Ordine delli molto magnifici e clarissimi signori […] sopra quello, & di quali instrumenti si debbe pagare l’Archiuio, come ancora circa il matricolare li Notai.

Florence, [Nella Stampa di lor’Altezze Serenissime], 1571.


FIRST EDITION. Small 4to. 2 unnumbered ll., A2. Roman letter. Large woodcut device of the royal press with Medici arms. T-p marginally dusty, very small bite mark from lower blank edge. A remarkably well-preserved copy, in modern wrappers, early ink ms. ‘20 luglio 1571’, ‘126’ and later ‘5’ (red crayon) to t-p, another ‘127’ to upper outer blank corner of first leaf, C20 pencilled bibliographical note to blank margin at end.

A remarkably scarce ephemeral survival of the first edition of this Florentine ‘Ordine’ imposing a tax on notarial acts. The new tax increased the cost of procurations to 4 soldi, contracts to a maximum of 8 soldi, and last wills to 12 soldi. This additional cost included however a copy of each document which could be requested for free by the signatories from the archive at any time. The income, which spared the state great expenditure, went into the ‘perfect preservation’ of the Archive of public documents, only possible if the archivists received ‘proper acknowledgement and treatment for their labours’. The ‘Ordine’ also required that all newly-appointed notaries, within 4 months, appear in front of the archive officers to be approved by them. The Ducal Press was established by Cosimo de’ Medici in 1547. The first ‘stampatore ducale’ was Lorenzo Torrentino; after his death in 1562, the office remained vacant for years, as Duke Francesco I decided ‘to grant [the privilege] anew for each work, so as not to favour a specific printer’ (Pignatti, ‘Diz. Biog.’). For printers, the production of and trade in administrative ‘ordini’ and ‘bandi’ was ‘safe and abundant due to the high number of magistrates issuing ordnances, regulations, provisions, etc.—which quickly expired and were quickly renewed—and many were the offices and people interested in purchasing these works, which were printed cheaply on low-quality paper’ (Biagiarelli, 318). The printer of this ‘Ordine’ was not specified and we have not been able to trace another example of the device. USTC and EDIT16 identify him as Giorgio Marescotti, who, in 1571-3, used the imprint ‘Alla Stamperia di loro Altezze appresso Giorgio Marescotti’ with the Medici device, generally used on ‘bandi’. Biagiarelli suggests this was only meant to highlight, in his quest for the post of ‘stampatore ducale’, that he had taken over Torrentino’s premises—those of the former ducal press; he received a ten-year privilege for the ‘bandi’ only in 1574 (pp.317-18). The device (here much more elaborate) and typeface do not appear to match those used by Marescotti. An undated Giunti edition, with different Medici device and typeface, was also produced, but arguably in 1572, as the privilege for each ‘bando’ usually lasted for 6 months.

Only Yale copy recorded in the US.

EDIT16 CNCE 59988; USTC 859809; Salimbeni, Leggi, ordini […] della Toscana dei Medici, 310; Cantini VII, 364-370. B. Maracchi Biagiarelli, ‘Il privilegio di stampatore ducale nella Firenze Medicea’, Archivio Storico Italiano 123 (1965), 304-70; F. Pignatti, ‘G. Marescotti’, Diz. Biog. degli Italiani (2008).


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[GRASSUS, Antonius.]


Ars notariatus.

Rome, Stephan Plannck, c.1490.


8vo. 6 unnumbered ll., [*] 6 . Large Gothic letter, initials heightened in red throughout. Faint marginal waterstaining, marginal ink marks to last two ll., marginal soiling to verso of last, first and last reinforced at gutter. A good, well-margined copy, in a leaf from Korenberg’s 1483 German Bible over modern boards, a.e.r.

