Rare Books Blog

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.

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).

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