Rare Books Blog

November 1, 2008

The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library

“The outstanding acquisition of the year”

The Yale Law Library owes its superb collection of early Italian statutes to a generous alumnus, an opportunistic librarian, and a “learned Italian lawyer.”

John A. Hoober (Law 1891), an attorney and industrialist in York, Pa., led a fund drive that raised a hefty acquisitions endowment for the Yale Law Library in 1942, much of it from Hoober’s own pocket. When legal historian Samuel Thorne took over as Law Librarian three years later, he had an ample book budget and a buyer’s market in war-torn Europe. Thorne’s report for the 1945-46 academic year included the following under the heading “Notable Purchases”:

“The outstanding acquisition of the year was the notable collection of Italian statuta, numbering almost nine hundred volumes, purchased from a learned Italian lawyer who had brought it, over a period of fifty years, to its present completeness. It contained fifty-two manuscripts of the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries, nine incunabula, and many sixteenth-century editions, more than a few unknown to Luigi Manzoni whose ‘Bibliografia statutaria e storica italiana’ is the standard bibliography of the class.”

Efforts to discover the identity of the “learned Italian lawyer” who sold his splendid collection to Yale have so far come up empty.

The collection has been supplemented by two major acquisitions from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Their Roman-Canon Law Collection, placed on permanent loan at the Yale Law Library in 2006, included twenty-two volumes of Italian treatises and judicial opinions. An additional sixty volumes were acquired in Fall 2008 as part of the Bar’s Foreign Law Collection. In addition, book dealers in the U.S. and Europe have supplied individual volumes of statutes for Ancona, Bergamo, Brescia, Cremona, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Monteregale, Novara, Riviera di Salo, Sicily, Rome, Trento, and Vicenza.

BENJAMIN YOUSEY-HINDES & MIKE WIDENER
Exhibit Curators

“The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library” is on display October 2008 through February 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

Illustration: Statuta provisiones et ordinamenta magnificae civitatis Ferrariae (2nd ed.; Ferrara, 1534).

October 30, 2008

The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library

Rovito, Scipione. Decisiones supremorum tribunalium regni Neapolitani (Naples, 1687). Acquired from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, September 2008.

(View the Kingdom of Naples on a map: “Regno di Napoli”.)

The most recent addition to the Yale Law Library’s collection of early Italian materials is not a body of statutes, but rather an extensive set of rulings written by the jurist Scipone Rovito (1556-1636) as a member of the highest court in the Kingdom of Naples. In this rare 1687 edition the rulings are accompanied by commentaries and summaries written by the Neopolitan jurist Blasio Altimaro (1630-1713). The Yale Law Library’s collection of municipal statutes is complimented by a large—and growing—number of early commentaries and treatises on Italian law like this one.

BENJAMIN YOUSEY-HINDES & MIKE WIDENER

Exhibit Curators

“The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library” is on display October 2008 through February 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

October 11, 2008

The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library

Montefortino (Italy). Statutum Montisfortini in Campanea [with] Statuto e tassa de mercedi che si devono al governatore, mandatario, e barigello di Montefortino in Campagna (manuscript, Montefortino, 1685). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, May 1946.

(View Montefortino, today named Artena, on a map.)

The present-day city of Artena, southeast of Rome, was known as Montefortino from the Middle Ages until 1873. We owe the following description of our manuscript to Alfredo Serangeli, Director of the Archivio Storico “Innocenzo III” in Segni, Italy, and present it here with his permission and our thanks:

The Montefortino Statutes are the regulations for an essentially feudal municipality. Everything belonged to the feudal lord “in dominio et iurisdictione”, while vassals had broad rights for grazing, gathering wood and working the land. In fact, the statutes gave the feudal lord the right to one-fourth of all agricultural production, including wheat, barley, beans, spelt, millet, hemp, chick peas, and wine. This right was his in all cases, regardless of how the land was owned and worked.

The community, whose life was regulated in detail, was concerned that the feudal lords and governors should also respect the statutory rules. In fact, in a 1559 petition to the Colonna princesses (Tuzia, Porzia, Claudia and Virginia, owners of Montefortino at that time), concerning the reconstruction and reestablishment of normal conditions after the destruction of the castle in 1557 (during the Campagna War that the Papacy and France waged against Spain), Montefortino’s inhabitants asked that their governor respect the statutes. In the notary’s act produced when Prince Ascanio Massimo took possession of the castle on February 12, 1595, the prince’s oath to obey and enforce the Statutes is specifically mentioned.

The original manuscript is composed of 38 parchment folia, 16 x 24 cm., and was produced in 1468 by Antonio son of Luca, one of the most important notaries in Montefortino during the 15th century. The manuscript held in the Lillian Goldman Law Library is a copy of the revised statutes of 1606.

