NIDER, Johannes


NIDER, Johannes Confessionale seu manuale confessorum ad instructionem spiritualium pastorum valde necessarium

Paris, per Jean Lambert pro Jean Petit, [1510]


8vo. 60 unnumbered leaves. []8, B-G8, H4. Gothic letter. Fine, near full page, white on black criblé woodcut printer’s device on title of a lion and leopard holding Petit’s cypher, birds and putti in the trees behind, white on black criblé initials, occasional mss marginal note and underlining n an early hand, note concerning the printer in later hand on fly. Light age yellowing, title fractionally dusty, small waterstain to lower inner corner of first few quires, early repairs to blank margins of F8 and G1, the rare marginal mark or spot. A very good copy in fine C18h French olive morocco, covers bordered with a triple gilt rule, spine triple gilt ruled in compartments with large fleurons gilt at centres, red morocco label gilt, all edges marbled, one corner worn.

An extremely rare edition of this instruction manual for confessors by the late C14th German Dominican Nider, preacher, theologian and scholar, and one of the leaders of the bloody crusade which extirpated the Bohemian Hussites. Nider had first tried to deal with this heresy by gentle persuasion, encouragement and conversion, but when these methods failed, recourse was had to fire and sword. On his return from Bohemia, Nider disassociated himself from the council (of Basle) which had ordered the repression, and devoted his energies to running his monastery and to extensive writing – including one of the great witchcraft classics of all times. He wrote extensively on general pastoral office and particularly on confessions and preaching. This Manual for Confessors was widely used and very popular as shown by the large number of extant manuscripts, incunabula and post incunabula. “Theologian, b. 1380 in Swabia; d. 13 August, 1438, at Colmar. He entered the Order of Preachers at Colmar and after profession was sent to Vienna for his philosophical studies, which he finished at Cologne where he was ordained. He gained a wide reputation in Germany as a preacher and was active at the Council of Constance. After making a study of the convents of his order of strict observance in Italy he returned to the University of Vienna where in 1425 he began teaching as Master of Theology. Elected prior of the Dominican convent at Nuremberg in 1427, he successively served as socius to his master general and vicar of the reformed convents of the German province. In this capacity he maintained his early reputation of reformer and in 1431 he was chosen prior of the convent of strict observance at Basle. He became identified with the Council of Basle as theologian and legate, making several embassies to the Hussites at the command of Cardinal Julian… He resumed his theological lectures at Vienna in 1436 and was twice elected dean of the university before his death. As reformer he was foremost in Germany and welcomed as such both by his own order and by the Fathers of the Council of Basle. As a theologian his adherence to the principles of St. Thomas and his practical methods made him distinguished among his contemporaries.” Catholic Encyclopaedia. Jean Petit is not known to have printed any books but he was an extraordinarily active publisher, employing most of the important Parisian printers from about 1495 till well into the 16th century. During this time he used some 20 devices. The lion in the device used here was suggested by Petit’s address, ‘At the sign of the Silver Lion.’ Joining the lion as supporter of the shield is a leopard. The printer’s initials, I P, on the shield are joined by a knotted cord, symbolising the Trinity or eternity. Petit had this work published with at least three different printers, all editions of which are very rare, this edition particularly so with only one copy recorded by USTC at Liege in Belgium.

USTC 183039. Moreau ‘Inventaire Chronologique des Éditions Parisiennes du XVIe siècle’ I 379:164
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