Leiden: Theodroe Haak, 1726. Reynier Blokhuysen. 12mo, pp. , 429,; ,430-910; p. 911-1350. Three volumes. Portrait of Agrippa by Reynier Blokhuysen, engraved emblematic frontispiece, title-page printed in red and black. Bound in contemporary mottled calf, spine titles in red morocco, slight chipping at head of first volume, dealer book labels, a fine copy. Caillet 92; Ferguson, Glasgow 12; Cioranescu 32961; Guaita 4; Gay/Lemonnyer I, 833; Mayer 225:55; see Erdmann 26 for the 1544 edition. Item #30400
Agrippa (1486-1534/8) began his career as a secretary and soldier under Emperor Maximilian. He was also a physican to the mother of Francis I and a professor at European Universities. "Originally published in 1529, the Declamation on the Preeminence and Nobility of the Female Sex argues that women are more than equal to men in all things that really matter, including the public spheres from which they had long been excluded. Rather than directly refuting prevailing wisdom, Agrippa uses women's superiority as a rhetorical device and overturns the misogynistic interpretations of the female body in Greek medicine, in the Bible, in Roman and canon law, in theology and moral philosophy, and in politics. He raised the question of why women were excluded and provided answers based not on sex but on social conditioning, education, and the prejudices of their more powerful oppressors." Indeed, Stenton (p. 127) calls this "the first modern treatise designed to prove the excellence of the female sex ..." Erdmann quotes Wood: "By presenting the extreme notion that women are superior to men, Agrippa seriously undermined established notions about the relationship between the sexes. While it would be anachronistic to attribute twentieth-century views to a sixteenth century scholar, Agrippa's strong support of women and his belief in their inherent abilities make him a kindred spirit of those in our era who continue to struggle against forces that suppress women" This was first published, in Latin,in 1529 and translated into English in 1542. "His work became a classic quoted by seventeenth-century English writers in behalf of women ... Agrippa's treatise has been described as `a monument of varied learning.'"
Agrippa "was to a large extent a dabbler and trifler who did not adhere to any given interest for long, just as he did not stay in any one place. Except that always he kept coming back to occult science. Even in De incertitudine he gives information and reveals his knowledge of the field of occult science, devoting a score of its 85 chapters to occult arts and listing past writers on such subjects as chiromancy and natural science," -Thorndike V, 133.