De antiquitate Cantabrigiensis Academiæ libri duoLondon, Per Henricum Bynneman, 1568, Mense Augusto.
FIRST EDITION. Two parts in one. 8vo. pp. 340, 340b-e, 341-360, [xxiv]; [xl]. A-X , Y (Y2+’Y2’²) Z-2A , A-E . Two-leaf gathering in quire Y, both leaves signed Y.ii., containing material omitted on leaf Y2v. The “Assertio antiquitatis Oxoniensis Academiæ” by Thomas Caius has separate dated title page and register. Italic letter in first work, Roman in second, some Gaelic. Floriated woodcut initials, large woodcut printer’s device to recto of last, bookplate of Chatsworth Library on pastedown. Light age yellowing, wormtrail to blank gutter of a few quires, three lines inked over on penultimate leaf. A very good copy, crisp and clean, in C17th style calf but later, covers bordered with a double blind rule, spine gilt and blind ruled in compartments, title label gilt lettered, edges gilt ruled, a.e.r. joints, head and tail a little worn.
First edition of this important, though extravagant, history of the University of Cambridge, which was published anonymously with a text by Thomas Caius arguing the case for Oxford being the oldest English University. “John Caius [Kees, Keys] was an English physician, and second founder of the present Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, was born at Norwich on the 6th of October 1510. He was admitted a student at what was then Gonville Hall, Cambridge, where he seems to have mainly studied divinity. After graduating in 1533, he visited Italy, where he studied under the celebrated Montanus and Vesalius at Padua; and in 1541 he took his degree in physic at Padua. In 1543 he visited several parts of Italy, Germany and France; and returned to England. He was a physician in London in 1547, and was admitted fellow of the College of Physicians, of which he was for many years president. In 1557, being then physician to Queen Mary, he enlarged the foundation of his old college, changed the name from “Gonville Hall” to “Gonville and Caius College,” and endowed it with several considerable estates, adding an entire new court at the expense of £1834. Of this college he accepted the mastership (24th of January 1558/9) on the death of Dr Bacon, and held it till about a month before his death.” DNB.
“The controversy on the respective claims of Oxford and Cambridge to the greater antiquity arose, according to Caius, on the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Cambridge in 1564, when the University Orator claimed priority for Cambridge and the earlier foundation. A counter-blast to this claim was delivered before Queen Elizabeth on her visit to Oxford in 1566 by Thomas Key (Kay or Caius) of University College. The Archbishop [Parker] thereupon asked John Caius to defend the greater antiquity of their common University, and so – Caius’s work. The first edition was printed anonymously in 1568, and included Kay’s rejoinder (Assertio Antiquitatis Oxoniensis Academiae).” Hind. “In this book the Catabrigian Caius renewed the arguments in favour of Cambridge being the elder university. The Oxonian Casius countered with another manuscript, ‘Examen Judicii Cantabrigiensis’, published in 1730.. While Thomas Caius died in 1572, John Caius continued to champion the antiquity of his own university, publishing Historiae Cantabrigiensis Academiae (1574). Elizabeth Goldring ‘John Nichols’s The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth’…
“One innovative feature of Caius’ ‘Historia’ was his inclusion of a dense bibliography, although most of the books he cited existed only as manuscripts at the time. M. R. James traced Caius’ bibliography back to the massive collection of manuscripts collected by Parker at Lambeth Palace in the 1560s, which included not only the core of present Lambeth Palace Library but also the contents of the present Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, the Cottonian Library that is now part of the British Library and manuscripts in Cambridge University Library. John Strype tells us that it was Parker who arranged the printing of Caius’ Historia and that the Archbishop sent out presentation copies of Caius’ work, yet oddly Caius never mentioned Parker in the book.” Francis Young. ‘John Caius: history as argument’.
A most interesting work.