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).

November 1, 2008

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

One of the main reasons for organizing this exhibit is to encourage students and scholars to use the Yale Law Library’s outstanding collection of early Italian statutes. All of the volumes in the collection are represented in our online catalog, MORRIS. Feel free to contact Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian; see the Rare Books homepage for contact information.

Below is a selective list of online resources, bibliographies, and publications on early Italian statutes.

Online resources

Bibliographies

  • Biblioteca del Senato della Repubblica (Italy). Catalogo della raccolta di statuti, consuetudini, leggi, decreti, ordini e privilegi del comuni, delle associazioni e degli enti locali italiani, dal medioevo alla fine del secolo XVIII (Roma: Tipografia del Senato, 1943- ). Eight of the nine volumes have been published so far, and when it is complete it will be the most comprehensive bibliography of early Italian statutes. The entire set is available online at the website of the Biblioteca del Senato, along with updates to the earlier volumes. The Yale Law Library has a copy, which is currently shelved in the Rare Book Librarian’s office.
  • Leone Fontana, Bibliografia degli statuti dei comuni dell’ Italia superiore (3 vols.; Torino: Fratelli Bocca, 1907). The Yale Law Library has a copy.
  • Luigi Manzoni, comp., Bibliografia statutaria e storica italiana (2 vols. in 3; Bologna: G. Romagnoli, 1876-1892). Volume 1 covers statutes; volume 2 (which our library lacks) covers local histories. The Yale Law Library’s copy is currently shelved in the Rare Book Librarian’s office.
  • Statuti italiani: riuniti ed indicati dal conte Antonio Cavagna Sangiuliani (2 vols.; Pavia: Prem. Tipografia successori fratelli Fusi, 1907). This entire collection is now in the library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and it is probably the only early Italian statute collection in the U.S. that rivals the Yale Law Library’s collection. The catalogue is available online, but stops with entries for the letter M.

Books and articles

  • Mario Ascheri, “Beyond the Comune: The Italian City-State and Its Inheritance,” in The Medieval World (Peter Linehan & Janet L. Nelson eds.; London: Routledge, 2001), 451-468. “[T]he sections of statutes relating to public law have every right to be treated as constitutional history, even if their wide dispersion, mutability and multiplicity make them difficult to study. Paradoxically, it is their very richness that is responsible for the comparative neglect they have suffered. … The city-states were the precursors of the majoritarian principle. In order to delimit the activities of different governmental agencies they introduced systems of checks and balances. They pioneered measures designed to depoliticise judges and the administration of justice and to moderate the excesses of their officials.”
  • George Bowyer, A Dissertation on the Statutes of the Cities of Italy (London: Richards and Co., 1838). Although 170 years old, it is so far the only full-length book in English on early Italian municipal statutes. The Yale Law Library has a copy in its collection, and it is also online in Google Books.
  • Carlo Calisse, A History of Italian Law (Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1928). Translated by Layton B. Register, with introductions by Frederick Parker Walton and Hessel E. Yntema. Volume 8 in the Continental Legal History Series. The book is a translation of parts of Calisse’s Storia del diritto italiano, and was described in a contemporary review as “a long and complicated book.” The Yale Law Library has a copy.
  • Kenneth Pennington, “Law Codes: 1000-1500,” in Dictionary of the Middle Ages 7 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1986), 425-431.

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

Illustration: Perugia (Italy), Statuta augustae Perusiae (Perugia, 1523-1528).

 

November 1, 2008

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

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge the following for their assistance and support (in alphabetical order):

  • Oriana Bleecher, History Department, Yale University
  • Kathy Colello, Office of Public Affairs, Yale Law School
  • Margot Curran, Exhibits Conservator, Yale University Libraries
  • Arthur Hobson Dean Purchase Fund in International Law, Yale Law School
  • Renata Ferraro, President, Fondazione Gabriele Berionne
  • John A. Hoober Fund, Yale Law School
  • Shana Jackson, Lillian Goldman Law Library
  • Joanne Kittredge, Computer Services, Yale Law School
  • Harold Hongju Koh, Dean, Yale Law School
  • S. Blair Kauffman, Librarian & Professor of Law, Yale Law School
  • Christine McCarthy, Chief Conservator, Yale University Libraries
  • Liliane McClenning, Lillian Goldman Law Library
  • Brian Mendez, Lillian Goldman Law Library
  • Alfredo Serangeli, Director, Archivio Storico “Innocenzo III”
  • Pamela Sims, Alumni Affairs, Yale Law School
  • Richard Tuske, Librarian, Association of the Bar of the City of New York
  • Albert S. Wheeler Fund, Yale Law School
  • Anders Winroth, Professor, History Department, Yale University
  • Paula Zyats, Assistant Chief Conservator, Yale University Libraries

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 augustae Perusiae (Perugia, 1523-1528).

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

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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