1584 De Bello Coloniensi (Cologne War) by Michael ab Isselt. Woodcuts. An inter-denominational romance that caused a war!


Fascinating 1st edition regarding the genesis and start of the 1583 Cologne War, that was precipitated by a Catholic/Protestant romance in the time of the Reformation and wars of religion. It also possesses woodcuts depicting battle scenes.

About the Work -

This book, says Lenglet Du Fresnoy, is curious and unusual. It is the story of Gerhard Truchsess of Waldburg, Archbishop of Cologne, who changed his religion, and was succeeded by Prince Ernest of Bavaria.

Truchsess received a humanist education and prepared himself, as a cadet, for an ecclesiastical career. From 1560 he accumulated the prebends, as deacon and canon of several chapters, and was elected elector of Cologne in 1577 against Ernest of Bavaria, with a narrow majority of two votes.

After his election, he fell in love with Agnes of Mansfeld, Canon of Gerresheim, and had such relations with her that Agnes' brothers summoned him to marry her. Wanting to marry without losing the electorate, Gebhard embraced the Reformation in 1582 and married Agnes. This affair caused a great stir, because it violated the rule of "ecclesiastical reservation" established by the Peace of Augsburg, which required the ecclesiastical princes of the Holy Roman Empire to resign in case of conversion to Protestantism. Instead, Waldburg undertook to transform its ecclesiastical principality into a civil principality: the city declared itself against him, Pope Gregory XIII excommunicated him, and a fraction of the chapter elected his former competitor Ernest of Bavaria.

A war ensued in 1583 known as the Cologne War which lasted until 1588.

This book was printed in 1584, and therefore is not conclusive of all the war.

About the Author -

Michael ab Isselt received his early education in Amersfoort, a circumstance according to which Valerius Andreas presumed that he was a native of that city, and went to study at the University of Louvain, received holy orders, and, returning to his homeland, fought Luther's opinions with frequent preaching. The successes of the reformers forced him to retire to Cologne, and then to Hamburg, where he divided his time between the duties of the ministry and the writing of works in which the revolution of the Netherlands is presented in an unfavorable light. Isselt died in a convent near that town on 17 Oct. 1597, at an early age.

Bibliographic Details -

Universal Short Title Catalogue number 675970. Only one copy listed in the U.S., at Johns Hopkins University Library (many copies in European libraries).

Title -

Title translates roughly as - On the war of the Colonies, four books. This is a true and succinct narrative of the whole of the affairs of the diocese from the election of Gebhard Truchsesius as archbishop of Cologne, until the recovery of Westphalia by his successor, Ernest, duke of Bavaria. A narrative transcribed from the archives themselves, autographs, and the faithful of those who were present at the events. And vividly illustrated with pictures of the principal places, with a very rich index.

Physical Attributes -

Measures approx. 15 x 10 x 3 cm. Hardcover binding covered by decorative paper. Printer's mark on title page. Decorated initials. Woodcuts, nine in total.

Pages - (xxiv), 463 but misnumbered at last leaves and really 465, 10 pages of index, colophon page, blank leaf

Collation - *8, **4, A-Gg8

Condition -

See pictures. Very basic 19th century hardcover binding with edge and corner wear, some rubbing. Title in manuscript on spine. Front endpaper with ghosting from 19th century hand-written auction description and tag. Title page with light number at top corner, and name written at bottom edge "A. 1584 M. Augusto". Toning throughout the book. Occasional thumb, fox spot, etc.. Moisture mark from edge, sometimes into text, throughout. Fore-edge margin wide. Colophon and last blank leaf with some foxing, last blank leaf with writing in an old hand (descriptions of where the book is mentioned).

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