Rare Books Blog

March 17, 2011

The Law Librarians of New England are meeting today here at the Yale Law School. In honor of their visit, I’ve posted a new gallery in our Flickr site, “Law Libraries”, with images of both real and imaginary law libraries. Below is one of my favorites, the frontispiece for the 1743 edition of a popular legal bibliography, Bibliotheca iuris selecta by Burkhard Gotthelf von Struve (1671-1738). Struve’s legal bibliography was first published in 1703 and went through nine editions. It’s interesting to note that a direct descendent of the author, Henry Clay von Struve (1874-1933), was the first fulltime law librarian of the University of Texas Law Library, in 1895.

MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian

March 4, 2011

Among the most outstanding illustrated law books of all times is an edition of Justinian’s Institutes published by a member of the Giunta printing dynasty of Venice, Instituta novissime recognita aptissimisq[ue] figuris exculta (Venice: Luca-Antonio Giunta, 1516). The “aptissimae figurae” are small woodcut vignettes that introduce 22 of the titles in the Institutes. Below is the woodcut for Inst. 2.10, De testamentis ordinandis (Of the execution of wills), showing a man dictating his last will from his sickbed. The Roman emperor Justinian promulgated the Institutes as a textbook for students of Roman law, and remained the standard introduction to Roman law for students throughout the medieval and early modern periods.

All 22 woodcuts are in a new gallery on our Flickr site, Justinian’s Institutes illustrated. The images appear first in two-page spreads, showing them in context, and then as cropped images of the woodcuts themselves. The image titles cite the title of the Institutes where the woodcut appears (i.e. “Inst.2.10” is Book 2, Title 10 of the Institutes), followed by the title in Latin and an English translation taken from R. W. Lee, The Elements of Roman Law, with a Translation of the Institutes of Justinian (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1944).

This edition of the Institutes is stylistically a companion to the three heavily illustrated volumes of the Corpus Juris Canonici that Luca-Antonio Giunta published in 1514: Gratian’s Decretum, the Decretals of Gregory IX, and the Liber Sextus of Boniface VIII, all of which we were fortunate to acquire in 2009.

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

 

February 24, 2011

This past month I’ve added 44 additional images containing depictions of Justitia (Lady Justice), to our Flickr gallery Justitia: Iconography of Justice. In addition, the Courtroom Scenes gallery grew by a dozen or so images. Below is an image that now appears in both places: it is the frontispiece to Johann Stephan Burgermeister’s Teutsches corpus juris publici & privati, oder, Codex diplomaticus (Ulm: In Verlegung Johann Conrad Wohlers Buchhändlers, 1717), and shows Lady Justice as the presiding judge, encouraging the downtrodden of the Holy Roman Empire to draw near and enter their pleas.

For the past several months I’ve been scouring our collection for such images, and also buying books containing images of Justitia, as part of our collecting focus on illustrated law books. The project has taken on additional relevance with the publication of Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-states and Democratic Courtrooms by Yale Law professors Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis (Yale University Press, 2011), and the Spring 2011 seminar, “Representing Justice,” taught by Professors Resnik and Curtis. See the Law Library’s Representing Justice page in its Document Collection Center.

I’ve discovered that an Italian law library shares our interest in images of Lady Justice. The law library of the Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia has built an excellent website, Immagini della Giustizia. The user can view examples based on their role in the printed book (frontispiece, headpieces, initials, architectural borders, etc.), as well as via iconography (the scales, sword, blindfold, etc.). I don’t read Italian, and I still found the site easy to navigate. It also has a thorough bibliography. Our rare book collection owns very few of the examples in the Modena website, so I have new titles to pursue!

MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian

February 8, 2011

Abraham Fraunce, 1559-1592/93. The lawiers logike, exemplifying the praecepts of logike by the practise of the common lawe (London, 1588). Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library; gift of Mary Kane Blair in memory of Waring Roberts, Law 1940.

Abraham Fraunce was called to the bar at Gray’s Inn and practiced law in Wales, but is better known as a minor poet and rhetorician. A member of Sir Philip Sidney’s circle, his works summarized classical and continental writers for English readers. In The Lawyers Logike, Fraunce applied French understandings of rhetoric and logic to the practices of English common lawyers to show that law and logic, when properly applied, could work together. In the introduction to the text he wrote:

If Lawes by reason framed were, and grounded on the same;
If Logike also reason bee, and thereof had this name;
I see no reason, why that Law and Logike should not bee
The nearest an the dearest friends, and therefore best agree.

