P. Rami ... Oratio de legatione.

Paris, Andreas Wechel, 1557.

8vo., 16 leaves including the final blank; printer’s device on title; marbled paper boards, leather label on upper cover.


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First (?) edition: a fascinating pamphlet marking a critical epoch in the history of the University of Paris and the first occasion on which Ramus came into prominence as champion of his University and of higher education in general.

In the spring of 1557 an exceptionally violent ‘town and gown fight’ on the Pré-aux-Clercs with several casualties had led to a decree from the King and Parliament forbidding the use of the field to the University, the expulsion of all scholars not living in College, the closing of all College gates at 6 o’clock, suspension of all public lectures, etc. A deputation from the University to the King, of which Ramus was a member, succeeded in getting the decree rescinded. In this report, read to the assembled University, Ramus gives details of the arguments advanced in pleading their cause and a triumphant exposition of the success achieved.

He insists on the need for healthy open-air exercise both for students and teachers, a point developed in great detail in pleading for the return of the Pré-aux-Clercs to the University, not only by right of tradition but as a necessity. Considering how many ‘sphaeristeria’ (tennis-courts), public houses, etc., had arisen in the Latin Quarter in the last 30 years, it was all the more essential to provide open-air playing fields and he even insists on larger new spaces outside the Porte St. Jacques and the Porte St. Victor. In this passage he gives incidentally what appears to be a complete list of the Colleges then existing in Paris University.

Ong, Inventory, no. 493n, notes that the Bibliothèque Nationale lists this as the first edition, but inasmuch as it prints a corrected text incorporating emendations listed in the errata to the other edition of the same year, it is probably the second. Only the Harvard copy listed in the US.

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