The First Plantin Edition of the Council of Trent Index

cum Regulis confectis per Patres a Tridentina Synodo delectos, auctoritate Sanctiss. D. N. Pij IIII, Pont. Max. comprobatus. Cum Appendice in Belgio, ex mandato Regiae Cathol. Maiestatis confecta.

Woodcut printer’s device of the golden compass on title. 119 pp. Small 8vo, 18th-cent. Belgian mottled calf (head of spine a little chipped, joints rubbed), sides gilt, spine gilt, red morocco lettering piece on spine (label partly flaked away). Antwerp: C. Plantin, 1570.

[as usual, bound after]:

PHILIP II, King of Spain. Philippi II. Regis Catholici Edictum De Librorum prohibitorum catalogo observando. Woodcut printer’s device of the golden compass on title. 8 unnumbered leaves. Antwerp: C. Plantin, 1570.

In the struggle against the rising tide of Protestantism the need for catalogues of forbidden books became obvious. Local authorities in many countries compiled a number of these. The Council of Trent in 1563 laid down the rules to be followed in the future and made an official index, published by order of Pius IV in 1564. Phillip II tried to improve the list by adding a separate list of prohibited books in the Spanish Netherlands.

I. First edition of Plantin’s important printing of the famous index of prohibited books first published in 1564 as a direct result of the Council of Trent. Following the title and the bull of Pius IV (pp. 3-5), the ten basic rules designed to govern and regulate the activities of publishers and censors are published. Then, starting on page 15, is the list itself of forbidden authors and their books which continues through page 55. The books are classified alphabetically within three groups: authors of whom all works are condemned, authors of whom certain works — or parts of works — are condemned, and anonymous works.

In the next section, following a four-page preface, we find on pages 61-117 an extensive appendix of books prohibited in the Spanish Netherlands, including books in French, Flemish, and Spanish. Among them are works by Rabelais and books printed by Plantin himself! The appendix was probably compiled by the Spanish theologian and scholar Benito Arias Montano (1527-98) at the order of the Duke of Alva. Pages 118-19 contain an extract from the bull of Paul V.

Plantin shared the lucrative monopoly of printing the Indices of prohibited books with the Brussels printer Michel van Hamont. This monopoly symbolized the good relations the two printers enjoyed with the Spanish authorities.

There are two issues of this work published in the same year, one with 112 pages and, as with the present copy, 119 pages. According to Voet, the texts are identical and the priority is uncertain.

II. As is often the case, this Index is preceded by the edict (or ordinance) issued in the name of Philip II which serves as a sort of introduction to the Index. It includes instructions on how the Index should be implemented: the listed books had to be burned within three months of the publication of this edict.

Very good copies of two important works which are scarce on the market. Contemporary ownership inscription on first title dated 1570 with some additional annotations on verso of final leaf of the Index. With a note on the rear free endpaper stating the book was rebound on 17 August 1756.

❧ Voet 1445 & 1443.

Price: $15,000.00

Item ID: 3322

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