Europae Speculum. Or, A vievv or survey of the state of religion in the vvestern parts of the world…never before till now published according to the authours originall copie

The Hague, [printed for Michael Sparke, London], 1629


4to. pp [vi] 248, quires O and S inverted. Roman letter, some Gothic and Greek. Small woodcut device on t-p, woodcut initials and typographical headpieces throughout. Joseph Mendham’s early 19th-century ms annotations on t-p, paper insert before t-p in same hand giving bibliographic details, occasional pencil ms annotations throughout. T-p slightly dusty, light age yellowing to some pages, verso of last fractionally dusty. A good, unsophisticated copy, well margined, in contemporary limp English vellum, remains of ties, ms title to spine.

First unauthorised and complete edition of Sir Edwin Sandys’ (1561-1629) seminal, and potentially inflammatory, work on the state of Christianity in Europe. The result of a three-year tour around the continent, undertaken with Sandys’ companion George Cranmer in 1593, the Europae Speculum professes to examine the condition of the Reformed Churches of mainland Europe, possibly with a view to suggesting some form of re-unification; in fact, Sandys never reaches the topic in this work, but dedicates nearly three quarters of the book to detailed description and analysis of Roman Catholicism, ‘enumerating their beliefs, practices, government, and the means used to increase power, frequently finding merit in their customs and ideas while disapproving of the way in which these were put into practice’, Mary Ellen Henley, Sir Edwin Sandy’s Europae Speculum: a critical edition. Sandys writes that the French Catholics were most ripe for a reunification with Protestantism; he believed that Italy would first have to abandon its predilection for popery and that Spain, a lost cause, should be left to the Jews and the Moors. ‘In his book, Sandys…avoided polemics, seeking not sectarian victory but a church that could, by transcending sectarianism, reunite Christendom.’ Henley. The work first appeared in 1599, in a number of manuscript copies; it was pirated anonymously in June 1605 without Sandys’ consent. The Gunpowder Plot of November that same year created strong anti-Catholic feeling in England; in response, the High Commission ordered that copies of the Europae Speculum be burnt, possibly at Sandys’ own request. However, three editions were still produced. The work proved popular in Europe: Paolo Sarpi, ‘that great Catholic supporter of Protestantism’, whom Sandys had met on his tour, translated it into Italian, and Hugo Grotius, ‘that great Protestant supporter of Catholicism’ (Trevor-Roper), read it in the French translation. Sandys died in October 1629, and it is unclear what hand he had in the production of this edition, much expanded from the 1605; his name does not appear on the title page, but does on ¶2. The author of its anonymous introduction claims that the 1605 was ‘but a spurious stolen Copie,,,throughout most shamefully falsified & false printed’, and that the present edition is printed from ‘a perfect Copie, verbatim transcribed from the Authours original”. It was certainly some seventy pages longer.

Sir Edwin Sandys, second son of the Archbishop of York of the same name, had a long and successful career in British politics; he became an MP in 1589, holding various seats in parliament until three years before his death. He was knighted in 1603, and became High Sheriff of Kent in 1615. He is, however best remembered for his involvement in the Virginia Company; he was instrumental in the establishment of Jamestown, lent money interest-free to the Pilgrim Fathers and believed passionately in the creation of a permanent British colony in North America.

Joseph Mendham (1769-1856) was an English clergyman who studied in great depth controversies between Catholicism and Protestantism, amassing a large theological library.

STC 21718; Lowndes only has the 1639 edition (VI, 2189). Alden 629/53. There are several references to the Spanish colonies in the Americas.


Print This Item Print This Item