Misattributed to Rubens

Pius V (Pope). Apostolicarum Pii Quinti Pont. Max. epistolarum libri quinque. Nunc primum in lucem editi opera & cura Francisci Govbav.

❧ Antuerpiae: ex officina Plantiniana Balthasaris Moreti, mdcxl [1640]. In Latin. 220 × 162 mm (8.75 × 6.375 in.). 4to. [12], 447, [35] pp. Engraved title page commonly attributed to Rubens is by Erasmus Quellinus the Younger (1607–1678). Printer’s device on verso of final leaf. Old shelf mark on front pastedown. Old ownership inscription on front flyleaf: ex Libris Eximu D Ghenne.” Old ownership inscription on title page: Collegii Societatis Jesu Lovanij, 1640 M.B. H.5.Good. Bound in full calf, blind tooled on both covers. Edges rubbed and worn. Rebacked, with modern leather spine, gilt tooled, and gilt lettered black leather spine label.

First edition of previously uncollected letters by Pope Pius v (d. 1572) to prominent figures and heads of states of his day. The letters touch on various matters that defined the papacy, and which are of vital interest to European (and global) politics and religion of the time. Topics include war with the Ottoman empire (including references to the Battle of Lepanto), the Council of Trent (whose decrees Pius v enforced), the propagation of the Christian faith in the Americas (Book 2, Epistles 16–18), the counter-reformation (Book 4, epistles 1–8), and other reforms (such as denouncing the corruption of cohabitation,” possibly anticipating his August 1568 bull against homosexuality, Book I, Epistle 4). The letters were edited by Francisco Goubau, a Spanish diplomat in Rome. In a brief note to the reader that prefaces the letters, Goubau notes that he has brought these letters to light, from the ruins of Rome,” to be a light in a thick darkness,” a reference to the military and economic challenges the Spanish empire faced in the late 1630s.

An ink inscription on the title page indicates this book was acquired in the year of its publication by the Jesuit College in Louvain. After the Jesuits were suppressed in 1773, the building was converted into a theological seminary by Maria Theresia in 1778. The library’s books were incorporated into nearby libraries, including the Royal Library at Brussels and the ill-fated Louvain University Library which was looted during the Napoleonic Wars and destroyed during World War I. A second early inscription suggests the path this particular volume might have taken. Ex Libris Eximu D Ghenne” denotes, based on comparison with the same mark in other books, Dutch provenance, possibly the University of Ghent.

The engraved title for this book is commonly misattributed to Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640). In fact, the title was engraved by Reubens’ pupil and close collaborator Erasmus Quellinus the Younger. A payment record from May 25, 1639, shows that Quellinus received 24 guilders in payment for this engraving.

Six locations in the United States reported in Oclc (Brown, University of Pennsylvania, Lutheran Seminary, General Theological Seminary, St. Joseph University, Southern Methodist University).


Judson, J. Richard and Carl van de Velde. Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard. Part XXI. London: Harvey Miller, 1978, pages 505–506 & plate 26.


In stock

Stock Code: 1451B17 Collection: Catalogue:


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