Rare Books Blog

October 4, 2008

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

Pesaro (Italy). Statuti del Collegio mercantile de la Città di Pesaro (Pesaro, 1532). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, May 1946.

(View Pesaro on a map.)

While the majority of Yale Law Library’s Italian statutes are comprehensive municipal codes, the collection also contains sets of regulations pertaining to more specific matters, such as merchants and trade, agriculture, fishing, tolls, or taxation. The volume displayed here concerns Pesaro’s mercantile court, or Collegio mercantile. The Collegio was a group of twenty-four magistrates—none of whom were merchants—who rendered justice in commercial disputes arising between merchants.

The Law Library’s copy once belonged to Walter Ashburner (1864-1936), a noted professor of jurisprudence, book collector, and co-founder of the British Institute of Florence.

Note the unusual text facing the title page. The bookbinder used pages from Publio Francesco Modesti’s poem Venetias for the flyleaves. Published just up the coast from Pesaro at Rimini in 1521, the work celebrates the history of Venice and its citizens.

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

Ferrara (Italy). Statuta provisiones et ordinamenta magnificae civitatis Ferrariae (2nd ed.; Ferrara, 1534). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, May 1946.

(View Ferrara on a map.)

This is the second edition of the statutes of the city of Ferrara, the first having been published in 1476. According to a note written on the title page, this book was owned and annotated by a Ferrarese attorney named Hieronymus Rasorio. A list of what appear to be legal engagements written in the back of the book suggests that he was active in the 1560s. Here we can see the way a practicing attorney utilized the text of the statutes. In this example, Hieronymus has made extensive annotations to a statute concerning prescription (the acquisition of rights or property by extended, honest, and uninterrupted possession or use).

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

Papal States. Aegidiane constitutiones recognitae, ac novissime impressae cum privilego Pauli PP. III Pont. Max. (Rome, 1543). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, January 1947.

(View the Papal States on a map: “Stato Pontificio”.)

For over a thousand years (754-1870) a large portion of the central Italian peninsula recognized the pope not only as a spiritual leader, but as the highest civil ruler as well. This area has traditionally been referred to as the Papal States, and within them regions regularly shifted between two different political systems. Some lands were “immediate subjects” of the pope, meaning that a papal representative resided there and administered the territory. Other lands were “mediate subjects, ” meaning that public power was exercised by a feudatory of the pope without direct papal involvement.  Local municipal codes were kept in place under both systems, but they all were supposed to operate within a framework laid out in the Constitutions of the Holy Mother Church. The Constitutions were drafted in 1357 and laid out the political and juridical structure for the region.

In the example seen here, the Constitutions of the Holy Mother Church are called by their more common name, the “Egidian Constitutions,” in honor of their compiler, cardinal Álvarez Carillo Gil de Albornoz, known in Italian as Egidio Albornoz. This edition contains the additions made by Cardinal Rodolfo Piu di Carpi, a famous humanist and patron of the arts who served as papal legate to the March of Ancona in the 1540s, and whose coat-of-arms appears on the title page.

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

Alessandria (Italy). Codex statutorum magnifice communitatis atque dioecaesis Alexandriae ad respublicae utilitatem noviter excusi (Alessandria, 1547). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, May 1946.

(View Alessandria on a map.)

The statutes of the “magnificent” city and diocese of Alessandria feature one of the most striking title pages in Yale Law Library’s large collection of Italian civil codes. Beneath the municipal arms (the red cross of Saint George) and the watchful eyes of its patron saints we find a dramatic depiction of the city and its bustling port on the River Tanaro. Only a handful of early Italian municipal codes feature a cityscape rather than an elaborate version of the municipal arms. Note as well the ornate printer’s mark of Francesco and Simone Moscheni of Bergoni at the bottom of the page. These brothers went on to print collections of madrigals and various pieces of propaganda related to English relations with the Papacy.

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

Sant’Elpidio a Mare (Italy). Statutorum ecclesiasticae terrae Sancti Elpidii (Macerata, 1571). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, September 1947.

(View Sant’Elipido a Mare on a map.)

Yale Law Library’s copy of the statutes of the small city of Sant’Elipido was once owned by Leopoldo Armaroli, whose signature is on the flyleaf. Born in the nearby provincial capital of Macerata in 1766, Armaroli earned a degree in civil and canon law at the local university. He held various senior roles within the justice systems of central and northern Italy, and in 1831 was even elected Minster of Justice of the short-lived United Italian Provinces (Provincie Unite Italiane)—an important early step towards Italian unification. In his later years, Armaroli published a book about the abandonment of children.

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

Pesaro (Italy). Statuto del danno dato della mag. città di Pesaro, Libro quarto (Pesaro, 1579). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, May 1947.

(View Pesaro on a map.)

Città di Castello (Italy). Statuta, et reformationes super dannis datis a R. Cam. Ap. Confirmata. M. Comunitatis civitatis Castelli (Perugia, 1582). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, February 1947.

(View Città di Castello on a map.)

The municipal codes of both Pesaro and Città di Castello were originally printed in Latin in the 1530s (Yale Law Library has both). The two small volumes displayed here deal with matters of property damage. The selection from Pesaro contains a complete set of reformed and emended statutes on the subject, translated into Italian. The selection from Città di Castello, on the other hand, only contains reforms of the legal process for addressing property damage. Despite the title page and preface being in Latin, the actual text of the Città di Castello reforms is also in Italian.

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

Milan (Duchy). Constitutiones dominii mediolanen. cum ordinibus excell. Senatus (4th ed.; Novara, 1597). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, April 1948.

(View the Duchy of Milan on a map: “D. di Milano”.)

Following a panegyric treatise “On the Origins of the Law of Milan” by Francisci Crassi, this volume contains the constitutions of 1541 divided into five books. Here we see the beginning of the statutes that govern the Consuls of Merchants, who had jurisdiction over “all cases turning between traders, or merchants, or their agents, and contracts between them.” It appears that the notes in the margins were made in the middle of the seventeenth century. Note the “little hand,” or manicula, at the top of page 145, used since the Middle Ages as a common way to mark important passages in the text.

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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