Title: Rerum Moscoviticarum Commentarij Sigismundi Liberi Baronis in Herberstain, Neyperg, & Guettenhag: Quibus Russiae ac Metropolis eius Moscouiae descriptio, Chorographicae tabulae, Religionis indicatio, Modus excipiendi & tractandi oratores, Itineraria in Moscouiam duo, & alia quaedam continentur. His nunc primum accedunt, Scriptum recens de Graecorum fide, quos in omnibus Moscorum natio sequitur: et Commentarius de Bellis Moscorum adversus finitimos, Polonos, Lituanos, Suedos, Liuonios, & alios gestis.ad annum usque LXXI, scriptus ab Ioanne Leuuenclatio.
Title in English: Commentary on Muscovite Affairs by Sigismund, Free Lord of Herberstein, Neipperg, and Guetenhag: Including the Descriptions of Russia and its Capital Moscow, Chronographical Tables, Evaluation of the Religion, a Method of Restraining and Appealing to Orators, Two Descriptions of Travels to Moscow, and Other Matters. Added to These is a New Work on the Faith of Greeks which the Nation of Muscovites Follow: and a Commentary on the Muscovites’ Wars Against Their Neighbours, Poles, Lithuanians, Swedes, Livonians, and Others up to the Year 71, Written by Ivan Lewenclatius.
Published: Basel, Oporiniana, 1571.
Format: Folio. (32,5x22 cm.). (12),227 pp. (18) pp. Index and (1) pp. Printers woodcut device on titlepage. 6 full-page woodcut illustrations (among these the "Aurochs" and the Bison). and 1 halfpage and with 3 double-page engraved maps: 1. Plan of Moscow (Moscovia, qvatenus Moenibus...2. Map of Russia and its rivers...with illustrative pictorial borders..3. Map of Russia (Moscovia Sigismundi liberi...M.D XLIX).
Binding: contemporary full well-preserved vellum.
Ex libris: EX-LIBRIS / C.A.A.W.
Scarce third edition. The first edition was published in Wien 1549 and an enlaged edition was published by Oporinus in Basel in 1556. The offered item is a reissue of this edition, also published by Oporinus. The work constitutes the earliest account of Russia, its history, geography, customs etc. and at the same time it is the first ethnography of Russia by an eyewitness. When the title mentions "Moscovy" the name refers to the state of Russia as it was in the 16th Century. Heberstein's maps of Russia and Moscow belongs to the earliest map of the area, the source of the Moscow map in Braun & Hogenberg is the map found here, and the map "Moscovia Sigismundi liberi..." was widely used in the cartographic literature of that time and served as basis for numerous maps of Russia. Herberstein is sometimes called the "Discoverer of Russia". A full page in woodcut shows, what is probably the first illustration of the extinct "Aurochs". Also the European Bison is depicted on a full page in woodcut.
"Not the least important feature of the work of Herberstein is the application of the name aurochs to the wild ox, as distinct from the bison. The locality where aurochs survived in H's time was the forest of Jaktowowka, situated ab. 55 kilometers west-south-west of Warsaw...From other evidence it apperas that the last aurochs was killed in this forest in the year 1627. Herberstein describes the colour of the aurochs as black, and this is confirmed by another old picture of the animal. Gesner's figure of the aurochs, or as he calls it "thur", given in his icones to his History of Animals, was probably adopted from Herberstein's." (Online Encyclopedia).
"Herberstein was an Austrian diplomat who was twice sent to Russia as Austrian ambassador, in 1517 and 1526. Born in Vipava (German Wippach), Slovenia, he was familiar with Slovene, a Slavic language, which became important later on his mission in Russia, when he was able to communicate with ordinary Russians in Russian, another Slavic language. These visits occurred at a time when very little was known about Russia outside the region. The few published descriptions of Russia were in some cases wildly inaccurate." (Wikipedia).
Reference: Brunet III, 108 (listing other editions) - Graesse III, p. 245. - Nordenskiold "Facsimile-Atlas", p. 113 ff.
The main English source of information on Rerum Moscoviticarum Commentarii and Herberstein is Marshall Poe's publications, particularly Herberstein and Origin of the European Image of Muscovite Government, which cites many other contemporary publications such as Giorgio, Fabri and Campense.