FROM MATHEW SMITH OF BRAESNOSE

Henry VIII. Assertio septem sacramentorum adversus Martinum Lutherum.

London, In ædibus Pynsonianis. XVII. Kalendas Februarij. 1522. [with]

Baro, Peter. in Jonam prophetam prælectiones 39. (and) Contra Missae sacrificium.

London, Apud Joannem Dayum typographum, An. 1579, 78

£32,500

FIRST EDITION of second work. 4to. 1) 78 unnumbered leaves. a-s, t [t6 blank]. 2) pp. [xviii], 334; 18, [xviii]. *-2*, 3*1, A-Y, 2A-2S, 2T, 2[V]1; A, B, C-D. “tractatus contra Missæ sacrificium, & transubstantiationem papistarum.” (not in fact by Baro) has separate register, pagination, and title page dated 1578.” ESTC. Roman letter, Roman Italic and Hebrew in second. First title within a fine historiated woodcut border signed HH and copied from Holbein (McKerrow & Ferguson 8), beautiful white-on-black criblé woodcut initial of dragon, large woodcut printers device on second and third titles, with woodcut initials, head and tail-pieces, typographical ornaments, early autographs crossed out on first title, contemporary ex dono on last blank verso of first “Apud volumen ad Richardii Taylor capellanum ex donationem magistri Matheis Smith principali collegi de Brasnose attendit”, contemporary mss. notes, numbered references to portions of the text, on recto and verso, contemporary mss. annotations in several hands throughout first work, later autograph ‘Geo. Baillie’, on first title page his engraved armorial bookplate on pastedown, case marks on front pastedown and f.ep., “George Baillie esq. one of the lords of the Treasury George Baillie, 1724” (1644-1738) engraved by ‘R Cooper’. First title dusty at margins, very light waterstain on a few leaves, the rare mark or spot. Fine copies, crisp and clean with excellent margins in the first work, in early C17 reverse calf, (slight offset to 1st t-p fore-edge) covers bordered with a double blind rule, spine with raised bands, ruled in blind, red morocco label gilt, a.e.r. chipped at headband.

A fine copy of the second edition of Henry VIII’s important work refuting Luther beautifully printed by Pynson, with remarkable contemporary provenance; The work was given by Mathew Smith, the first principal of Brasenose College Oxford, to a chaplain and tutor at the college, Richard Taylor. “Matthew Smith, the last principal of Brasenose Hall, became the first principal of Brasenose College. In 1514 he was spoken of as ‘Principal of the College and Hall of Brasen Nose,’ and Sutton’s statutes referred to it under both titles” David Phillips ‘Teacher Education, the University and the Schools.’ The work contains many early annotations, giving insight into the reception of the text at Oxford in the first half of the C16th. It is bound with a slightly later work by the Huguenot exile, Peter Baro (1534-99) who was ordained in Geneva by Calvin himself. His views against the Puritan Lambeth Articles cost him his position as Lady Margaret’s Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. He was a forerunner of views, to be called Laudian, more common a generation later.

Henry’s ‘Defense of the Seven Sacraments’ against the challenge of Martin Luther was “one of the most successful pieces of Catholic polemics produced by the first generation of anti-Protestant writers,” Scarisbrick, ‘Henry VIII’, going through some twenty editions in the sixteenth century, and, as early as 1522, had appeared in two different German translations. One of Luther’s many pronouncements was that there were only two sacraments rather than the traditional seven. The ‘Defence’ was written by Henry probably with the assistance of Thomas More. The extent of More’s involvement with this project has been a point of contention since its publication. The work was also included in John Fisher’s works indicating he might also have had a hand in its production. Henry started to write  in 1519 while he was reading Martin Luther’s attack on indulgences. By June of that year, he had shown it to Thomas Wolsey, but it remained private until three years later, when the earlier manuscript became the first two chapters of the Assertio, the rest consisting of new material relating to Luther’s De Captivitate Babylonica. It was dedicated to Pope Leo X, who rewarded Henry with the title Fidei Defensor (Defender of the Faith) in October 1521, a title revoked following the king’s break with the Catholic Church in the 1530s, but re-awarded to his heir by the English Parliament, and still used by the monarch.

“‘The Babylonian Captivity of the Church’ was published by Melchiot Lotther in Wittenberg on October 6, 1520. Of the three great Reformation treatises which Luther produced in 1520-1521, it is, in the exactest sense of the word, the most devastating for the church, not only in its sustained and profoundly serious criticism of the sacraments, above all that of the mass and its abuse, but as well for the fact that it ‘also raised the fundamental question of authority in the church’. In Worms, slightly over four months later, the papal nuncio Aleander knew that the young Henry VIII of England “intended to write a book on Luther’s errors”. His motives, to be sure, were by no means exclusively or even primarily theological, for “ever since the beginning of his reign he had hankered after a resounding title”; a defence of the sacraments, if approved by the pope, might earn him one. His work was completed, as a matter of fact actually published, on July 12, 1521, but probably circulated only after October 11, the day on which he became ‘Fidei Defensor’”. John M. Headley ‘The complete works of St. Thomas More, Responsio ad Lutherum.’

The book is very finely printed by Pynson, on the highest quality paper, with a beautiful Roman type very much in the style of the Basel printer Froben. The title page has a wood-block border which is a copy of a design by Hans Holbein the Younger made for Froben. It illustrates a children’s triumphal procession above, and the story of Mucius Scaevola before Porsenna below. The wood cutter for the original block was Hans Herman, but it is not known who made this English copy.

This second edition is considerably rarer than the first; with only two copies recorded in US libraries, Harvard and Princeton.

1) ESTC S111411. STC 13079. 2) ESTC S106934. STC 1492.

L3454

Print This Item Print This Item