Summa casuum conscientiae.

Venice, Paganino Paganini, 1499.


8vo., ff. (14), 479 (i.e. 476), (+)2, a12, aa-zz12, aa-zz16, &&16, 7716, 4416, AA-CC16, DD12. Gothic letter, double column, 49 lines; edges a bit dust-soiled, occasional small light damp stain to gutter, clean tiny tear to outer lower corner of 17 and 479 (i.e. 476), loosening title. An extremely good copy, unwashed and well-margined, in contemporary Rhineland German brown calf over wooden boards, blind-tooled with diaper panel with stamps of rose, lily and monogram ‘Ihs’ as well as smaller decorative floral medallions, resembling the style of a workshop based in Münster (Einbanddatenbank, w001463); spine in four compartments, original bronze clasps; slightly scuffed, loss to joints and spine; contemporary red and blue rubrication with touch of yellow, red underlining and manicula throughout; contemporary small vellum labels attached on fore-edge margins marking alphabetical progression; contemporary German purchase note on title and two early sixteenth-century [French?] ex libris of three priests, pastedowns and endpapers from folded manuscript on vellum with Litany of Saints from mid-thirteenth-century Breviary, possibly Flemish, elegantly and neatly rubricated in red and blue, additional later vellum leaf attached after front pastedown with contemporary manuscript annotation in Germanic hand, including initials ‘NKFS’; front pastedown detached from board with minor loss; ex libris 1712 of the library of the Premonstratensian Abbey of Saint-Josse de Dommartin (Pas-de-Calais) on verso of additional vellum leaf, front endpaper verso and final verso.

Early and second octavo edition of this famous manual for confessors, first published in Novi Ligure in 1484 and expanded by the author four years later. Battista Travamala, died 1496, was a Franciscan friar from Salo, in Liguria, from which he took the alternative name de Salis. His most influential work was this Summa casuum, also known as Summa Baptistiana, Rosella casuum or Summa Rosella, completed in 1483 in the convent of Levanto. It encountered immediate success.

Following the deliberations of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, a large number of manuals on penance appeared, to enhance priests’ intellectual preparation and instruct them on how to be prudent confessors. These handbooks discuss in detail the foundation of moral theology, presenting as questions (casus) numerous examples of correct application of canon law. This Summa adopted the alphabetical order of topics, in line with Bartholomeus de San Concordio, author of an earlier Summa. Relying on this and previous literature, Trovamala independently developed some important legal principles, such as those regarding invalidity of marriage in the case of false premises by one of the spouses.

This edition also provides a rare early example of pocket-size octavo pertaining neither to devotion or (as developed by Aldus two years later) classic literature. As the three owners’ inscriptions on title point out, this genre of books was meant to be used by clerics at any time in their daily work and thus needed to be easily transportable. One of the priests using this desirable copy even marked the beginning of alphabetical sections to recover information more quickly.

ISTC, is00050000; BMC, V, 460; GW, 3326 (+ Accurti, II, 70); Goff, S-50; Hain, 14186; Graesse, VI, 233.


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