John Foxe, Actes and monuments of these latter and perilous days touching matters of the Church (first English edition, London, 1563)
English Protestant writer John Foxe (1516/17-1587) wrote
these words during a war; an ideological war every bit as
bitter and bitterly fought as the Cold War of the twentieth
century. Religion rather than economics divided Europe into
rival Catholic and Protestant blocs in the 1500s. The
battle between Catholic and Protestant was fought
physically - but it was also a contest of mentalities.
Foxe's own words highlight the power of the printed word -
and highlight also how people even then saw the printing
press as an important weapon of mass conversion on the
battlefield of religion. Thousands of books and millions of
words were written and printed arguing the merits of each
case over decades and centuries.
The Old Library is exceptionally fortunate to enjoy a rare and rich patrimony of many of these important books in its collections and some of the most influential printed volumes in European history are displayed in this exhibition.
Still life with books