Category Archives: Book scans

“Three Thomases”: Tres Thomae, a Catholic work by Thomas Stapleton

Here is another text-searchable PDF file of an early modern text. Here’s the link.

Tres Thomae (1612), title page. Click here for the complete text.

This is the second (1612) edition of Thomas Stapleton’s account of the lives of Thomas the Apostle, Thomas Beckett and Thomas More. The first edition was published in Douai in 1588.

Somewhat neglected these days, Stapleton was a leading Catholic controversialist during the Elizabethan period. A list of his numerous works is given in the Catholic Encyclopedia. For a detailed account of the Tres Thomae, see William, Shiels, “Polemic as Piety: Thomas Stapleton’s Tres Thomae and Catholic Controversy in the 1580s” (Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 60:1, pp. 74-94).

ΒΑΣΙΛΙΚA [Basilika]. The Works of King Charles the Martyr

Another text-searchable PDF file of a seventeenth-century text. Here’s the link.

This is the second (1687) edition of a folio publication, over 700 pages long, divided into two parts, with the option of viewing further subdivisions for convenience / speed of downloading.

Although the book is billed as being Charles’s own work, John Gauden, Bishop of Worcester also played a part – possibly a large part – in authoring it:

As there is substantial historical and stylistic evidence to support both the authorship of Charles I and John Gauden, we are best served to read the King’s Book as a heteroglossic, collaborative royalist effort.

Daems and Nelson, 2006, p. 20
Frontispiece engraving
Engraved title page
Title page
Folded engraving

This last engraving is of especial interest. It’s a different engraving from that in the first (1662) edition, and shows the Churches of Rome and England as two of the branches of the “Church Catholique”, as distinct from false sects, represented by offshoots and saplings.

Literature and terrorism

The go-to guy for an understanding of the ways in which terrorism has been represented in literature is Peter C. Herman, author of Terrorism and Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and Unspeakable: Literature and Terrorism from the Gunpowder Plot to 9/11 (Routledge, 2019).

Although his scope is broader than the early modern period, he devotes a lot of attention to it. The central pillar of Herman’s analysis is the paradox of terrorism as something that both speaks – “To the perpetrators, terrorism has a precise and clear message” – and is unspeakable: “To its victims, the terrorist act is so horrible it defies language”. He traces “the origin of this paradigm” to the Gunpowder Plot (“A deed without a name”: Macbeth, the Gunpowder Plot, and terrorism, March 2014, Journal for Cultural Research 18[2]:114-131).

Protestant / Catholic polemic: Lucius Cary (Viscount of Falkland), Thomas White and William Chillingworth
Lucius Cary (1610-1643)

The 1660 edition of Lucius Cary’s Discourse of Infallibility (first published in 1646 ) is my latest book scan. There’s more interest these days in Cary’s mother, Elizabeth (1585–1639), the first woman writer known to have written a play. Elizabeth Cary’s literary career isn’t really relevant here, but she plays a part in the complex web of relationships and discussion that shapes the book by virtue of having converted to Catholicism in 1634.

Cary rejects his mother’s adopted faith on the grounds that the Catholic Church contradicts itself on several points and that it is therefore impossible to “prove by any fallible way, the Infallibility of the Church of Rome” (sig d4v).

Cary’s argument is countered by Thomas White, leader of the Blackloist Catholic faction, which is followed by Cary’s lengthy rebuttal.

Two discourses on episcopacy, one by Cary himself and the other by William Chillingworth, who was part of Cary’s Great Tew Circle, are included in this edition.

The Great Tew Circle included such Churchmen and men of letters as Jeremy Taylor and Abraham Cowley. Thomas Hobbes, Ben Jonson and other well-known figures of the time are also associated with it and it can be roughly categorized along with the Little Gidding Community and the Cambridge Platonists as one the reformist Christian humanist groups of the 17th century, while also espousing rationalism and fomenting scientific method and empirical enquiry.

Like the other scans in this series, the text is available online and may be downloaded for scholarly purposes.

Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford

Wentworth’s path from Lord Deputy of Ireland to the executioner’s axe is well enough known in its broad outlines, but with so many twists and nuances that it is hard to evaluate.

The decisive change in his fortunes came when the king, Charles I, recalled him from Ireland and charged him with putting down the revolt in Scotland (the Bishops’ Wars), along with making him Earl of Strafford.

He soon found himself the target of both sides in the dispute, but was persuaded to hang on in there by Charles, who promised him protection and then threw him to the wolves when Parliament impeached him.

If you want something a bit more meaty than the usual potted biographies there’s a chapter in Alan Orr, Treason and the State that’s worth taking a look at.

Volume I, frontispiece engraving

But the reason I’m posting this is because I’ve just finished scanning two thick volumes of Stafford’s collected letters, edited by William Knowler from the originals held by Strafford’s great grandson and published in 1739.

Contents page for the first volume (letters from 1511 to 1635), with a dedication by Knowler.

