SARPI, Paolo


SARPI, Paolo Historia del Concilio Tridentino

London, Appresso Giovan. Billio. Regio stampatore, 1619


FIRST EDITION. Folio. pp. [viii], 806, [x]. Roman letter, prefatory material in Italic. Woodcut arms of James I on title, large historiated woodcut initials, ‘Utrecht 1697’ with ms. monogram ‘BA’ at head of first fly, early bibliographical note on verso, ‘Ex Lib: Bibl: Socitas Sig. Reg’ mss. at gutter on title, early shelf mark mss at head of pastedown, later printed shelf mark at side. Light age yellowing, some mostly marginal spotting, heavier in places, a few leaves slightly browned, occasional minor dust soiling at blank upper margin. A very good, crisp copy, with good margins, in contemporary English polished vellum, covers with C19th armorial stamp of the ‘Society of Writers to the Signet’ gilt stamped at centres, title mss at head of spine, yapp edges, modern marbled slip-case.

First edition of Paolo Sarpi’s greatest and most influential work, dedicated to James I, published pseudonymously with the name Pietro Soave Polano, an anagram of Paolo Sarpi Veneto (plus o). The editor, Marco Antonio de Dominus, polished the text and has been accused of falsifying it, however recent comparison with a manuscript corrected by Sarpi himself shows that his alterations were unimportant. Translations into other languages followed: English by Nathaniel Brent and Latin in 1620, made partly by Adam Newton, and French and German editions. The work was widely read for at least the next two centuries. “Forced upon an unwilling papacy by the Emperor CharlesV, who was anxious to put an end to the dissensions caused by religious strife, the Council (of Trent) first met in 1545. From the beginning however its proceedings were under papal domination, and, so far from effecting a reconciliation with Protestantism, its pronouncements on undecided points of dogma and the bold front it thus put forward, gave its members the new confidence they needed to resist the evangelical threat. No compromise was offered, and when, after numerous delays and evasions designed to frustrate the intentions of the non-Italian members, the Council closed at the end of 1563, an instrument had been placed in the hands of the Papacy which determined the evolution of the Roman Church for the next three centuries, culminating in the pronouncement of the dogma of Papal infallibility in 1877. Only now is some relaxation beginning to take place. The full force of the acts of the council was not lost either on those who desired a reconciliation between the church and the new schismatics or on those who distrusted the centralization of power in Rome. It was both these motives which prompted the Venetian patriot, scientist, scholar and reformer, Paolo Sarpi, to compile his memorable ‘History of the Council of Trent’, which was published pseudonymously in London. A member of the Servite Order, hated yet never excommunicated by the Papal See, Sarpi was the devoted and honored servant of the Venetian Republic. Like the author in his lifetime, so in later years his book formed a nucleus of opposition to the papacy of Pius IV. Translated and reprinted over and over again, the masterpiece of ‘Father Paul of Venice’, as he was known to generations, is still read. Ranke (286) made a minute study of it and of the Papal counterblast by Cardinal Pallavicini and found not much difference between the two in point of impartiality, though he preferred Sarpi in point of style. Only now are the issues debated between the two beginning to recede from the forefront of theological controversy.” Printing and the Mind of Man. The opinion of Le Courayer, that Sarpi “était Catholique en gros et quelque fois Protestant en detail” (that he was Catholic overall and sometimes Protestant in detail) seems not altogether groundless. A very good copy of the first edition of this important work.

STC 21760. ESTC, S116701. Gamba 2080. PMM 118.1199
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