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REMBERTUS FRESEN AND HIS WRITINGS · PDF file primarii . . . scriptum per Rembertum Fresen Frisium Orientalem. Martispurgi Cattorum per Augustinum Colbium, 1578. Quarto. 6 leaves

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    T H R E E small books in the British Library, all printed in northern Germany towards the end of the sixteenth century, are of unusual interest both for their author and for their printers. Unfortunately it has to be confessed that all three were accidentally omitted from the British Museum's Short-title Catalogue of. . . German books, 1453-1600, published in 1962, the result being that there is no mention in the printers' index to that volume of the little-known printer at Emden who was responsible for the second and third books which we are studying here. The first, however, was printed at Marburg, and the title-page reads as follows: Carmen gratulalorium in honorem . . . Domini M. Edonis Hilderki Ieverensis, Academiae Heydelbergensis in facultate Theologica Professoris primarii . . . scriptum per Rembertum Fresen Frisium Orientalem. Martispurgi Cattorum per Augustinum Colbium, 1578. Quarto. 6 leaves. A^ (British Library, 837.h.3(32)).

    The poem congratulates Edo Hildericus on the conferment of a doctorate in Theology at Marburg on 15 December 1578. Edo, native of the small town of Jever in Oldenburg, was also a considerable classical scholar who translated the Elementa astronomiae of Geminus from Greek into Latin, and edited certain speeches of Aeschines and Demosthenes. From these publications it is clear that, at least between 1581 and 1590, he was living at Altdorf, near Nuremberg, where the Gerlach press printed his Aeschines in 1581. Rembertus may well have been a pupil of Edo at Marburg or Heidelberg.^ We presume that Edo had left Heidelberg for a chair at the new University of Aitdorf, founded in 1576. The Marburg printer, Augustin Kolbe, was hitherto represented in the British Library by four other books printed between 1571 and 1585.

    Rembertus Fresen, an East Frisian as he tells us himself (his surname is taken from his native district) appears to have been born about 1550 or 1555. His next publication is an anonymous one, printed without date or imprint. Strangely enough, although this and a close reprint of it bearing the author's name and a full imprint and date have stood next to each other in the Grenville Library for a century and a half (G.9859 and G.9858), no connection between the two has ever been made in the British Museum catalogue: the anonymous edition has never had either its authorship revealed or its printer identified, and has been given the wrong date, nothing more than a wild guess of [1600?]. In fact, as we shall see, it was in all probability printed about 1580-2, while the non-anonymous edition is dated 1584.


  • The title of the anonymous edition is as follows:

    TRAGICA I HISTORIA DE MISERAN-|DA ET ABOMINOSA ILLA LA-|niena, Anno a partu virginis Mariae salutifero M. Parisina, post Nuptiarum Nauarrei-

    D.LXXII. die xxiiij. Augusti in Regia Metro-jpoli vrbe carum, ibi celebratarum, festiuitatem, | alijsque vrbibus,

    edita, reddita | Carmine Heroico | PER I F.R.E.F.O.O. || [ornament] IN FIDE ET | PATIENTIA.

    Octavo. 70 leaves, the last (blank) missing. Sig. AB'̂ C^ D"̂ E -L^ The dedication is 'ad generosum, magnificumque virum, Dominum Ikonem a Knipens, Liberum Baronem in Elter & Vogelsanck, Capitaneumque in Knipens & inhausen, dominum suum clementem, ac moecenatem dignissimum'. At the end of the book is a list of 'errata typographica'. As to the initials on the title-page, we can only make a partial guess at their meaning with any accuracy; possibly 'Fresen Rembertus E. [Emdensis?] Frisius OrientaUs O.[?]'. But another possibility suggests itself. On B4V and Ci'' the author has the following phrase: \ . . hoc opusculum scribere aggressus fuerim, sed vt saltem Domini P.O.R.F. patris mei charissimi postulatis aequissimis atque voluntati piae satisfacerem'. In the second edition, however, this sentence has been altered to read: '. . . hoc opusculum scribere aggressus fuerim, sed vt saltem Domini Occonis Frisij, arcis Emdanae praefecti & vrbis Consulis dignissimi, patris mei charissimi postulatis aequissimis atque voluntati piae satisfacerem'. So in 1584 Rembertus Fresen abolished not only his own anonymity but also his father's, and we see that his father, prefect of the citadel or garrison of Emden, was named Occo Frisius. The initials on the title-page of the first edition may therefore alternatively be interpreted as: 'Frisius Rembertus E. [Emdensis?] Filius Occonis Orientalis[?]'.