Volume II, frontispiece engraving

Contents page for the second volume (letters from 1636-1641), together with an account of Wentworth’s life by George Radcliffe.

As usual, the PDFs are high quality and text-searchable.

Archbiship Laud: A History of the Troubles and Tryal

The scanning continues! I had some technical problems that needed dealing with, so I’m two or three months behind with the early modern book scans, but I’m back in production now.

Henry Wharton’s 1695 edition of Laud’s account of his imprisonment and trial, published as A History of the Troubles and Tryal of the most reverend father in God, and blessed martyr, William Laud, Lord Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, tells you pretty much everything anyone could ever know about Laud. It’s a whopping great big thick volume, so in addition to the complete file I’ve uploaded it in sections for faster loading and easy access.

I did post a little tidbit a while back about Laud supposedly eating the puritan William Prynne’s ears, but the twist of fate that subsequently led Prynne to be the gaoler and prosecutor of his persecutor is one of the darkest tales of the seventeenth century and deserves a more prominent place on these pages.

But I haven’t got the time for it, so let me recommend Faye Newton’s very adequate graduation thesis, A Puritan and his devil : religious conflict between William Prynne and William Laud, 1625-1645, which gives a blow by blow account of the whole sordid saga.

So, there it is, the latest early modern “Discourses of Suffering” book scan. There are more in the pipeline, so keep on coming back for updates!

The Gunpowder-Treason: with a discourse of the manner of its discovery

Go straight to the scanned book

Although this work was published many years after the events it describes, and its main content is reprinted, it also contains the first printing of a number of letters relating to the plot.

It is not a scarce work, and there is at least one other online copy (in the HathiTrust digital collection), but the margins are frustratingly narrow, making it difficult to scan.

I’ve done my best to scan each page fully, and the book can be viewed HERE. As with my other text-searchable PDF scans, the page may take some time to load. If it refuses to load at all on one browser, try opening it on another. I’m working on dividing these PDFs into smaller, more easily loaded, sections, but it all takes time!

Click HERE for a bit more detail about the book and its contents.

A True Copy of the Journal of the High Court of Justice, for the Trial of K. Charles I.


This full-page frontispiece is prefaced by the following poem:

These lines speak for themselves, describing “Albion” as “Three Nations doom’d t’eternal slavery”, symbolized by the figures crushed under the wheels of the hellish chariot that represents the Interregnum and Cromwell’s Protectorate.

The coat of arms at the top of the chariot is the flag used during the period of Cromwell’s rule of the English Commonwealth.

That gives a pretty clear idea of where this book is coming from. The proceedings of the trial are taken from the official records, but accompanied by a lengthy introduction and copious commentary, leaving the reader in doubt but that the whole thing was nothing short of a heinous murder.

For a text-searchable scan of the whole book, click HERE.

For related texts and further details, click HERE.

A 15th-century manuscript book of hours

Go straight to the scanned PDFs

This week’s book scan is a bit different from my usual fare. It’s a manuscript, it’s from the 15th century, it’s not primarily related to suffering and – because of the limitations of OCR (optical character reader) software – it’s not text-searchable.

But if you have any interest in this kind of thing I think you’ll find it’s worth taking a look! Here are a few sample pages, just to whet your appetite…

This is one of two full-page paintings by an unknown artist. It depicts the Annunciation.
The canonical hours – matins (nighttime), lauds (early morning), prime (first hour of daylight), terce (third hour), sext (noon), nones (ninth hour), vespers (sunset / evening), compline (end of the day) – are introduced by a lavishly-illuminated page like the left-hand page above, which shows the start of prime.

A page from the litany of saints.

For a “guided tour” of this Book of Hours, click here. To see scans of the entire book, click here.


It’s a common enough tale, I suppose. Young man goes to Cambridge, studies law, goes to the inner Temple to complete his training, gets converted to Catholicism and ends up being hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn.

Maurus Scott was one of some 355 Catholics who were either put to death or died in prison during the early modern period, 40 of whom were subsequently canonized, while a further 242, of whom Scott was one, were beatified.

I don’t have anything in particular to say about him. The little that is known can be gleaned easily enough from Wikipedia or other sources, and I created a short entry for him on the Discourses of Suffering website.

The reason I’m posting is because I’ve just scanned his biography (published in 1657, 45 years after his death) and uploaded it in text-searchable form.

I’d like to say dive over there, everyone, and get the lowdown on Maurus Scott, but Narratio mortis in odium fidei Londini in Anglia illatæ R.A.P. Mauro Scotto is in Latin, which limits its readership somewhat. I made a start on translating it, and I uploaded that too, but I haven’t got very far and (let’s be honest!) I probably won’t have the stamina to work right through it.

The OCR works reasonably well, though – in addition to the problems of early modern spelling conventions – there are occasional misreadings (“o” and “e” sometimes get misread as “c”, for example).

There’s already a copy of this available in Google Books (with many of the same problems when it comes to scanning), but the more online copies the merrier!