Britannicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquitates. Quibus inserta est pestiferae adversus Dei gratiam a Pelagio Britanno in Ecclesiam inductae Haereseos Historia. By James Ussher - Archbishop of Armagh. Small 4to. , 1196pp. Contemporary calf, early manuscript label at the head of the spine, red stained edges (a little rubbed and headcaps slightly chipped). Dublin: ex officiana Typographica Societatis Bibliopolarum, 1639. First Edition. Rebacked, early full calf boards, 4 leaves (313-320) cropped tightly at top and bottom margins, a very good copy throughout. [STC 24548a].
A monumental history of the Irish Church, regarded as Ussher's most important work.
'This volume was the culmination of the research that King James had encouraged Ussher to undertake, now dedicated to King Charles. Charles, unlike his father, had little interest in ecclesiastical antiquities, but as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England he was the natural dedicatee of the most scholarly, extensive, and coherent account of the origin and spread of Christianity in Britain that had yet appeared. It was the masterpiece of that kind of nationalistic Church history that Matthew Parker had aspired to write in mid-Elizabethan times, but Ussher had access to a much greater range of documents and sources than Parker, and his sense of capillary progress of Christianity through Britain was quite unprecedented. He understood the pattern of development across the British Isles as a whole, thanks to his intensive study of the Celtic Church. Ussher took his account up to the end of the seventh century, and he could show that by the time of Augustine's mission at the end of the sixth century, the British Isles were thoroughly Christian, and the Celtic Church was animated by an apostolic spirit.' [Parry (G.), The Trophies of Time, English Antiquarians of the Seventeenth Century, 1995, p.139].