rose Blog

Questions & Answers Blog

Bull on the Marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York

Copyright, image use
and linking information

Contact information


THE following historical relic of typography may be worth preserving in "The Camden Miscellany." It clearly be­longs to the early part of the reign of Henry VII. who was married to Elizabeth of York, on 18th Jan. 1486. It is the Bull of Pope Innocent VIII. approving that “matrimony and conjunction."

It is a folio broadside, and the oldest that has descended to our time: on this account, if on no other, it merits notice; especially as it must have been printed by Wil­liam Caxton, and is nowhere mentioned among the works from his press. The type is the same as that he em­ployed for various well‑known productions, and some misprints will be observed, such as "Duchre" for Duchie in the first paragraph, &c. It is given exactly as it stands in the original, even to the most minute observation of the points. In several instances the word "Pope" has been erased or defaced by some zealous reformer, into whose hands the document fell, perhaps fifty or sixty years after it was printed.

I met with it as the flyleaf of an old book; and various defects, indicated by brackets, have been caused by the fore‑edge of the paper having been cut away as a little too large for the purpose. In two other places the document is worm‑eaten, and it must have been followed by some­thing that has now been lost.

Among the fragments in Lambeth Library (as appears by the Rev. S. R. Maitland's excellent and most useful "Index" 8vo. 1845) is preserved a Bull by Pope Alex-ander, dated Non. Octobris, 1494, which recites that of Innocent VIII. in 1485. What follows is, however, the original. I apprehend that the Bull of Pope Alexander, like that of Pope Innocent, was obtained from the cover of some venerable volume, having been used as waste by the binder.

Kensington, June, 1847.

P.S. Mr. J. G. Nichols has referred me to Rymer's Foedera, xii. 297, edit. 1727, where the Latin Bull is pre-served at length. The main curiosity of that I send is the popular form in which it was printed and circulated in England - the earliest instance of the kind yet discovered.