Big Pictures in Little Books

Raimundo González de Montes (attributed). A Discovery and Playne Declaration of Sundry Subtill Practises of the Holy Inquisition of Spayne. London: John Day, 1569.

A small-format book could provide illustrative matter on an impressive scale by adding a large plate that fit into the book by means of compound horizontal and vertical folding. In this controversial sixteenth-century exposé of alleged cruelties perpetrated by the Spanish Inquisition, the large unfolded woodcut plate illustrates an auto-de-fé, the post-trial ritual in which the condemned heretics were led through a public procession prior to their punishment, which in this case was execution by burning at the stake (at center). In the printed table at the end of the book, captions lettered A to R describe the corresponding elements of the woodcut. Roundels at the four corners of the woodcut illustrate methods of Inquisitorial torture.

Raimundo González de Montes (attributed). A Discovery and Playne Declaration of Sundry Subtill Practises of the Holy Inquisition of Spayne. London: John Day, 1569.

Detail.