About the Catalogue of St. Edmunds
Summary description and analysis of the libraryAs we saw earlier, the way Weldon arranged the library in twenty categories was not unusual at the time. The size of the categories varies from just over 800 items (Libri Pii) to just under 70 (Medici). Although the demarcation between the different categories is on the whole straightforward and appropriate, there are also oddities and inconsistencies. This is not so strange when one realises that several librarians were involved in the classifying of the books over a period of nearly one and a half centuries. Moreover, the terms for certain categories used by Weldon and his successors have undergone a shift in meaning between their time and the present. Thus it is clear that the category of the Philosophi also covers the fields of natural philosophy and science or the sciences. Of course, the library has a distinct Benedictine colour, and this is most obvious in Concilia et Canonistae, Patres Latini, Controvertistae, Concionatores, Historici Sacri and especially Libri Pii. And the Benedictine presence is by no means only a question of the great names, such as Calmet and the Maurist scholars d'Achery, Mabillon and Montfaucon. In the three theology categories, Dogmatic, Scholastic and Moral, there are relatively few Benedictine authors. The large number of French books in the library shows how much St Edmund's also formed part of the religious and cultural life in France. The library had many books concerning the past and present developments in religion and politics in the country. There were also frequent contacts with French Benedictines, such as the Congregation of St Maur which had a monastery at Saint Germain des Prés. The authors present in the library with 30 or more entries are Cicero, Thomas Aquinas, Bellarmine, Thomas à Kempis and Augustine, and in second place Becanus, Gother, Luis de Granada, Aristotle and Erasmus with between 25 and 30 entries. Where Cicero (45 entries) is to be found exclusively in Humanistae Latini, the works of Thomas Aquinas, Bellarmine, Thomas à Kempis, Augustine, Becanus and Erasmus are distributed over three, four, or in the case of Bellarmine, even five categories. After a summarising sketch of the majority of the categories, we will deal in some greater detail with the four largest categories, Libri Pii, Controvertistae, Historici Profani and Haeretici et Heterodoxi, to conclude our survey with some remarks on the manuscripts in the library and on the collection of books bestowed by St Edmund's on the neighbouring priory of La Celle. Walton's Biblia Polyglotta is the first book of the Biblia Sacra category, and of the catalogue as a whole. There is some irony in the fact that this Protestant bible, one of the very few in this category, which was moreover on the Index till the late 19th century, occupies such a prominent place. Within this category four subcategories can be distinguished: bibles; ancillary works; exegesis and commentary; a miscellaneous group. The largest of these four, with some 140 works, is that of exegesis and commentary. Where the relatively neutral field of the ancillary books could safely be left to non-Catholics, the exegetes and commentators had to be Catholic. The miscellaneous group is variegated and ranges from books about the history of the Jews to Girard's Les peintures sacrées sur la bible. Patres Graeci and Patres Latini show a systematic effort to have available scholarly editions of the most important Church Fathers, several of them undertaken by monks of the Congregation of St Maur. In a number of cases, for instance that of Irenaeus writing about the unbroken chain from the apostles to the present-day bishops, the relevance for the contemporary Catholic-Protestant controversies is evident. Patres Latini is dominated by Augustine, with multi-volume editions by the Maurists and the Louvain theologians. Dogmatic theology was on the decline in the second half of the 17th century, and it is no surprise that of the three categories, dogmatic, scholastic and moral, this is the thinnest. Scholastic theology is strong on Peter Lombard and Thomas Aquinas, and on their numerous commentators. The authoritative commentator on Thomas Aquinas, Francisco Suarez, fills the whole of subsection 1H in the library. Among the more modern authors in this field there is a large contingent of 17th and 18th century French writers: Louis Bail, Tournély, Collet, Abelly, Witasse, Musson and others. In moral theology there are the standard theoretical works, but, understandably, the more practical books of pastoral guidance prevail. Concionatores is largely a French affair. It looks as if the English monks in Paris were mainly fed on French, and to a lesser extent, Spanish fare: Biroat, de Besse, Molinier, de Palafox y Mendoza, de la Vega and Pedro de Valderama. Historici Sacri combines church-history and hagiography. The formidable surveys by Baronius, Fleury and Bellarmine represent the first, the equally voluminous work by Laurentius Surius the second. The history of the Benedictine order gets much attention here, but there are also contributions on other orders, such as the Franciscans and the Dominicans. The ecclesiastical history of England is the subject of books by Cressy, Harpsfield, Richard Smith, Broughton and, of course, Bede. Concilia has several monumental histories and acta of the Church-Councils as well as histories of specific councils. Among the latter the Council of Trent takes pride of place as the most direct programme for the Counter-Reformation. Humanistae Latini brings together an enormous number of grammars and dictionaries. On the literary side Cicero is by far the most prominent author, and of the other great classical writers Virgil, Ovid, Horace and Terence come next. In the area of rhetoric and oratory