The Pritzker Legal Research Center is delighted to receive a 17th-century religious and political tract from the Honorable Dean Hansell to add to the collection that bears his name. An alumnus of the Law School (JD ’77), Judge Hansell has led a distinguished career as an attorney and now as a judge on the California Superior Court in Los Angeles. Outside of his work, he is an avid collector of historical legal documents and has generously donated a number of items from his personal collection to the Law School.
Aphorismes of State situates itself within the Thirty Years’ War, in which Catholics and Protestants fought for religious control throughout the Holy Roman Empire. The Protestant Frederick V, Elector of Palatine, had recently suffered a defeat against Catholic troops and, in consequence, also suffered the loss of his inherited title. An electorship carried with it more than privilege and prestige—it also carried power when it came time to select the next Emperor. Frederick’s electorship was subsequently given to Maximilian of Bavaria, who happened to be very Catholic. In this document, Protestant polemicist Thomas Scott (1580?-1626) takes aim at the “Romish Church” in response to these events.
Scott was a prolific writer, publishing around 30 unique titles during his lifetime (one catalogue attributes 77 editions printed in the 17th century to his pen). Much of this work was spent decrying the Catholic Church and, by extension, Protestant England’s attempted allegiance with Catholic Spain. His most famous piece, Vox Populi, or, Newes from Spayne, was so scathing that he originally published it without a byline. Once he was revealed as the author, he left Britain, his home country, and spent the rest of his life in the Netherlands.
Our copy of Scott’s tract is an English translation from its original Dutch, and is one of four known editions published in 1624. Although the imprint simply states “Printed at Vtrech [Utrecht],” bibliographers believe it was actually printed by John Beale in London. Beale, who produced more than 300 editions throughout a thirty-year career, often printed religious texts such as catechisms, devotional literature, and treatises. Supporting the theory that he was, in fact, the printer of this volume, the decorative ornaments on the pages of our copy match those used by Beale in other books. Furthermore, he has been suggested as the printer of another tract written by Scott and published the same year.
In recognition of their significance, the Pritzer Legal Research Center is working to digitize the Dean Hansell Collection, and progress may be viewed online at https://plrc.omeka.net. To see Aphorismes of State in full, please click here.