BEDA (672/3-735). Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum. [Strassburg: Heinrich Eggestein, not after 1475].
Chancery 2° (275 x 198mm). Collation: [110 28 3-510 66 7-810 98 1010 116] (1/1r prologue, 1/1v table, 1/2v text, 11/5v-6 blank). 97 (of 98, without final blank) leaves. 40 lines. Type: 5:93G. 2- to 9-line initials, paragraph marks and capital strokes in red, contemporary MS guide-letters. One bifolium, 2/3.5, a half-sheet. (Light dampstain in first few quires, first page lightly soiled, small marginal stain in final leaf.) English 18th-century calf, gilt double fillet on sides with Spencer arms at centre, red edges (expertly rebacked preserving gilt backstrip, a few minor scuffs). Provenance: Mainz, Jesuit College (17th-century inscription at end); George John, second Earl Spencer (1748-1834, binding, accession number '1073' on front pastedown); William H. Robinson (bookseller, catalogue description laid in).
FIRST EDITION of a foundation text of English history and the most important work of 'the greatest English historian' (PMM). It gives an account of Christianity in England from its beginnings until Bede's own day, scrupulously citing earlier sources. Bede's work is a rich source for literature and music. His is the only valid source for the life and writings of Caedmon (fl.670), one of the earliest English poets, whose only authentic fragment is preserved in the Historia ecclesiastica. According to Bede, Caedmon was an unlearned herdsman who received the power of song in a vision; he used his new gift to set hymns to music, and entered Whitby abbey as a monk. Similarly, Bede outlines the importance of music in the development of the English church, discussing the introduction of chant into England by missionaries, and detailing the role of music in celebrating the liturgy.
Although containing no printed date, the Wloclawek copy has a rubricator's date of 1475. H *2732; BMC I, 71 (IB.775-775a); CIBN B-195; GW 3756; PMM 16; Goff B-293.