Very good, well-margined copy of this scarce Roman edition of an extremely successful manual for notaries. First composed c.1400, it circulated extensively in ms. before reaching the press in Rome in 1474 and undergoing numerous reprints in Italy, Flanders, France and Germany, as well as a German translation, until the early 1500s. Its authorship is debated: although the Brescia edition mentions the name of the Bolognese Antonius Grassus, judge of the Apostolic Tribunal of the Sacred Rota, it has also been attributed to the French jurist Johannes de Gradibus or simply considered anonymous. The title ‘Ars notariatus’ was constructed a posteriori following a variation of the incipit found in some ms. copies—‘Notariatus [instead of ‘Notaria’] est ars scribendi et dictandi…’. It is a very simple and clear summary of a notary’s work which it introduces as follows: ‘the art of being a notary is the art of writing and expressing arguments in writing so as to straighten the complexities of human fragility and commit them to perennial memory.’ There follows a clarification of what a notary is by law and who can become a notary—a free man, not of peasant origins, not constrained by other ties (e.g., holy orders), a male individual compos mentis (e.g., he should not be prone to excessive anger), with good eyesight and hearing, sound reputation and character (still desirable). The rest of the work is concerned with what and how a notary should proceed in his everyday business dealing with contracts, obligations, customs, sales arbitrations and stipulations, and, most importantly, how to deal with last wills and testaments and the subdivision of inheritance (e.g., if a son refuses to ransom his father from the Saracens and the father dies in prison, his inheritance will go to the Church). A little jewel of early legal studies, from one of the most productive presses in late C15 Rome, shedding light on the professional role and individual character of the medieval notary.

Only Jacob Burns Law Library copy of this ed. recorded in the US.

GW 2650; Proctor 3749; ISTC ia01129000. Rolandino e l’ars notaria da Bologna all’Europa, ed. G. Tamba (Milan, 2002).


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HOTMAN, François. [with] MYNSINGER von FRUNDECK, Joachim.


HOTMAN, François. Vetus-renovatus commentarius in quatuor libros Institutionvm iuris civilis.

Lyon, Apud Antonium Candidum, [1588]. [with]

MYNSINGER von FRUNDECK, Joachim. Apotelesma, hoc est corpus perfectum scholiorum.

Helmstedt, ex officina Iacobi Lucii, 1588.


Large folio. 2 works in one, pp. (xii) 525 (xix), (xl) 704 (ccxxiv). Roman letter, some Italic, occasional Greek. T-ps in red and black with printer’s woodcut devices; author’s woodcut portrait to verso of second, his large woodcut arms to β8, and large woodcut printer’s device to last; woodcut initials and ornaments. Minimal toning, I: very light water stain to upper blank margin of early gatherings, small tear from upper outer blank corner of i1, II: marginal ink splash to verso of H4 just touching side note, the odd spot, small tear to three upper edges, light water stain to upper outer corner towards end. Very good copies in contemporary Saxon pigskin, triple blind ruled to a panel design, outer border with blind roll of tendrils and small heads within roundels, second with blind roll of interlacing palmettes, third with blind-stamped full female figures of Faith, Hope, Charity, Prudence and Temperance (some signed FH), centre panel bordered by blind rolls of palmettes and tendrils, elaborate blind-stamped armorial centrepieces (signed GK) of Christian I, Elector of Saxony (upper) and Johann Georg, Elector of Brandenburg (verso), diagonally striped, raised bands, corners a bit bumped and worn, covers a little soiled. Ms. casemarks to front pastedown, C18 ‘1 Julii 1717’ to first t-p.

In a solid, handsome pigskin binding. The centrepieces are signed G.K. (Georg d. Ä. Kammerberger, EBDB w000435 and Haebler I 221-225). ‘The Kammerbergers were a family of bookbinders, whose workshops in Wittenberg were active during a large part of the C16 and throughout the C17 century. The company probably flourished under Georg Kammerberger the Younger in the 1590s, who was elected Master of the Guild in 1592’ (Haebler). This binding is stamped with the finely cut arms of Christian I, Elector of Saxony, and those of Johann Georg, Elector of Brandenburg. Christian I married Sophie of Brandenburg, Johann Georg’s daughter, in 1586; after her husband’s death in 1591, she became Regent (Sophia Electrix) during the minority of their son, until 1600. Given that, during the Regency, her personal arms were used in escutcheons and medals, this binding was probably produced for her library in the preceding years, with the Saxon and Brandenburg arms identifying her status as wife and daughter.

