ALPHONSUS DE SPINA (d.1469). Fortalitium fidei. [Strassburg: Johann Mentelin, not after 1471].
Royal 2° (390 x 291mm). Collation: [1-28 3-610 7-88 96 10-1610 17-188 19-2510 268 276] (1/1 rubrics table, 2/1r tabula, 3/1r prologue, 3/2r text, books I-II, 9/6v blank, 10/1r book III, 19/1r book IV, 27/6v blank). 248 leaves, quire 2 [tabula] bound at end. 49 lines, double column. Type: 6:112.R. ILLUMINATED AT VIENNA by an artist associated with the Ducal College (cf. Euw & Plotzek Ludwig Handschrifter, V6), 6- to 8-line foliate initials opening prologue and each book on coloured ground with gold decoration within fictive frame, foliate border extensions highlighted with mosaic and burnished gold, 3-line initials and paragraph marks alternating in red and blue, red capital strokes, chapter headings supplied in red up to quire 11, DATED BY THE RUBRICATOR 1473 in blue at end; early foliation in brown ink. Pinholes visible at centre of lower margin in many leaves, occasional contemporary quiring visible. (First leaf slightly frayed at fore-margin and lightly soiled, occasional minor stain or spotting, a few short marginal tears.) BOUND AT THE DOMINICAN CONVENT AT VIENNA, with their tooled device (a crown flanked by initials 'W P': contemporary blindstamped calf over thick wooden boards, central panel of sides diapered and filled with large fleurs-de-lis, borders of repeat bear-baiting and foliate stamps, title written on upper cover, 5 brass bosses on each cover, brass pegs at lower board edges, two brass fore-edge clasps (bosses possibly renewed, very lightly restored, new vellum pastedowns, clasp leather renewed). Provenance: Vienna, Dominicans (binding, cf. Goldschmidt, Gothic and Renaissance Bookbindings, no. 9, plate C, reproducing different tools).
FIRST EDITION of an important work on infidels. Written by the Spanish Franciscan, himself a Jewish convert, the Fortalitium fidei concerns itself primarily with Judaism and Islam, but its final book is devoted to demonology. It is the first printed book to contain a description of witchcraft, describing gatherings of evil-working women in the south of France, some of whom have been arrested and burnt. Alphonsus de Spina served as confessor to King John of Castille and became Bishop of Thermopylae in 1491.
With the 8-leaf quire containing the rubrics table, often missing. The Dominicans at Vienna apparently were early clients of Strassburg presses; the Doheny copy of Jerome's Epistolae (Mentelin, not after 25 Sept. 1469; Christie's NY, lot 14) was bound by them, as was Thomas Aquinas, De veritate Catholicase Fidei (Printer of Henricus Ariminensis, c.1474; Goldschmidt, op.cit., 9). HC *872=H (p.94) 873; GW 1574; BMC I, 55 (IC. 541-2); CIBN A-280; BSB-Ink. A-450; Goff A-539.