LE GRANT ORDINAIRE des X iens, qui enseigne à chascun bon chrestien et crestienne la voye et le chemin pour aller en Paradis

Paris, par la veufve feu Jehan trepperel et jehan Jehannot, [ca. 1520]


4to. ff. 149 [i]. Lettre Bâtard in double column. Title in red and black with large grotesque initial, partial border made up of eleven small woodcuts of devotional scenes, some in white on black criblé, full page woodcut on verso of title, fine full-page woodcut of Christ in Glory on verso of A4, two small text woodcuts, first quire printed in red and black, small woodcut white on black criblé initials, occasional marginal manuscript annotation in a slightly later hand, bookplate of Miss Audrey Ridsdale on pastedown. Light age yellowing, some light mostly marginal spotting, a few quires with light browning, the rare marginal mark or spot. A very good copy, crisp and clean, in early C19th probably English close grained green morocco, covers bordered with a double gilt rule, scrolled border with floral and leaf tools, central arabesque of small tools gilt, spine with raised bands richly gilt in compartments, red morocco label, gilt lettered, inner dentelles gilt. Spine and joints darkened. All edges yellow.

Exceptionally rare edition, probably the second by the Veufe Trepperel, of this beautifully printed and illustrated popular work of devotion; it is recored in one other copy only, at the BNF. All early editions are extremely rare. The work is undated in the colophon and title, but can be dated from the text; on the verso of ff. 149 : “En lan mil cinq cens et xx le premier jour de febvrier apres la nativite de nostre seigneur fut dernierement consomme ce present livre…”

The ‘Grand Ordinaire des Chretiens’ is a popular devotional work which forms a guide for ‘All good Christians’, male and female, along the route to salvation, teaching in the vernacular all that you were required to believe, how you were supposed to behave, what to avoid doing, what you needed to fear and what to hope for, on the path to salvation. It is in effect a popular and vernacular form of the catechism. This kind of guide to salvation was particularly popular at the beginning of the C16th in France predating the reformation. It is divided into five parts, the first dealing with Baptism and the Creed, the second with the Ten commandments, including a long discussion of the seven deadly sins, the third with good deeds and works of mercy, the fourth with confession, and the final chapter on the sufferings of hell and the joys of Paradise.

“Le Grand Ordinaire garde quelques-uns des caractères d’une vieille catéchèse orientée vers des recettes de comportements, ‘moins soucieusse de précision dogmatique que tournée vers la pratique des oeuvres et singulièrement la confession.’” Elisabeth Germain. ‘Parler du salut?: Aux origines d’une mentalité religieuse.” It is less a work of Christian doctrine and more a manual on how to live well and die well, directed to ordinary people with almost entirely practical instruction. It offers fascinating insight into how the church expected ordinary people to behave just before this kind of work was completely overridden by the the Reformation, which created new forms of the Catechism to which the Catholic Church then responded with updated catechisms of its own. Rare.

FR BNF 33407250. Not in USTC. BM STC Fr. C16th, Fairfax Murray or Mortimer.

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