Two important commentaries to Justinian’s ‘Institutiones’—a cornerstone of the Western legal system. Justinian I (482-565) ruled for forty years over the Byzantine empire and succeeded in temporarily rekindling the former splendour of Rome by reclaiming Italy, Dalmatia and Spain from the Ostrogoths and Visigoths. ‘Institutiones’ is part of his ‘Corpus iuris civilis’, the first codification of Roman law. Based on the ‘Institutiones’ of Gaius, and other authorities, including Ulpian, it is a compendium of the basic institutions of Roman law devised by Theophilus and Dorotheus, two Byzantine law professors, under the supervision of Tribonian. François Hotman (1524-90) was a French Protestant lawyer associated with the anti-absolutist faction. In his revolutionary ‘Anti-Tribonian’, he advocated the substitution, in France, of Roman law based on Justinian, a change the king could have enforced with a legislative act. With a philological approach, he ‘favoured an alliance between law and history in order to distinguish between “old law” and “new law”, that is, between obsolete law and authoritative law’, being concerned with ‘salvaging what still had practical value’ among Roman laws (Kelley, ‘François Hotman’, 189). His ‘Commentarius’, also featuring a life of Justinian, sought to highlight Roman laws still relevant to the present, distinguishing originals and interpolations by later jurists, including the berated Tribonian. Joachim Mynsinger von Frundeck (1514-88) was a German jurist and writer, a judge at the Imperial Chamber of Justice in Speyer and later Vice-Chancellor of Helmstedt University. He was the first to publish documents of the so-called ‘cameralistic jurisprudence’, the decisions of the Imperial Chamber based on confidential consultation. Here in a scarce German edition, ‘Apotelesma’ was organised ‘in the form of “glossae” or annotations to single passages in the text, accompanied by brief comments. (Padoa-Schioppa, ‘History’, 269). Subjects include the laws relating to agriculture, wills, evidence, landed property and inheritance.

I: Baudrier XII, 484. Not in BM STC Fr. or Brunet.

II: No copies recorded in the US.

BM STC Ger., p.746 (1563 ed.). Not in Graesse. A. Padoa-Schioppa, A History of Law in Europe (Cambridge, 2017); D.R. Kelley, François Hotman (Princeton, 1973).


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[Cambio de Víñas en Morales.]

Manuscript on paper, Zamora (Spain), 1455.


4to. 8 unnumbered ll., second blank. First fol. in C17 cursive, 21 lines per full page, fols 3-7 in C15 escritura cortesana, c.28 lines per full page, pen flourishings in brown at margins and end, with notarial signatures. First three ll. slightly foxed, small tear at outer edge along nearly invisible centre fold, within a small marginal water stain, stitched. C17 ‘1455’, ‘Hueco y Cambeo mai Pos[nes]’ and ‘Hueco de unas viñas’, and C15 docket to verso of last blank.

Remarkably well-preserved, ephemeral deed granting the use of a vineyard in Morales, near Zamora. This area, with the province of Salamanca, in north-western Spain, was part of the Tierra del Vino—later a controlled designation of origin. The document includes a ‘carta de troque, cambio y permutación’ (for exchange and permutation) and a ‘carta de juramento’ (oath), both in the name of Bachiller Alvar Rodrigues of Sant Ysidro, son of Dr Juan Rodrigues of Sant Ysidro, resident in Zamora—a member of the Council of King Ferdinand and magistrate at the Real Chancillería in Valladolid (Dominguez, ‘Nobleza’, 485). A ‘carta de troque’ stated the reciprocal transfer of items of the same kind between two parties—here between Rodrigues, and Alfonso Estevan and his wife Cathalina Fernandes of nearby Morales—in this case, also a ‘permutación’, without the need for money exchange (‘Discursos juridicos’, 45-8). Rodrigues gave a vineyard he owned within the boundaries of Morales and Almantaya, between the vineyards of Juan de Morales and Juan Estevan, in exchange for two, the borders of which were the vineyards of the Bachiller himself, that formerly of Diego de Zamora, and another. The rest explains, for both sides, the conditions of the exchange, including specified fines for non-compliance equalling the value of the vineyards, the degree of ownership and their responsibility concerning the management of the vineyard, e.g., tax payment to the king, prince and lords. The ‘carta de juramento’ reinforced the first document with an official oath.

