TUBERINUS, Johannes Mathias (fl. 1475). Relatio de Simone puero tridentino. Rome: Bartholomaeus Guldinbeck, 24 July 1475.
Chancery half-sheet 4o (207 x 140 mm). Collation: 16 drop-title: De infantulo in civitate Tridentina per Iudeos rapto, text, 1/6 colophon), 6 leaves. 28 lines. Type: Wendelinus de Wila 1:108R. 3-line initial space with printed guide letter. (Minor marginal soiling or foxing.) Modern red morocco-backed pastepaper boards, parchment corners.
Provenance: [Quaritch 1990]
One of 17 fifteenth-century editions, of which 13 were printed in 1475, of the notorious blood libel of Simon of Trent. On Maundy Thursday (23 March), 1475, a Christian infant named Simon disappeared. His body was discovered on Easter Sunday in the cellar--open to the street through a water conduit--of the head of the Jewish community of the Tyrolean town of Trent. The Jews were accused of ritual murder and the entire Jewish community, men, women and children, were arrested. The gruesome ritual murder "trial" that ensued was the paradigmatical example of such trials in the Middle Ages. 17 Jews were tortured and forced to confess. One died in prison, six were burnt at the stake, and two, who had converted to Christianity, were strangled. When a papal legate was sent to investigate the incident and reached conclusions unfavorable to the persecutors, he was run out of town. By the end of the year, five more Jews had been killed. Mob violence endangered Jews throughout the Veneto. Simon was later canonized. This inflammatory account by Giovanni Mattia Tiberino, one of the two physicians who examined the child's body, was the principal vehicle of dissemination of the libel. An open letter to the Senate and people of Brescia, written in impeccable Latin, and filled with citations from the Bible and from Virgil, Tiberino's vivid depiction of the supposed abduction and murder of Simon by bloodthirsty Jews "became the most influential piece of anti-Semitic propaganda surrounding the Trent ritual murder trial, not only because Tiberino was a physician, but because his letter... an impressive display of rhetoric, constructed a story of pathos and verisimilitude" (R. Po-chia Hsia, Trent 1475: stories of a ritual murder, New Haven 1992, p. 56). The pamphlet was immediately printed in various cities: Rome, Venice, Treviso, Vicenza, Mantua, Augsburg, Nuremberg, Cologne, and Trent -- the Trentine edition, a German translation, is the first dated book from that town. Most of the editions are undated, and priority has not been established. The role of the printing press in the affair can hardly be underestimated: it was "indispensable in creating a major cultural event out of the Trent blood libel. Far from reflecting a mood of optimism, this new technology expressed the deeply felt anxiety of Christian Europe..." (Hsia, op. cit., p. 56). Eleven partial or complete manuscript accounts of the trial survive, including a German version that had been purchased by Lessing Rosenwald in 1937 and donated to the American Jewish Historical Society; it reappeared at auction in 1987 and is now at Yeshiva University.
This is the probable second of three editions printed by Guldinbeck (the first, Goff T-486, is dated 19 June, the third, Goff T-488, is undated and ascribed to 1475-76). All editions are rare; ISTC lists 10 institutional copies of the present edition, of which two in America.
H 15655*; CIBN T-268; Harvard/Walsh 1365A; Hunt 1973 Goff T-487.