Berthold Purstinger, Onus ecclesiae (Koln: Johann Quentel, 1531).

As the protestant reformers busied themselves attacking the papacy and the sale of indulgences, many who stayed within the Catholic fold realised that something needed to be done to rejuvenate the church and stop it disintegrating. One such was Berthold Purstinger of Chiemsee, who produced various defences of the Catholic Church against Lutheranism. The work pictured here, however, was a critique of the Catholic Church. It was this sort of concern about the state of the established church and the consequent success of the reformers that led to the Counter-Reformation, initiated some 13 years later with the Council of Trent. The woodcut on the title page illustrates various passages from the Book of Revelation. Let loose from his dungeon, Satan (perhaps representing the protestants) can be seen setting about the Church with cudgel and sword.

From the library of William Crashaw.