Comets, Conjoined Twins, The Invention of Printing & the Martyrdom of Anne Askew. The Boxbourne Library Copy

Lynne, Walter (d. 1571); Carion, Johannes (1499-1537/8); Melanchthon, Philip (1497-1560)

The thre bokes of cronicles, whyche Iohn Carion (a man syngularly well sene in the mathematycall sciences) gathered wyth great diligence of the beste authours that haue written in Hebrue, Greke or Latine. Whervnto is added an appendix, conteynyng all such notable thynges as be mentyoned in cronicles to haue chaunced in sundry partes of the worlde from the yeare of Christ. 1532. to thys present yeare of. 1550. Gathered by Iohn Funcke of Nurenborough. Whyche was neuer afore prynted in Englysh. Cum priuilegio ad imprimendum solum. [“caused to be translated by Gwalter Lynne.”]

London: [by S. Mierdman] for Gwalter Lynne, dwellynge on Somers Keye, by Byllinges gate. And they are to be solde in Paules church yarde, nexte the great Schole, at the sygne of the sprede Egle, 1550

$10,900.00

Quarto: 19 x 12.7 cm. [8], cclxv, cclxvii-cclxxix, [13] leaves. Collation: *8, A-X8, Z8, Aa-Oo8, Pp4, (lacking blank leaf Nn8)

FIRST ENGLISH EDITION.

Bound in 19th century brown morocco gilt, rebacked. The text is printed in black letter with historiated woodcut initials. Walter Lynne’s printer’s device appears on the recto of the final leaf. A fine copy with a little light toning. PROVENANCE: Chr[istopher] Bardsey (early signature on title-page); 1813: Roxb. A.A." (on flyleaf); Albert Ehrman (armorial bookplate on front pastedown and stamped monogram on lower pastedown); John Ehrman (Bibliotheca Broxbourniana bookplate on lower pastedown; Sotheby's London, 15 November 1977, lot 265)

This is the first edition in English of the work known as “Carion’s Chronicle”, translated by Walter Lynne and dedicated to Edward VI. The work was first conceived of and written by Johann Carion (1499-1537/8), Professor of Mathematics in the University of Frankfurt am Oder, and for a time, court astrologer to Joachim I, Elector of Brandenburg. Carion sent the work to Philip Melanchthon for editing and correction. However, as he himself says in a letter to Joachim Camerarius, Melanchthon found the work very weak and took it upon himself to re-write it. It is Melanchthon’s “revision” that was finally published, in German, at Wittenberg in 1532. The present English edition is a translation of the expanded edition of Johann Funck (1518-1566), who brought the chronicle up to date by adding material from 1532 to 1546. A final section, presumably added by the translator, brings the work up to 1550. The translator, the publisher Walter Lynne (d. 1571), was a native of Antwerp who arrived in England in 1540, settling in Billingsgate. He enjoyed the patronage of Cranmer and shows himself by his translations and prefaces “to be an ardent reformer”(DNB) His translations include an English version of Cranmer’s “Catechismus” and a number of works by Luther. To his translation of Carion, Lynne has added a preface on the use of reading history.

“Carion’s” is structured as a universal chronicle; it begins with an account of the Biblical Creation, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, and the histories of the ancient “kingdomes” (Assyrian, Persian, Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek, Roman.) The main account of the major historical events (the Fall of Troy, the Council of Constance, the Fall of Constantinople to the Turks) is enlivened by accounts of plagues, portents (a woman giving birth to conjoined twins), astronomical phenomena (comets, eclipses of the sun and moon), technological advances (the invention of printing), and natural disasters. As the work draws closer to the authors’ own time, the narrative becomes more detailed and present time occupies a disproportionately larger part of the work; the years 1517 to 1550 occupy more than a third of the entire volume. Given Melanchthon’s position as one of the most important of the Protestant Reformers, -and given the centrality of the Reformation to the events of the 16th century- it is not surprising that Carion’s Chronicle emerges as a rich contemporary document of the both the English and Continental Reformations. The notice of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses is surprisingly understated. It follows the notice of the elevation of Leo X to the papacy: “In the tyme of this Leo, the yere MDXVII, wrote Martyn Luther first against the Romysh bishops pardons, and from thence rose many disputacions afterward, whiche thynge caused no small alteracion in the Churche by the Germanes.”

The final section of the chronicle, from 1546 to 1550, includes an account of the executions of the English martyrs Anne Askew, John Adlam, John Lassels, and Nicholas Belenyam. The death of Henry VIII, the accession of Edward VI, and the institution of Protestant reforms during the Protectorate are also mentioned. Lynne concludes the volume with a call to true Christians to “Styll valiauntly fight with the two edged sworde against the Maliciouse Kyng of Egypte or Blasphemouse Byshop of Rome and all his trayterouse trayne.”

STC 4626