Basel: Johann Froben, February, 1519.
Quarto: 20.6 x 14 cm. 19,  p. Collation: A4, B6
SECOND EDITION. (First printed in London, Nov. 1518 by Pynson.)
Bound in 20th c. blue morocco by Rolando Gozzi of Modena, gilt arabesque at the center of the boards. Contents a little browned, discreet restoration, not affecting the border, to top blank margin of title. Woodcut title border to first leaf by Hans Holbein the younger (see foot of this description); with 1 large woodcut initial, and the Froben printer’s device on final leaf.
A very rare oration by Cuthbert Tunstall, Master of the Rolls (and later successively bishop of London and Durham), recited at Greenwich in October 1518 at the betrothal of Mary Tudor, then only two and a half years old, to the 8-month-old dauphin François, first son of King François I of France. As the chronicler Edward Hall points out, it was decided that the betrothal would only be binding if the couple consented to it when they were older. The betrothal was broken off in 1521 when Mary was instead contracted to marry her cousin, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
A Treaty and a Betrothal:
On 2nd October, 1518, the Treaty of London, Cardinal Wolsey’s treaty of “Universal” peace, had been signed by France and England. Tournai, which had been conquered by Henry VIII in 1513, was to be restored to France and a marriage was arranged between Henry VIII’s daughter Mary (the future Mary I), and François, the Dauphin of France.
Admiral Bonnivet, standing in for the infant Dauphin, was betrothed to little Mary in a ceremony in Queen Catherine of Aragon’s chamber at Greenwich Palace on 5th October 1518. In the notarial attestation, Robert Toneys and John Barett described the scene:
“On 5 Oct. 1518, in the Queen’s Great Chamber at Greenwich, after an oration de laudibus matrimonii by Dr. Tunstal, Lord Bonivet took the hand of the Princess Mary, and espoused her in the name of the Dauphin of France; and the King and Queen espoused the Dauphin, in the person of Lord Bonivet, to the Princess. Bonivet then put a ring on the fourth finger of her right hand, the Cardinal of York assisting: after which the King and Bonivet signed the forms of their oaths. Then the King proceeded from the chamber, and went to his chapel in the manor of Greenwich, where, at the high altar, the King took his oath to the treaty of 4 October last, and the French ambassadors swore that Francis should observe the same.”
According to the French ambassador, Mary asked Admiral Bonnivet, “Are you the dauphin of France? If you are I wish to kiss you.” During Tunstall’s oration, Mary grew restless and was picked up and “taken in arms” by her lady mistress, Margaret Bryan.
Cuthbert Tunstall is a figure of great importance in Tudor history. He served (and survived) under four Tudor monarchs, from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I.
Tunstall was educated at Balliol College, Oxford; King’s Hall, Cambridge; and the University of Padua, where he “established a reputation for outstanding scholarship, excelling in Greek, Latin, and mathematics.” While at Oxford, he became a friend of Thomas More, John Colet, Thomas Linacre, and William Grocyn. While in Padua, he befriended William Latimer, Richard Pace, Aldus Manutius, and a number of prominent humanists. Later, as a diplomat in Europe, he would begin a long and lasting friendship with Erasmus. “Tunstall assisted Erasmus in the production of the second edition of his Greek New Testament and also cast a critical eye over More's ‘Utopia’. He was also one of Erasmus's greatest patrons.”(DNB)
After his return to England later in 1505, Tunstall began a long and distinguished career in the church and as a diplomat. For his services, Henry VIII rewarded Tunstall by appointing him Master of the Rolls and vice-chancellor. In 1522, he was made bishop of London. While still performing ambassadorial and church duties, Tunstall also worked to limit the influx and publishing of heretical books. “With Fisher, Tunstall was chiefly responsible for censoring the book trade, and he licensed More to read heretical books in order to refute them.”(DNB)
Tunstall differed with King Henry on the matter of his divorce from Katherine of Aragon and the royal supremacy. Katherine chose him for her defence counsel and he argued energetically in her favor up until the time of the King’s second marriage, at which time he performed a volte-face (probably bowing to pressure from the king) and argued that the marriage to Katherine was invalid. Similarly, he was vociferous in his opposition to the royal supremacy but once it became law, “he became an equally strong advocate.”(DNB)
Despite his philosophical and religious differences with King Henry, Tunstall never fell from favor or suffered a fate like so many of King Henry’s other close counselors. Though sometimes he was marginalized by the king during certain important sessions of Parliament, he continued to serve as an ambassador and participated in the debates over religious reform, during which he was a voice for the conservatives, and opposed many of the changes proposed by the protestants.
Tunstall survived the king, was one of the executors of his will, was an active member of the council during the transition of government, and officiated at Edward VI’s coronation. Although he ran afoul of Northumberland, was stripped of his bishopric, and spent the rest of Edward’s reign in the Tower, he was restored by Mary and survived into Elizabeth’s reign, at the age of 84. He died in 1559.
“There was nothing of the martyr in Tunstal. His survival through four Tudor reigns and into a fifth testifies to the flexibility of his mind and the moderation of his temperament. Although strong in his opinions and not backward in arguing them, once policy was made he was content to carry it out. Uncomfortable persecuting heretics, he managed to avoid condemning them to death and had a reputation for honesty second to none: as Thomas Bilney noted, 'how can I think in Tonstal any craft or doublenes to dwell' (Foxe, 2.1006). His desire to avoid persecutions led him to go so far as to buy copies of William Tyndale's New Testament in order to burn them, rather than burn or prosecute those who bought them (Hall's chron., 762). A gentle man given to collecting coins and gardening, he was probably the most widely respected bishop and scholar in sixteenth-century England.”(DNB)
The woodcut border:
The title border illustrates the life of the Roman youth Mucius Scaevola, who burned off his own hand to intimidate the Clusian king Lars Porsena (who was preparing to attack Rome.) Announcing that he was unafraid to die, he put his right hand into a brazier and proclaimed, “see how cheap the body is to those who have their eye on great glory”. He thus earned the cognomen “Scaevola” (lefty). There is speculation that Holbein was left-handed.
VD16 T 2284