1. Charles Estienne [1504 - 1564] was the third son of Henri Estienne, founder of the most prominent Paris printing house of the sixteenth century, and uncle to Henri, the great philologist. Charles himself managed to run up a formidable record. Besides acquiring a Doctorate of Medicine at the Sorbonne and taking charge of the family press beginning in 1551, he published a number of volumes on a wide range of subjects. His principal works were Praedium Rusticum (1554), a collection of ancient agricultural tracts, the Dictionarium Historicum ac Poeticum (1553, the first French encyclopedia), the Thesaurus Ciceronianus (1557), and De Dissectione Partium Corporis Humani Libri Tres (1545), an anatomy text illustrated by memorably fine woodcuts. In addition he wrote a comedy, printed at Paris by Denis Janot for Pierre Roffet in 1540 (reprinted under the title Le Sacrifice in 1543, and again as Les Abusez in 1549). NOTE 1 Les Abusez was an adaptation of the Italian comedy Gl’ Ingannati (“The Deceived”), acted by gli Intronati da Siena (“The Academy of the Thunderstruck” in Siena) in 1531, and printed at Vinegia in the following year.
2. The text of Les Abusez merits inclusion in the Philological Museum, first, because it is undoubtedly the immediate source for the anonymous Cambridge comedy Laelia acted at Queens College on March 1, 1595, in the presence of the Earl of Essex and various other visiting noblemen. Much more importantly, in the Introduction to my edition of Laelia I have reviewed the oft-debated problem of the source of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which has been variously claimed to be Gl’ Ingannati, Les Abusez, Laelia, or one of the other vernacular plays based on Gl’Ingannati (such as Nicolò Secchi’s 1562 Gl’ Inganni and Lope de Rueda’s Los Engañados). Since no modern printed text of Les Abusez exists, Shakespearians will no doubt be glad of the opportunity to examine this play at first hand.
3. It has also been argued that Les Abusez is a crucial source for the Scottish comedy Philotus: see. J. Reid-Baxter, “Rich and rollicking or flat and unfocussed: Barnabe Riche's Phylotus contrasted with the Scottish Philotus,” in N. MacMillan and K. Stirling (edd.) Odd Alliances: Scottish Studies in European Contexts (University of Glasgow Postgraduate School of Scottish Studies No. 1, Glasgow 1999), 11 - 24 and “Philotus: the transmission of a delectable treatise,” in T. van Heijnsbergen and N. Royan (edd.), Literature, Letters and the Canonical in Early Modern Scotland (East Linton, 2002), 52 - 68.
3. The present text is a very lightly edited transcription of the 1549 version, since an online digitized photographic reproduction of that edition has been made available by the Bibliothèque Nationale here.
NOTE 1 I had originally thought that the 1543 reprint was the original publication. I am grateful to Dr. Stephen Rawles, Honorary Senior Research Fellow of the University of Glasgow for correcting this misapprehension.