JF Ptak Science Books Post 2102
Well, it's not really the Batman as culture currently knows the name, but Stephen Batman (d. 1584) whose published work heavily incorporating a Medieval natural history text was probably one read/consulted by Shakespeare. The earlier work was the beautifully-named book by Bartholomaeus Anglicus, All the Properytees of Thyings, which was published in Westminster in 1495 (and also known as De proprietatibus rerum, also translated as On the nature of things, or On the properties of things), which was originally written around 1225. The book was a bestiary, a marvelous encyclopedia, a collection of all things as known in the 13th century--it would be interesting to represent all that is know today and compact it into a workable, logical, usable (printed !) book of a thousand pages. The question of organization of knowledge would be the key, of course, and how to make one flow to another complimentarily as practicable...it would be an interesting project (for someone else) to try and arrange the basis of human knowledge in a finite space like that.
Batman produced his own version of the book incorporating the 400-year-old information with some of his own, and found the book a printer in 1572--Batman uppon Bartholome, His Booke De Proprietatibus Rerum; newly corrected, enlarged, & amended, with such Additions as are requisite, unto every severall Booke. Taken foorth of the most approved Authors, the like heretofore not translated in English. Profitable for all Estates, as well for the benefite of the Mind as the Bodie was a storehouse of knowledge, right and wrong.
I came upon the book today because one of its images is on the front cover of a book that I just unpacked. H.W. Seager, author of Natural History in Shakespeare's Time, being Extracts illustrative of he Subject as he knew it.... ("printed for Elliot Stock" of London in 1896) must've found the image compelling enough to reproduce it in gold leaf. Batman's image was of a crocodile, which now being told what it is probably looks more like itself than a dragon--Batman himself took issue with the current London practice of buying the skins, which he found to be a laughable thing ("we know not how to bestow our money"), establishing that people had too much money and not enough sense on what to do with it. In any event, I like the image.
From the Dictionary of National Biography:
"BATMAN, STEPHEN, D.D. (d. 1584), translator and author, was born at Bruton in Somersetshire, and, after a preliminary education in the school of his native town, went to Cambridge, where he had the reputation of being a learned man and an excellent preacher. It is supposed he was the Bateman who in 1534 took the degree of LL.B., being at that time a priest and a student of six years' standing. Afterwards Archbishop Parker selected him as one of his domestic chaplains, and employed him in the collection of the library now deposited in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Batman asserts that he collected 6,700 books for the archbishop, though this is probably an exaggeration. In 1573 he was rector of Merstham in Surrey. He was also D.D. and parson of Newington Butts in the same county. In 1582 he was one of the domestic chaplains of Henry Cary, Lord Hunsdon. He resided for some time at Leedes, in Kent. His death occurred in 1584."
"He wrote: 1. ‘Christiall Glass for Christian Reformation, treating on the 7 deadly Sinns,’ Lond. 1569, 4to. 2. ‘Travayled Pilgreme, bringing Newes from all Parts of the Worlde, such like scarce harde before’ [London, by John Denham], 1569, 4to. An allegorical-theological romance of the life of man, in verses of fourteen syllables, in which are introduced characters and historical incidents relative to the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth. 3. ‘Joyfull Newes out of Helvetia, from Theophr. Paracelsum, declaring the ruinate fall of the papal dignitie: also a treatise against Usury,’ Lond. 1575, 8vo. 4. ‘The golden booke of the leaden goddes, wherein is described the vayne imaginations of heathen Pagans and counterfaict Christians: wyth a description of their several Tables, what ech of their pictures signified,’ Lond. 1577, 4to. This curious volume, which is dedicated to Lord Hunsdon, contains first the description of a considerable number of the heathen deities for gods of the gentiles. An account of the gods of superstition, as belonging to the Roman catholic church, follows, among which are the names of Arrius, Donatus, Henry Nicolas, &c., with ‘certaine vpstart Anabaptisticall Errours.’ At the head of the sectarian gods is placed the pope for his heresy. Shakespeare is supposed to have consulted this book. 5. Preface to I[ohn] R[ogers]'s ‘Displaying of an horrible Secte of grosse and wicked Heretiques naming themselves the Family of Love,’ 1579. 6. ‘The Doome warning all men to the Judgement: Wherein are contayned for the most parte all the straunge Prodigies hapned in the Worlde, with divers secrete figures of Revelations tending to mannes stayed conversion towardes God: In maner of a generall Chronicle, gathered out of sundrie approved authors,’ Lond. 1581, 4to. Dedicated to Sir Thomas Bromley, knight, lord chancellor of England. 7. ‘Batman uppon Bartholome, His Booke De Proprietatibus Rerum; newly corrected, enlarged, & amended, with such Additions as are requisite, unto every severall Booke. Taken foorth of the most approved Authors, the like heretofore not translated in English. Profitable for all Estates, as well for the benefite of the Mind as the Bodie,’ Lond. 1582, fol. Dedicated to Lord Hunsdon. 8. Notes upon Richard Robinson's ‘Auncient Order, Societie, and Unitie Laudable, of Prince Arthure and his knightly Armory of the Round Table,’ 1583. 9. ‘The new arrival of the three Gracis into Anglia, lamenting the abusis of this present age,’ Lond. n. d. 4to."