EUSEBIUS, of Caesarea


EUSEBIUS, of Caesarea The auncient ecclesiasticall histories of the first six hundred yeares after Christ, ..faithfully translated out of the Greeke tongue by Meredith Hanmer,

London, by Thomas Vautroullier dwelling in the Blackefriers by Ludgate, 1585


Folio. Five parts in one volume. pp. [xii], 190, 201-404, [iv], 405-600, [xxii]. * , A-2X , 2Y , 2Z-3E , 3F . Complete with both blanks R4 and Ddd6. “‘The ecclesiasticall historie of Socrates Scholasticus’, ‘The ecclesiasticall historie of Eeuagrius [sic] Scholasticus’, ‘The liues, the ends, and the martyrdomes of the prophetes, apostles, and seuentie disciples of our Sauiour, written in Greeke by Dorotheus ..”, and “A chronographie” each have separate dated title page; pagination and register are continuous.” ESTC. Gothic, Roman, and Italic letter. Vautroliers woodcut printer’s device on each title, fine woodcut initials head and tailpieces, typographical ornaments, ‘Henry Langley’ in contemporary hand to lower margin of t-p, ‘Thomas Carlton oweth this book Anno dni 1598’ on verso of t-p, ‘Me Thomas Ussher possedit hunc liber’ with price 8/s above, another dated 1598 at head of dedication in Gaelic?, ’To my ever loving friend Edward Harte, Anno Domino 1635’ ms. on verso of last leaf of second work, with ‘Thomas Barton’, ‘Richard Noreton’, ‘ and ‘Edward Harte’ in the same hand on third title, charming mss love note with the initials WI within a heart on verso of last, ‘Fitzherbert Queens coll camb’ on fly in C19th hand, bookplate of ‘Jean Oliver’ on pastedown. Light age yellowing, minor waterstain in places in lower blank margin, the odd marginal spot or thumb mark. A very good copy, crisp and clean, in contemporary English calf, covers triple blind ruled to a panel design, large acorn and oak leaf fleuron blind stamped to corners of outer panel, large blind stamped, scroll-worked arabesque at centres, lettres R H blind stamped to sides, E W above and below, spine with raised bands, blind ruled, later red morocco label gilt, rubbed.

A handsome copy of the second edition of the first published English translation, beautifully printed by Vautrollier, of the most important ecclesiastical histories produced in ancient times; the work includes, besides Eusebius, the continuations by Socrates Scholasticus, Euagrius, and Dorotheus. The translator, the historian Meredith Hanmer (1543-1604) dedicates this second edition to Robert, Earl of Leicester; the dedication is dated 15 December 1584. “Hanmer (1543-1604) was the author of the first complete English translation of Eusebius, Socrates and Euagrius: The Auncient Ecclesiasticall … In 1563, just five years after Elizabeth ascended to the throne, John Foxe had published the first edition of his Acts and Monuments (The Book of Martyrs). To some extent, Hanmer’s book was an interesting offshoot of Foxe’s project. Because Protestants of the sixteenth century were quite interested in patristic sources, there began to be a market for English translations of the Fathers. Foxe’s famous book was based, at least in part, on Eusebius, and so it is no surprise that an English translation of his Church history was not long in coming.” Eugenio Olivares Merino. ‘Mary Roper Clarke Bassett and Meredith Hanmer’s Honorable Ladie of the Lande’ The first English translation was by Mary Basset, the granddaughter of Sir Thomas More, made between 1544 and 1553; It is possible that Hanmer had seen this translation and that he makes oblique reference to her work in the prologue to his translation.

The Church History Historia Ecclesiastica or Historia Ecclesiae) of Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea was a 4th-century pioneering work giving a chronological account of the development of Early Christianity from the 1st century to the 4th century. It was written in Koine Greek, and survives also in Latin, Syriac and Armenian manuscripts. The result was the first full-length historical narrative written from a Christian point of view “Eusebius, without intending it, founded a school of church historians, who continued the thread of his story from Constantine the Great to the close of the sixth century, and, like him, limited themselves to a simple, credulous narration of external facts, and a collection of valuable documents, without an inkling of the critical sifting, philosophical mastery, and artistic reproduction of material, which we find in Thucydides and Tacitus among the classics, and in many a modern historian. None of them touched the history of the first three centuries; Eusebius was supposed to have done here all that could be desired. The histories of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret run nearly parallel, but without mutual acquaintance or dependence, and their contents are very similar. Evagrius carried the narrative down to the close of the sixth century. All of them combine ecclesiastical and political history, which after Constantine were inseparably interwoven in the East; and (with the exception of Philostorgius) all occupy essentially the same orthodox stand-point. They ignore the Western church, except where it comes in contact with the East.” History of the Christian Church, Volume III: Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity. A.D. 311-600.

Thomas Ussher could well be the Thomas Ussher of Dublin (given the Gaelic inscription in his hand), died 1610, who was the son of Henry Ussher (c.1550 – 2 April 1613) the Irish Protestant churchman, a founder of Trinity College, Dublin, and Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh. He is recorded in the ‘The Ussher memoirs; or, Genealogical memoirs of the Ussher families in Ireland’ as requesting James Ussher, to preach at his funeral, for whom, as an ecclesiastical historian, this work would have been of the greatest interest. Hamner’s translation was the only available in England, and went through at least 10 editions before the end of the seventeenth century. A handsome copy of this important  work with most intriguing Provenance.

ESTC S121375. STC 10573. Lowndes II 762.
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