With a prognostication for 1496 by Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhi

[Carolus VIII]. [Descriptio apparatus bellici Caroli regis Franciae intrantis Italiae civitates]. Descriptio apparatus bellici regis Francie Karoli, intrantis Italie civitates Florentiam ac deinde Romam dum exercitum duceret contra regem Neapolitanum pro recuperando regno Sicilie, et contra Thurcos infestissimos christianitatis inimicos.

[Cologne, Johann Koelhoff the Younger, ca. 1495].

4to (146 x 200 mm). 12 pp. (a-b6). With full-page title woodcut, repeated on final page. Rubricated throughout. Early 19th century light brown half calf with gilt spine and red morocco spine label.


A pretty and rare German incunable comprising eleven short pieces. The first, from which the work takes its title, provides a detailed list of the troops forming the army of King Charles VIII of France (the Affable), with the names of the respective commanders. It does not appear to have been published in French before the edition produced by Edmond Martène and Ursin Durand in their 1724 "Voyage littéraire de deux religieux benedictins", based on a manuscript they believed to be unpublished.

The following pieces reproduce in Latin, in full or abridgement, various documents that had recently appeared in French. Only the last piece was probably composed in Germany: entitled "Pronosticum ad annum futurum", it is a prognostication for the year 1496, attributed to the eighth-century Muslim astronomer Albumasar (Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhi).

The title woodcut (repeated on the verso of the last leaf) shows King Charles on his throne, with two men-at-arms at his sides.

Extremely rare: no other copy in auction records; ISTC cites only nine copies (one of which is incomplete) in international research libraries, including two in France and two in the United States.


18th century ownership rhyme by Johann Halenza of Niederlahnstein (near Koblenz) to an early flyleaf at the end of the volume, preserved at rebinding: "Johanneß Halentza bin ich genand, In nieder Lanstein ist mein Vater Landt".

Later in the library of the Belgian Count Louis-Joseph de Renesse (1797-1863), who probably was responsible for the rebinding, with his French annotations on the front flyleaf. These are followed by further French annotations in a different hand, attributing the preceding lines to the "comte de Renesse".

Acquired in the French trade.


Old repairs in the margins of the title-page and the last leaf. Slight traces of worming to final three leaves, repaired with minimal loss to text. A faint dampstain to upper margin of fol. b2. In the final woodcut, the faces of both royal retainers are touched with grey, probably by the book's 18th century owner.


Goff C-214. GW, M16181. CR 1465. Schreiber 4439. CIBN D-76. ISTC ic00214000. Brunet, II, 614. Picot-Rothschild 2653. Not in Hain.