     – Justin Zaremby

“Life and Law in Early Modern England,” an exhibition marking the Centenary of the Elizabethan Club, is curated by Justin Zaremby with Mike Widener, and is on display February-May 2011 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library Yale Law School.

February 8, 2011

Edmund Plowden, 1518-1585. A treatise proveinge that if or soveraigne ladye Elizabeth … should dye without issue, that the Queene of Scotte is nott disabled by the lawe of England, to receyue the crowne of Englande by descent [before 1676]. Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library; acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund.

Edmund Plowden rose to prominence as a lawyer under the reign of Queen Mary and became well-known as a law reporter. In 1566, probably in response to a request from the Duke of Norfolk, Plowden wrote this defense of Mary Stuart’s claim to the English throne as Elizabeth’s successor. He based his claim on the fact that the English throne passed by inheritance and that because the maxims of the common law, which applied to natural bodies, did not apply to political bodies, Mary’s foreign birth did not invalidate her claim to the throne. Moreover, he noted that Mary’s accession would not lead to English subjugation by the Scots given the traditional homage shown by the Scots to the English. His argument was proven correct when, as he foresaw, the Stuart kings chose to rule from England, instead of from Scotland.

     – Justin Zaremby

“Life and Law in Early Modern England,” an exhibition marking the Centenary of the Elizabethan Club, is curated by Justin Zaremby with Mike Widener, and is on display February-May 2011 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library Yale Law School.

February 8, 2011

 

William Cecil, First Baron Burghley, 1520/21-1598. The execution of justice in England for maintenance of publique and Christian peace (London, 1583). Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library; acquired with the Yale Law Library Patrons Fund.

Lord Burghley served as Queen Elizabeth’s Secretary of State and eminence grise. Trained as a lawyer, much of his public career was dedicated to ensuring the stability of the Queen’s reign in the face of numerous crises, among them being the lack of a clear successor to the throne and Catholic conspiracies to overthrow Elizabeth. In his 1583 work on The Execution of Justice, Burghley, masquerading as a loyal Catholic, defended the persecution of Catholics as a matter of state policy. Following the excommunication of the Queen in 1570, and the Pope’s demand that all loyal Catholics deny her legitimacy, Burghley claimed that the Queen could, according to political need, persecute Catholics. The work was translated into Dutch, French, Italian, and Spanish.

     – Justin Zaremby

“Life and Law in Early Modern England,” an exhibition marking the Centenary of the Elizabethan Club, is curated by Justin Zaremby with Mike Widener, and is on display February-May 2011 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library Yale Law School.

February 8, 2011

Sir Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Albans, 1561-1626. Essayes. Religious meditations. Places of perswasion and disswasion. Seene and allowed (London, 1597). Collection of the Elizabethan Club of Yale University; gift of Alexander S. Cochran, December 1911.

 

Sir Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Albans, 1561-1626. The elements of the common lawes of England (London, 1630). Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library; acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund.

 

 

Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Albans, had an illustrious career as a writer, philosopher, and politician. The son of Lord-Keeper Nicholas Bacon, he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge and was called to the bar at Gray’s Inn. Through the patronage of the Earl of Essex, Bacon entered parliament, but, due to his outspoken criticism of Queen Elizabeth, failed to secure prize appointments, with his life-long rival Edward Coke instead being appointed Elizabeth’s Attorney General. His opportunities improved under James I, when he was appointed Solicitor General and later Lord Chancellor.

As Lord Chancellor Bacon argued strenuously for the King’s prerogative, claiming at times that such prerogative came not from the common law, but instead from absolute right. Following his defense of prerogative in the face of parliamentary discontent, and allegations of bribery, Bacon was ultimately impeached. Because of his published works, Bacon ranks among the most important early modern philosophers.

     – Justin Zaremby

 

 

“Life and Law in Early Modern England,” an exhibition marking the Centenary of the Elizabethan Club, is curated by Justin Zaremby with Mike Widener, and is on display February-May 2011 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library Yale Law School.

 

 

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