Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures | 06 December 2017

Back to Catalogue
Currency

Lot no.

45

Sir Thomas More, Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer , in Tudor English

Unsold

Est: £3000–5000

Sir Thomas More, Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer , in Tudor English, manuscript on paper [England, mid-sixteenth century (probably 1530s)]

Single leaf, with single column of 36 lines of a notably fine and small English vernacular bookhand, single letters set in upright margin, running title “The confutation / of frere Barnes church” at head of pages and catchword “persons” at outer corner of foot, slight bumps to corner and tiny chips from edges of leaf, discolouration to edge of inner border, slightly trimmed at top with loss of tops of ascenders of one running title, else outstanding condition, 247 by 175mm.

This newly discovered leaf is evidently the only manuscript of this fundamental Tudor Reformation text to survive that is not copied from a printed exemplar. It may well have once been part of the author’s own copy

Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) was an English humanist and one of the most powerful statesmen in the court of King Henry VIII. Moreover, as a staunch Catholic, he was a rare voice defending the traditional Church at the head of the Tudor government. He opposed the Protestant Reformation, and with particular ferocity the works of Martin Luther and William Tyndale (both cited frequently here). His early anti-Protestant actions were bookish, and included helping Cardinal Wolsey in preventing the importation of Lutheran works into England, championing the arrest of those selling or disseminating such works, and spying on suspected Protestant publishers. He vigorously suppressed the publication of Tyndale’s English translation of the New Testament. In the 1530s his war against the ‘heretics’ continued to be one of words, with him publishing a treatise Dialogue Concerning Heresies , Tyndale responding with An Answer unto Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue , and the present work, More’s vast half-million word treatise, the Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer . However, he had ultimately placed himself on the wrong side of Tudor royal opinion, and after refusing to attend Anne Boleyn’s coronation in 1533, he quickly fell from grace and was needled with legal cases until accused of treason and imprisoned one year later. He was convicted, protesting all the while at Henry VIII’s self-appointment as the head of the Church, and was beheaded on 6 July 1535.

This work, the Confutation of frere Barnes church , was produced as part of the Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer , but deals specifically with the question of the religious movement started by Robert Barnes, an Augustinian friar from Cambridge, who had received a protestant education in Leuven. In 1526, Barnes was summoned before the University for preaching reforming sermons, and having drawn the attention of Wolsey was incarcerated in Fleet Prison (but managing to continue the dissemination of vernacular Bibles during this time). He escaped in 1528, and went to Wittenberg to meet Martin Luther, returning to England in 1531 to further his cause. He attracted legal problems over preaching, recanted, then reverted to Lutheranism and was burnt in 1540. The whole of the Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer was published in 1532-33, and probably due to its rapid route from the author’s hand to the printing press, manuscript witnesses to it are of extreme rarity. The Yale edition of his works published between 1963 and 1997 and the comprehensive online Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts 1450-1700 list only three such witnesses (Oxford, Bodleian, MS Ballard 72, fols. 51v-81r and Ampleforth Abbey, MS 31, no. 1, both containing only parts of the preface and apparently copied from the 1557 edition of More’s collected works; and some extracts in the compendium volume copied by members of More’s circle, now British Library, Royal MS 17 D.XIV). The present manuscript is not a fugitive leaf from Royal MS 17 D.XIV, and nor is it a replacement leaf from the 1533 edition or the collected works of the author printed in 1537. The variant readings here are in part substantial, and this leaf would appear to be all that remains of a lost manuscript of the text, perhaps produced under the author’s own supervision.

Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures

Wednesday 06 December 2017, 2.00pm

Bloomsbury London
Bloomsbury House
24 Maddox Street
London
W1S 1PP

Viewing

Saturday 2 December
11am - 4pm
Sunday 3 December
11am - 4pm
Monday 4 December
9.30am - 5.30pm
Tuesday 5 December
9.30am - 5.30pm
Day of Sale from 9.30am

Important Information

This website includes general reports of the condition of the property for various lots in this Sale. The absence of any condition or condition report does not mean, or imply, that the lot is free from any damage or restoration. If you require a condition report, please click on the Enquire about this lot button on the lot details page. We are not professional restorers and do not undertake conservation, and we strongly recommend that you consult such a professional of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed report. Whilst we undertake every reasonable effort to provide a comprehensive representation of every item, prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition. Any statement, whether written or verbal made by The Fine Art Auction Group (trading as Dreweatts, Dreweatts 1759 and Bloomsbury Auctions), its staff and agents, is a subjective, qualified opinion and is only provided on this basis. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE AND ANY REPORT OR VERBAL OBSERVATION IS ONLY PROVIDED ON THIS BASIS.

Artist's Resale Rights (“Droit de Suite”)

Lots marked with a delta symbol (δ) are subject to the Artist's Resale Right Law.The buyer agrees to pay Bloomsbury Auctions an amount equal to the resale royalty and we will pay such amount to the artist's collecting agent. Resale royalty applies where the Hammer price is 1,000 Euros or more and the amount cannot be more than 12,500 Euros per lot. The amount is calculated as follows:

Royalty For the portion of the Hammer Price (in Euros)
4.00% up to 50,000
3.00% between 50,000.01 and 200,000
1.00% between 200,000.01 and 350,000
0.50% between 350,000.01 and 500,000
0.25% in excess of 500,000

Invoices will, as usual, be issued in Pounds Sterling. For the purposes of calculating the resale royalty the Pounds Sterling/ Euro rate of exchange will be the European Central Bank reference rate on the day of the sale.