    The second edition is a close reprint of the first, but has on the title-page, instead of the mysterious initials, the author's name in full: 'PER REMBERTVM FRESEN.' At the foot of the page is the imprint: '^JEMDJE, Excudebat Evvardus Frisius. M.D.LXXXIIir . The second edition also has two extra leaves (the first incongruously signed Aij) inserted between Ci and C2, making a total of 72 leaves, the last two blank, of which the last only is missing here. These two extraneous leaves bear two poems one of which, 'Ad iuuenem clarissimum Rembertum Fresen', is signed by Arnoldus Aetius, minister of the Divine Word in Medium.

    The two editions, one of no date and one of 1584, are so close typographically, using the same ornaments and type-faces, that there can be no doubt that they were printed by the same press. This is revealed by the second edition to have been the press of Ewardus Frisius at Emden. He is a printer not represented in the German S.T.C., but it is recorded that he printed at least three, possibly four, works in Low German, all apparently in 1584: needless to say, none of these is in the British Library.^ They are:

    1. Proeve des Ghelovens. Unsigned and undated. 48 leaves. Borchling-Claussen, 2300. 2. Spiegel der Aanvechtinge des Satans an der Ledematen der Appingadammer Gemeente

    (Emden: [Eewardus Oostfreese.^], 1584). Brandes, 15: 'Harkenroht gives the date as



  • 3- Savonarola, G., Spieghel der Anvechtinghen des Sathans. 76 leaves. Borchling-Claussen, 2303. Brandes, 513. Apparently not the same work as no. 2.

    4. Eirt trouhertige unde droevighe Vermaninge an de verstroyde Ingesetene der Vriefischen Ommelanden. 52 leaves. Borchling-Claussen, 2307.

    A point worth noting between the two editions of Rembertus Fresen's poem on the Massacre of St. Bartholomew is that none of the errata listed in the first edition has been corrected in the second. Why this is so I cannot explain, but there seems to be no doubt that the anonymous edition preceded that with the author's name, especially in view of the two inserted leaves in the second. An attempt to correct these printing errors has been made in ink in the British Library's copy of the second edition, which Grenville had washed, as was his usual practice.

    The study of these three httle books has added three more imprints to the German S.T.C., one for Augustin Kolbe at Marburg in 1578, and two for Ewardus Frisius at Emden, one of them dated 1584. Several unsolved details remain: there is the question of the exact meaning of the initials; the date of the anonymous edition; and the desire to know why the young author, Rembertus Fresen, and his printer decided so soon to bring out a second edition revealing his name, that of his father, and the full imprint. The savage events of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew had taken place in Paris and other cities of France on 24 August 1572, a full twelve years before the dated edition of the poem appeared at Emden. In any case, the subject matter was not such as to demand anonymity in a poem published in another country a decade or more after the events which it chronicled.

    At least we have been able to bring the bibliographical record of Rembertus Fresen up to date, and to correct the serious lacunae of the British Library's catalogues. To my knowledge, there were no further publications from his pen, and his fate after 1584 is a mystery.

    1 I have been unable to find any mention of Rembertus or Edo in the published matriculation lists of either Heidelberg or Marburg which were available to me.

    2 Josef Benzing, Die Buchdrucker des 16. und ly. Jahrhunderts im deutschen Sprachgehiet (Wies-

    baden, 1963), p. 99. References are to: Conrad Borcbling and Bruno Claussen, Niederdeutsche Bibliographie, Band I, 14/J-1600 (Neumiinster, 1931-6); Walther Brandes, Bibliographie der niedersdchsischen Fruhdrucke bis zum Jahre 1600 (Baden-Baden, i960).


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