Mainz: Peter Schoeffer, 25 May, 1478.
Chancery half-sheet quarto: 19.6 x 13.3 cm. 151 of 152 leaves (- first blank). Collation: a-m10, n-q8 (- blank a1) This is the variant with the colophon set in 118G.
FOURTH EDITION (1st ed. 1474).
A very fine, crisp copy, bound in 19th c. blind-tooled calf over wooden boards by Van Rossum of Amsterdam,. Incipit and colophon printed in red. Red initials, capital strokes, and underlining, woodcut printer’s device. Final leaf backed, repairing hole in blank area and tear at top margin just touching type, small hole in penultimate leaf, affecting two words, some leaves toned. Provenance: Jean-François Van de Velde (1743-1823, priest and librarian of the university of Louvain; his sale, Ghent, 1831, lot 4293) – François-Xavier Borluut de Noortdonck (1771-1857, Belgian collector; armorial bookplate; his sale, Ghent, 19 April 1838, lot 107). ISTC locates only two other copies in North America (Walters Art Gallery, Yale.).
Chaimis’ “Confessionale” reflects the medieval Church’s serious and concerted effort to subject the broadest spectrum of human activities to Christian moral principles. This edition was printed by Peter Schoeffer, who began his printing career as Gutenberg’s apprentice. Schoeffer is considered, after Gutenberg, “the most influential individual in the early history of printing in Europe.”
Born into a noble Milanese family, Bartholomaeus de Chaimis (Bartolomeo Caimi) studied theology at the University of Bologna, achieved high-ranking status within the Franciscan Order, and became a preacher and confessor of considerable fame. His “Confessionale” (1st ed. 1474) became one of the most widely-used confessor’s manuals of its time and continued to be used well into the 16th century, being recommended for use at the Synod of Basel in October 1503 and again at Augsburg in 1548. The work is accompanied here by the “Interrogationes faciendae infirmo morienti”, a series of questions (with responses) to be asked of those who are dying, erroneously attributed to Anselm of Canterbury.
The third part shows Caimi’s interest in the definition of sins and in the attitude of the Church towards certain problems, such as that of usury, of some forms of devotions, etc. One part of this third section is reserved for various professional duties, from those of rulers to those of notaries, professors and students, merchants and so on, while there is also the need to remember a series of rules on the correct observance of commercial agreements.
Among the professions and trades considered, with the types of moral and ethical frauds practiced in each. Physicians and surgeons, lawyers, swordsmiths, goldsmiths (with prohibitions against alchemical gold and silver), tailors (ladies' dresses must not be too décolleté), wine merchants, tavern keepers (who are not to keep disorderly houses nor to allow dicing and card playing).
Gambling and gaming in general (dicing and card playing), is discussed under "Illicita acquisitio": “si aliquid illicite et turpiter acquisivit ut per ludum taxillorum, cartarum et huiusmodi fortune ludos", etc. Chess (ludus scacchiorum) is also mentioned and it seems to have been allowable for clerics to play, this not being a game of chance.
Medical practitioners (physicians, surgeons, apothecaries) faced a complex series of ethical and moral perils.
“Chaimis (c. 1474) writes that as long as the surgeon operates in accordance with the art and performs only operations that are clearly useful, he has not sinned. But if he is in doubt about the operation or about his own ability to perform it, he should refrain and dismiss the patient into God's hands without the operation.
“He says that the physician sins if, for any reason, he neglects to give the patient appropriate medicine. And if he “zealously aggravates” an ailment in any way for the sake of making a greater profit and causes the patient to relapse, he must be punished gravely beyond a mortal sin.
"If he does not apply necessary diligence about the care of the patient personally when visiting -by observing the internal signs, by regulating medicines, diet, and regimen of life- he is at fault and has sinned.
“A physician should not administer a medicine if he is in doubt whether it will help or harm. It is safer to leave the patient in the hands of God than to expose him to the danger of the medicine.
Chaimis comments on the physician's responsibility to abide by the codes of his professional organization: "If he has sworn to observe the statutes of his university and afterwards was a violator of them, he has sinned mortally." And the physician is guilty of mortal sin “if owing to envy he disparages other physicians or causes them damage.”
“Chaimis also addresses the conflict of interests that arises when physicians prescribe medicine. He “writes that if the physician had an apothecary shop and directly or indirectly compelled his patients to buy medicines from him or from another with, whom he associates in practice and he did this for the sake of gain, he sinned. If on account of this the patients incurred any physical harm because they could have obtained better or more useful medicines elsewhere, or financial disadvantage because they could have obtained them for less elsewhere, the physician is held for the price in respect to the entire loss.”
He also addresses sexual assault. Physicians who handle female patients “with libidinous intent” or who, in touching them appropriately, “proceeded on to anything dishonorable” were guilty of sin; Physicians are not allowed to advise fornication or drinking alcohol.
While the sin of abortion is discussed elsewhere, as a form of homicide, Chaimis specifically mentions it under the rubric of the sins of physicians. Chaimis writes that a physician sins mortally if "he gives medicine to a pregnant woman for killing the child in order to preserve the mother." (Darrel Walter Amundsen, The Development of Medieval Medical Ethics, 1980)
“After Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1397–1468), Peter Schoeffer was the most influential individual in the early history of printing in Europe. Born about 1425 in Gernsheim, near Mainz, educated at Erfurt University, and trained as a calligrapher in Paris, Schoeffer had become involved in the new art of printing by 1455, serving as an employee of Johann Fust of Mainz, who was then financing Gutenberg’s “work of the books” – doubtless the printing of the Gutenberg Bible. As Gutenberg’s helper, later as Fust’s junior partner, and finally on his own, Schoeffer remained at the forefront of Europe’s printers for the better part of five decades, producing an impressive array of essential theological and legal editions. Before his death in 1503, he had done more than any other to introduce important publishing innovations and to set technical standards that would shape the history of the printed word…
“Peter Schoeffer’s role in the production of the Gutenberg Bible is not documented directly, but his training as a calligrapher, his close association with Fust c. 1455, and his expertise as an independent printer after Fust’s death in 1466 all suggest that he was a central participant in the early development of European printing.” (Peter Schoeffer: Printer of Mainz. A Quincentenary Exhibition at Bridwell Library, displayed from 8 September to 8 December 2003)
Among Schoeffer’s accomplishments are, together with his partner Johann Fust, of the 1457 and 1459 Latin Psalters, the 1462 Bible, and the 1465 Cicero (possibly the first printed Classical text); and, on his own, the third printing (using Gutenberg’s types) of the Mainz Catholicon (ca. 1469).
HC 2483*; GW 6544; BMC I 34; BSB-Ink C-247; Bod-inc B-078; Goff B-157; ISTC ib00157000.