THOMAS HIBERNICUS Flores Doctorum penè omnium, tam Graecorum, quam Latinorum, qui tum in Theologia, tum in Philosophia hactenus claruerunt, per Thomam Hybernicum, olim summa cum diligentia collecti, ac ordine Alphabetico digesti.

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ONE OF THE EARLIEST PRINTED BOOKS BY AN IRISH WRITER THOMAS HIBERNICUS

Tyrnaviæ, Typis Academicis Soietatis Jesu, 1746. Post octavo. pp. 944, [4] (index). Title printed in red and black. Contemporary full calf, title in gilt on contrasting morocco labels on gilt decorated spine; marbled endpapers. Traces of old inoffensive waterstain. All edges red. Very rare.
This edition not located in Sweeney
This work consists of extracts from classical and patristic literature arranged in alphabetical order according to subject (from ‘Abstinentia’ to ‘Usura’ and finally, ‘Xpiamus’ and ‘Xps’). The most frequently reprinted 16th century title by an author whose Irishness is beyond question. Richard and Mary Rouse in their most detailed bibliographical analysis of Thomas Hibernicus ‘Preachers, Florilegia and Sermons’ locates twenty-six printings between 1550 and 1596 and suggested that there were probably another seven that could be added to the list. The places of publication are named as Venice, Lyons, Paris, Antwerp and Cologne. They also state that Guillaume Rouillé commissioned a work compiled on the same basis and variously titled ‘Flores Bibliae’ or ‘Flores Bibliorum’, (first published Lyons, 1554). This appeared anonymously and was first attributed to Thomas Hibernicus by John Steele’s widow in Antwerp thirteen years later, even though it lacked any medieval provenance.
The Rouses uncovered a confusion perpetrated by Sir James Ware in which three different individuals were fused into a single writer. The first, a Franciscan, Thomas Hibernicus who died in the convent of Aquila in Abruzzi circa 1270; the second, a secular priest, Thomas Hibernicus, with University of Sorbonne connections, who died between 1329 and 1338; the third a Dominican, Thomas of Palmerstown, who was Prior Provincial of his Order in the closing years of the 14th century and died no earlier than 1415. Tony Sweeney in ‘Ireland and the Printed Word’ following the Rouses, states that the second of these is the real author and someone who achieved renown throughout Europe as the large number of extant manuscripts indicates. The Rouses show that Thomas drew upon two Cistercian florilegia in compiling the ‘Manipulus Florum’, and that his organisation of material helped it to succeed in a crowded market. “This combined” they said, “the advantages of alphabeticised index and of topical arrangement, with the added element of cross-reference or cross-indexing”.
Thomas de Hibernia or Hibernicus flourished 1306-1316. He studied at Paris where he became a fellow of the Sorbonne, and took the degree of bachelor of theology about 1306. He was neither a Franciscan or Dominican but has been called both. In his will he bequeathed ‘16l.’ to the Sorbonne along with copies of his own works and many other books. His name is mentioned seven times in the Sorbonne ‘Catalogue’ of 1338, and some of his books are now in the Bibliotheque Nationale - DNB.
In the 16th and especially the 17th century, Trnava was an important center of the Counter-Reformation in the Kingdom of Hungary (at the time largely identical with the territory of present-day Slovakia and a strip of western Hungary). The Archbishop Nicolas Oláh invited the Jesuits to Trnava in 1561 in order to develop the municipal school system. Subsequently, he had a seminary opened in 1566 and in 1577 Trnava’s priest Nicolas Telegdi founded a book-printing house in the town. The first Catholic Bible translation into Hungarian (based on the Latin Vulgate) was also completed in the town by the Jesuit György Káldi who was born there in 1573.
The Jesuit Trnava University (1635-1777), the only university of the Kingdom of Hungary at that time, was founded by Archbishop Péter Pázmány. Founded to support the Counter-Reformation, Trnava University soon became a center of Slovak education and literature, since most of the teachers, one half of the students and the majority of the town’s inhabitants were Slovaks.

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