The History of the World. In Five Bookes. 1. Intreating of the Beginning and first Ages of the same from the Creation unto Abraham. 2. Of the Times from the Birth of Abraham, to the destruction of the Temple of Salomon. 3. From the destruction of Jerusalem, to the time of Philip of Macedon. 4. From the Reigne of Philip of Macedon, to the establishing of that Kingdome, in the Race of Antigonus. 5. From the setled rule of Alexanders successors in the East, untill the Romans (prevailing over all) made Conquest of Asia and Macedon - Sir Walter Raleigh, John Shirley 1621 - Printed by William Iaggard for Walter Burre, London - Third Edition Third folio in a 17th century full calf binding, illustrated with the memorable engraved allegorical frontispiece, engraved portrait of Raleigh, six double page engraved maps, two double page engraved battle plans, two in-text schematics, twenty-six pages of chronological tables.

‘Among the noblest of literary enterprises. Throughout it breathes a serious moral purpose. It illustrates the sureness with which ruin overtakes "great conquerors and other troublers of the world" who neglect law, whether human or divine, and it appropriately closes with an apostrophe to death of rarely paralleled sublimity.’

‘Too Saucy in Censuring Princes’ - King James on confiscating all unsold copies and suppressing further sales, several months after publication.

Written whilst imprisoned in the Tower of London from 1603 to 1616 and intended to outline historical events from creation to modern times, drawing on the Bible, Greek mythology, and other sources. Raleigh dedicated it to the young Prince Henry, his patron and supporter who was trying to secure his release from prison. The prince's death in 1612 discouraged Raleigh, and the book ends abruptly with the second Macedonian War instead of continuing through two more volumes as originally intended. Raleigh was released from the Tower in 1616 to lead one final expedition to South America, but his men attacked a Spanish outpost and he was executed upon his return in 1618.

‘The History of the World was intended to outline historical events from creation to modern times, drawing on the Bible, Greek mythology, and other sources. ‘Apart from numerous abridgements, it ran through ten folio editions between 1614 and 1687… Its author was listened to, not so much because he was a scholar (which he certainly was by contemporary standards of scholarship), as because he embodied all the glories of the reign of Elizabeth I, which at the time of publication had already begun to be transfigured into a golden age’ -
Printing and the Mind of Man.
  ‘The success of Raleigh’s History can perhaps be explained by the very fact that it is not a work of history in the academic sense but a political tract of immediate applicability. Its author embodied all the glories of the reign of Elizabeth I, which at the time of publication had already begun to be transfigured into a golden age Raleigh can be taken as the epitome of the Elizabethan idea of courtier and politician, sailor and explorer, writer and poet He was among the first Englishmen to envisage clearly that the Americas should be the principal goal of English overseas expansion The reversal of Elizabeth’s policy by James I encompassed Raleigh’s ruin He finally fell a victim to James’s pro-Spanish inclinations, and the last Elizabethan died by the executioner’s axe.

The History of the World was intended to outline historical events from creation to modern times, drawing on the Bible, Greek mythology, and other sources. ‘Apart from numerous abridgements, it ran through ten folio editions between 1614 and 1687… Its author was listened to, not so much because he was a scholar (which he certainly was by contemporary standards of scholarship), as because he embodied all the glories of the reign of Elizabeth I, which at the time of publication had already begun to be transfigured into a golden age’ - Printing and the Mind of Man.

Given the precarious political situation and restrictions on writing about contemporary history, many writers at the time used ancient history as a way to covertly discuss present-day issues. Although ostensibly a recounting of historical facts, Raleigh's work also included commentary that was construed by King James to be critical of the present court. Several months after publication, King James ordered further sales of the book suppressed and all unsold copies to be confiscated "for divers exceptions, but especially for being too saucy in censuring Princes." Raleigh was released from the Tower in 1616 to lead one final expedition to South America, but his men attacked a Spanish outpost and he was executed upon his return to England in 1618.

‘The design and style of Raleigh's History of the World are instinct with a magnanimity which places the book among the noblest of literary enterprises. Throughout it breathes a serious moral purpose. It illustrates the sureness with which ruin overtakes "great conquerors and other troublers of the world" who neglect law, whether human or divine, and it appropriately closes with an apostrophe to death of rarely paralleled sublimity.’ - DNB.

Reference: Brushfield,
A Bibliography of Sir Walter Ralegh Knt (Second Edition 1908) 223J. Printing and the Mind of Man 117. ESTC R33510.

Provenance: George Holles (1576-1626) with his signature dated 1624, probably Sir George Holles, whose monument can be found in Westminster Abbey. Later of Thomas Beale Cooper Esq. With his armourial bookplate (
Frango dura Patientia).

Folio (binding size 34.7x24cm). Note on pagination - there are various examples of incorrect numbering, but text is complete. and flows correctly.
pp. [5] [1 (
The Mind of the Front)] [1 (illustrated title page dated 1614)] [1] [1 (Title with portrait, partially laid down on separate sheet)] [1] [32 (The Preface)] [27 (Contents of the chapters)] [1]; The First Book 1-184; The Second Book 181-555; The Third Book [1 (First page without number)] 1-129; The Fourth Book 130-260; The Fifth Book 261-510, 515-669 [1]; [2 (To the READER)] [26 A Chronological Table][26 (Index)].

Incorrectly numbered pages - Second Book page 323 (numbered 327), Fourth Book page 185 (numbered 149 or 119?), Fifth book pages 471 (numbered 463), 473 (numbered 437), and 497 (numbered 580),

Maps (double page) First Book 56, 108, 152; Second Book 218, 350; Fifth Book 270 (with two smaller insets). Battle Plans (double page) - Fifth Book 386, 388. Diagrams - First Book (3/4 page) 78, Second Book 380.
  Contemporary full calf, later rebacked spine, lettered and decorated in gilt, burgundy morocco title label lettered in gilt, boards with twin filet borders in blind.   Condition: Very good, some toning to first and last few pages, title page rebacked, one or two spots of soiling, in very good binding, spine rebacked at some point, small areas of restoration to corners and spine ends, recent title label.   Ref: 109733   Price: HK$ 23,000