there are besides Cicero and Quintilian modern authors like Ravisius Textor and Pelletier, and also many exemplary works illustrating and teaching pure and elegant classical Latin. The category also contains a fair number of Neoclassical poets from all over Europe. Humanistae Graeci, somewhat less than half the size of the Latin section, is of a more basic level when it comes to the grammars and dictionaries. Homer is the star author, but poets like Pindar, Hesiod and Aristophanes, and the great tragedians Euripides, Sophocles and Aeschylus are also well represented. With Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas as the principal authors Philosophi makes a solidly traditional impression, but that impression has to be at least partly adjusted on the basis of the post-Weldon additions in the catalogue: Bacon, Cudworth, Newton, Derham, le Grand, Rohault, Berkeley, Hume and the mid-18th century prior of St Edmund's, Charles Walmesley. Moreover, the really dangerous 17th and 18th century modernists like Hobbes, Anthony Collins and Conyers Middleton were relegated to Haeretici et Heterodoxi. The three small categories of Medici, Mathematici and Iurisconsulti are a combination of a small group of scholarly and scientific works, and a large group of a practical, domestic and 'applied' character. Miscellanea is truly a rest category, with such ill-assorted companions as pro-Jesuit books, belles-lettres, courtesy and conduct books and treatises on political theory. Of the 800 odd books in Libri Pii nearly half is in French, and Latin and English each have one quarter. In no other category there is such a large quantity of books in French. Libri Pii is also the most Benedictine category. There are a great many editions, in various languages, of the Rule of St Benedict, with even more commentaries and meditations on and exercises derived from it, as well as the constitutions and declarations of several Congregations. Joseph Mège, a monk of the Congregation of St Maur, wrote a commentary which is an attack on the rigoristic interpretation of the Rule by de Rancé, the Abbot of La Trappe. There are constitutions of other Benedictine Congregations, but also of other monastic orders such as the Norbertines. In this category also books about the training and guidance of novices are to be found. Many Benedictine works form part of the wider context of monasticism, and both Historici Sacri and Libri Pii contain many works in this field by for instance Aubertus Miraeus, van Haeften, Trithemius and the Abbot of La Trappe. Spirituality, mysticism and devotion are evidently well represented in this category, and here also the Benedictine authors, among whom again several Maurists, occupy a prominent place. The most prolific writers in this area were Louis de Blois (Blosius), Francis de Sales and John Gother. As far as the English Benedictines were concerned, Augustine Baker, Gertrude More, Serenus Cressy and Anthony Batt ought to be mentioned. The group of Spanish mystics and writers on spirituality, mysticism and asceticism is remarkably large. Besides editions of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, sections 12M and 13M list many books by well-known writers like Luis de Granada, Peter of Alcantara, Alfonso Rodriguez, Antonio de Molina and a number of other authors. There is a small contingent of non-Catholic books in this category - mostly added later - by such Anglicans as William Law, Joseph Butler and Joseph Hall. Controvertistae numbers about 660 items and is the second largest category in the library; 40% is in English, with French and Latin each at nearly 30%. The authors dominating this category, with each more than 10 entries, are on the English side Persons, Stapleton, Richard Smith, Sergeant and Cressy, and on the foreign side Bellarmine, Becanus, Véron and Bossuet. There are several general defences of the Catholic faith, and also various surveys of controversies, but the majority of works consists of both specifically English controversies and specifically French ones. All the well-known controversies between Catholics and Anglicans - there is hardly anything against the dissenters - of the period 1558-1700, are to be found in the library, with Stillingfleet, the leading Anglican polemicist, as the most written against opponent. Richard Smith contributes over 25 items to this category, part of which belonged to the group of internal disputes within the Catholic camp itself. With the gradual change of the religious and philosophical climate after 1700 Catholics and orthodox Anglicans were up against a new and formidable enemy: the growing number of latitudinarians, deists and freethinkers, and they began to realise that they were allies in this battle. Hence the presence of books by Anglicans such as Thomas Sherlock and Daniel Waterland. Both the number and the nature of the French controversial works in this category suggest to what extent the English Benedictines in Paris had become part of the French religious world. The chief French authors were Bossuet, Richelieu and Véron, who are all present with their key works, but also with English translations of them. Apart from the battles fought between the Catholic controversialists and the Protestant ministers, there were the burning internal issues of Jansenism, Gallicanism and Quietism. Of these three Jansenism gets far more attention in the library than the other two, and - perhaps an indication of the irenic position of the community - the defenders and opponents seem to be about equally divided. This category does not have publications of the opposing side, unless the controversy is an internal Catholic affair. Historici Profani comprises various adjacent fields like biography, antiquities, politics, bibliography and fictional history, and therefore the category makes a somewhat