Item #4978 De rebus Iaponicis historica relatio, eaque triplex: I. De gloriosa morte 26. crucifixorum. II. De legatione regis Chinensium ad regem Iaponiae, & de prodigijs legationem antegressis. III. De rebus per Iaponiam anno 1596. Luís JAPAN. KOREA. JESUITS. Fróis, S. J.
De rebus Iaponicis historica relatio, eaque triplex: I. De gloriosa morte 26. crucifixorum. II. De legatione regis Chinensium ad regem Iaponiae, & de prodigijs legationem antegressis. III. De rebus per Iaponiam anno 1596...
De rebus Iaponicis historica relatio, eaque triplex: I. De gloriosa morte 26. crucifixorum. II. De legatione regis Chinensium ad regem Iaponiae, & de prodigijs legationem antegressis. III. De rebus per Iaponiam anno 1596...
De rebus Iaponicis historica relatio, eaque triplex: I. De gloriosa morte 26. crucifixorum. II. De legatione regis Chinensium ad regem Iaponiae, & de prodigijs legationem antegressis. III. De rebus per Iaponiam anno 1596...
De rebus Iaponicis historica relatio, eaque triplex: I. De gloriosa morte 26. crucifixorum. II. De legatione regis Chinensium ad regem Iaponiae, & de prodigijs legationem antegressis. III. De rebus per Iaponiam anno 1596...
De rebus Iaponicis historica relatio, eaque triplex: I. De gloriosa morte 26. crucifixorum. II. De legatione regis Chinensium ad regem Iaponiae, & de prodigijs legationem antegressis. III. De rebus per Iaponiam anno 1596...
De rebus Iaponicis historica relatio, eaque triplex: I. De gloriosa morte 26. crucifixorum. II. De legatione regis Chinensium ad regem Iaponiae, & de prodigijs legationem antegressis. III. De rebus per Iaponiam anno 1596...
De rebus Iaponicis historica relatio, eaque triplex: I. De gloriosa morte 26. crucifixorum. II. De legatione regis Chinensium ad regem Iaponiae, & de prodigijs legationem antegressis. III. De rebus per Iaponiam anno 1596...
De rebus Iaponicis historica relatio, eaque triplex: I. De gloriosa morte 26. crucifixorum. II. De legatione regis Chinensium ad regem Iaponiae, & de prodigijs legationem antegressis. III. De rebus per Iaponiam anno 1596...
De rebus Iaponicis historica relatio, eaque triplex: I. De gloriosa morte 26. crucifixorum. II. De legatione regis Chinensium ad regem Iaponiae, & de prodigijs legationem antegressis. III. De rebus per Iaponiam anno 1596...
De rebus Iaponicis historica relatio, eaque triplex: I. De gloriosa morte 26. crucifixorum. II. De legatione regis Chinensium ad regem Iaponiae, & de prodigijs legationem antegressis. III. De rebus per Iaponiam anno 1596...

De rebus Iaponicis historica relatio, eaque triplex: I. De gloriosa morte 26. crucifixorum. II. De legatione regis Chinensium ad regem Iaponiae, & de prodigijs legationem antegressis. III. De rebus per Iaponiam anno 1596...

Mainz: Johann Albinus, 1599.

Price: $16,000.00

Octavo: 16.5 x 10 cm. [iv], 314 p., [ii] Collation: A-V8, X2

FIRST LATIN EDITION, printed in the year of the first (Italian) edition.

Bound in contemporary vellum (soiled and a bit rumpled), re-cased. A very good copy with light toning, some marginal worming to the opening and closing leaves, affecting the odd catchword. Some early ink underscores and a few small ink blotches. Stamp (and accompanying deaccession stamp) of the Bibliotheca Albertina, Bonn, Germany) on verso of title. Leaf O8 with irregular fore-edge; corner of one leaf also irregular, not affecting the text in either instance. With a small woodcut of the type of crucifix used for the executions. The woodcut appears on the title page and again on p. 74 at the beginning of the chapter “In what way the 26 were crucified”, in which the construction of the Japanese cross is described.

