christianopolisandreae’s utopian masterpiece

Reipublicae Christianopolitanae descriptio ...

Strasburg, heirs of Lazarus Zetzner, 1619.

Together four works in one vol., 12mo; very lightly browned; excellent copies in contemporary yapped vellum, spine lettered in ink; early inscription in ink on upper margin of the Herculis Christiani luctae (bound first); 18th-century notes on rear free end-paper; 19th-century bookplate of ‘James Brown Thornton’ on front paste-down.


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a fine sammelband of four first editions by andreae, including his famous christian utopia.

I. ‘In this portrait of an ideal Christian society science and orthodox Lutheran religion are completely integrated; while knowledge of Christ is the highest good, physical science becomes a major human preoccupation that has been sanctified ... The Christianopolis departs in significant ways from its utopian contemporaries. It is fervently Christocentric, and the observer who is the protagonist is not a wooden robot; he is psychically transformed by the experience of the holy city. Christianopolis is the history of an adept in an ideal Lutheran community, and the alterations of his inner being, his exaltation through the sight of the meticulously ordered Christian city, is the heart of the work. By contrast, nothing much happens to Bacon’s sailors shipwrecked on New Atlantis; though they feel amazement and gratitude for the kind treatment they receive, they do not undergo a spiritual conversion. As for the Genoese captain who has seen the glories of Campanella’s City of the Sun, he is nothing but a figurehead, in haste to sail away once his tale has been recounted.

‘The hero of Christianopolis is Cosmoxenus Christianus, a stranger, a pilgrim who suffers from the corrupt uses of the world; the allegory is not disguised. Raphael Hythlodaeus, the hero of More’s Utopia, is presented as a member of Vespucci’s expedition functioning on a realistic level, and More’s artifice throughout is to preserve verisimilitude. Andrea’s pilgrim embarks on the ship named Fantasy; after it is wrecked, he is washed ashore on Caphar Salama (named for the place where Judas Maccabaeus conquered Nicanor’s forces), an island whose inhabitants live in community under a spiritual rule. Caphar Salama is described in fifty chapters covering all aspects of the society under as many headings. The guardians of Christianopolis first submit the outsider to a moral examination, which he passes. Immersion in the sea, represented as a baptism, has prepared him for a new life ... Andreae’s man has been restored to the dignity forfeited by Adam’s transgression, and through the Holy Spirit he has entered upon a new relationship with nature ...

‘Andreae does not rely on the mere mechanics of a social utopia to bring about the general reformation of mankind. They are a part of the propitious setting of a Christian renewal; but only after men have undergone an inner transformation can they realize a terrestrial Christianopolis that will be both a simulacrum and a foretaste of the heavenly city. Universal brotherhood, godliness in men’s hearts, must precede the establishment of Christianopolis’ (Manuel and Manuel, Utopian Thought in the Western World, pp. 289-305).

The folding plate, which is sometimes missing, shows a plan and a birds-eye elevation of Christianopolis. ‘In its quadratic shape the topography of the Christian city is reminiscent of the plan of Solomon’s Temple, which has been interpreted as a type of Christian rule. The concentric arrangement of the squares reminds of the rings of Campanella’s City of Sun which, however, depict the heliocentric universe and are to be interpreted astrologically, not Christocentrically’ (Translated from Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann, ‘Von Damcar nach Christianopolis. Andreaes “Christianopolis” als Verwirklichungskonzept der Rosenkreuzerideen’, in Rosenkreuz als europäisches Phänomen im 17. Jarhundert, Amsterdam, 2002).

II, III & IV. The Herculis Christiani luctae includes biographical material on Andreae’s friend and mentor, Tobias Hess; Turris Babel is Andreae’s ‘critical assessment and analysis of the unexpected effects of the Rosicrucian idea’ (Martin Brecht in “Das Erbe des Christian Rosenkreuz”, Amsterdam 1988, p. 151); the didactic and pedagogic element of Civis Christianus, the last work in this volume, found echo in Comenius’ Labyrinth of the World.

I. Dünnhaupt 23 (‘Erster evangelisch orientierter utopischer Staatsroman im Geiste von Moore’s Utopia und Campanella’s Sonnenstaat’); Faber du Faur I 128; Gardner 38: II. Cimelia Rhodostaurotica 46; Gardner 30: III. Cimelia Rhodostaurotica 285; Gardner 39: IV. Cimelia Rhodostaurotica 284; Gardner 42.