BERTACHINUS, Johannes Repertorium iuris utriusque

Nuremberg, Anton Koberger, 25 October 1483


Folio. 3 parts in 2 volumes. 468 + 452 unnumbered ff. [collation on request]. Gothic letter, double column. Capital letters and intermittent initials largely supplied in red often with extensive decoration, vol. 1 with sketch for capital letter illumination on t-p. Light age yellowing, margins untrimmed, the odd insignificant ink or thumb mark, first and last leaf with scattered wormholes. Vol. 1 with faded inscriptions to ff. vviii and 2aviii. Vol. 2 with tiny wormholes to first few gatherings not affecting reading. Exceptional wide-margined copies on very good thick paper, crisp and clean, in highest quality C15 Bavarian blindstamped quarter pigskin over wooden boards, lacking clasps, two panels of diagonal double fillets with fleurons and basilisks, classification stamp or label ‘JU’ to spines, covers slightly wormed and rubbed, late C16 woodcut letter ‘A’ on upper cover of both vols, original ms title labels beneath. C16/C17 monogram ‘ES’, casemarks ‘12’ and ‘13’, and later ‘N. 736’, C18 ms. ex-libris ‘Monachij ad PP. Franciscanos’ and C19 inscription ‘Duplum’ to both vols, C15 ms. roundel in red ‘OSWS 1487’ at beginning of vol. 1 part II. Circular stamp of St Anthony’s convent (Munich) on vol. 2 upper edges.

A remarkably large, crisp copy on thick paper in two volumes of the second edition of this fundamental C15 work on jurisprudence. Of Bavarian provenance, its splendid C15 binding over wooden boards was made in the same workshop in Munich (Schwenke-Schunke II, S. 4 u. S. 275 f.) as Albertus Magnus’s ‘De abundantia exemplorum’ (Ulm, 1478) from the collection of the convent of St Anthony, now at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Giovanni Bertachini (?1448-c.1500) graduated in Law at the University of Padua, and, an experienced jurist and esteemed author, he was appointed lawyer of the Consistory by Pope Sixtus VI. Composed after 1471 and first printed in Rome in 1481, his ‘Repertorium’ is a monumental dictionary designed for scholars and practitioners of canon and civil (cum criminal) law. It is organised alphabetically by subject, for easy consultation, with hundreds of sections on juridical institutions (e.g., marriage), the legal status of individuals (e.g., fathers, archbishops, notaries), crimes (e.g., murder), and situations in which contracts are signed (e.g., sales, inheritance). Every section lists dozens of legal situations pertaining to specific juridical areas. For instance, a father, who can be natural, adoptive, and so on, can repudiate his son for numerous reasons, which are all listed as separate entries. For each entry, Bertachini provides references to the most important legal compendia which elaborate on the given subject, from Justinian’s ‘Institutiones’ to Guillaume Durand’s ‘Speculum iudiciale’ (c. 1271-1291) and Baldus’s C14 commentary to the ‘Codex Iustinianus’. Bertachini discusses unusual questions like the problematic legal status of hermaphrodites, as the coexistence of different sexes involved the concurrence of conflicting legal rights. The ‘Repertorium’ explained, among other things, that the Christian names of hermaphrodites had to reflect their prevalent masculine or feminine blood ‘serum’ (believed to determine a person’s biological sex). This understanding of hermaphroditism was still current in C18 studies on biological heredity. Bertachini’s legal encyclopaedia was extremely successful and influential, with ten editions appearing in the fifteenth century.

The complex provenance of these volumes is traceable to Bavaria, where they were printed, bound, and preserved at least until the mid-C19. The red ink letters OSWS are probably an unidentified rubricator’s monogram unusually styled in the form of a circle with initials rather than a signature. If so, the rubrication of at least the first part can be dated to 1487. After the second half of the C16, these volumes were possessed by ‘ES’, probably a lawyer and likely responsible for the woodcuts ‘A’ taken from a German book of initials modelled on letters published by Gabriele Giolito in Venice in 1557. Some of ES’s books were later acquired by the Franciscan convent of St Anthony in Munich. Two more books from the convent’s collection—Sulpitius’s ‘Corpus iuris civilis. Digestum vetus’ (Perugia, 1476) and Ubaldi’s ‘Lectura super Codice, Liber 6’ (Perugia, 1472), now at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek—bear the ‘ES’ monogram and a ‘B’ on the cover after Giolito’s woodcut of 1564. The volumes likely remained in the convent until its abolition on the secularisation of Bavaria in 1802. The ex-libris ‘Monachij ad PP. Franciscanos’, which appears on many volumes from the convent, probably derives from an inventory made in the late C18 or early C19. After 1802, the volumes were acquired by the Royal Library in Munich and catalogued as duplicates, like thousands of other books from Bavarian monasteries. Librarians noted ‘Duplum’ in ink and ‘Duplum an[n]i 1483’ in pencil on the volumes. The same inscriptions appear on another 1483 copy of the ‘Repertorium’ (now at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek) once belonging to the convent. This copy was sold by the Library after the mid-C19.

Only Library of Congress (parts I, II only) and Syracuse (part I only) recorded copies in the US.H *2982; GW 4153; BSB-Ink B-386; Goff B-498.

In stock