ON CHRIST’S HUMANITY AND DIVINITY
Chimaera, sive de Stancari funesta regno Poloniae secta.
[Cracow], n. pr., 1562.
FIRST EDITION. 4to. ff. (viii) 104 (vi). Roman and Italic letter, woodcut initials, title page with woodcut device of the Orzechowski coat of arms, fold-out depiction of “The Christian Soldier” after title page (commonly missing), full page woodcut arms of Poland. Age yellowing, title page with small oil stain, light damp stains to margins of first few gatherings. Contemporary manuscript ex libris “Jacobi Harkowich(?)” and later “Inscriptius Catalog. Libr. Domus Jarosl. Soc. Jesu ad B. V. 1653” on title page, faded library stamp to fly, C19th shelf mark, blind bookplate “Bachem” to pastedown. A good, clean, well-margined copy in C18 blue paper boards, calf edges and spine, spine ruled and gilt with floral stamp in four compartments, cracking and with some loss to lower joint, all edges speckled red.
A popular work of criticism on the heresy of Francesco Stancari, dedicated to participants in the Council of Trent, and including introductory poems in praise of the author by Albert Vendrogovi, Laurence Gosliczki, Demetri Solikowski, Gregori Macer, and Jacob Vandrovece. Stancaro, from Mantua, taught that Christ saved man through human nature, not divine, and was excommunicated in 1559. Orzechowski calls his book the ‘Chimaera’ because ‘the Stancaro heresy roars like a lion, injures like a dragon, and smells like a goat.’
At least in its Polish context he is accurate: Stancaro’s beliefs were well known in Poland and resisted counter-reform more successfully than anything else at the time. Stancaro had been appointed to the University of Cracow in 1549 and imprisoned a year later as a Protestant, only to escape with help from fellow noblemen to live as the ‘wandering Italian theologian.’ He travelled throughout Transylvania, Hungary, and Poland, eventually settling in Dubiecko and founding the ‘Stancarist Reformed Synod,’ where he ran a school and seminary from 1560 – 61.
Orzechowski (1513 – 1566), was the youngest of son of a rich noble family, a Catholic priest and author of several books on religion and politics. In the introduction he repents his sins, and sends a profession of faith to the Vatican (A3), referring to his controversial ordination in 1541. At that time he expressed the intention to marry a woman, Anna of Brzozowa, so that he might produce an heir. After excommunication his case was appealed and investigated for 15 years, culminating in a speech Orzechowski delivered in 1550 that was so effective, it cleared his name and made him famous. His sentence was suspended in 1552, at which point he illegally married Magdalena Chemska, a noblewoman, with whom he had five children.
He was a strong supporter of the ‘Golden Liberty’ movement in Poland, unique in its time by favouring absolute authority in the hands of the aristocracy, even over the monarch. As a member of the nobility with powerful friends, he was untouchable. Although he petitioned the Council of Trent to recognize his marriage, the matter was never considered, but he remained in his estate and was allowed to celebrate Mass in his parish. Despite his condemnation of priestly celibacy and his possible connection with Protestantism as a young man, this diatribe against Stancaro complements the works Orzechowski wrote later in life in passionate support of the Counter-Reformation. A rare work outside of Germany and Poland: only one copy located in the UK (Scotland), and none recorded in the US.
Wierzbowski I. 229. Tinsley, Pierre Bayle’s Reformation , p. 286-8.