Only known copy. On the surface, this bull issued by Pope Leo X on 17 May 1516 is simply a guarantee of a plenary indulgence for anyone who pledges participation in a new campaign against the Ottoman Empire (which he calls explicitly a crusade, in the title), but a closer look at the text reveals variations on the theme. Leo begins by stating that he is the current appointed voice of Jesus Christ on earth, as well as the agent sanctified to protect His interests from foreign adversaries. Leo had been charged by Francis I—then only 21 and in the second year of his reign—to raise an army and march on Constantinople to thwart the expansion of the Ottoman Empire under Selim I (The Grim), who had established a foothold in Egypt and elsewhere in the Holy Land. Particularly troublesome to Leo and Francis was Selim's growing naval presence in the Red Sea; the Mediterranean was presumed to be next up on Selim's docket, and it was, though it would be Suleiman the Magnificent who would realize naval dominance there. (Francis I would later find avenues of holistic rapprochement with Suleiman in the form of an alliance against Charles V.) Here the bull goes on to promise indulgences—in the form of written, signed, and sealed documents—not only to those who commit to the Constantinople campaign, but to anyone who convinces someone else to go in their place. In this case both the subject and their surrogate are promised full remission from sin, plus a testimonial to prove it. Leo goes on to promise indulgences to anyone who comes forward in good faith, regardless of age or gender. Many women had been party to crusades before, but this is the first in which women—and children—were actively recruited. Finally Leo promises plenary indulgence to any medical caregivers who aid in the campaign, either as physicians traveling with the crusaders, or as nurses caring for the wounded who make it home. (We remark that almost exactly five hundred years later, in 2020, Pope Francis would offer plenary indulgence to those sickened or in quarantine due to Covid-19.) The bull concludes with the rules for indulgence seekers, noting they must wear a cross sewn to their clothes (the signum of a crusade), and that any bearer instrument presented without signature, seal, or both, was grounds for excommunication. Leo concludes by stating that was unknown just how long the campaign against the "Saracens" would last, but that indulgences granted to those who later deserted would be null and void. The bull is composed in highly complex, page-long sentences, which the unknown printer has set in very small and rather crudely cast type. A unique edition of a forgotten papal bull at the very end of four centuries of crusades against the Ottoman Empire.
Octavo, 150 x 105 x 4 mm (binding), 147 x 102 x 2 mm (text block). A-B8 [B8 blank and present] =16 ff. Early 20th-c quarter calf over moiré cloth boards, titled in gilt on upper cover: BULLA | SUPER CRUCIATA | IN TURCOS. Extremities worn, pale stain to upper cover. Interior: Soiling (printer's thumbprints?) to head margins of leaves; trace of foxing.
Early 20th-c. bookseller's printed description clipped from catalogue and tipped to upper pastedown; modern ex libris of bookseller and collector Jacques Laget to same; scattered modern cataloguers' penciled notes to endleaves.
cf Göllner Turcica 87 (referring to a Petit/Bade printing with a different collation). Not in OCLC, USTC, COPAC, KVK, etc.
Status: On Hold