    – Alfredo Serangeli, Director, Archivio Storico “Innocenzo III”

Incidentally, Alfredo Serangeli is from the same family as Stefano Serangeli, the scribe who produced the Yale Law Library’s manuscript in 1685.

BENJAMIN YOUSEY-HINDES & MIKE WIDENER

Exhibit Curators

“The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library” is on display October 2008 through February 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

October 6, 2008

The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library

Honoring the Hon. Guido Calabresi (Law ’58)

The Yale Law School has marked the 50th anniversary of the Hon. Guido Calabresi’s graduation by acquiring a significant collection of 60 early Italian law books for the Law Library’s Rare Book Collection from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. The Lillian Goldman Law Library is pleased to join with the Law School by dedicating this exhibit of Italian statutes to Judge Calabresi.

Judge Calabresi is the Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School. He was born in Milan, Italy and graduated at the top of the Yale Law School Class of 1958. He also earned a B.S., summa cum laude, from Yale College in 1953, a B.A. degree with First Class Honors from Magdalene College, Oxford University, in 1955, and an M.A. in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University in 1959. He joined the Yale Law School faculty in 1959 and served as Dean from 1985 to 1994, when he was appointed Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit by President Bill Clinton (Law ‘73).

“Every schoolboy knows that the Italian universities, and especially Bologna, were the great centers of nonreligious law throughout the Middle Ages and beyond. Indeed, there may well have been no break at all between the ancient Roman law schools in Bologna and the University of Bologna. What is not generally known, however, is how modern law was in Italy at that time, at least in contrast to what was happening in England.” — Guido Calabresi, “Two Functions of Formalism: In Memory of Guido Tedeschi,” 67 University of Chicago Law Review 479, 481 (2000).

BENJAMIN YOUSEY-HINDES & MIKE WIDENER

Exhibit Curators

“The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library” is on display October 2008 through February 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

Illustration: Title page from a compilation of statutes for Judge Calabresi’s hometown, Milan, Constitutiones dominii mediolanensis (4th ed.; Novara, 1597).

 

October 4, 2008

The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library

Crasciana (Italy). Statuta, decreta, et ordinameta communis et hominum Crascane (manuscript, Crasciana, 1519-1576). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, May 1946.

(View Crasciana on a map.)

This manuscript is from Crasciana, a small village outside Lucca in Tuscany, and displays many interesting features. The first half was written by the notary Franco Inporino in 1519, and is followed by additions from at least eight other notaries up to the late 1570s. In some cases these notaries have added or emended statutes, in others they have simply certified that the laws were still in force. The pages presented here were written by “Andrea Paullecti, public notary and citizen of Lucca” in 1527. On the left are two laws pertaining to the keeping of pigs within the commune’s boundaries, and on the right is a statute concerning the penalties assessed for illegally harvesting timber on public land.

BENJAMIN YOUSEY-HINDES & MIKE WIDENER

Exhibit Curators

“The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library” is on display October 2008 through February 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

 

October 4, 2008

 

The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library

Perugia (Italy). Statuta augustae Perusiae (Perugia, 1523-1528). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, May 1946.

(View Perugia on a map.)

Early in the sixteenth century, the leaders of Perugia decided it was time to reform, expand, and print the city’s statutes. Here we see the result of that project. A group of lawyers and jurists were appointed—one of each for each section of statutes—and given the task of bringing the code up to date. The four pairs of reformers completed their tasks at different times between 1523 and 1528.

On display here is the beginning of the fourth book of statutes, where we find a striking woodcut of the printer Girolamo Cartolari presenting the finished volume to Malatesta Baglioni, the ruler of Perugia.

BENJAMIN YOUSEY-HINDES & MIKE WIDENER

Exhibit Curators

 

“The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library” is on display October 2008 through February 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

October 4, 2008

The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library

Sicily (Kingdom). Capitula regni Sicilie (Messina, 1526). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, May 1946.

(View the Kingdom of Sicily on a map: “Regno di Sicilia”.)

Ever since the twelfth century, powerful families and royal dynasties of western Europe had competed to control southern Italy—a region made up of the Kingdom of Sicily and the Kingdom of Naples. Building upon the Constitutions of Melfi promulgated by Emperor Frederick II in 1231 (the Law Library has a manuscript copy from 1324), the legal system of the region was comparatively centralized, with law-making power residing primarily with the ruling monarchs. An example of this can be seen in this volume of the laws of the Kingdom of Sicily, in which the statutes are arranged not by subject, but based on the ruler who issued them. By the early 1530s new editions of these laws began appearing with more practical subject arrangements.

BENJAMIN YOUSEY-HINDES & MIKE WIDENER

Exhibit Curators

“The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library” is on display October 2008 through February 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

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