E. Fernández Prieto Dominguez, Nobleza de Zamora (1953); J.M. Dominguez Vicente, Discursos juridicos (Madrid, 1731).


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Formularium instrumentorum ad usum Curiae Romanae.

[Speyer, Peter Drach, 1483-88].


Small 4to. ff. 278 unnumbered ll., [*]-[***]6 a-z88 ɔ8 A-G8 H-I6, lacking [*]1 and [***]6 blank. Gothic letter. First leaf a little finger-soiled at margins, small oil stain to outer blank margin of first and second, repaired worm trail to l3-6 affecting couple of lines and lower margin of last few ll., some light waterstaining and marginal spotting on last few ll. A very good, clean copy, on high quality thick paper, in late C16 German pigskin, traces of clasps, double blind ruled to a panel design, outer border with roll of interlacing palmettes in blind, raised bands, blind-stamped vellum title label, c.1600 ms. casemark D at foot of spine, all edges blue, a bit rubbed, C18 bibliographical ms. note to fly, C17 inscription ‘Conventus Lucensis’ (Lucca, Italy?) on first leaf.

A very good copy of this small-format formulary for canonists, first printed in Rome in 1474. It is a collection of templates for legal documents, preceded by a detailed index. These precedents, which follow the practice of ecclesiastical courts of the papal curia, had been circulating in ms. among scribes and clerks, in the C15. The collection is subdivided into broad categories, split in turn into more specific types. Among these are forms for the approval of the university curriculum and the obtainment of a ‘Baccalaureatus’, as well as precedents for the surrendering of debt, the collection of ecclesiastical benefices, the purchase of habitations, the summons of prisoners to court, and even the purchase of books. For this, a template, which uses Justinian’s ‘Infortiatum’ as an example, identifies the notary as the witness to a financial transaction between the owner and the bookseller, for the sale of the book at the price of ten florins, and for which the number of leaves and the words at the beginning and end of text and the commentary should be specified. A very sound idea. This third German edition testifies to the gradual spreading of ‘the learned Romano-canonical procedure […] into the German-speaking regions that traditionally had had lay judges (‘Schöffen’)’ (Korpiola, ‘Introduction’, 11).

Pr 2363; BMC II, 495; GW 10207; Hain 7277 ; Goff F257. M. Korpiola, ‘Introduction’, in Legal Literacy in Premodern European Societies, ed. M. Korpiola (London, 2019), 1-16.


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Summa summarum.

Strasbourg, J. Brieningerm, 1518.


Folio. ff. CCCCLXXX (viii) + 2 tipped-in C16 leaves, one blank, one with extensive contemporary mss. Gothic letter, double column. T-p in red and black within decorated woodcut border with putti and grotesques, woodcut border with mainly vegetal decorations, woodcut vignette of Pope Sylvester (?) to a 8 , 4 half-page or smaller woodcuts with arbor consanguinitatis, decorated initials. T-p marginally a little finger-soiled, slight offsetting from C15 ms. formerly used as ffep, occasional light water stain to upper or lower outer blank corner, a few marginal flaws and tears, small ink burns to mm 3-6 (last repaired) affecting a few words, two old repairs to blank verso of last. A very good, well-margined copy, on thick paper, in contemporary Flemish calf over wooden boards, lacking clasps, later but not modern eps, triple blind ruled to a cross-hatched design with large rosettes and fleurons in blind, worn, raised bands, a.e.r., joints cracked but firm, small loss at foot of spine and to outer edge of lower board. C19 bookplates of the Library of the Xavier Union and the Catholic Club to front pastedown, C17 inscription ‘Crucis. Conve. S. Agathae p[ro]p[ter] Cuik’, numerous C16 annotations.

