Maarten Luther, Parvus Catechismus Pro Pueris Nijmegen, Petrus Elsenius Ca. 1540 [Nk 3452-Nat Supp. III, 8]

  • Hendrik D. L. Vervliet


After the departure of Gerard van der Leempt for ’s-Hertogenboschi in 1479, Nijmegen was denied the services of a local printer. It was not until 1536 that the next work to be printed in Nijmegen left the press of Peter van Elsen. Van Elsen, who remained active in Nijmegen for the next twenty- five years until 1561, had a remarkable career. Besides perfectly legitimate work like broadsheets and a number of Latin poems, he twice printed proscribed books. This was a hazardous under-taking for which widely divergent penalties could be incurred, from enforced pilgrimage to life-long exile, from being put in the pillory to capital punishment. And indeed, Peter van Elsen was punished. In August 1561 he was imprisoned for printing a work by a schoolmaster of Zutphen, Herman Leuw, entitled Het Paradyss. On account of that work, which contained “voele boese leeren und ketterien” (many wicked doctrines and heresies), he was sentenced some months later to the public sale of his printing materials, and was banned from ever practising his profession again. In effect the sentence was a mild one, because the Nijmegen authorities had taken into account the “altheit ende blitheit” (old age and blindness) of the printers.


Printing Material Latin Translation Local Printer Legitimate Work Latin Poem 
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  1. 1.
    HPT I, pp. 50–52; HPT II, pp. 441–452Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    M. E. Kronenberg, Verboden boeken en opstandige drukkers in de Hervormingstÿd, Amsterdam 1948.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    M. E. Kronenberg, “Petrus Elsenius te Nijmegen en de Zutphensche schoolmeester Herman Leuw voor het gerecht als drukker en verspreider van een verboden boek (1561),” in: Het Boek 28 (1944–1946), pp. 55–78.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, the Netherlands 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hendrik D. L. Vervliet

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