Cologne: Ex aedibus nostris [Peter Quentel], 1535.
Folio: 30.6 x 20 cm. A4, A-Z6, AA-MM6, NN4, OO-QQ6, RR4, SS6
Bound in 19th-century quarter calf, rebacked with spine preserved, some wear to extremities. A very good copy with occ. light foxing and scattered pencil notes in the margins. Light stain to one leaf (X4), last leaf verso lightly soiled. With numerous fine woodcut historiated initials. Elaborate woodcut title border by Anton Woensam of Worms (ca. 1500- ca. 1541) with the Evangelists writing the Gospels, the Church Fathers, portraits of Charles V and Ferdinand I, the imperial arms, the arms of the seven electors, and God enthroned, beheld by Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the faithful.
A collection compiled by the humanist Ortuin Gratius of sixty-six treatises by various authors that document the Church's efforts to deal with internal corruption and the threat of heresies. The purpose of the collection was to prepare the way for a future council to remedy the corruption. Included are important works by prominent 14th- 16th c. reformers, humanists, and churchmen, including John Wyclif, Wyclif’s opponent William Woodford, Jan Hus, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (Pope Pius II), Lorenzo Valla, Poggio Bracciolini, Pietro Aretino, Ulrich von Hutten, Erasmus and many others.
Some of the principal documents are:
I. Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini’s account of the Council of Basel (1431-1449), together with documents issued during the Council.
The principal purpose of the Council was to be the reformation of the Church in its "head and members," the settlement of the Hussite wars, the establishment of peace among the nations of Europe, and finally the reunion of the Western and Eastern Churches. While it failed in most of these areas, the Council did reconcile with the Hussites in Bohemia. The four articles demanded by the Hussites were agreed upon with certain modifications. These were Communion under both kinds, though their priests were to teach that Communion under one kind was equally valid; free preaching of the word of God, but subject to ecclesiastical authority; the punishment of mortal sin, but only by a lawful tribunal; the retention of their temporalities by the clerics, who were however, bound to bestow their superfluous wealth according to the canons. These formed the Compact of Prague, agreed upon the 30th of November 1433.
II. Lorenzo Valla’s “De falso credita et ementita Constantini donatione declamatio” (Mainz, 1518), “The Donation of Constantine” and associated documents.
The so-called “Donation of Constantine” was long used by the Church as proof that Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome, had bequeathed to the popes all of Italy and had given them primacy over all bishops of the Church. Employing textual and linguistic analysis, Valla proved that the “Donation” was a forgery. This collection also includes the text of the “Donation” itself, translated from the Greek by Bartholomaeus Piperno (first printed ca. 1503), with Piperno’s dedication to Julius II in which he mentions Valla’s critique. The text of Valla’s work is prefaced by Hutten’s (sarcastic) dedicatory epistle to Leo X.
III. Wyclif, Hus and Jerome of Prague:
This compilation is especially notable for the inclusion of material relating to the condemnation of three of the most prominent pre-Reformation heretics, John Wyclif, Jan Hus and Jerome of Prague, including: The 45 propositions of Wyclif that were condemned by the Council of Constance; Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini’s account of the origin of Wycliffism and the lives and deaths of Hus and Jerome of Prague; An account of the condemnation of Wyclif, Hus and Jerome as heretics at the Council of Constance, together with an account of the condemnation and execution of Jan Hus and Poggio Bracciolini’s first-hand account of the execution of Jerome of Prague. Most notably, this collection contains the sole printing of “The Condemnation of the Eighteen Articles of John Wyclif”, a theological refutation of Wyclif’s positions by his one-time friend and greatest theological rival.
William Woodford was Wyclif’s primary polemical opponent. The two men knew each other at Oxford, where they read the “Sentences” of Peter Lombard concurrently, and apparently remained on good terms during their early polemical debates. During these debates, Woodford tells us, he and Wyclif would often exchange notes. The first overtly hostile writing from Woodford’s pen against Wyclif came in the “Determinatio de Civili Dominio”, provoked as its name implies by Wyclif’s “De Civili Dominio”, written in 1376…. Much more outspoken, and much more widely distributed (to judge by the surviving manuscripts), was his “Quaestiones LXXII de Sacramento Altaris”, dated either 1383 or 1384, provoked by Wyclif’s Eucharistic teaching…The next group of writings [composed 1389 and 1396] continues the polemic, but deals primarily with Wyclif’s hostility to private religions and the friars. The present work, Woodford’s final writing against Wyclif, concerns what is considered to be Wyclif’s “Summa”, the “Trialogus”.
In 1395, King Richard II ordered the chancellor of Oxford to have the doctors of theology examine Wyclif’s “Trialogus” for possible heresy and error. The following year a provincial council which Archbishop Arundel had assembled at London condemned eighteen articles in the “Trialogus”. However, in early 1397, a group of Oxford scholars complained that members of their community were maintaining the condemned articles and asked the archbishop’s convocation for an official statement as to the orthodoxy of the articles in question. Arundel appointed a commission to investigate the theses and delegated Woodford to prepare the present refutation of the eighteen articles, entitled “De Causis Condempnacionis Articulorum XVIII Dampnatorum Johannis Wyclif”.
“Woodford's controversial works arose from his primary concern with pastoral theology, and in particular with the issues that confronted a confessor. Pastoral experience provided the resource for his rejection of Wyclif's ideas on ecclesiastical endowments on practical grounds, and for his comprehensive explanation of the eucharist. Surprisingly however he accepted much of Wyclif's philosophical strictures on transubstantiation, rejecting most of the scholastic explanations of what the subject of ‘this’, in the phrase ‘this is my body’ in the words of consecration, might be; he denied Wyclif's contention that the eucharistic formula was subject to the usual rules of logical analysis, seeing it as an incantation, and transubstantiation as a suspension of the natural order which God's absolute power alone could sustain. Comprehensible only by faith, eucharistic doctrine needed to be defined by the weight of traditional interpretation; the task of the theologian was not only logical analysis, but also critical definition of what previous doctors had determined.”(Jeremy Catto, DNB).
Adams G 1069; VD 16 G 2924 (giving the name of the printer); Brunet II 1715