A handsome copy, in its original Flemish binding, of this most important legal work. Silvestro Mazzolini da Prierio (or Prierias, 1456/7-1527) was a Dominican theologian, professor at Bologna, Pavia and Rome, and Master of the Sacred Palace from 1511, by request of Julius II. He is renowned for being the first Catholic theologian to publish a critique—based on the Indulgences section of his ‘Summa’—on Luther’s theses on papal authority in 1519 (Tavuzzi, ‘Luther’s Catholic Opponents’, 224). Among his wide-ranging works, including astronomy and demonology, ‘Summa summarum’, or ‘Summa Sylvestrina’, was the most successful. First published in 1514, it was reprinted over 50 times. It is an alphabetic compendium of varied theological and legal questions, spanning sacraments, adultery, divorce, holy water, natural and illegitimate children, murder, heresy, bigamy, ban for clerics to fight in war, juridical issues (e.g., accusation and oaths), and alchemy, reaffirming Catholic beliefs. The near contemporary annotator noted this in his glosses to the Eucharist section, mentioning the Lutheran position (officially formulated in 1536), based on Mark 14 and Luke 22, that the body and blood of Christ are truly present in the consecrated bread and wine. More generally, he highlighted—adding notes from authorities like Gregory IX’s ‘Decretals’, and ‘updates’ from the Lateran Council V (1512-17)—questions involving criminal law (e.g., if people accused and condemned to execution can defend themselves), canon law (e.g., ecclesiastical benefices, elections, excommunication, masses, burials, simony, superstition), and practical questions such as the materials allowed for the making of chalices (i.e., not prone to rusting or fragility), and that ‘altars should not be made of wood or earth, but of stone’, which he glossed with explanations, also on decorations allowed, with references to the Old Testament. He added glosses on the confessions of condemned criminals, on the scaffold and at the stake. In the C17, this copy was in the library of the monastery of the Augustinians of the Order of the Holy Cross in Cuik, North Brabant. Its wealthy library, with over 1400 books including mss and incunabula, was dispersed after Napoleon’s suppression of religion orders in 1812 (Hermans, ‘Annales’, 172). Rare.

Only Cornell and Chicago copies recorded in the US.
Not in BL STC Ger., USTC or Graesse. G.C. Hermans, Annales canonicorum regulatium S. Augustini (s-Hertogenbosch, 1858), I; M. Tavuzzi, ‘Luther’s Catholic Opponents’, in Martin Luther in Context (Cambridge, 2018), 224-31.


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ENNENKEL, Georgius Acacius.


De privilegiis parentum et liberorum.

Tübingen, Typis Johan. Alexandri Celii, 1618.


FIRST EDITION. Small 4to. pp. (viii) 1018 (l), lacking F 4 (blank) as often. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut initials and ornaments. Browned in a few places, small paper flaws to text of 4Q 4 with no loss. A good, clean copy in contemporary (probably Austrian) deerskin, wanting ties, blind-tooling decorated in silver (mostly oxidised), double blind ruled, blind-stamped fleurons to corners, centrepiece with arms of Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor, as Archduke of Austria to upper cover and those of Lower Austria (appropriated by the Habsburgs in the C14) impaled with those of the Duchy of Austria to lower cover, raised bands, blind-tooled rosettes to three compartments, old shelfmark label at foot of spine, a.e.g., extremities a bit rubbed, with tiny loss at foot, spine and upper joint cracked but firm.

A good, clean copy, of excellent provenance, of the first edition of this interesting legal work on Roman and civil law regulating the relationship between parents and children—perhaps the earliest separate treatment of this subject. This copy appears to have been in the library of the Austrian archdukes—quite possibly a presentation; the work is dedicated to Ferdinand I, Archduke of Austria. Georgius Acacius Ennenkel (1573-1620), Baron von Hoheneck, an Austrian Protestant aristocrat, studied classics and philosophy at Strasbourg and Tübingen. He married the daughter of Christoph Freiherr von Althann, president of the Exchequer of the Austrian empire.

