New exhibit: “Life and Law in Early Modern England”

English law not only underwent deep changes in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, but also played a leading role in politics and culture. “Life and Law in Early Modern England,” a new exhibit from the Lillian Goldman Law Library and Yale’s Elizabethan Club, illustrates this period with works drawn from the rare book collections of both institutions.

The exhibit is on display February-May 2011 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, located on Level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School, 127 Wall Street. The exhibit is open to the public, 9am-10pm weekdays, 10am-10pm weekends. It will also be available online, here in the Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog.

The exhibit was curated by Justin Zaremby, a 2010 graduate of the Yale Law School, assisted by Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian at the Lillian Goldman Law Library.

“Life and Law in Early Modern England” is part of the year-long Centenary celebration of the Elizabethan Club, founded in 1911 as a meeting place for conversation and discussion of literature and the arts. The Club’s website has a calendar of Centenary events.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Law Library and Elizabethan Club are sponsoring a public lecture by Professor Josh Chafetz (Law ‘07) of Cornell Law School, entitled “ ‘In the Time of a Woman, Which Sex Was Not Capable of Mature Deliberation’: Late-Tudor Parliamentary Relations and Their Early-Stuart Discontents.” The lecture will take place February 24 at 6:15pm in Room 127 of the Yale Law School, 127 Wall Street.

In his introduction to the exhibit, Zaremby writes, “The occasion of the Club’s Centenary provides the opportunity to bring together two impressive collections of early modern texts at Yale to illustrate a rich moment in English legal history.” The books and manuscripts on display date from 1570 to the 1670s. They include guides to legal practice, textbooks, a play performed at an Inn of Court, and works dealing with church-state relations, legal philosophy, court jurisdiction, and the claim of Mary Queen of Scots to the English throne. Among the authors included are several of the era’s leading figures, such as Francis Bacon, Francis Beaumont, Lord Burghley, Edward Coke, and John Selden.

Illustration: Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634), Les reports de Edvvard Coke l’attorney generall le Roigne (London, 1601?). Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library; acquired with the Ford Motor Company Fund.

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