Item #4699 Constitutiones sive Canones Ecclesiastici per Episcopum Londinensem. JAMES I. / CANON LAW.
Constitutiones sive Canones Ecclesiastici per Episcopum Londinensem.
Constitutiones sive Canones Ecclesiastici per Episcopum Londinensem.
James I Consolidating Power over Church and State
Definitive Codification of English Canon Law
London, James Norton, 1604.

Constitutiones sive Canones Ecclesiastici per Episcopum Londinensem.

4to. (66) ff. Bound in contemporary stiff vellum, title crudely stenciled on spine. Ownership inscription of G. Galland 1645 neatly calligraphed on title-page. Some minor dampstaining in gutter, and tiny wormtracks in upper blank corner of scattered leaves. Otherwise fresh, genuine copy, very good.

Rare first edition of James I’s definitive codification of English Canon Law, in force from 1603 to the present day with only minor variation. The Constitutiones spelled out the tenets of Anglican canon law and catalogues ecclesiastical conventions, thus playing an important role in establishing the new Scottish-born king as supreme head of the Church and, by extension, in bolstering his image as a symbol of coherence and unity—not only between England and Scotland, but also in terms of coaxing moderate puritans and papists into the mainstream. In tandem with the Constitutiones, James commissioned the Bible translation that would come to bear his name and which pointedly included concessions to nonconformists. The Constitutiones and new authorized Bible thus combined to consolidate James’ power and develop a distinct identity for the early Stuart Church.

The Consitutiones was immediately translated into English, in which it was frequently reprinted; the present Latin edition, however, is considered the definitive edition of the text. One of its most significant innovations occurs in the proviso to Canon 113, which addresses the suppressions of evil actions by requiring parish administrators to report them. The proviso states that a minister is expected to honor the confidentiality of confession—unless by so doing he inculpates himself under common law. This specification marks a considerably more equivocal position on secrecy than the very strict confidentiality enjoined by the Church prior to the Reformation. In this way the proviso codifies the Anglican version of the Seal of the Confessional.

OCLC and the ESTC show American copies at Harvard, Columbia, Folger, Huntington, Morgan, and Union Theological Seminary.

* STC 10068

Price: $3,850.00

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