This volume includes a vivid account of the crucifixion of twenty-six Catholics, twenty of them Japanese, in Nagasaki on February 5, 1597. Among the group was St. Paul Miki (1562-1597), one of the earliest native Japanese Jesuits. The author of the account, the Portuguese Jesuit Luís Fróis, was stationed in Nagasaki at the time as a Jesuit missionary. Two other works by Fróis follow in this collection: an account of the Chinese embassy to Japan in 1596 to sue for peace after Japan’s invasion of Korea; and an account of the Jesuit mission during Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s persecution of Christians in 1596.

The twenty-six Christians, mainly Japanese, were crucified during the persecution of Christians by the second “great unifier” of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536/7-1598). The event was precipitated by an event in October 1596. A Spanish ship, the St. Filipe, had been shipwrecked on the island of Shikoku and the Spaniards intimated that the Christian missionaries were in Japan in preparation for a Spanish invasion. This enraged Hideyoshi, who ordered the arrest of certain priests and Japanese adherents. After an arduous, thousand-kilometer forced march from Kyoto to Nagasaki, those arrested were crucified on February 5, 1597. Among those martyred were three young Japanese boys, ages 12, 13, and 15; the Mexican chorister Felipe de Jesús, and three Japanese Jesuits.

The three Jesuits were Paul Miki (b. 1564), James Kisai (1533), and João de Goto (b. 1578). Miki, born into a wealthy Japanese family, was brought up as a Christian; he received a Jesuit education at Azuchi and Takatsuki and became a renowned preacher. He was an irmao, a Jesuit brother, not yet ordained, at the time of his death. João de Goto, a dojuku (a novice monastic), lived as one of the “hidden Christians” (kakure kirishitan) on the island of his birth; he later studied with the Jesuits at Nagasaki and Shiki. He was only 19 when he was crucified. By far the eldest of the three, James Kisai was raised a Buddhist but converted in adulthood, divorcing his wife, who remained Buddhism. He began his novitiate in 1594 at the age of 63.

Fróis’ report details the imprisonment of the Christians, their sufferings on the long march from Kyoto to Nagasaki –including the loss of their left ears-, the abuse they faced from the crowds, and their continued efforts to preach, minister to, and convert their tormentors during these trials. Upon arriving at Nagasaki, the Christians made their final confession before being fastened to wooden crosses with iron rings. When the crosses were hoisted aloft, soldiers pierced their hearts with lances, killing them. After the executions, mourners approached the scene dip pieces of cloth in the blood and take them away as relics, as well as pieces of the martyrs’ clothing or pieces cut off the crosses.

As noted above, the peculiar form of the cross used by the Japanese for the executions is described on p. 74 and illustrated with a small woodcut.

The Chinese Embassy to Japan:

The second letter in this volume concerns the Chinese embassy to Hideyoshi’s court in the ninth month of 1596. The purpose of the embassy was to negotiate a peace treaty with Hideyoshi following Japan’s invasion of Korea. The talks broke down and in 1597 Hideyoshi invaded Korea a second time.

The 1596 Annual Report From Japan:

The third work in this volume is Fróis’ annual letter for 1596, written from Nagasaki, in which he discusses the state of Catholicism during the persecution of Christianity in Japan. The letter is rich in cultural details. Fróis describes encounters with Korean slaves, who were forbidden to attend Catholic services; the Japanese nun Naitō Julia (d. 1627), a former abbess of a Jodo Buddhist convent, and Kyogoku Maria (c. 1543-1618), who studied Catholic literature -given her by the Jesuits- while confined in Hideyoshi’s palace.

A note on the editions: Fróis wrote his letter on the martyrs in his native Portuguese; Gasparo Spitilli (1561-1640) translated the (unpublished) original into Italian for publication in 1599 (at Rome, Bologna, and Milan) as “Relatione della gloriosa morte di ventisei positi in croce per comandamento del Re di Giappone… 1597”. The Latin text of this Mainz edition is based on the Italian. The printer, Albinus, also printed a German-language edition in 1599 as “Drey Japponische Schreiben…”.

VD16 F 3085; Streit IV, 505, 1897; Adams F 1062; Cordier 199; STC 324