Grafting Knives from the St Andrews copy

Piracy and Plants

By Nora Epstein | The English have long been known for their love of gardening, a pastime popular since at least the sixteenth century: if not longer, to judge from the number of surviving botany books. Leonard Mascall’s A Booke of the Arte and Manner how to Plant and Graffe all Sorts of Trees…(USTC 513190) […]

Hanging of John Ogilvie, National Portrait Gallery, London

Hanged & Drawn: How the story of a Scottish martyr spread across Germany

By Nina Lamal | Working on books printed in the German lands in the first half of the seventeenth century, I came across a few publications describing the martyr death of the Scottish Jesuit John Ogilvie, the first Jesuit to be executed in Scotland. These publications are not recorded in VD17, the German national bibliography […]

Woodcut featuring two drunk men

Early Modern Student Debauchery

By Drew Thomas | The life of a 21st-century student might seem vastly different from their mediaeval and early modern counterparts, but in many ways, student life remains the same. While the modern student relies on laptops, chai lattes, and dating apps, they have many things in common with students of ages past: especially went […]

Canticle, title page, Marsh's Library

Sickness, Religion and Kingdom: a Canticle composed for the King of Navarre

By Marc Jaffré | Disease, sickness and death were major preoccupations of early modern people, but because the destinies of whole kingdoms depended on the health of monarchs, their diseases became the subjects of correspondence, ambassadorial dispatches, and a flurry of pamphlets. One such pamphlet, Cantique simplement composé et de la maladie, & de la convalescence […]

Ghent, Den wech na Romen - title page

Travelling to holy places in the early modern period

By Sandra Toffolo | From the first pilgrimages to Jerusalem in the fourth century, people wrote books about these sacred journeys. Even over the course of the early modern period, when pilgrimages ceased to be a mass phenomenon, these travel accounts still continued to be written. Hundreds have been handed down to us from the […]

Practica, 1568, 6905901

Like Father, Like Son: Identifying Prognosticators

By Nina Lamal | In 1568 the Erfurt printer Georg I Baumann published Practica auff das M.D.LXIX. Jhar by Reinhold Erasmus (USTC 6905901, pictured above). Erasmus (1511-1551) was a mathematics professor at the University of Wittenberg known for his Prutenic Tables, which was a compilation of astronomical tables based on Copernicus’ work. It was first […]

USTC 139280 A Catechism or Christian Doctrine, title page

A Catechism from the English Exiles in Rouen

By Chelsea Reutcke | Within the collection at Harvard’s Houghton Library, one of our Preserving the World’s Rarest Books partners, is a small devotional book from 1583 by Laurence Vaux entitled A Catechism or Christian Doctrine, Necessary for Children and Ignorant People (STC 24627, USTC 139280). At first glance, an English language catechism for children […]

St. Bridget of Sweden, woodcut

Beware of Ghosts!: Avoiding Ghost Editions of the Revelations of St. Bridget

By Nora Epstein | In the final months of the fifteenth century, the Nuremberg printer Anton Koberger completed the first of two editions of his Revelationes Sancte Birgitte under the patronage of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. The resulting Latin and German editions were profusely illustrated and loosely based on a 1492 Revelationes printed in […]

The English Mercurie - title

The English Mercurie of 1588: the first (hoax) newspaper

By Arthur der Weduwen | In 1794, the Scottish antiquarian and political writer George Chalmers made a startling find. He had found proof that the first newspaper had been printed in London in 1588, decades before the emergence of newspapers elsewhere in Europe. It had been a chance discovery. Chalmers was composing a history of […]

Prognostication title page from Trent Civic Library

Identifying the mysterious printer of Italian Prognostications

By Matteo Fadini | In the Trent Civic Library collection there are 80 unique sixteenth-century books.  Today’s post focuses on one of them: a pronostico ­– a pamphlet containing astrological predictions. The book, by Tommasino Girardelli, was Pronostico dell’anno M.D.LXVII. di Tomasino Giradelli da Trento, sopra le quattro stagioni dell’anno, con il raccolto del presente, & […]