diffuse impression. Roman and Greek history are strongly represented and as in the Humanistae section there is a clear preponderance of Roman over Greek writers. All the familiar Roman and Greek historians are there, with respectively Sallust and Tacitus, and Plutarch and Thucydides contributing the largest number of entries. As far as England is concerned, the early history is dealt with at length in the works of Stowe, Camden, Polydore Virgil, William of Newburgh and Sir Richard Baker, but the modern and contemporary history part is fairly meagre. There is an emphasis on the period from James I to the Restoration, and especially on Charles I and the Civil War, but there is not much on the post-Restoration period and hardly anything on the 18th century. The library had a considerable collection of histories of foreign nations and peoples. Naturally, French history dominates with historians like Froissart, Duchesne, Bodin, de Commines, de Serres and de Thou. In modern and contemporary history the French works clearly outnumber the English. There is also a remarkable quantity of books on Spanish history, most of them written in Spanish. Perhaps less predictable are the writings on 'exotic' countries and peoples: Persia, Ethiopia, Peru and the Incas, Siam, Japan and China. Then there were several works on world history and European history, and general studies on the science of history. Geography and travel form a sizeable part of this category, with various maps of England and France and a large number of sea-charts. For various reasons Haeretici et Heterodoxi is a special category. It is largely English, it has the biggest number of later additions and it is the most 18th century category. It is the only category that presents a whole range of enemies and threats from the wicked world outside Catholicism. In a way it offers the mirror image of many of the Catholic entries in Controvertistae and some of the other categories. The whole Anglican establishment of the late 17th and early 18th century is present here, often with their complete works: all the Anglican champions of controversy, Stillingfleet, Burnet, Tillotson and others, but also writers like Chillingworth and Hooker, who in the first half of the 17th century were instrumental in defining Anglicanism as the via media between Catholicism and nonconformity. Besides many copies of the Book of Common Prayer, the Beza and Erasmus New Testaments and the Protestant bible, there are several key documents in which the precise character and position of the Church of England was laid down, such as the Articuli of 1571, the Confession of faith of 1649 and the Boyle Lectures by prominent Anglican theologians and clergymen, half a century later. The difference between the first two and the third was that in the former the fashioning of Anglicanism took place in opposition to the Catholics and Nonconformists, and in the latter also in opposition to the growing threat of all too liberal Protestantism and freethinking. As was said before, orthodox Anglicans and Catholics began to find themselves allies in the first half of the 18th century. All these developments, and the internal divisions within English Catholicism, are reflected in this category. Jansenism and Gallicanism, those French diseases, are clearly suspect, and liberal French Catholics like Ellies-Dupin, Richard Simon and Berruyer are to be handled with care. On the English side Henry Holden, John Sergeant and especially Thomas White end up in the dock and that holds good as well for dubious Benedictines like Caramuel, John Barnes, and the black sheep Richard Carpenter. St Edmund's library held only a small number of manuscripts, certainly when compared with that of the English Benedictine library at Lamspringe Abbey. Sprinkled through the various categories of the library are twelve manuscripts, four of them listed by Weldon, eight added later. The majority of them are historical and in some cases (Augustine Baker, Antonio de Rojas and Wickefort) the manuscript has a printed counterpart. It is clear that they are all of a recent date. Three manuscripts were listed separately by Weldon outside the categories, because they were much older and more beautiful, real showpieces. Weldon gives detailed physical descriptions of these manuscripts, which are devotional and liturgical; the first bears the date 1281, the second opens with 'Epiphanius in Ancorato' and the third has St Uriel in the litany of saints. Benet Weldon stayed at the La Celle priory for a longer period in the 1690s, and he drew up an extensive list of the books St Edmund's priory had put at the disposal of La Celle between 1633, the year St Edmund's took over La Celle, and the 1690s (the last publication date in the list is 1693). This list of just over 600 books is to be found in the Weldon catalogue right at the end. Given the status of La Celle as, at least partly, a small alumnate for a number of boy students who were taught by the monks, it is only natural that this La Celle collection on the whole makes a rather basic impression. Although the books are listed alphabetically per author or first title-word, one can discern the same categories that are to be found in the catalogue of St Edmund's library. There is a remarkable quantity of introductions, epitomes, abbreviations and compendiums, and what also fits the pattern is that the fields of devotion and spirituality, and history, are much larger than those of theology and philosophy, though there is a ten-volume edition of Thomas Aquinas's Summa theologiae of 1663. Moreover, Greek authors and books in Greek are almost completely absent. The manuscript of the Weldon catalogue concludes with a one-and-a-half page list of books donated to La Celle by Claude de Salo, commendatory prior.
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