Early Italian Statutes: Links

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


  • 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.


Rare Book Librarian

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

Published In: