12mo (144 x 79 mm). , 626,  pp. Title printed in red and black and with woodcut printer’s device. Woodcut and type-ornament head- and tailpieces, ornamental initials. An attractive copy (title a bit dust-soiled). Contemporary parchment over flexible boards, manuscript spine title, traces of two fore-edge ties. Provenance: with Blackwell’s, 1977, catalogue 1095/842, entry cut out and pasted inside front cover. ***
An important exposition of Jesuit emblematics, contained within a detailed defense of the Jesuits by one of their most talented polemicists. Protestant factions had held the Jesuits responsible for the attempted assassination of Henri IV in December 1594, by a young man named Jean Châtel, who had been educated in the Jesuit Collège of Clermont. The Jesuits’ opponents essentially held that Châtel had been brainwashed in Jesuit “chambres de méditations,” or cells supposedly filled with lurid images of hell, which caused weak minds to fall prey to delusion. So convincing were these accusations that the Jesuits were expelled from France, until their reinstatement by the royal Edict of Rouen in 1603.
First published in Bordeaux in 1597, Richeome’s work, which is dedicated to the King, is couched as a Catholic refutation to Reformists, and to one particular pamphlet, cited on p. 1 (the anonymous Copie d'une lettre envoiee a Monsieur l'evesque d'Angers, touchant les miracles de Nostre Dame des Ardilliers lez Saulmur, en novembre 1594). The text is in three parts, treating miracles, saints, and images, in response to Protestants’ claims that miracles had long since ceased to exist, and their assertions that both the veneration of saints and worship using images constituted idolatry. In the third part, on images, Richeome distinguishes between images and idols, refuting such Protestant theorists as Henri Estienne, whom he claims confounded the two. Cleverly marshalling citations from the Bible, the Church fathers, the Talmud, and even Calvin, he reviews the early Church’s use of and attitudes toward images, and refutes Protestant arguments by demonstrating that the line between permissible reverence of images and idolatry lies not in the images themselves but in the uses made of them. Having debunked his opponents’ interpretations, in the second half of this section Richeome proceeds to review historical Catholic imagery of God, both pictorial and metaphorical, and traditional symbolic imagery for Jesus, the Holy Spirit, angels, the devil, the virtues and vices, the Virgin, Saints, and so on. Other topics treated are the Sacraments, imagery in the temple, miracles effected by images, Veronica’s veil, the Holy Shroud, the use of physical objects to signify incorporeal concepts, and the legitimate uses of imagery for teaching religion and for inspiring faith and virtue.
The work, which sparked further polemical responses, and counter-responses from Richeome, sets forth a coherent theory of imagery that was to prove central to both the Jesuit mission and to emblematic theory itself. “Indeed, the main theoreticians of the ars or philosophia symbolica in the seventeenth century were to be found in the ranks of the Jesuits” (Dekininck, “Jesuit Emblematics”). Fluently written and easy to read, Richeome’s treatise was in high demand. This pocket format Rouen edition uses the same sheets as previous Rouen editions (or issues) from 1600 and 1602; all were shared by the booksellers Theodore Reinsart and Jean Osmont, changing only the titles, and for the Osmont issues, only the dates on the title-pages. Later Rouen editions from 1608 and 1613 may also have been in fact reissues. Many copies of these Rouen editions (or issues) ended up in Great Britain.
OCLC lists two copies of any of the Rouen issues in American libraries (Columbia, this issue, and John Carter Brown, 1600 issue), and 6 copies of other editions.
De Backer-Sommervogel VI:1817-18 (other editions); Alden & Landis 597/60 (other editions; chapter 23 in the first part discusses Brazil and Peru); Ralph Dekoninck, “L’imagination idolâtre et l’idolâtrie fantasmée. La guerre des images entre L. Richeome et J. Bansilion,” in Henri IV, Art et Pouvoir, pp. 67-75 (Tours, 2016, online); R. Dekoninck, “Jesuit Emblematics between Theory and Practice”, in Jesuit Historiography Online. Item #2911