Vita Reginaldi Poli.

Venice, Domenico & Giovanni Battista Guerra, 1563.


FIRST EDITION. 4to, ff. 48. Roman letter; printer’s device on title, a few historiated initials; occasional light foxing to fore-edge, light dust-soiling to upper margins in final two gatherings, very small inked number to blank outer margin of title, another stamped on blank lower margin of next. A very good copy in seventeenth-century Italian vellum; morocco title label and later shelfmark on spine, small modern paper label pasted on front; a. e. g.; contemporary marginal annotation on A4; autograph of W. H. Burns ‘Clayton Hall, Manchster, 1881’ on front pastedown and his annotation on front endpaper recto.

First edition of an important life of the champion of English Catholicism, Cardinal Reginald Pole (1500-1558) by a distinguished friend and contemporary. Ludovico Beccadelli (1502-1572) was a prominent Italian prelate and humanist on close terms with Pietro Bembo, Giovanni Della Casa, Gasparo Contarini and Paolo Manuzio. His numerous letters and writings, mainly biographies of his friends and patrons, were largely published posthumously. Beccadelli was particularly attached to Reginald Pole, an exiled relative of Henry VIII. Pole resided in Italy for most of his life and there formed a circle of noblemen and prelates (the so-called Ecclesia Viterbiensis), where Juan de Valdés’s spiritual belief in the centrality of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s grace for salvation was passed on. The informal group was regarded by part of the Roman Curia as a handful of heretics and Protestant sympathisers. Following the opening of the Council of Trent, the failed election in the 1549 conclave and the rising power of the Roman Inquisition, Pole was sent to England as papal legate and archbishop of Canterbury to support Mary I’s Catholic restoration. The two died the same day one after the other in November 1559. Originally drafted in Italian, Beccadelli’s encomiastic life was translated into Latin by Andràs Dudith (1533-1589), gifted Hungarian scholar, Catholic bishop and later radical Protestant adherent with marked sympathies for Socinianism. Dudith dedicated the book to Emperor Ferdinand I.

BM STC It., 77; Adams, B 434.



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