Ennenkel calls the parents-children relationship ‘the closest and strongest of all human ties and contracts’. He begins with an introduction to the meaning of ‘parent’ and ‘child’ according to Roman and civil right, with the help of authorities like Baldus de Ubaldis. He comments on dozens of particular circumstances, e.g., that a ‘contemptuous and impious’ father should legally be considered a father nevertheless; the cases in which the mother is Jewish or another relative has acted ‘in loco parentis’; that a baby ‘who died during delivery’ should not be considered legally a son or daughter, as well as any child struck by supernatural monstrosities or portents. The second section is an historical overview of laws among the Romans, Greek and Jews, touching on the murder of children and the extent of parental authority. The following discuss dozens of legal topics, such as ‘pietas’ between parents and children; the rights and duties of fathers (e.g., their authority, their right to take revenge (e.g., killing an adulterous daughter); in case of ‘frightful events’ children are not compelled to obey their fathers, what happens after a father’s death); the necessity of parental consent for marriages; their obligations in terms of sustenance to their children; and inheritance. A scarce and fascinating reference work for the history of children and the family.

Only Berkeley, LC and Princeton copies recorded in the US.
BL STC Ger. C17 E339.


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SAINT GERMAN, Christopher

Saint German, Christopher. The fyrste dyalogue in Englysshe, wyth newe addycyons. London, R. Wyer, 1531. [with]. Saint German, Christopher. The secunde dyalogue i[n] englysshe wyth new addycyons. London, in Southwarke by Peter Treueris, 1531. [with]. Saint German, Christopher. Here after foloweth a lytell treatise called the newe addicions. [London] Thomas Bertheletus regius impressor excudebat, anno domini. 1531.


8vo. 3 works in one volume. 1) ff. lxxviii [ii] 2) ff. 166, [vi]. 3) ff. 22 [ie 32] leaves ;  8. Black Letter. Woodcut royal arms on first title-page, small woodcut on verso of last of St. John the Evangelist with xylographic ‘Robert Wyer’ below, small woodcut initials some white on black, small woodcut of Christ and the trinity on verso of last page of text in second work, title of third part within woodcut border, ’Will Stamfold’ in contemporary hand at head of t-p, another below, ‘John Thrower of ..’ in early hand on verso of last, contemporary note partially rubbed out on verso of last of second work (small hole just affecting on letter on verso) ‘John Colinye’ in later hand below, C19th mss ex dono to Mr Samuellson on fly. Very light age yellowing, first title very slightly dusty, light marginal stain or spot in a few places. Very good copies, crisp and clean in seventeenth century speckled English calf, covers double blind ruled to a panel design, blind fleurons to outer corners, initials GB gilt stamped at centres, rebacked, spine with raised bands gilt ruled in compartments, a.e.r.

Rare second edition in English of an extremely important work in the history of English law. First published in 1528 as Dialogus de fundamentis legum Anglie et de conscientia, St German’s influential dialogue between a Doctor of Law and a student was first published in English in 1530. The present edition (the second), further revised, is bound with the similarly revised second edition of the Second dialogue first published by Treveris at the end of November 1530. The work is an investigation of the inter-relationship between the foundations of English law and conscience, cast in the form of an exchange between a doctor (or teacher) and a student. This form is kept in the English translation. ‘The New addicions’ printed by Berthelet form a separate piece, and these thirteen chapters are concerned with parliament’s jurisdiction in spiritual matters.

“Christopher Saint Germain was a legal writer and controversialist, born about 1460, was educated at Oxford, as a member, it is said, of Exeter College. He then entered the Inner Temple, where he studied law and was called to the bar. As a rule Saint-German avoided politics, and confined himself to legal and literary work, and to the collection of a library which exceeded that of any other lawyer. In religious matters Saint-German was a moderate reformer. Saint-German is, however, chiefly remembered as author of ‘Doctor and Student,’ a handbook for legal students, which was not superseded until the appearance of Blackstone’s ‘Commentaries.’ This work was first issued by Rastell in 1523 in Latin, under the title ‘Dialogus de Fundamentis Legum et de Conscientia.’ Herbert possessed a copy, but none is now known to be extant. Another edition was published by Rastell in 1528. An English translation, entitled ‘A Fyrste Dialoge in Englysshe,’ was brought out in 1531 by Wyer, and a ‘Second Dialoge in Englysshe’ was published by Peter Treveris in 1530. Both these were printed in 1532 ‘with new addycions’. Subsequent editions were numerous.”DNB

