LESSIO, Leonardo

LESSIO, Leonardo De antichristo et eius praecursoribus disputatio apologetica gemina: qua refutatur praefatio monatoria, falso, ut creditur, adscripta magnae Britanniae Regi

Antwerp, ex officina Plantiniana, 1611


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. [xxiv]. 297 [xxi]. Roman letter, with some Italic, small woodcut Jesuit emblem on title-page, Plantin’s ‘labore et constantia’ device on verso of last, historiated woodcut initials, ‘Bibliot. Bossianae Alexandrinae’ stamped on lower blank margin of t-p (c. 1700), early ms. Italian bibliographical note on fly, pretty uniform browning, (poor quality paper). A good copy in contemporary vellum over boards, title gilt on spine, all edges blue.

First edition of this controversial work, a refutation of the preface to the Oath of Allegiance of James I of England, printed in 1609 under the title ‘Apologia pro iuramento fidelitatis’ in which it is claimed thath the Pope is the antichrist. After the gunpowder plot Parliament passed an act which could require any citizen to take an Oath of Allegiance, entailing a denial of the pope’s authority over the king. It was a thinly disguised attempt to divide Catholics in the matter of allegiance. It was known that there were differences of opinion on the subject of the pope’s deposing power, and the oath of allegiance was drafted to make capital out of them. The De antichristo simply refutes the accustomed charge of the Protestants that the Pope is the antichrist, by assigning this role to Calvinists and Lutherans. Lessio was a Flemish Jesuit who taught philosophy in the Jesuit college in Douai, one of the principal training grounds for priests for the English mission, hence his association with English Catholics. He wrote a few works relating to dogma, more concerning asceticism and controversialism, many translated into English and published at St. Omer, but is most famous for his ‘De Justitia et Jure’ of 1605.

BM STC C17 Low Countries. p 338. Milward, Jacobean 449. Not in Allison and Rogers.

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