HOTOMANUS, Franciscus Iuris consulti commentarius in quatuor libros institutionum iuris civilis.

Lyon, Antonium Gryphium for Theobald Paganum, 1567


Folio, pp. [vi] 575 [xvii]. Roman and Italic letter, some Greek. Gryphius’ large woodcut printer’s device of a griffin and motto “Virtute Duco, Comite fortuna”, fine large woodcut historiated initials, grotesque woodcut headpieces. Light age yellowing, minor waterstain in upper margin of last few ll. A fine copy, clean and well margined, in contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, “ICKH” stamped on upper cover, ‘Hotomanni ad Instituta” ms. on spine, vellum stubs.

Beautifully printed second edition, corrected by the author, of this important commentary on the Corpus juris civilis; the first edition was published in 1560 at Basle. This work is of particular interest and importance as it shows the evolution of Hotman’s thought leading to the publication of his most radical work the ‘Anti-Triboniem’, thought to have been written in the same year as this publication, but not printed until 1603. “At least twelve works on Roman Law and Roman history appeared under Hotman’s name in the years 1556-60 including a short life of Justinian, commentaries on the Institutes and the Digest, studies in Ancient Roman political and legal usage, and the systematic reclassification of Roman Law principles… In his sketch of Justinian Hotman was severely critical of the methods used to produce the Corpus juris civilis. This work was reprinted with Hotman’s commentaries on the Institutes, which contained a prefatory letter also condemning Tribonian’s labours. Even at this stage in the development of Hotman’s ideas, there appeared the contrapuntal suggestion that the primitive customs of the Germanic peoples could be favourably compared with more sophisticated legislation (Roman law)” Ralph E. Giesey ‘Francogallia By François Hotman.’. Hotman taught Roman law in Paris, Lyon, Geneva, Lausanne, Strasbourg, Valence, and Bourges. He converted from Catholicism to Calvinism in 1547 and took an active part in disseminating the teachings of Calvin. In 1572, after the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, he left France and lived first in Geneva and then in Basel. His religious beliefs had a deep influence on his thinking on the law“Yet, for various reasons besides his general contrariness, Hotman became increasingly suspicious of the study of Roman law. During the religious wars he came to attribute many of the ills of French society to the reception of Roman law, and in much the same tone as Rabelais he derided those pettifoggers (chicanourrois) who came out of the schools of law and swarmed over the courts, both lay and ecclesiastical. .. More and more Hotman came to associate the study of Roman law with the corruptions of Italian society; and like many French jurists he believed in a golden age of French law, before the coming of “written law” when judgements were simple, morals were pure and litigation was at a minimum. This was a myth similar in function to that of the “primitive church” and, for Hotman, part of the same program of reform.” Donald R. Kelley. ‘Foundations of Modern Historical Scholarship: Language, Law, and History in the French Renaissance.’ A very good copy of this important work.

Adams H1063 J 643. Baudrier VIII p. 350. Not in Gultlingen or BM STC Fr. C16th.
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