The Dialogue “was of enormous importance. It appeared just before the secularisation of the Chancery by Henry VIII, and emphasised and preserved those rules of equity derived from canon law in a format readily understandable by common lawyers and all learned men. In so doing, it laid the foundation for English equity jurisprudence. Although St. German was technically a common lawyer, his work was influenced by civilian ideas both through and apart from the obvious canonist influences. St. German may also have been influenced by the continental Bartolists, who tested the rules of the secular civil law with cases of ‘conscience’. He attempted to do the same with the English common law as applicable ‘secular’ law. The result was a pioneer excursion into comparative law and a brilliant attempt to analyse the legitimate sources of English law.  St. Germain was firmly patriotic, anti-clerical and conservative; but, unlike Littleton, he boldly and critically analyzed the sources of the English national law. His object was mutual reinforcement between custom and reason, nationalism and learning. His true heir would be Francis Bacon” Daniel R. Coquillette. ‘Comparative Studies in Continental and Anglo-American Legal History’.

A very good copy of this rare and important work complete with all three parts.

1) ESTC S104738. STC 21562. 2) ESTC S104655. STC 21566. 3) ESTC S110793. STC 21563.


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Illuminated manuscript on vellum

[England, (most probably London), soon after 1309]


8vo, 160 x 110mm, 167 leaves, 167 leaves, wanting single leaf from main text and a leaf or so at end, else complete. Drypoint medieval leaf and quire signatures as well as old foliation in ink in lower margin, single column of 29 lines in an English secretarial hand (anglicana), running titles and marginal titles with red and blue paragraph marks, each chapter opening with an illuminated initial on bicoloured red and pink grounds. Waterstain to lower margin of first 3 leaves, cockling throughout, edges slightly dampstained, a little smudging and offsetting, occasional rubbing and spotting, good and legible. In English early seventeenth-century calf, ruled in blind and with a central gilt-stamped lozenge on upper and lower covers, leather label “Manuscript” on spine, remains of green silk ties, some wear to binding, spine skilfully restored.

A fine and early legal manuscript containing one of the fundamental texts of English law; from an important legal library.


  1. Most probably written either by a scribe of the Inns of Court or a chancery clerk in London, for a medieval lawyer whose mark or initial may be the large calligraphic capital ‘B’ on the front flyleaf. The opening writ of the present manuscript was attested at Westminster on the 12th of December in the third year of the reign of Edward II, that is 1309, and the manuscript was most likely written within a very few years of that date. Its selection of texts frequently cites London and Westminster, and was likely produced for use by a resident of that city.
  2. Red oval armorial ink stamp (bendy sinister of nine with central device) surmounted by coronet, on front endleaf.
  3. Alfred J. Horwood (1821-1881), of the Middle Temple, barrister and important historian of English law, pioneering editor of the year books of Edward I and Edward III (the records of the medieval English courts arranged by monarch and regnal year, the latter falling into the date range of the production of the present manuscript) for the illustrious Rolls Series, and a prominent early collector of English legal manuscripts. His manuscript of the Opinio Angeri de Rypone, edited in Rolls Series, 31, 1866 is now Harvard Law School, MS. 36; other legal manuscripts of his now in British Library, Addit. MSS. 32085-32090, and listed in P.A. Brand, Early English Law Reports, 1996, I, xxii, n. 15; and further non-legal manuscripts in the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Horwood’s signature on first endleaf, above “Temple” and several lines of partly erased notes by him. His library dispersed by Sotheby’s, 8 June, 1883, at which point this volume entered the booktrade; with bookseller’s catalogue of that date pasted inside upper cover (5 guineas), and later pencil inscription of price “£6-18-0”.


