A rare volume from Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s confiscated library is now on show in the Library of Trinity College Dublin as part of a new exhibition, ‘Power and Belief: The Reformation at 500’.
‘Epistolae quaedam piissimae …’ (1537) by the Czech reformer Jan Hus was once housed in the Library of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. The work was last referenced in John Strype’s ‘Memorials of Cranmer’ (1694) as “… in the possession of a Reverend Friend of mine near Canterbury”. Cranmer was burned as a heretic in 1556 and his books were confiscated by the authorities. The main collection was later absorbed into the library of Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel.
The Reformation was a series of spiritual, social, cultural, and political processes that affected Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Europe from the early sixteenth century. Reformers were committed to what they conceived to be authentic versions of Christianity inspired by the Bible and by the practices of the early Church. For some reformers, including Martin Luther, pursuit of their cause led to a break from existing church institutions.
This exhibition reflects on the Reformation’s impact on spreading religious diversity to the Continent and how it transformed the religious landscape across Europe and the wider world. Drawing on the rich collections held in the Library, the display also includes Martin Luther’s translation of the Old Testament (1523) and William Bedell’s work ‘Leabhuir na Seintiomna …’ (1685), the first translation into Irish of the Old Testament.
The exhibition, presented by The School of English and The School of Histories and Humanities in conjunction with the Library, runs for the month of February in the Long Room, Trinity College Dublin.