Summa super titulis Decretalium

Venice, De Blavis, 1490.

£12,500

Large folio, 356 leaves, a-z8, 7-&-48, A-R8, S-T6. Gothic letter, double column; a few leaves slightly age yellowed; light marginal water stain to f. kviii, two small (wine?) splashes to f. yvii, clean nick to lower margin of yviii. A good, unwashed copy with wide outer and lower margins in seventeenth-century red morocco, richly gilt with decorative border and large central crowned coat of arms; a. e. mottled; on front pastedown, modern bookplate of the Portuguese collector, Count Hercules de Silva; occasional contemporary marking, notabilia and one manicula; seventeenth-century foliation throughout and collation on verso of last.

Early uncommon edition of a very successful and extremely detailed legal commentary on the Decretals, updated for ‘modern’ use and first printed in Rome in 1473. It is divided by subject matter into sections, which are identified both by sub-headings and running titles. Enrico Segusio (c. 1200-1271) was named after his hometown close to Turin, Susa. Also known as Hostiensis, he was the most prominent jurist of his time. He taught in Bologna and Paris, served Henry VIII of England as ambassador to the pope and was appointed archbishop of Embrun. At the end of his brilliant career, he was made Cardinal of Ostia and Velletri. He is mentioned by Dante in his Comedia (Paradise, XII, 82-85). This work on Roman and canon law was so successful that it was often referred to as Summa aurea, remaining for centuries an invaluable legal tool.

The splendid armorial binding of this copy suggests the property of a wealthy seventeenth-century marquis (from the crown) almost certainly a member of the Spanish nobility, which included at the time also Southern Italian families. The work would have been particularly important to a public figure with administrative and judicial responsibilities, such as a viceroy. The armorial bindings, neither halved nor quartered, suggest such an appointment. A fine copy of a handsome and very substantial book.

Uncommon. Only three copies recorded in the US (Columbia, Huntington and Baltimore).

ISTC ih00047000; BMC STC, V, 319; GW, 12236; Goff, H-47; Hain, 8965.

L2040

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