During the last year I developed a friendship with an over 400-year-old French book named “les plus excellents bastiments de france.
When we first started this task, I was lucky to find my book in the central library of the university in Zurich. After making an appointment to look into the book I went there and could read the book in the library.
The first impression the book made was quite special to me. The librarian came to my desk carrying this enormous book wrapped in leather. It was the first time I held a book this old in my hands. It made me wonder what this book must have lived through. Its proportions are fairly big, but I really enjoyed looking at it. The book is separated in two segments. On the first twenty pages all the buildings illustrated in the second part of the book are being described in fairly short terms. Each building gets more or less one page. After the introducing texts in the beginning the described buildings are displayed on the following pages. The illustrations contain elevation drawings, floor plans, detailed drawings etc. of fifteen French buildings.
As it was written in old French it was quite hard to understand anything that was written in there. The illustrations, however, really amazed me. They were not colorized but very detailed and precise which made me wonder how that was even possible back then.
I only found one republication in the 90s but not any older ones. Which I thought was pretty strange. I didn’t find any translations either.
In conclusion it was a very interesting experience for me. It was also very exciting to get in touch with the history and help to spread the gathered information with the world and hopefully with the generations to come.