Memoralia ex variis utriusque Iuris Doctoribus collecta.

Lyon, Jean Frellon, 1556.


8vo, pp. (40), 942, (50). Neat Roman letter, little Greek, large woodcut initials. Original paperflaw affecting one letter on p. 175, tiny rust spots to pp. 269-273. Very crisp copy in English contemporary calf, blind-tooled boards, double-panelled, fleuron in central frame and fleur-de-lis ornaments to corners, red morocco label, slightly worn, minor losses on the edges, repair to head and foot of the spine, front joint and spine a bit cracked. Endpapers from a contemporary English-Latin Black Letter dictionary. Modern book plate on front pastedown and of the great Bridgewater Library on title verso, early shelf marks on title.

First French edition of this very detailed legal lexicon, published jointly in Lyon by Antoine Vicent and Jean Frellon. The issue with Frellon’s device on the title is rare. The work appeared first in Pavia (1511) and then in Basle (1545). Scion of a patrician family of Milan, Paolo Michele Cotta (1484-1553), known as Catellano, read law with the humanists Filippo Decio and Andrea Alciato. He climbed the administration ladder in the Duchy of Milan during the troubled times of the Italian wars, when the territory was sought after by the French kingdom and the Habsburg Empire. A couple of encyclopaedic law works came from his pen. At the end of his life, he curated and annotated a new edition of the Milanese statutes. His Memoralia scholarly illustrated the complexity of Latin legal terminology, relying on a vast number of juridical sources, from ancient authors and Justinian’s Digest to his living colleagues. This useful work exerted influence up to the eighteenth century. An encomiastic poem by Andrea Alciato hailed Cotta as ‘alter Papinianus’, comparing him to the famous Roman jurist.

‘The famous Bridgewater Library, probably the oldest large family library in the United Kingdom, was started about 1600 by Sir Thomas Egerton, Baron Ellesmere and Viscount Brackley (1540?-1617), appointed Lord Chancellor by James I. His third wife, the Dowager Countess of Derby, was a noteworthy protector of literature. In 1917 the Bridgewater books, with all the manuscripts and family papers, were sold to the late Mr Henry E. Huntington and are now part of his great library at San Marino, California, with the exception of a certain number of volumes he discarded as duplicates.’ S. De Ricci, English Collector of Books and Manuscripts, pp. 17-18.

Not in BM STC It. Argelati, Bibliotheca, II, 3485; IV, 1980-1991.


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