Rare Books Blog

October 4, 2008

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

Montebuono (Italy). Statuti communis et hominum terre Montis Boni (manuscript, Montebuono, middle or late 15th century). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, May 1946.

(View Montebuono on a map.)

The statutes from the town of Montebuono (about thirty miles north of Rome) were collected and revised by the notary Eusebius Angeli of Narni as part of a reform program in 1437. The manuscript you see here was copied out by a scribe named Maximus Vincentius several years later. The statutes are organized into four sections: the first deals with city government; the second with damages to property; the third with civil, social, and legal matters; and the fourth with violent crimes and perjury. Luckily, one statute prohibited the throwing of dead animals or other filth onto people walking along the public road.

Yale Law School’s rare manuscript is attracting attention in modern-day Montebuono, now a village of about a thousand residents. Renata Ferraro, president of the Fondazione Gabriele Berionne, wrote an article about the Yale manuscript in the August 2008 issue of Montebuono Spazio Comune. The issue is available as a PDF file, at the Montebuono On Line website, and Ferraro’s article is on pages 6 and 8. The article is based on a detailed study of the manuscript authored by Yale graduate student Oriana Bleecher.

If you are interested in learning more about the rich history of Montebuono, see Montebuono e il suo territorio: storia, architetture e restauri inizia la ricerca (Mariasanta Valenti, ed.; Rome: Fondazione Gabriele Berionne, 2007), shelved in the Paskus-Danziger Rare Book Reading Room. We thank Renata Ferraro and the Fondazione Gabriele Berionne for the gift of this splendidly illustrated volume.

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

Bergamo (Italy). Statuta magnificae communitatis Bergomi (Brescia, 1491). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, May 1946.

(View Bergamo on a map.)

The city of Bergamo was part of the Venetian Republic from 1426 to 1797, but like many of Venice’s territories it was allowed to maintain its own municipal statutes. The volume displayed here is the first printed edition of those statutes, and one of thirteen incunables (books printed before 1500) in Yale Law Library’s collection of Italian civil codes. Here we see an excellent example of the coexistence of print and manuscript, as the statutes printed in 1491 are supplemented by thirty-three pages of “reformationes et correctiones” from 1492, and eight pages of material added between the 1570s and 1610s.

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

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.

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