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

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.

 

 

February 8, 2011

Sir Edward Coke, 1552-1634. Les reports de Edvvard Coke l’attorney generall le Roigne (London, 1601?). Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library; acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund.

 

Sir Edward Coke, 1552-1634. [Coke on Littleton] The first part of the Institutes of the lawes of England (London, 1633). Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library; acquired with the Ford Motor Company Fund.

Edward Coke was called to the bar in 1578 and quickly gained renown for his trial skills. He successfully argued Shelley’s Case (1581), which established an important rule regarding remainders in the transfer of real property by deed, and which bedevils beginning law students to this day. As Attorney General, Coke was responsible for the prosecutions of the Earl of Essex, following his unsuccessful coup d’etat, and Sir Walter Raleigh for treason. James I appointed Coke to be Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas and later Lord Chief Justice of King’s Bench. In that position he frequently clashed with the King and Lord Chancellor Francis Bacon over the extent of the King’s prerogative and the power of the Chancery Court, asserting the right of judicial review. After being driven from the bench, he sat for multiple parliaments, playing an important role in drafting the 1628 Petition of Right, which asserted the independence of parliament in the face of the absolutism of Charles I.

In addition to his work as a lawyer and judge, Coke’s legacy was established with the publication of his eleven volumes of law reports, which helped compile essential common law precedents. In 1628, Coke published his most important work, his Commentary upon Littleton. Coke’s annotations of Littleton’s Tenures, a fifteenth-century treatise on property, quickly became an authoritative text for common lawyers in England and later the United States.

One of the early annotators of the Coke on Littleton displayed here was Samuel Butler (1613-1680), author of Hudibras, an enormously popular and influential satire about the Puritans.

     – 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

 

 

John Selden, 1584-1654. The historie of tithes that is, the practice of payment of them (London, 1618). Collection of the Elizabethan Club of Yale University; gift of the daughters of Samuel Hart Selden, May 1922.

 

Early modern legal scholarship focused at great length upon the question of whether secular or ecclesiastical courts were supreme. Between 1605 and 1613, a series of ecclesiastical lawyers and scholars drew upon the interpretations of medieval canon lawyers and some historical evidence to make strident attacks upon lay ownership of tithes. John Selden’s 1618 Historie of Tithes, a major work of legal history, responded to this controversy. He analyzed European laws and natural law theory to show that payment of tithes had always been a matter for local secular courts instead of being determined by the laws of God in ecclesiastical courts.

    – 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

Lancelot Andrewes, 1555-1626. A sermon preached before the kings maiestie, at Hampton Court, concerning the right and power of calling assemblies (London, 1606). Collection of the Elizabethan Club of Yale University; gift of Henrietta C. Bartlett.

When James I acceded to the throne he became Supreme Governor of the Church of England. In 1606, he asserted similar control over the Church of Scotland after a group of Presbyterian ministers claimed the authority to convene meetings of the Scottish church’s General Assembly, in defiance of the King’s wishes. James reacted by summoning eight of the dissenting Scottish ministers to Hampton Court where four ministers lectured them on the pointed question: “What the king may doe in maters ecclesiasticall, and whether or not he had wholly the power of Conveenning and discharging Assembleis?” Lancelot Andrewes, then Bishop of Chichester, and a favorite of James, defended the king’s ancient right to control the Church of Scotland in this sermon. Andrewes would later defend James’s persecution of Catholics following the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and serve as Bishop of Ely, Bishop of Westminster, and dean of the Chapel Royal.

    – 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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