FRENCH LEGAL COMMENTARY

De diversis regulis Iuris antiqui. (with) De justitia et jure: itemque de origine iuris.

Lyon [Geneva], François Le Fèvre, 1602; 1604.

£950

4to., two works in one. 1) pp. (8), 801, (23), lacking four leaves of preliminaries, text complete; 2) pp. 92. Roman letter, little Greek and italic; woodcut initials and printer’s device on titles, detailed xylographic oval portrait of the author; place of printing covered with paper strip and changed with contemporary two-part stamp to Geneva (Coloniae Allobrogum) on first title. Light age browning, a crisp copy in seventeenth-century sprinkled calf, tooled with triple fillet external gilt panel; morocco label and tendril decoration on spine; scratched and varnished, chipped corners; joints cracked; text elegantly ruled in red; library bookplate on front pastedown and stamps to edges.

Two scholarly treatises by Pierre du Faur (1532 – 1600), a major exponent of the renowned juridical tradition of Renaissance France. The first was originally published in Lyon in 1566. It is a popular commentary on book 55th of ‘Digest’ or ‘Pandects,’ the famous compendium of Roman civil law issued by Emperor Justinian in 533 gathering works by Papinianus, Ulpianus, Paulus and others. Du Faur thoroughly analyses the contents of this part of the ‘Digest’ in order to establish the general principles underpinning the ancient jurisprudence. Roman law, studied mainly through the Corpus Iuris civilis, exerted a paramount influence on civil law in continental Europe in early modern times.

The work is dedicated to du Faur’s teacher, the legal humanist Jacques Cujas. The second treatise, first issued by Le Fèvre in 1590, offers an erudite account of the features of perfect justice and law, and their origins in classical times. Scion of a noble family ruling over Saint-Jory in southern France, Pierre du Faur was the son of Michael, president of the assize of Toulouse (then called parliament). Pierre followed his father’s footsteps and studied law under Cujas’ mentorship together with Jacques Auguste de Thou and his cousin, the poet and jurist Guy Du Faur de Pibrac. A well-known student, he corresponded with scholars such as Pierre Brunel and Joseph Justus Scaliger. In 1573, he was appointed as the president of the assize in Toulouse. Du Faur was regarded by contemporaries as one of the most diligent officers and knowledgeable jurists during the cruel French wars of religion. For this reason, Henry IV entrusted him with the application of the edict of Nantes (1598), granting tolerance for French Calvinists.

The contemporary stamp on the title of this copy is a very remarkable feature. Le Fèvre was a printer active in Lyon, deeply involved with the local Huguenot community. In 1590, he fled to Geneva, where he moved his business. Yet, the Company of Pastors exerted a strong censorship over the city publications, so that printers frequently faked the place of publication, with a preference for Lyon. This was how Le Fèvre was able to pirate an edition of Montaigne’s ‘Essays’ in 1595 (Baudrier, V, 355) and other works by Du Faur (Merland, IV, 7). The expedient can also be adopted for the opposite purpose, that is to say to dupe the control over the Calvinist publications in Catholic countries, such as France and Italy. Purchasers, however, were often well aware of the trick, insomuch that sometimes they reintegrated the original printing location on their copies.

Not in BM STC Fr. XVIIth c, Graesse nor Brunet.

L1785

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