London: John Day for Nicholas England, 25 Sept. 1560.
Folio: 26.3 x 18.2 cm. , ccccxliiii, ccccxlix-cccclxx,  leaves. Collation: A-Y6 Aa-Yy6, AA-YY6 AAa-PPp6 QQq4 (blank A6 present; -blank QQq4)
FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH. First issue, with September 25th in the colophon
Bound in attractive contemporary calf, lacking clasps and catches, the boards ruled in gold, with a blind-stamped arabesque with flanking rosettes and the initials 'RL' within an single filet border, nicely rebacked, spine ruled in compartments, with green label, gilt, in the second compartment. Later endpapers and later end-bands (but text not re-sewn.) A fine, crisp copy with minor marginal stains (lvs. F4-5, L2-5, R1-4), tear in lower margin of leaf OOo6, light staining and soiling to leaves HHh4-5, natural paper flaw to blank corner of leaf Qq4, marginal tear to MM6, dampstain and soiling in lower margin of final three gatherings, title lightly soiled and discreetly strengthened in the inner margin. Tiny wormhole in first few gatherings. Large armorial device with arms and motto “Che sarà, sarà” on title. Arabesque on final leaf. Fine, large woodcut initials in the text.
First edition in English of Sleidanus’ seminal history of the Reformation, printed by John Day (ca. 1522-1584), the most celebrated of the English Protestant printers. This translation, published four years after Sleidanus’ death, includes the author’s “Apology” in which he responds to the attacks of his critics. (The “Apology” was never published during Sleidanus’ lifetime.)
“The first three books, based on Luther’s own published works and debates, set the scene with a description of the posting of the Ninety-five Theses and from there carry the story down to 1522. Imperial affairs, preceded by a sketch of the constitution of the Empire, are given parallel treatment with marginal attention to Erasmus, Zwingli, Henry VIII, and the ‘Bohemian sects.’ The central scene is the Diet of Worms in April 1521 when Luther took his archetypal stand (though Sleidanus does not report the legendary ‘Hier steh’ ich’ inscribed on the monument in Worms).
“The next three books continue the dual story, especially the Italian wars and the dissemination of the gospel, down to the formation of the Protestant party in 1529, and then focus widens again. With book 8 the Schmalkaldic League (in effect, Sleidanus’s employer) becomes dominant, and for the first time he can draw on his own experiences. Among the topics in the next four books (the 1530s) are the defeat and death of Zwingli, the events of the English Reformation, the sensational Anabaptist uprising at Münster, the persecution of French Protestants, the reforming efforts of Paul IV, the emergence of Calvin, the founding of the academy of Strasbourg, and, as always, the European wars centering on Charles V.
“Books 13 through 21 cover the 1540s, which Sleidanus spent mainly in Strasbourg, and continue the narrative of the wars down to the Interim of Augsburg in 1548. In Book 22 we find summarized that ‘locus classicus’ of revolutionary ideas, the Confession of Magdeburg. The last five books carry the story down to Sleidanus’s death, with continuing focus on the civil wars, especially the relations between the French monarchy and the German Protestants, though events from England to eastern Europe are commented on. The last major topic is the Diet of Augsburg, which ended the first phase of the Reformation.
"The impact of his ‘Commentaries’ was immediate and lasting. For the first time, Sleidanus's history-conscious contemporaries obtained an integrated account of the epochal events that had touched everybody in some form but that most could have perceived only in a fragmented way. What this account meant to that society can be gauged by the rousing demand for the book, by both friends and foes of the Reformation. It was extolled and it was maligned; but above all it was read. By his understanding of valid sources and his sense for historical context Sleidanus laid the foundation for Reformation historiography. To students of the sixteenth century his ‘Commentaries’ are of singular value, because they convey the perceptions of an intellectually and personally involved contemporary with a modern grasp of historical process" (Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation).