Historiæ ecclesiasticæ gentis Anglorum libri V. ..

Cambridge, ex officina Rogeri Daniel, celeberrimæ Academiæ typographi, 1644.


FIRST EDITION thus. Three works in one. Folio. pp. [xx], 463, 468-490, 487-570, [xxii], 152, [ii], 153-158, 157-226, [x]. Double page engraved map. A⁴(-A1;+pi²,2pi1), B-3S⁴,3T⁴(±3T3), 3V-4E⁴, 4F²; ²[par.]⁶, A-2C⁴, 2D-2E⁶, 2G⁴. “Leaf 3T3 cancelled and replaced with separate dated title page “Chronologia Anglo-Saxonica elegans et perantiqua”, with imprint “ex officina Rogeri Daniel”. Archaionomia, sive De priscis Anglorum legibus libri … Gulielmo Lambardo interprete.” has separate dated title page, pagination and register. A reissue, with reset title page, of Wing A3605.” ESTC. Roman and Saxon letter in double column, some Italic. First title in red and black, second and third with small woodcut printer’s device, fine floriated woodcut initials, grotesque head and tail-pieces, autograph of Robert Shafto at head of t-p, engraved armorial bookplate of ‘Robert Shafto of Benwell esq.” on pastedown, engraved armorial bookplate of William Adair esq. on rear pastedown. Light age yellowing, light waterstain towards upper margin on last few leaves, very minor marginal dust soiling in places. A very good copy, crisp and clean in handsome contemporary calf, covers bordered with a double blind rule, spine, well rebacked with original spine laid down, raised bands, double blind ruled in compartments, later red morocco label gilt, stubbs from a vellum leaf, corners restored, a little rubbed and scratched.

First edition, second issue, of the Old English text of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, the chief source for English history from the arrival of St. Augustine in Kent in 597 until 731; a reissue of the first edition with a cancel title page and the addition of a third work, William Lambarde’s pioneering edition of Anglo Saxon laws and customs. here with the Anglo-Saxon texts. The work also contains the editio princeps of the Anglo Saxon Chronicle. Bede was one of the greatest scholars of the Anglo-Saxon period. He produced a large number of works on subjects as varied as science, music, poetry and biblical commentary, but he is most famous for his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, one of our best-written sources for early English history. Bede is sometimes regarded as the father of English history and is most famous for his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, which was completed in 731 when he was around 59 years old. This work was modelled on the Ecclesiastical History by the Greek historian Eusebius of Caesarea (d. 339/340), and it tells the story of the establishment and spread of Christianity in England and the emergence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. It survives in some 150 manuscripts. Different versions suggest that the work was circulated while Bede was still alive, such was its popularity. The Old English version of Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis anglorum is one of the earliest and most substantial surviving works of Old English prose. Translated anonymously around the end of the ninth or beginning of the tenth century, the text, which is shorter than Bede’s original, was well known and actively used in medieval England, and was highly influential.

Abraham Wheelock produced the editio princeps of the Old English version of Bede’s  Ecclesiastical History of the English People and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (1643–4). In the same work he published an important edition – and the first in England – of  Bede’s  Ecclesiastical History in its original Latin text opposite the Old English version, along with Anglo-Saxon laws. Many of the notes in this edition consist of the Old English homilies of  Aelfric of Eynsham, which Wheelock translated himself into Latin. In the following year another, enlarged issue came out which also included an updated version of William Lambarde’s legal text “Archaionomia.” This text was likely a collaboration between Wheelock and his friend Sir Roger Twysden. The editio princeps of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was based mainly on the Cotton manuscript, and is the chief source of our knowledge of that MS. which perished, all but three leaves, in the Cottonian fire of 1723. 

Robert Shafto (circa 1732 – 24 November 1797) was British politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1760 and 1790. He was the likely subject of a famous North East English folk song and  nursery rhyme “Bobby Shafto’s Gone to Sea”

Wing B1662 and A3605; ESTC R11643