Paris, chez Denys Bechet, 1666.
8vo [179 x 113 mm], (1) bl.l., (6) ll., 1 folding map, 245 pp., (3) pp., (1) bl.l. Bound in contemporary brown granite-like calf, spine ribbed and decorated, mottled edges. Contemporary binding.
Rare first edition of the first French book ever published about Siam. Cordier, Bibliotheca Sinica, 827-828; Brunet, I 1179.
“The first contacts between France of Louis XIV and Siam of Phra Naraï go back to the years 1660s, when some vicar apostolic and some ecclesiastics of the young foreign missions of Paris came to Ayutthaya, the capital of the Kingdom of Siam. Jacques de Bourges belonged to the first group of missionaries which arrived at Ayutthaya in 1662. He is the author of the first French book ever published about Siam, the Relation du voyage de Monseigneur l’évêque de Beryte […] jusqu’au Royaume de Siam, published in Paris in 1666. It is a traditional travel report that gives an account of the mainly ground journey into Siam (the adventure) and a systematic description of this Kingdom (the inventory).”
“Monseigneur Lambert de La Motte and the apostolic missionaries Jacques de Bourges and François Deydier embarked for Alexandrette in Marseille in November 1660. That’s where they began the journey which would take them through Aleppo, Baghdad, Basrah and Isphahan to Bandar Abbas. They would cross the Indian subcontinent up to Masulipatam on the Coromandel Coast. After an extremely tiring journey of 21 months they arrived in Ayuthia, the capital of the Kingdom of Siam, in August 1662. This memorable journey is well-known to us thanks to the Relation du voyage de Monseigneur l’évêque de Beryte Vicaire apostolique du royaume de la Cochinchine, Par la Turquie, la Perse, les Indes, &c. jusqu’au Royaume de Siam & autres lieux, par M. de Bourges (Denys Bechet, Paris 1666, republished in 1668 and 1683). Twenty years before the Siamese style came into vogue (in 1685-1688), the Relation of Jacques de Bourges gives us the first French report and description of Siam at the beginning of the reign of Somdet Phra Naraï, who will seek the friendship of Louis XIV.” (De branche en branche. Etudes sur le XVIIe et le XVIIIe siècle français. Dirk Van der Cruysse). THE PRESENT WORK IS ILLUSTRATED WITH A FOLDING MAP engraved by Du Val RETRACING THE ROUTE OF THE FRENCH MISSIONARIES FROM PARIS TO SIAM.
A WIDE-MARGINED COPY PRESERVED IN ITS CONTEMPORARY BINDING OF THIS INTERESTING TRAVEL REPORT OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE FOR THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIAM IN THE 17TH CENTURY.
No copy of this rare original edition is recorded in ABPC since 1989.