The Correspondence of Reginald Pole. Volume 1: A Calendar, 1518-1546: Beginnings to Legate of Viterbo

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The Correspondence of Reginald Pole.Volume 1: A Calendar, 1518-1546: Beginnings to Legate of Viterbo. By Thomas F. Mayer. [St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History.] (Brookfield, Vermont: Ashgate Publishing Co. 2002. Pp. xvi, 378. $89.95.)

Thomas F. Mayer plans to deliver a four-volume series on the correspondence of Reginald Pole (1500-1558), the British cardinal archbishop of Canterbury and papal legate to the opening sessions of the Council of Trent. The first three volumes will present the correspondence, with suggestive stemmata, and almost always in summary form rather than complete texts. The fourth volume will be a biographical companion to the volumes of correspondence, covering all persons mentioned in the letters and other documents. This first volume covers 510 of the 2300 pieces of correspondence and official papers identified by Mayer. The book outlines Pole's correspondence between 1518 and 1546, and hence relates some of his most interesting contacts with Italian reformers, with the papal court, and with the court of King Henry VIII.

What Mayer has provided here solves part of the set of problems associated with earlier work on Pole's papers. Specialists on this period are already familiar with the five-volume, eighteenth-century edition undertaken by Angelo Maria Querini, entitled Epistolarum Reginalds Poli (Brescia, 1744-1757). In his introduction, Mayer explains the problems with that edition, problems that begin with the selective nature of Querini's work (only about 400 items) and that culminate with errors introduced by inept assistants Querini employed. Other scholars have presented portions of Pole's correspondence since, but always in summary form. Mayer provides what will be a comprehensive list of all the known items, plus identification of lost pieces that would add about another 700 items to the total list. He will not provide a "complete" edition in any sense. The major reason for this is a practical one. …