Fahrenheit 1557

Again, what the hell is it with the Rhineland? I’ve noted before that it tends to breed pogroms now and again, but it also seems like it can’t go too long without a good book burning.

The political masters of Haarlem in Holland weren’t content with just burning Jorian Simons and Clement Dirks in 1557. They had to burn their books too. In an age before assembly line production, this kind of destruction carried far more weight than it does today, when it is viewed as boorish, ignorant behavior. Books were handmade, rare and expensive in the 16th Century. The crowd stood by while Simons and Dirks were roasted, but they could not abide the senseless waste of a book bonfire. According to the Martyrs Mirror:

When they had finished their tyranny by strangling and burning, they, in order to quench their doctrine, also thought to burn their books …; but when books were perceived to be on fire, there arose such an uproar among the people that the lords took flight, whereupon the books were thrown among the multitude, who reached for them with eagerness…

Life is cheap. Knowledge is precious.

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One Response to “Fahrenheit 1557”

  1. I wonder if any fragments of these books have surfaced in rare book auctions.

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