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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Jewels in the Crown: Roman and Canon Law

Bartolo, Commentaria, vol. 1, Venice, 1590.
For centuries, Roman and canon law were the heart of academic legal training on the European continent, and Roman law is at the foundation of civil law codes today. The Center boasts a fine collection of Roman and canon law, including several works first printed in the fifteenth century. These early titles, called incunabula (literally "swaddling clothes"), date from the "infancy" of European movable type printing. Included in our collection are commentaries by illustrious jurists, a number of important collections of consilia (or opinions on particular cases), discrete treatises, court decisions and dictionaries. Shown in the exhibit are a volume of consilia and a great illustration from the renowned medieval jurist Bartolo’s discussion of legal rights.  
Sigismondo Loffredo (1480-1539).  Consilia Loffredi.  Venice, 1569.
Bartolo da Sassoferrato (1313-1357).  Commentaria.  Vol. 1.  Venice, 1590.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections     

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Jewels in the Crown: Law and Literature

Bleak House. London, 1853
Law, literature and satire forms a cherished collection at the Library. Many titles can be found in the Barbara Steffens Hedin Alcove on Law, Literature and the Arts, on the second floor. An additional portion is held in the Riesenfeld Center, including those shown in our fall exhibit. Among other titles on display are two legal works owned by and written by the writer Vladimir Nabokov’s father, a jurist and law professor, and a first monograph edition of Dickens's Bleak House. Perhaps Dickens's greatest critique of English law and lawyers, Bleak House centers on an endless litigation in the Court of Chancery, an equity court often accused of inefficiency and mismanagement due to long proceedings. Also displayed are satires like The Pleader's Guide and George Ruggle's Ignoramus (1615). Ruggle's work, extremely successful as a university play, was itself modeled on La trappolaria (1596) of Giambattista della Porta and on Plautus. The difficult law Latin used in contemporary English courts is sent up in some of its popular scenes. In the picture below, the title character Ignoramus stands beneath a lawyer's books and the case of "Proude Buzzard contra Peake Goose."           

George Ruggle (1575-1622).  Ignoramus, comoedia.  London, 1668.
Frank Lockwood (1846-1897).  The Law and Lawyers of Pickwick: A Lecture.  London, 1894.
John Anstey (-1819).  The Pleader’s Guide: A Didactic Poem in Two Parts.  London, 1804.
Vladimir Nabokov (1870-1922).  Sbornik Stateń≠ po Ugolovnomu Pravu.  St. Petersburg, 1904.
Aleksandr Bogdanovskii (1832-1902).  Molodye Prestupniki.  St. Petersburg, 1871.  [with V. Nabokov’s bookplate.]

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Ignoramus, comedia. London, 1668.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Jewels in the Crown: Minnesota Law

Bill to Establish ... Washington, D.C., 1848
In time for election day, the Center is a repository for early Minnesota law before and after statehood. Minnesota was given territorial status in 1849, after a bill introduced by Lincoln’s adversary, Stephen A. Douglas (shown at left, with its original green cover).  Minnesota’s Constitutional Convention assembled less than ten years later, though Republicans and Democrats held separate conventions and refused to sign the same document, resulting in two, slightly different versions. The Debates and Proceedings shown in our current exhibit is a Republican account, while the printer of the Journal of the Constitutional Convention, also in the exhibit, is from the “Democrat office.”

Acts, Joint Resolutions and Memorials … of the Territory of Minnesota.  St. Paul, 1850.
A Bill to Establish the Territory of Minesota. Washington, D.C., 1848.
Rules for the Government of the Council of Minnesota Territory … St. Paul, 1849.
Journal of the Constitutional Convention of the Territory of Minnesota … St. Paul, 1857.
Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention … St. Paul, 1858.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections