Rare Books Blog

October 4, 2008

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

Venice (Republic). Institutio Phederici Reynerii in dignitatem rectoris civitatis Canee in insulae Cretea ab Leonardo Laurendano duce Venetiarum (manuscript, Venice, 22 Sept. 1507). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, June 1956.

(View the Republic of Venice on a map: “Rep. di Venezia”.)

 In this fascinating manuscript the Doge of Venice, Leonardo Laurendano, names Federico Reynerio as Venice’s governor in the region of Chania on the northern coast of Crete for two years –“unless your successor arrives earlier.” Organized and presented much like the municipal statutes in this exhibition, the manuscript lays out over one hundred and eighty different instructions for the new governor to follow. Note how Federico’s name and coat-of-arms have been written over earlier erasures. Perhaps he was not the first recipient of this manuscript? This is one of six similar manuscripts held by the Yale Law Library.

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

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.

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.

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