Registers of Writs were produced as formulary books, providing a range of writs issued by the Chancery to serve as precedents in the pursuit of any action for the protection of rights, property or liberties (see F.W. Maitland in Harvard Law Review, 3, 1889, pp. 97-115, and E. De Haas and G.D.G. Hall, Early Registers of Writs, 1970). They were an absolutely essential part in initiating medieval and indeed much later litigation. It was also essential to any set of proceedings that the writ was correctly drafted, or the legal action would almost certainly fail. Accordingly, sound precedent books were the fundamental tools of English medieval practise, described as early as the seventeenth century as “the ancientist book of the law” by Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634), Attorney General to Queen Elizabeth I and Chief Justice to King James I, and their direct successors, at least until recently, were still in daily use. Modern scholarship also recognises their importance to the execution of the law, with T.F.T. Plunkett stating that they were the “basis of the mediaeval common law, a guide to its leading principles, and a commentary upon their application” (Statutes and their Interpretation in the First Half of the Fourteenth Century, Cambridge 1922, p.111).

The volume here includes a list of 60 chapter headings, followed by the Register of Writs proper from De recto to De salvo conductu.


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VARGAS MEJIA, Francisco de

Francisci Vargas Catholicae maestatis rerum status a consiliis,& eiusdem apud Sanctiss. D.N. Pium IIII. oratoris. De episcoporum iurisdictione, et pontificis max. auctoritate, responsum

Rome, apud Paulum Manutium Aldi f. in aedibus populi Romani, 1563.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. [xvi], 160. A-Y4. Roman letter, some Italic. Capital spaces with guide letters. Woodcut Aldine device on title. C19th engraved armorial bookplate of a Scottish Earl on pastedown with motto ‘La Virtue est la seule Noblesse’, bookplate of the Los Angeles Law library on fly, earlier autograph of ‘Joseph Sainpanhy?’ on t-p. Light age yellowing, some minor spotting in places. A good copy in c1800 half calf over marbled boards, spine gilt ruled in compartments, rebacked and remounted, red morocco label, corners worn, all edges sprinkled red.

Uncommon first edition of this interesting work, finely printed by Paulus Manutius, in which Vargas discusses at length and in great detail the jurisdiction of the Pope’s power and that of the Archbishops and Bishops, a subject of capital importance in C16th century Europe, riven by religious war, and even in the legitimising of the conquests made by European nations in the New World. The limits of Papal power were being tested across Europe and particularly with the rise of Protestantism. Vargas’s work could be considered part of the counter-reformation battle to restate in the clearest terms the extent and legitimacy of Papal jurisdiction. In his work on the legitimacy of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, ‘De Indiarum Jure’ “Solorzano also recognized that the debate about legitimacy of the conquest was not simply an issue involving the Spanish and the inhabitants of the Americas. It was also an issue that involved the power of the papacy. He cited, to give but two examples, a treatise on papal and episcopal jurisdiction by Francisco à Vargas (d. 1577) and a treatise by Cardinal Bellarmine (1542-1621) on Papal authority. These and similar citations emphasized that the debate about the right of the Spanish to conquer the Americas was ultimately linked to the debate about the papacy that was central to  he Protestant reformers’ attack on the Catholic Church.” James Muldoon. “The Americas in the Spanish World Order: The Justification for Conquest in the seventeenth century.”

This work was printed by Paulus Manutius’ press in Rome, in which he produced mostly religious works for the ecclesiastical authorities. This aspect of his printing has often been overlooked in the discussion of his genius. “The contrast between this committed classicism and the sequence of catechisms or conciliar decrees which poured from the Aldine press after its move to Rome seems so complete that bibliographers have revealed some embarrassment in tracing them to the same person. Antoine-Augustin Renouard, on whose re- search all subsequent Aldine studies have been based, had steeped himself in the secular values of the Encyclopedistes during the 1780s and harangued the National Assembly on its cultural mission during the Revolution. To him, an alliance between humanism and priestcraft was inconceivable. Though he had found a draft of the terms submitted by Paulus to the papacy, which he published along with the relevant correspondence of the papal legate Girolamo Seripando in the third edition of his Annales, Renouard could only conclude that the move compelled Paulus to “break off his studies”, and that it was forced upon him by his difficult situation in Venice. …Only recently has the appearance of new evidence revealed that the two aspects of Paulus’ career were intimately connected, and that only the most tragic accidents or confusions divided them.” Martin Lowry “Facing the Responsibility of Paulus Manutius”

Renouard 188:6. Adams II, V 272. Palau XXV, p.270.


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