Early Italian Statutes: Papal States

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.


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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