1525 Manuscript of Civil Law: Corpus Iuris Civilis of Justinian

1525 Manuscript of Civil Law: Corpus Iuris Civilis of Justinian

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Beautiful 1525 manuscript of the 6th-century collection of legal theory "Corpus Iuris Civilis," also referred to as the Justinian Code. This work of early civil law and legal procedure is bound in vellum and includes the Digesta (Digests or Pandects) Books 1 through 38 in condensed form and all titular headings from 1.1.0 through 38.17.0, with each followed by an abbreviated explanation of the premise. Some also include portions of subsections, such as 1.5.6. The text does not contain the elaborations of Ulpianus, Pomponius, Florentinus, or their like.

This manuscript, dated October 30, 1525, appears to be a synopsis of the first 38 books of the Digesta and may have been used as a primer for a law student or as is more likely in this case given the marginalia a reference by a civil authority such as a lawyer or civil magistrate.

On the spine is the word "Castaldus". Castaldus [Gastaldo in Italian] was also a term for a Lombardy official in charge of some portion of a demesne (a gastaldia or castaldia) with civil, martial and juridical powers. When Lombardy submitted to a codified Roman law, the term came to be used as a reference for civil magisterial matters.

Another possibility is that this was owned by a Restaurus Castaldus, an Italian civil lawyer, d. 1564, and known to be the author of published book: "De imperatore, in Tractatus universi iuris", or this book may possibly be a redaction or some other volume of the same Castaldus by another hand.

Justinian the Great, who said "Justice is the constant and perpetual wish to render to everyone his due," was the Roman Emperor of Byzantine Constantinople from 527 to 565. His most enduring legacy was the uniform rewriting of Roman law, the Corpus Iuris Civilis, which is still the basis for much civil law in many modern states and with which this volume is concerned.

Description: CASTALDUS, 1525, Italy. 124 leaves of linen rag paper, 140 x 105 mm, the first and last blank. 122 paginated folios; 1-109, CX-CXXII. Collation; i + I (13)[13 a singleton] + II(16) + III(15) [39 a singleton] + IV(15) [51 a singleton] +V(16) + VI(15) [90 a singleton] + VII(16) + i. COMPLETE. 243 pages of text. Dated on recto of f.CXXII October 30, 1525, verso blank. The pages have 15 lines in brown ink written in an elegant Humanist Bookhand with italic traits, a few initials with minor flourishes near the beginning, and marginal notations. Folios 73-79 some ink smear from damp stain, f.74-75 stuck together in center toward spine. Folios 107-CXXII with spill stain over one half of page. In all instances the text is legible. The book is in unusually good condition for its nearly five hundred years of life, although it naturally shows appropriate signs of age and use and there is some brittleness to the cover. 

  • Good+
  • 16mo - over 5¾" - 6¾" tall
  • Cover of limp vellum (148x 119x 20mm), held by two leather straps through the spine to under the covers (small section of cover on spine is missing)
  • 124 leaves of linen rag paper, 140 x105mm, the first and last blank
  • 122 paginated folios

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