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HIST 2170 - History of Christianity (Jobin) - Rare Books Collection

A Selection of materials highlighting the history of Christianity to the Reformation from the Rare Books Collection, Rare and Distinctive Collections, CU Boulder Libraries.

Martin Luther and the Papacy


Martin Luther, Ain Sermon von dem Sacrament der Puss (1520); Bulla Contra Errores Martini Luther (15 June 1521).
Rare Books Collection, CU Boulder Libraries

In a sermon written three years after he posted his Ninety-Five Theses on 31 October 1517 to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral, Martin Luther's Ain Sermon von dem Sacrament der Puss addresses one of his prime concerns:  the Sacraments.  In response, the Catholic Church issued Bulla contra errores Martini Luther & sequatium, dated 15 June, 1521, a papal bull threatening Luther with excommunication. 

Rulers throughout Europe took sides, including Henry VIII of England, whose Assertio septem sacramentorum adversus Mart. Lutherum, which took issue with Luther's pronouncement that there were only two sacraments instituted by Christ rather than the seven asserted by the Church, was first published in the summer of 1521. 

Assertio septem sacramentorum earned Henry VIII the title 'Fidei Defensor' (Defender of the Faith), despite his role just a few years later in breaking from the Roman Church. The Rare BooksCollection copy was published in Paris in 1562, a timely reprint as the French Wars of Religion heated up.  

For access to Luther's Ain Sermon von dem Sacrament der Puss, see Google Books

For access to a range of post-Reformation works, see the Post-Reformation Digital Library.

Protestant and Catholic Reformations

John Foxe, Actes and Monuments, Persecutions of the Primitive Church
Huntington Library


John Foxe, Actes and Monuments, Henry VIII and the Roman Church
Huntington Library


John Foxe, Actes and Monuments, [1641?].
View of Windsor Castle, with Anthony Person, Testwood and Filmer being burned alive in a pyre.

British Muse
um 1613664273


Written during perhaps the most contentious years of the English Reformation, John Foxes' Acts and Monuments records Christian history from a distinctly Protestant perspective.  Beginning with the early Church and ending during the reign of Elizabeth I, Foxes' Actes and Monuments provided a highly polemical Protestant account.  Commonly referred to as the Book of Martyrs, Foxes' work included views of persecutions and executions, with a focus on those that took place under the Catholic Queen Mary (r. 1553-8).  John Foxe was among a number of other Protestants to leave England for Protestant regions of Continental Europe when Mary Tudor came to the throne. 

The Rare Books Collection edition of Actes and Monuments, which dates from 1596, was heavily used by the Puritan Samuel Bull family, who carried the volume with them in their emigration from Britain to North America.  Many woodcuts are partially damaged and the volume is lacking substantial portions of the beginning and the end.   

For select hand-colored woodcuts from of Foxes' Actes Fand Monuments, see the University of Cambridge Digital Library.

For access to the text of the 1563, 1570, 1576, and 1583 editions that is keyword searchable, see The Acts and Monuments Online

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Catholic- or Counter-Reformation depended on similar strategies.  Writing in the late seventeenth century, Mathias Tanner highlights those who suffered for the Catholic faith.  His Societas Jesu apostolorum imitatrix, sive, Gesta praeclara et virtutes eorum, qui è Societate Jesu in procuranda salute animarum, per apostolicas missiones, conciones, sacramentorum ministeria, evangelij inter fideles & infideles propagationem, ceteráque munia apostolica, per totum orbem terrarum speciali zelo desudâ[ve]runt records the lives of those involved in the Jesuit mission to England.  John Gerard, seen below, was arrested under Elizabeth I, and imprisoned and tortured in the Tower of London before escaping to the Continent. 

For a digitized copy of this edition, see HathiTrust Digital Library.


Mathias Tanner. Johannes Gerardi, Societas Jesu Apostolorum Imiatrix sive Gesta Praeclara et Virtutes Eorum Qui e Societate Jesu, 1694.
Rare Books Collection, CU Boulder Libraries

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Rare and Distinctive Collections


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