, a nationalist who was one of the foremost humanists of the period. Finely rubricated and hand-colored, this copy includes extensive annotations and a contemporary manuscript section by an unknown author (likely a student in the close circle of Glareanus and Osvaldus Myconius), which, with modifications, was used for the commentary published under the name of Myconius in the second Basel 1519 edition.


1. Printed in Basel at the end of the year 1514 (sub annum domini 1515, nearing 1515, meaning December 1514), by Adam Petri of Langendorf (active 1507-1527) as per colophon on sig. E 1: “Excussum est Basilae diligenti accuratissimaque cura providi viri Adami Petri Langendorff, atque ab ipso auctore diligenter revisum. Sub annum domini MDXV.” The Petri family was an important dynasty of Basel printers (1454-1700). Adam Petri of Langendorf was born in 1454 and was taken to Basel by his uncle at a young age. In 1507 he became a citizen of Basel and took over the uncle’s printing business. He published Luther’s 1522 German New Testament (first printed famously in Wittenberg, in the same year). Although quite zealous for reformatory publications, Adam Petri seems to have remained a Catholic. His device was a boy riding a lion and holding a flag (not included in this imprint). He died circa 1527 (see C.W. Heckethorn, The Printers of Basel in the XVth and XVIth Centuries, London, 1897, pp. 143-144).

Lonchamp, Manuel du bibliophile suisse, 1922, no. 1250; Heckethorn, 1897, p. 147, no. 9; Hieronymus, no. 42; VD 16, L 2639, 2655, 2674. Not in BM-STC German; not in Adams. There is a reprint by W. Naef, St-Gallen, 1948.

2. Heavily annotated and added manuscript portion by an unidentified contemporary student or humanist, perhaps a student of the Basel Gymnasium, attending a course taught by Henricus Glareanus. The annotator writes in brown and red ink, with an inscription in red ink on the title-page of the imprint to the glory of Helvetia: “Helvetii durate diu, sit gloria vestra / Semper terrigenum fausta per omne solum. S. C. S. M.” (sig. A 1). The heading that opens the appended manuscript section suggests the notes result from the courses delivered by Glareanus before 1515, so around the time of publication of this imprint. The freshly printed edition of Glareanus’s opusculae must have served as a basis for courses offered by Glareanus, and the present copy might well be that of one his students. The same heading (see below) states that the courses were held “just before the year 1515 of our savior Jesus Christ and immediately diligently re-transcribed.” We suggest the manuscript must date before 1517, since by that time Glareanus had already moved to Paris.

3. A sixteenth-century inscription is penned on f. 7v of the appended manuscript section: “Tecum habi. Giorgius.” It is not in the same hand as the annotations.

4. European Continental Collection.



sig A 1, Title-page, Ad divum Max. Aemilianum Romanorum imperatorem, semper Augustum, Henrici Glareani Helvetii Poe[tae] Laure[tae] Panegyricon. Eiusdem de situ Helvetiae & Vicinis gentibus. De quattuor Helveticorum pagis. Pro iustissimo Helveticorum foedere panygyricon;

sig A 1 verso, Dedication to Johannes Caesarius (1468-1550), friend of Melanchton, “Iohanni Caesario Iuliacensi, physico, mathematico...Gaudere plurimum soleo suavissime praeceptor...”;

sig. A 2-A 4, Panegyric in honor of Emperor Maximilian (1459 -1519), “Ad divum Max. Aemilianum Romanorum Imperatorem semper Augustum Henrici Glareani Helvetii Poe[tae] Lau[reatae] Panegyricon”; incipit, “Inclyte Romulidum Caesar, que summa Tonantis...”; explicit, “Finis huius Panegyrici, quod ipse poeta anno duodecimo supra millesimum, Agrippinae coram totius Germaniae principibus in publico anteaque coronaretur decantavit”;

sig. B 1-sig. B 1 verso, Dedication to Heinrish Uttinger, canon in Zurich, dated Basel, 1514, “D[omino] Henrico Tigurino, Tigurinae ecclesiae, comiti Palatino...Henricus Glareanus Helvetius Poet[ta] Lau[reata] S[alutem]”;

sig. B 1 verso-B 4, “De situ Helvetiae et vicinis gentibus,” incipit, “Plerides nymphae, Boeotia numina, Musae...”;

sig. B 4-C 2 verso, “De quattuor Helvetiorum pagis,” incipit, “Quattuor Helvetiae coepi conexere pagos...”;

sig. C 2 verso-E 1 verso, “In laudatissimum Helvetiorum foedus Panegyricon” [Panegyric in praise of the people of Helvetia]; incipit, “Haec facies patriae est, plectro maiore sonandum...”; explicit, “[...] Quin propius sequere, & vestigia semper a dora”; colophon, “Excussum est Basilae diligenti accuratissimaque cura providi viri Adami Petri Langendorff, atque ab ipso auctore diligenter revisum. Sub annum domini MDXV.”

