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Lyon and the Jesuits, as Told by their Books: Case 4: The Renaissance

This guide is a student project produced by History Department intern Cora Kim, Fall Semester, 2019.

Lyon's Renaissance Books

The city of Lyon, located close to Italy, was transformed by Renaissance ideas and demonstrates this in its publications.  The prominence of Lyon as one of the great printing centers of Europe doubtless added to the intellectual culture of Lyon and has left many traces of Renaissance thought in the books published there.  Lyon’s Jesuits were active in the Renaissance as well, supporting the humanist desire for learning and admiration of Antiquity.

Commentary on Virgil's Aeneid





        Virgil. 1612. P. Virgilii Maronis Priores Sex Posteriores... Editio que non ante lucem vidit.. ed. Lugduni: Sumptibus Horatij Cardon.

This critique of Virgil’s Aeneid illustrates the Renaissance admiration for Antiquity.  There are two copies of the second volume and one retains an original and more expensive leather binding.  Its publisher, Horatius Cardon, also published Catholic and Jesuit materials, which indicates the Lyon Jesuits’ interest in Renaissance and humanist thought.






Erasmus, Desiderius. 1539. De Duplici Copia Verborum... Lugduni: Apud Haeredes Simonis Vincentii.

This book of commentaries by the famed Christian humanist Desiderius Erasmus was published in 1539 and is the earliest standard size book published in Lyon in the Foley Archives.  The book’s good condition as well as the handwritten notes mark it as a practical object; it is also a part of the Christian humanist tradition in Lyon.





Aristotle. 1579. Aristotelis Stagiritae Rhetoricorum... Lugduni: Apud Ioannam Iacobi Iuntae F.

This book on rhetoric and Aristotle falls into the Renaissance tradition of the admiration of Antiquity.  Note its leather binding and very small size.

Procopius' Secret History

Procopius. 1623. Procopii Caesariensis V. 1. Anekdota... Lugduni: Sumpt. Andreae Brugiotti.

Byzantine historian Procopius attacks the rulers Justinian and Theodora in his posthumously published Secret History (Tikkanen).  This 1623 copy was published in Greek and Latin and has handwritten notes in French, demonstrating the many languages in use during the Renaissance.

Alciati's Emblemata

Alciati, Andrea. 1614. Emblemata. Lugduni: Apud Haeredes Gulielmi Rouillii.

Andrea Alciati’s Emblemata was a well-known book first published in 1531 and reproduced many times; this copy is from 1614.  Alciati was a well-known humanist who founded the French school of legal humanism; however his Emblemata is a collection of moral sayings (Shahan).