Rare Books Blog

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.

October 4, 2008

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

 

Trento (Italy). Libro de Statuti et Ordini delli Signori Sindici della Magnifica Communità, & Città di Trento (Trent, 1640). Acquired with the Arthur Hobson Dean Purchase Fund in International Law, January 2008.

(View Trento on a map.)

This recent acquisition is a first edition of the city laws of Trento, which were issued under the authority of Cardinal Carlo Madruzzo in 1640. Madruzzo oversaw the revision of statutes that had been issued originally by Cardinal Bernhard von Cles in 1528. This copy is originally from the library of the very same Cardinal Madruzzo and bears his signature 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

Introduction

Beginning in the eleventh century, scholars in what is today northern Italy began to rediscover the Roman legal tradition as expressed in the Emperor Justinian’s sixth-century Corpus iuris civilis. In the centuries that followed, jurists, merchants, clergymen, and civic leaders all across the Italian Peninsula pragmatically integrated Roman law with the long-held customary laws of their own towns and cities. Over time a new and dynamic system of civil law emerged, one which continues to evolve to this day. The works featured in this exhibition are simultaneously examples of—and evidence for—the flourishing of Italian civil law in the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries.

The Yale Law Library’s collection of early Italian city statutes contains codes from over three hundred and eighty municipalities—including major cities such as Milan, Bologna, Rome, and Venice as well as tiny villages like Bellosguardo, Crasciana, and Montebuono. Regardless of their size, all of these municipalities took pride in their laws, and looking at the title pages one can sense the important role that these codes played in defining a municipality and its citizens.

As you explore the exhibition in the posts that follow, note the ways that the books’ owners marked and annotated them; the coexistence of printed and hand-written statutes; and the transition from the Latin of jurists and scholars to the Italian of merchants and politicians.

The Law Library’s Italian statute collection provides a rich resource not only for legal history, but also for the history of reading, print culture, manuscript culture, bookbinding, Italian social history, political history, and much more. In addition, the books are fascinating cultural artifacts. We welcome you to make use of them.

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.

Image at right: Sicily (Kingdom). Regni Sicilie constitutiones per excellentissumum j.v.d. do. Andream de Isernia (Naples, 1533).

October 2, 2008

Now on exhibit…

Oct. 2008 – Feb. 2009

Rare Book Exhibition Gallery

Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library

Yale Law School


An exhibition highlighting the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s outstanding collection of early Italian city statutes inaugurates the Law Library’s new, state-of-the-art exhibition gallery. The exhibition, “The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library,” debuts during the Yale Law School’s annual Alumni Weekend, Oct. 3-4, 2008.

The Law Library’s collection of Italian “statuta” is rivaled by few other U.S. libraries and surpassed by none. These municipal codes governed the dozens of Italian city-states that arose in the Middle Ages and persisted until the reunification of Italy in the late 19th century. The collection contains over 900 volumes of printed books and 60 bound manuscripts, dating from the 14th to 20th centuries, and representing over 380 municipalities and jurisdictions. In their mixing of Roman law, local law, and pragmatic innovations, the Italian municipal statutes became the prototype of European civil law.

The new Rare Books Exhibition Gallery is located in the lower level of the Lillian Goldman Law Library (Level L2), directly in front of the Paskus-Danziger Rare Book Reading Room. The exhibition cases are climate-controlled and protect the exhibit items from damage by ultra-violet light.

The exhibition was curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, doctoral candidate in medieval history at Stanford University, and Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian.

For those unable to visit the exhibit in person, the exhibit will appear in installments here on the Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog.

For more information, phone me at (203) 432-4494 or email me at .[at]yale.edu>

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

September 30, 2008

The new exhibit cases for the Yale Law Library’s Rare Book Collection arrived on Thursday, September 25. The two state-of-the-art exhibit cases measure slightly over 8 feet wide and 3 feet deep. They were built by SmallCorp of Greenfield, MA, the same company that recently built new exhibit cases for the Yale University Art Gallery. Humidity levels are controlled by silica gel tiles, and the plexiglass tops filter out harmful ultraviolet light.

The cases are located at the entrance to the Paskus-Danziger Rare Books Reading Room, on Level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library.

Thanks go out to all the folks who helped: Joseph Chadwick (Project Manager, Yale University Facilities), Femi Cadmus (Associate Librarian for Adminsitration, Lillian Goldman Law Library), Bonnie Collier (former Associate Librarian for Adminsitration, Lillian Goldman Law Library), Clark Crolius (Installations Manager, Yale University Art Gallery), Professor Blair Kauffman (Director, Lillian Goldman Law Library), Kevin Rose (Building Manager, Yale Law School), Van Wood (SmallCorp), Maria Zawadzki (H2Z Design), Paula Zyats (Assistant Chief Conservator, Yale University Libraries).

The inaugural exhibition is now being installed, and will debut during Yale Law School’s Alumni Weekend. Stay tuned for the announcement!

MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian


Kevin Rose, Joe Chadwick and the Physical Plant crew install the new exhibit cases.

Margot Curran (Exhibits Conservator, Yale University Libraries) installs
the new exhibit with (far left) Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Rare Books intern
and guest exhibit curator.

September 20, 2008

The sesquicentennial of the infamous Dred Scott decision was marked in 2007. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that slaves were property and not citizens; they could not bring suit in federal court; and because slaves were private property, the federal government could not revoke a slave owner’s right to own a slave based on where he lived. The decision threatened to open U.S. territories to slavery, and was one of the preludes to the Civil War.

The decision itself was published in several editions, and is widely accessible. It generated a large amount of pamphlet literature, which is not so accessible. An example from the Yale Law Library’s Rare Book Collection is A Legal Review of the Case of Dred Scott, by John Lowell and Horace Gray. (In 1881 Gray became a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and in 1898 authored a decision that a child born in United States to foreign parents is automatically a citizen of the United States.)

Our copy is inscribed, “Hon. Roger S. Baldwin with the authors’ compliments.” Roger Sherman Baldwin (Yale 1845) served Connecticut as governor and U.S. Senator, and was one of the attorneys who defended the African captives in the Amistad case. It was one of thousands of volumes donated to the Yale Law Library by his son, Simeon E. Baldwin (Yale 1861), one of the most outstanding professors in the history of the Yale Law School. The inscription illustrates how pamphlets like this one were part of the information networks among anti-slavery lawyers and activists.

For more information, see the Wikipedia articles on Roger Sherman Baldwin and Simeon E. Baldwin, and the accompanying links. There are a number of excellent websites on the Dred Scott decision. An excellent starting place is the Library of Congress Web Guide on Dred Scott v. Sandford.

MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian

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