This rare imprint which contains a geographical and cultural account of Helvetia (modern-day Switzerland) composed in hexameters by Henricus Glareanus (1488-1563). It is the first edition of a work that would be reprinted shortly after in 1519, with an elaborate commentary by the humanist, theologian, and classical schoolmaster Oswaldus Myconius (Henricus Glareanus Loritus, Descriptio de situ helvetiae et vicinis gentibus..., Basel, 1519, copy: London, BL, 837.e.2). In all there were six sucessive editions in the sixteenth century of these important opusculae: Basel, Adam Petri, 1515; Basel, Froben, 1519; Basel, Jacob Parcus, 1553; Basel, J. Parcus, 1554; Basel, Henricus Petri, 1558; ed. undated [1574] in Schardius, Historicum opus. There is a 1514 dated manuscript of the work, addressed to Boniface Amerbach, in Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, Amerbach Abschrift, Msc. Univ. Basel, sig. 0 II 41.

Henricus Glareanus was a humanist, pedagogue, historian, geographer, poet, music theoretician, and Swiss patriot. Also known as Henri Loriti, he was named poet laureate in Cologne and composed a laudatory poem of Emperor Maximilian (printed in this edition sig. A ii-iv). In 1514, Glareanus returned to Basel, only to leave for Paris in 1517, where he would remain for the next five years. The present description of Switzerland was composed in the year he returned from Germany to his native country, before his stay in France.

The work is composed of three parts that follow the laudatory poem in honor of Emperor Maximilian. The first part, “De situ Helvetiae et vicinis gentibus,” in 92 verses provides a geographical description of the Swiss Confederacy (Helvetica), with bordering nations and rivers. The second part, “De quattuor Helvetiorum pagis,” offers an account of the four regions that compose the Swiss Confederacy. Finally the third part, “In Laudatissimum Helvetiorum foedus Panegyricon” [Panegyric in praise of the people of Helvetia], contains as its title suggest a praise of the people and the achievements of the sixteenth confederate cantons from Tigrum to the recently confederated Abbatiscella (Appenzell). The work ends with an exhortation to the Confederation to take the ancient Romans as their ideal. The Helvetians are considered to be “Gaulois” (and the French are reduced to the status of “Germanici”), and as a people they are the champions of the ideals of liberty and sovereignty, creators of the Confederation and the system of cantons. Glareanus was indeed a nationalist, proud of Helvetian identity.

The present 1514 first edition of Glareanus’s geographical account of Helvetia is known in few exemplars. It has been well described by Hieronymus (1997), no. 42, who signals a number of copies in Swiss libraries (including apparently six copies in Basel, UB, Aleph F IX 19:12; Basel, UB, DB VI 5:2; Basel, UB DD VII 13:3 (hand-colored copy, once belonging to the Charterhouse of Basel); Basel, UB Frey-Gryn O IV 8; Basel, UB, VD J 20:7; Basel, UB, VB T 45:2; other copies in Bern, UB, ZB Laut Q XXXI: 2; in Lucern, ZHB, H. 85.4.3) to which one should add six copies in German libraries, of which the Bavarian State Library copy is incomplete, with only 4 leaves with the Emperor’s Panegyric; one copy in the National Library of Austria. OCLC lists only the 1990 Saur microfilm in American libraries. This imprint is rarely encountered in the trade, with only three results in German auction records, the first sold by Brandes in 1959 (lot 465, one of five parts of a Sammelband); an incomplete copy sold at Zisska in 1988; a complete but uncolored copy (from the Guido Jenny Collection) fetched 17 000 Swiss Francs at Kiefer in 1996.

This particular copy is heavily annotated, and its woodcuts have been hand-colored. Although the annotator and author of the added manuscript portion has not been identified, it seems reasonable to suggest that he was close to the circle of Glareanus, who founded and animated educational youth groups, which he refers to as his “S.P.Q.R.” (Senatus Populusque Romanum). This is suggested by the heading that precedes the manuscript section that reads: “Explanation of words less well defined found in the Helvetian geography, which Henricus Glareanus himself commented in the schoolroom (literally, “the common room for studies”) in Basel on the 19th before the Kalends of January, in presence of all the patrons of the gymnasium, just before the year 1515 of our Savior Jesus Christ and immediately diligently re-transcribed” (see Latin below in “Manuscript”).

