“Heresy and Error”:
The Ecclesiastical Censorship of Books, 1400–1800

An Exhibition at Bridwell Library, September 20 – December 17, 2010


Henric van Cuyck, Bishop of Roermond (1546–1609). Panegyricae orationes septem. Louvain: Philippus Zangrius, 1596.

The Catholic Church actively defended its suppression of controversial literature. This collection of seven essays by the Bishop of Roermond in the Netherlands includes one concerning the need for censorship of the press. Praising the essential role of writing within the history of Christian learning, the author commented that the invention of printing by Johannes Gutenberg had resulted in a world infected by “pernicious lies.” He specifically condemned the writings of Martin Luther and Jean Calvin, the Talmud, and the Qu’ran, but reserved his greatest censure for Erasmus of Rotterdam, whose writings, he claimed, had corrupted the Christian religion from within by subtle trickery. Cuyck described the ongoing need for censors at the Universities of Paris and Louvain, and lamented that “prohibited” books were what printers and booksellers profited from most.


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