Ghent: Printed att Gant by Ioos Dooms, 1632.
Octavo: 16 x 9.5 cm. 61, ; 75, ; 30,  p. Pages - following 61 p. section, pages - following 75 p. section and final page are blank. Collation: A-D8 (-D8 blank), A-E8 (-E7,8 blank), A-B8
SOLE EDITION: In three parts.
"The second parte of the statutes" and "The third parte" each have separate pagination, register, and title page with imprint date 1632. Extremely rare. 5 copies in the U.K., 4 in North America (Huntington, Folger, UT Austin, Yale.) STC notes that this book is “Typographically uniform, and possibly intended to be issued” with: “The rule of the most blissed Father Saint Benedict Patriarke of all munkes”. This is almost certainly the case. All four copies in North America are bound with the “Rule”. However, the Bodleian, Harvard, and the second UT copy of the “Rule” are bound without the ‘Statutes’ and Allison and Rogers note, that “copies of the ‘Statutes’ long appear to have been bound up an issued separately.”
Bound in 20th c. green quarter morocco and marbled boards. Small defect to upper corner of title, costing two letters. Some mild to moderate damp-staining, a few later ink notes and some underscores in ink and pencil. A sound, if somewhat cosmetically compromised, copy of this rare work.
Composed initially for use by the English Benedictine nuns at Brussels in the Abbey of Our Blessed Lady the Perpetuall Virgin Mary (the first English convent established on the Continent after the Reformation), these statutes were printed at Ghent for the use of a second convent, established there in 1624.
Although not printed until 1632, the “Statutes” were composed two decades earlier, with the Benedictine nuns actively involved “in a cloistered tradition of community-centered writing.” As Jaime Goodrich writes, “The Brussels nuns actively collaborated with English priests in the composition of the Statutes…. and composed and annotated the first draft themselves… If the nuns did not have final approval of the Statutes, they provided the basis for the final text by compiling the first draft from a range of authoritative sources, a draft that priests and the archbishop in turn edited. These overlapping authorial roles indicate that the nuns were not passive recipients of the Statutes, but rather that they energetically sought and contributed to these regulations, exercising a pious authority that was confirmed by the approbation of male ecclesiastical figures.”(Nuns and Community-Centered Writing: The Benedictine Rule and Brussels Statutes, Huntington Library quarterly, vol. 77, no. 3, p. 287 ff.)
Disputes that later arose around Ignatian practice at the Brussels house (a number of prominent Jesuits were involved in the process of editing the “Statutes”) led to the founding, by members of the Brussels convent, of a new convent at Ghent in 1624.
“Dame Alexia Grey’s 1632 edition of the Benedictine Rule and Brussels Statutes was no less focused on her own convent at Ghent, particularly on establishing its reputation among English Catholics. Besides making these documents more widely available, Grey’s edition intervened in an ongoing competition between English Benedictine convents over spiritual primacy. During the 1620s and 1630s, the Brussels house endured a string of controversies over Ignatian spiritual direction, and a group of pro- Jesuit nuns left Brussels in 1624 to found the Ghent house. The Ghent Benedictines’ spiritual reputation increased to the detriment of its motherhouse and, as Tobie Matthew noted, the Ghent house quickly established its name: “divers Gentlewomen in England, growing to hear in a very short time, how eminent these new Religious were in this kind, and peradventure understanding that some other [i.e., Brussels] were not so very happy that way, applied themselves presently to these [Ghent], and declined from those.”34 It does not seem coincidental that the Ghent Benedictines printed the Rule and Statutes in 1632, a year in which a second group of pro-Jesuit nuns left the Brussels Benedictines to found their own house even as yet another English Benedictine house, in Cambrai, faced accusations of unorthodox spiritual practices.”(Ibid, p. 298)
The (mistaken) attribution to Dame Alexia Grey:
“In 1632, a new English translation of the Benedictine Rule appeared in print for the first time in over a hundred years, issued in tandem with the Statutes observed by the English Benedictine convents in Brussels and Ghent. Because Dame Alexia (Margaret) Grey of the Ghent Benedictines dedicated the Rule to her abbess Lady Eugenia (Jane) Poulton, scholars have identified Grey as the translator of the Rule and Statutes. Manuscript evidence, however, indicates that both of these texts were circulating by 1613, long before Grey’s profession in 1631. The Benedictine Rule was translated into English specifically for the use of the Brussels community, and that house collaborated with English priests to compile the Statutes. An examination of how nuns edited these texts for circulation in manuscript and print offers new insight into the collected authorial practices of early modern women writers.
“The mistaken attribution of the Rule and Statutes to Grey exemplifies how the single- author model may obscure certain forms of monastic textual production. While Grey’s obituary notice mentions her involvement in the publication of these texts, it presents her as an editor of pre-existing manuscripts rather than as a translator: “having a high esteem of the Least tittle of our holy rule and Constitutions, and because none might be ignorant of the excellent perfections Contain’d in this rule of ruls, she was at the Charge of printing it in English, for before it was only extant in writting hand, the injuries of the Times in our hereticall poor Country having defaced and destroyed those Coppys of former prints in our Mother’s tongue.” This impression is substantiated by several manuscripts predating Grey’s profession in 1631. Newberry Vault Case MS 4A 10 contains a copy of the Rule that dates from November 21, 1612. Archbishop Mathias Hovius confirmed the Statutes on July 20, 1612, and the 1613 date attached to copies in the Newberry manuscript as well as to British Library Add. MS 6681 may reflect a common exemplar. Furthermore, the Bodleian possesses a 1627 copy of the Statutes (MS Rawlinson A 442), and in 1620 the Brussels nuns noted that Gabriel Col- ford, a factor for the Brussels house, had “written our statutes two or three times of his own hand.”8 Grey’s 1632 publication is nearly identical to these manuscript versions, even though small variants were introduced in the process of copying.9 Grey was therefore editing a manuscript version of these texts rather than translating them anew, and in doing so she continued a legacy of collective textual labor established by the Brussels community itself.” (Ibid, p. 289).
Allison and Rogers, English Counter-Reformation, II 94; ESTC S101607; STC (2nd ed.), 17552