BRUNFELS, Otto A very true pronosticatio, with a kalender, .. for the yere of our lorde M. CCCCC. xxxvj. And for all yeres here after perpetuall.

London, In Fletestrete, at the sygne of the sonne by me Ioh[a]n Byddell, 1536


FIRST EDITION Thus. 8vo. 32 unnumbered leaves. A-D⁸. last blank. Black letter. Title within charming woodcut border (Mckerrow and Ferguson 29) illustrating the seven cardinal virtues, John Bydell’s white on black woodcut device on verso of last, (Mckerrow 78), white on black criblé woodcut initials, one large historiated white on black initial, engraved armorial bookplate of George Kenyon of Peel Hall, Lancashire (1666–1728;) with motto “Magnanimiter Crucem Sustine”, bibliographical notes in pencil on fly. Light age yellowing, expert repair to blank outer margin of title and four lower outer blank corners, occasional mark or spot. A very good copy, in tan crushed morocco circa 1900, blind ruled to a panel design, blind corners pieces to corners, title gilt on spine.

Exceptionally rare English edition of an almanac for 1536 by the German theologian and botanist Otto Brunfels, the Latin original of which is now lost. ESTC records just 4 copies of this edition worldwide; it is not recorded in the British Library or at Folger. The printer “John Bydell, printer and bookseller, was for some time an assistant to Wynkyn de Worde, of whose will he was one of the executors. He set up as a stationer and at first had books printed for him by others, including his old master. His shop by Fleet Bridge bore the sign of Our Lady of Pity, and ..he called himself John Salisbury, perhaps because he was a native of that town. After the death of De Worde he moved to that printer’s premises, the Sun in Fleet Street. Byddell published in all some fifty or more books, mainly theological, until his death, which probably took place in 1545.”. ‘Printing in England from William Caxton to Christopher Barker.’ The woodcut title border, illustrating the seven cardinal virtues, was used by de Worde in 1534.

This Almanac is by the early Lutheran convert Otto Brunfels and reflects his strong protestant leanings. It starts with a calendar for 1534; proceeds with an address to the reader which discusses the nature of almanacs in detail, stating that his words are taken from the bible only and imploring the reader to not to “asketh any thynge of them that use wytchecrafte and observeth dremes or chatteryng of byrdes, or that is a sorcerer or a charmer: neyther ape counsell of them that speke with a sprite, or a sothsayer, or that talketh with them that be dead, for to know the truth.” He quotes from the bible with comments to back his arguments. He concludes that “it appereth more clere than the lyght of the mydday, that y pronostications and foresayinges of all astronomers, are founded but upon flowing sande and unstable..” This is followed by small chapters on various subjects, many to do with husbandry or medicine“of the fruits of the earth” or “of sycknesses” etc. but some of a social or political nature such as “How prynces ought to meke them selves unto the preachynge of goddes worde”. The work reflects early protestant teachings with chapters on “of the state of religyon and papystes”, “of the Jewes” and “of the sygnes of the last daye.” He concludes this section of the work with the statement “This our pronosticayon gentyll reader, nedeth no declaracyon of phylosophe or astrologye, whiche is of mannes invencyon”. He concludes the work with a statement to the Christian reader but adds, in a final chapter, a delightful translation of extracts from Pliny concerning husbandry and the phases of the moon. “All thynges that are cutte, plucked, slypte, or lopped are best to be done in the later ende of the moone” .. or “meddle not with dunge but in the wane of the moone” etc.

“Almanac compilers read the skies in order to interpret the connections between the mutable sublunar world and the and the immutable supralunar spheres of the stars and planets, and Gods intentions as expressed in astral signs. They then translated that information into easily understood guides for daily life. This information gave ordinary people tools with which to interpret nature, which could be used to keep themselves safe [How to avoid treacherous weather, choose the safest time for medical treatment, eat wisely to support mental and physical health and travel safely by land or water]. The almanac was humble, but it was also ambitious: its modest subject was .. the whole of creation. In this way, almanacs connected the ordinary workaday world with the cosmos, as well as with the more specific social, economic, philosophical, medical, and religious information contained within its pages.” Phebe Jensen  ‘Astrology, Almanacs, and the Early Modern English Calendar’.

An exceptionally rare work of great social and historical interest.

ESTC S111371. STC STC 421.17. (Three copies only; two at Cambridge and one in the Library of Congress). Bosanquet, E. F. Almanacks, clxi. Cantamessa N. 1203. Tanner p. 648. 
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