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The Bible in Welsh (London: Christopher Barker, 1588).

The printing of a language often ensures its survival, particularly when it is faced with competition from the language of an economically and culturally powerful and ambitious neighbour. Although printing in Welsh began in 1546, it was the production of this work, the first complete Bible in Welsh, that ensured the continuing vitality of literature in Welsh.

Geronimo Nadal, Adnotationes et meditationes in Euangelia (Antwerp: Martin Nuyts, 1595)

This image forms one of a sequence of 153 plates illustrating the Gospel stories, first published separately in 1593, then with a commentary in this edition, commissioned by Geronimo Nadal at the instigation of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (1540). Nadal was one of the first ten members of the order, and Loyola’s personal representative.

Everard Digby, De arte natandi libri duo (London: Thomas Dawson, 1587).

Everard Digby was admitted to St John's in 1567 and became a Fellow in 1573. His best known work is this book on swimming, the earliest such work to be published in England. The illustrations are composed from five landscape blocks with swimmers in different positions inserted in the middle. Digby was deprived of his Fellowship in 1587 partly on account of his habit of blowing a horn and shouting in College.

Konrad Lykosthenes, Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon (Basel: Heinrich Petri, 1557).

Reports of strange phenomena and creatures from foreign lands had long filtered back to Europeans who then proceeded to populate the blank spaces on maps with them. They also flourished as woodcuts and engravings in many books from the time, some of which were re-used in several different volumes owing to the cost of production.

Gaspare Tagliacozzi, Cheirurgia nova (Frankfurt: Johannes Saur, 1598)

This work, a reprint of the first book exclusively devoted to plastic surgery and particularly nasal reconstruction, was written by Gaspare Tagliacozzi (1545-1599) of Bologna, in response to the number of facial injuries caused by dueling and other forms of combat, as well as syphilis. His work covers the anatomy of the nose and includes sections on the restoration of the nose, lips, and ears by means of grafting skin, mainly from the upper arm.

Berthold Purstinger, Onus ecclesiae (Koln: Johann Quentel, 1531).

As the protestant reformers busied themselves attacking the papacy and the sale of indulgences, many who stayed within the Catholic fold realised that something needed to be done to rejuvenate the church and stop it disintegrating. One such was Berthold Purstinger of Chiemsee, who produced various defences of the Catholic Church against Lutheranism. The work pictured here, however, was a critique of the Catholic Church.

Konstantinos Hermoniakos' paraphrase of The Iliad (Venice: Stefano de Sabio, 1526).

The Greek alphabet first appeared in print in Latin texts which incorporated Ancient Greek quotations, from 1465 onwards. Over time, however, from the first setting down of the Homeric epics to the beginning of the modern era, the Greek language had undergone many changes, enough to make the publication of this translation from ancient to modern forms viable. It is based on a 14th-century paraphrase of the ancient text by Konstantinos Hermoniakos, who was working in one of the fragments of the Byzantine Empire left after the Fourth Crusade.

Heinrich Stromer, Algorithmus linealis (Leipzig: Jakob Thanner, 1517).

This text is one of a number of early treatises on the use of the abacus printed around the turn of the 15th century. The woodcut diagrams represent counters on the lines of an abacus, and the whole treatise covers addition, subtraction, multiplication and topics in arithmetic.

Donated by Richard Pendlebury.

Thomas More's Utopia (1516) and Epigrammata (1520)

Knighted in 1521, More rose to become Lord Chancellor before being executed for high treason in 1535. He is a saint to the Catholic and a predecessor of Marx to the Communist.

Polyglot Psalter (Genoa: Petrus Paulus Porro, 1516).

This edition of the Book of Psalms was the first polyglot printing of any part of the Bible. Polyglots allowed scholars to compare the various versions of the scriptures by arranging them in parallel columns, and developed from the traditions of Jewish scholars. In this volume the text is in seven columns: Hebrew, a Latin translation of the Hebrew, the Latin Vulgate, the Greek Septuagint, Arabic, Aramaic, and a Latin translation of the Aramaic.

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