Because Osvaldus Myconius is the author of the commentary of Glareanus’s work published in 1519, he emerges as possible author of or influence on the commentary. Osvaldus Myconius or Oswald Geisshüsler (1488-1552) taught at Basel, Lucern and Zurich. He was Zwingli’s collaborator and friend, later head of the Church of Basel (1532), and as such composed the first Confession of Basel. He also composed a historical, geographical and linguistic commentary of Glareanus’s Descriptio de situ Helvetiae, printed in Basel, J. Froben, 1519 (we shall refer to a later edition found in Thesaurus historiae Helveticae, 1735). On the exchanges between Glareanus and Myconius, see J.-C. Margolin, 1985, pp. 145-181.

Whereas the present annotations do not reproduce verbatim the 1519 Myconius commentary (which is much more developed and accomplished), there are certain parallels and similarities. For instance on f. 1v in the present manuscript there is a lengthy commentary on the Rhone River: “Rhodanus. Rhodanus fluviuis ex alpibus originem habet; eo quidem loco que ex ursellana valle per furcam montem in Sedunorum regionem iter est....” In this passage, the commentary is word for word the commentary ascribed to Myconius in the Glareanus edition of 1519 (verified on the 1735 edition, p. 3). There are other such examples. We were hopeful that the hand of the present annotations and additional notes in manuscript form might well be preparatory notes by Osvaldus Myconius himself, as we know his hand from his annotated copy of Erasmus of Rotterdam’s Encomium moriae – Laus stultitiae (In Praise of Folly), famously illustrated with 82 pen drawings by Hans Holbein in precisely 1515 (Myconius’copy of In Praise of Folly, Basel, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Kupferstichkabinett; see reproductions, in S. Buck ed. et alia, Hans Holbein the Younger, 2003, p. 15). The hands differ, however, and it appears that the hand that annotated the present imprint and added the manuscript supplement should be sought amongst students who were close to Glareanus and Myconius rather than the masters themselves.

To sum up, the present notes and especially the appended manuscript portion precede the 1519 edition with its commentary. These are likely notes and commentaries copied by a student of Glareanus, just before his departure from Switzerland in 1517 or during his stays in Germany where he also taught. They are interesting because they prove that Glareanus commented on his own work and used the freshly printed opusculae as a basis or text-book for his courses. The present work confirms the content of a letter Glareanus wrote to Myconius concerning the genesis of Myconius’s commentary. In a letter dated 25 October 1518, Glareanus discusses the advancement of Myconius’s promised commentary that would eventually be printed in 1519 (Letter discussed in Margolin, Bruxelles, 1985, pp. 159-164, based on the apographes now in the Collection Simler [Simleriana, MSC F 46], now in the Central and University Library in Zurich). Glareanus had decided to let Myconius publish his commentary, but we learn that the commentary attributed to Myconius was in fact based on notes and comments developed and amplified by Glareanus himself, and sent to Myconius (Margolin, Bruxelles, 1985, pp. 162-163). The author of the Descriptio Helvetiae writes to Myconius that he is sending his commentator a manuscript in which he has jotted down a number of notes and comments. Glareanus states that, as a sign of ultimate fraternal love and respect, he wants Myconius’s name to be associated with the commentary, but in truth he gives his friend very precise indications of how the commentary should be structured and printed even how the “glossulae inter lineas” (interlinear glosses) should be articulated. The present imprint and manuscript testify to this commentary in the making, a shared “work-in-progress” whose paternity would eventually be claimed by Myconius but that was in truth carefully prepared by the author Glareanus himself. This would account for the fact that entire (if brief) passages of the commentary appended here in the manuscript section are reintegrated or blended in the final published commentary of Myconius in the 1519 second edition. In a letter dated Paris 15 May 1518, Glareanus thanks his friend Myconius for sending him the finished commentary, stating that the Swiss youth owes Myconius the favor of explaining both his Description Helvetiae and the Panegyricon (Margolin, Bruxelles, 1985, p. 166). We know now that Glareanus was largely involved in explaining and commenting his own work, of which he was undoubtedly very proud.


ff. 1-3, Added manuscript notes and commentaries, some destined to be integrated verbatim in the 1519 second edition with commentary by Osvaldus Myconius, heading, in red ink, Explanatio vocum minus bene cognitarum que in geographia helvecie continentur, quod carmen ipse henricus glareanus basileae in studiorum contubernio .19. calendas janua, palam omnibus gymnasii cultoribus decantavit paulo ante annum christi servatoris nostri .1515. et subinde diligenti labore exposuit:

[Explanation of words less well defined found in the Helvetian geography, work which Henricus Glareanus himself commented on in the schoolroom (literally, “the common room for studies”) in Basel on the 19th before the Kalends of January, in presence of all the patrons of the gymnasium, just before the year 1515 of our Savior Jesus Christ and immediately diligently re-transcribed]; heading, De Vindelegis; incipit, “Strabo. lib. 4 hec ait rheno vicina omnium primi...”;

ff. 3-7, List of extra-Helvetian places in Latin, with German translation, heading, Hactenus Glareanus; incipit, “Burgis / Brugg; Sabbaudienses / Safoier...”; explicit, “Vattacum civitas prope colonia, que postea a julio julia cum dicta esse constat, vulgari nostro julch”;

f. 7v, blank, a small ink inscription that reads: “Tecum habi. Giorgius.”


