MANUEL (King of Portugal).


Epistola potentissimi
ac invictissimi Emanuelis Regis Portugaliae & Algarbiorum, &c. De victoriis habitis in India & Malacha, ad Leonem X Pont. Maximum.
Rome, Jacob Mazochius, 9th August, 1513.

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Rare. The highly important letter from King Manuel to Pope Leo X, announcing the capture of Malacca by Albuquerque, a victory which gave Portugal control of the trade routes to South-east Asia, and thus access to the wealth of the Spice Islands and the sea route to China.

Our copy appears to be from an unrecorded edition. It has the same colophon as the first edition but is printed in smaller type on two, rather than six, leaves. It is possibly a pirate edition from the same time. Later editions appeared in Vienna and Stassbourg.

After the capture of Malacca by the Portuguese under Albuquerque in 1511 (which became known in Europe in 1513), King Manuel dispatched letters to Rome informing the Papacy of Portugal’s progress. This mattered greatly to Manuel as there was a perceived need to settle the question of demarcation between Spain and Portugal in this area which was important for control of the Spice Islands.

Pope Leo X, newly elected that Spring, was the son of Lorenzo the Magnificent and effectively the leading Medici and ruler of Florence, who represented the traditional favourable disposition to Portugal of Florentine merchants. In addition, Portugal had a good record in defeating Muslims and thus advancing Christianity. It was no surprise therefore that public celebrations of thanksgiving were held in Rome shortly after news of Albuquerque’s victory in Malacca was announced.


Small 4to (20 x 14.5 cm), 4pp., modern full morocco gilt, a fine example.


Lach I, 166-167; Streit IV, 380-382.


Stock ID: 97381