Historia ecclesiastica, de martyrio fratrum ordinis minorum divi Francisci, de observantia, qui partim in Anglia sub Henrico iix. Rege, partim in belgio sub principe auriaco, partim et in hybernia tempore Elizabethae regnantis reginae, passi sunt

Ingolstadt, Wolfgang Eder, 1583


Historia pasionis novorum in Germaniae inferioris provincia Constantissimorum martyrum ordinis sancti Francisci ex observantia

Ingolstadt, Wolfgang Eder, 1582


FIRST EDITION of the second. 12mo. two works in one ff. [x] 178 [ii] : pp. 95 [i]. Roman and Italic letter. Woodcut printer’s device on first t-p, small woodcut initials, woodcut and typographical ornaments, “Hic liber est B. Fratris Balthasari heillingmaris in obernaltach” in early hand on pastedown, “Monasterii obernaltain” on t-p. Light age yellowing, cropped a little close at outer margin shaving side notes in places, light occasional waterstaining, round library stamp to t-p. A very good copy in a charming South German? binding of half calf over boards using ms leaf from a C15th Bible [Mathew 21:15 on lower cover], calf blind ruled with decorative scroll, spine with blind ruled raised bands, headband worn, a little rubbed, small hole in lower cover edges blue.

Very rare first edition of Florens van Leiden’s work on Catholic martyrs in Belgium bound with the second edition, published a year after the first, of Thomas Bourchier’s description of Catholic Martyrs under Henry VIII and under Elisabeth I.

“Bourchier was probably educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, but there is no record of his having graduated in that university. When Queen Mary attempted to re-establish the friars in England, Bourchier became a member of the new convent at Greenwich; but on the queen’s death he left the country. After spending some years in Paris, where the theological faculty of the Sorbonne conferred on him the degree of doctor, he travelled to Rome. He at first joined the convent of the Reformed Franciscans at the church of S. Maria di Ara Coeli, and taught at Genoa and Turin. Subsequently he became penitentiary in the church of S. Giovanni in Laterano, where John Pits, his biographer, speaks of having sometimes seen him. Bourchier died, according to Pits, at Rome about 1586. He wrote several books, but the only one that survives is the Historia Ecclesiastica de Martyrio Fratrum Ordinis …The preface is dated from Paris, 1 January 1582. Other editions were brought out at Ingolstadt in 1583 and 1584, Paris in 1586, and at Cologne in 1628.” DNB.

The work is an important record of events in England and Ireland and one of the best counter-reformation memorials of those who had suffered for their faith. “In 1582 and English friar, Thomas Bourchier, included in his lengthy history of the sufferings of his fellow Franciscans the story of two Irish martyrs, Patrick Hely, Bishop of Mayo, and his companion Con O’Rouke, killed in 1578. Bourchier’s account both conformed to the general pattern of Counter-Reformation martyr stories, and provided a model for subsequent Irish martyrologists. Caught on their return to Ireland from the continent, betrayed to the English authorities by the countess of Desmond, Hely and O’Rouke were first imprisoned for several months, then taken before Sir William Drury, president of Munster, ‘a savage persecutor of Catholics’  .. when pressed to acknowledge the Royal supremacy they rejected the Reformation legislation” Ian McBride. ‘History and Memory in Modern Ireland’. Bourchier’s description of their torture, execution and the subsequent miracles reported after their death form an important record and set a template for subsequent accounts of Protestant persecution such as that by Verstegan.

The monastery of Obernaltach is situated close to Salzburg which is probably where the charming binding was made for this work, which has all the attributes of South German bindings of the period. Very good copies of these rare works.

  1. BM STC C16th Ger. p. 142. USTC 662549. Allison & Rogers ‘Contemporary Printed Literature of the English Counter-Reformation’ I 107
  2. USTC 663404


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