London: [n.p.], 1655. 4to. 167 pp. FIRST EDITION UNDER THIS TITLE. Large folding woodcut showing the geneaology of the royal family. Woodcut initials, head- and tailpieces. Morocco-backed boards, title and year in gilt on spine, marbled fore-edges; new endpapers, some marginal staining, but overall a very solid copy. Item #17454
First edition under the present title of Parson’s controversial text, published posthumously. The first printing was issued in London in 1594 under the pseudonym of R. Doleman and with the title A conference about the next succession of the crown of England: divided into two parts (translated with significant changes into Latin in 1597). Parsons (1546–1610), or Persons, was a Jesuit missionary. Along with Cardinal William Allen, he formed the Roman Catholic resistance in England in protest to Queen Elizabeth’s Protestant regime. In addition to frequently plotting assasination attempts, he also set up a secret printing press to issue his inflammatory books and pamphlets. This work contains two parts; the first embarks on a legal argument showing that the people have a right to alter the direct line of succession, especially for religious reasons. The second part is based on geneaology the succession to Elizabeth, arguing that the infanta of Spain is the clear successor. At the end of the book, there is a fold-out woodcut illustrating the geneaological tree proving this claim. A Conference was immediately effective in reopening the issue of the succession, provoking numerous replies. It has also been considered a leading work of political thought of the period, arguing in terms of resistance theory (even mentioning an elected monarchy) and against the dynastic tradition of primogeniture. An interesting fact: it wasn’t until 2013 that Parliament passed the Succession to the Crown Act which changes male-preference primogeniture to absolute primogeniture (the eldest child, regardless of gender).