The subjects of the woodcuts all by Urs Graf are:

sig. A 1 recto, Title-Page Border with the name Maria, signed with monogram and dated 1514, 4 blocks [Rowlands/Hollstein (1977), 293: used in other imprints, listed by Rowlands (1977), p. 141];

sig. A 1 verso, Imperial Arms (same block as sig. A 4 verso, here isolated), signed with monogram on tablet (V[rs] G[raf]) [Rowlands/Hollstein (1977), 318];

sig. A 1 verso, Ornamental initial G on a criblé ground;

sig A 2, Ornamental initial I with flowers on a criblé ground;

sig. A 4 verso, Arms of the 16 members of the Swiss Confederacy and the Imperial Arms, signed with monogram on tablet (V[rs] G[raf]), 2 blocks (Rowlands/Hollstein,1977, 318; see also H. Koegler, “Beitrage zum Holzschnittwerk des Urs Graf,” in Anzeiger fur Schweizererische Altertumskunde, 1907, 301; Lüthi, 1928, 35);

sig. B 1, Ornamental initial C with flower on a criblé ground;

sig B 1 verso, Ornamental initial P with flower on a criblé ground;

sig C 3; C 3 verso; C 4; C 4 verso; D 1, D 1 verso; D 2; D 2 verso; D 3; D 3 verso; D 4, Individual Wappen (Arms) of the 16 Helvetian cantons.

Son of a goldsmith, Urs Graf (1485?-1527?) was a painter and engraver, a “peintre-lansquenet,” that is a painter engaged in militia and himself involved in battles. He became a citizen of Basel in 1511, but because of his querulous nature, he was banned from Basel for a number of years. His woodcuts often depict debauchery and war-related scenes (Bénézit, VI, p. 357). His oeuvre has been compiled in a Hollstein volume ([Rowlands ed.], 1977, and discussed by W. Lüthi,[1938].


Bernouilli, C. ed. Glareani Descriptio Helvetiae, nach der ersten Ausgabe von 1514 herausgegeben von Carl Christoph Bernouilli, Denkschrift der Historischen und Antiquarischen Gesellschaft zu Basel, Basel, 1891.

Glareanus, Henricus, Descriptio de situ helvetiae et vicinis gentibus...cum commentariis O. Myconii, Basileae, J. Froben, [1519].

Glareanus, Henricus, Helvetiae descriptio cum III Helvetiorum pagis de XIII urbium panegyrico et Osvald Molitoris Lucerini commentario, item ad Max. Aemilianum imperatorem carmen cum scholiis..., Basel, 1554.

Heawood, E. Glareanus, his Geography and Maps, London, W. Clowes and Sons, n. d. [1905].

Heckethorn, C.W. The Printers of Basel in the XVth and XVIth Centuries, London, 1897.

Hieronymus, F. 1488 Petri. Schwabe 1988. Eine traditionreiche Basler Offizin im Spiegel ihrer frühen Drucke, Basel, 1997, vol. 1.

Hollstein, F.W.H. Hollstein’s German Engravings, Etchings and Woodcuts, 1400-1700. Volume XI, Urs Graf, compiled by J. K. Rowlands, Amsterdam, 1977.

Lüthi, W, Urs Graf und die Kust der Alten Schweizer, Zurich and Leipzig, 1928.

Mack, Hans-Hubertus, Humanistische Geisteshaltung und Bildungsbemühungen: am Beispiel von Heinrich Loriti Glarean (1488-1563), Bad Heilbrunn, 1992.

Margolin, J. C. “Glaréan, commentateur du ‘De Bello Gallico’,” in Présence de César: Hommage au doyen M. Rambaud, 1985, pp. 183-212.

Margolin, J. C. “Contribution à l’épistolographie humaniste: quinze lettres inédites de Glaréan et de Myconius,” in La correspondance d’Erasme et l’épistolographie humaniste..., Brussels, 1985.

Schmid, A.A. Die Buchmalerei des XVI Jahrhunderts in der Schweiz, Olten, 1954.

Thesaurus historiae Helveticae continens lectissimos scriptores..., Tiguri, 1735 [including, pp. 1-30, Henrici Loriti Glareani Descriptio Helvetiae nec non Panegyricon XIII. Helvetiae Partium, cum commentariis Oswaldi Myconii].

Online resources

On Henricus Glareanus

Copies in Basel, Universitätsbibliothek

On Osvaldus Myconius, including examples of his annotated copy of Erasmus, In Praise of Folly: