BAVARIA. Reformacion der Baÿrischen Lanndrecht.

[München], [Hans Schobser], [1518]


FIRST EDITION. Folio, ff. (xxxvi) 169 (i), on vellum. Gothic letter, text in red and black throughout, attractive woodcut vignette portraying dukes Wilhelm IV (1493-1550) and Ludwig X (1495-1545) of Bavaria holding coat of arms of Bavaria on t-p, double page woodcut depicting the tree of consanguinity. T-p a bit dusty, some slight creasing, minor and rare marginal fingersoiling, occasional marginal stitched repairs (made before printing), a few little flaws. An extremely good copy, very wide margined, crisp and clean, in C19 crushed morocco binding by Townsend, covers triple blind ruled, inner dentelles richly gilt, spine with double blind ruled raised bands, title and date gilt in compartments, marbled endpapers, a.e.g., within slipcase. Bookplate of Hans Fürstenberg (1890-1982) to front pastedown, blind stamp of Dr. Detlef Mauss (1943-2009) and pencil note “Dr. Detlef Mauss Rechtsanwalt in Wiesbaden 31.10.2008” to fly.

Stunning first edition of this remarkable collection of revised Bavarian statutes, beautifully printed in red and black on very high quality vellum, richly bound in English morocco. Only one copy on vellum is recorded (Morgan) outside German libraries. Luxury editions on vellum of important books, were produced in very small numbers to serve as presentation copies to the great and especially to patrons. Regarding this edition, “It has been asserted that the type employed in the vellum copies differs throughout from that in the paper copies […] the headings, also, are all in red; in the paper copies they are said to be in black” (Fairfax Murray)

The ‘Reformacion der Baÿrischen Lanndrecht’ constitutes a revised, codified and systematised new version of the ‘Oberbayerische Landrecht’, the Bavarian law code issued by Ludwig IV in 1346. The introduction specifies that the old law is provided with additions, explained and brought into better order. A document of great cultural significance, the volume covers the whole range of private law, including trials, crime, morality, blasphemy, marriage and inheritance, commercial transactions. “The century before the theological reformation of Luther was an era of intense ‘legal reformation’ in Germany. In the early fifteenth century, German jurists began to call for a thoroughgoing ‘reformation’ (reformatio) of the doctirines, structures and methods of private and criminal law. […] Beginning with Cologne in 1437, several German cities passed what they called ‘legal reformations’. […] They also included the new reformation laws of the principalities of Baden (1511), Franken (1512), Bavaria (1518) […] These local legal reformations aimed, in part, to routinize and reform the civil laws and procedures of these local polities. At minimum, they reduced a good deal of local customary law to writing, often thereby supplanting the ancient urban and territorial laws of the twelfth and thirteenth century” (Witte).

The fine vignette on the title page depicts the two brother Dukes, Wilhelm IV and Ludwig X of Bavaria, in full armour. Behind them, two tablets with the initials ‘HW’ (Herzog Wilhelm) and ‘HL’ (Herzog Ludwig). The woodcut, unsigned, was realised by Caspar Clofigl, an artist who worked at Munich about 1516-1529 as court painter to Duke Wilhelm.

This volume was in the library of Hans Fürstenberg (1890-1982), a Franco-German banker and owner of one of the most significant private collections of precious early printed books, part of which he donated to important libraries, including the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. He is also the author of philosophical and historical writings.

USTC 690142; VD16 B 1007; Fairfax Murray Ger. 50, BM STC Ger. 16th century, p. 71; Adams B396; Van Praet I, 70.J. Witte, Law and Protestantism: The Legal Teachings of the Lutheran Reformation (2002).
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