“Heresy and Error”:|
The Ecclesiastical Censorship of Books, 1400–1800
An Exhibition at Bridwell Library, September 20 – December 17, 2010
|EARLY CENSORSHIP IN ENGLAND||
translation of the Legenda aurea by
William Caxton (c. 1422–1491) is the first English
edition of Jacobus de Voragine’s highly popular
compendium of saints’ lives. In Bridwell Library’s
copy, as in several others that survive, several
leaves pertaining to St. Thomas Beckett (d. 1170),
Archbishop of Canterbury, were removed or defaced.
This was done in 1538 or shortly thereafter by order
of Henry VIII (1491–1547). Following England’s break with the
Church of Rome, the king had commanded the
destruction of all memorials for St. Thomas Beckett
in churches, chapels, altars, service books, and
hagiographies because the English martyr personified
“clerical supremacy” and allegiance to the papacy
instead of to king and country.
In this copy, the saint’s name has been scratched
from the page
that concludes the partially excised chapter recounting the transfer of
to his shrine at Canterbury Cathedral.