Definitive Roman Law in Prize Binding

Justinianus I. Corpus juris civilis, pandectis Ad Florentinum archetypum expressis, Institutionibus, codice ey novellis, Addito textu Græco, ut & in Digestis & Codice, Legibus & Constitutionibus Græcis, cum optimis quibusque Editionibus collatis. Cum notis integris, repititæ quintum prælectionis, Dionysii Gothofredi, JC. Præter Justiniani edicta, Leonis & aliorum imperatorum novellas, Ac Canones Apostolorum, Græcè & Latinè, Feudorum Libros, Leges XII. Tabul. & alios ad jus pertinentes Tractatus, Fastos Consulares, Indicesque Titulorum ac Legum: & quæcunque in ultimis Parisiensi vel Lugdunensi editionibus continentur, Huic editioni novè accesserunt Pauli receptæ Sententiæ cum selectis notis J. Cujacii Et sparsim ad universum Corpus Anotnii Anselmo, A.F.A.N. JC. Antvverp. Observationes singulares, Remissiones & Notæ Juris Civilis, Canonici, & Novissimi ac in Praxi recepti differentiam continentes; Denique, Lectiones variæ & Notæ selectæ Augustini, Bellonii, Govenni, Cujacii, Duareni, Russardi, Hottomanni, Contii, Roberti, Rævardi, Charondæ, Grotii, Salmasii & aliorum. Opera & Studio Simonis van Leeuwen, JC. Lugd. Bat.

❧ Amstelodami [Amsterdam]: Apud Jonnem Blaeu. Ludovicum, & Danielem Elzevirios ; Lugd[uni] Batavorum [Leiden]: Apud Franciscum Hackium, mdclxiii [1663]. In Latin. 390 × 240 mm (15.375 × 9.5 in.). Folio. [20], 796 pp.; [12], 388 pp.; [12], 300 pp.; 92, [40] pp. Added engraved title page, signed in plate: C. van Dalen sculp.” Woodcut printer’s device on the letterpress title page. Text in double columns. Prize binding with the arms of the King James VI Academy gilt stamped on both covers. Prize bookplate on front pastedown. Good plus to Very Good. Bound in full calf, gilt stamped arms on both covers with gilt decorative roll border; ornate gilt decorations on spine, with red leather title label. All edges gilt. Gilt-tooled turn-ins. Rebacked, with the original spine leather neatly laid down. Marbled endpapers. Prize bookplate of the King James VI Academy (Edinburgh University) on front pastedown, dated 1860–61. Second armorial bookplate on front fee end paper of Harold Jefferson Coolidge.

First Elzevir edition of Emperor Justinian I’s body of law,” after Denis Godefroy’s 1583 edition. Though the Elzevir press of the 1650s through 1660s is associated with pocket editions of classical literature, this is a large and luxurious book. It is also a landmark of 17th century printing. Goldsmid in his bibliography of the Elzevir Press, referring to the collaboration of Elzevir, Blaeu, and Hackius, states, It is perhaps the finest work issued by the Amsterdam presses.”

The Corpus Juris Civilis is the foundation of many legal traditions around the world, including Anglo-American common law (McSweeney and Spike). It comprises the Digest, Institutes, and Codex assembled by legal scholars in the 6th Century AD under the orders of Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. Justinian himself was interested in reviving the ancient Roman legal order in preparation for the expansion of his own empire, but this did not go according to plan, and the legal codification he sponsored was not revived in western Europe until its revival in 11th century Italy. Godefroy’s edition was considered the best, and underwent numerous editions and translations throughout the 17th century gaining a complex array of paratexts along the way. In this edition, Simon van Leeuwen compiles the commentaries and annotations of Jacques Cujas and Antonius Anselmus. From its revival in the 11th century to the end of the Enlightenment, Corpus Juris Civilis was a must-read for all lawyers-in-training.

Corpus Juris Civilis remains highly relevant and frequently cited in modern legal studies. For example, the Spanish economist Jesús Huerta de Soto in his treatise on money and banking devotes a chapter to bank deposit laws in Corpus Juris Civilis.

The already monumental character of this book is underscored by a lavish prize binding with much gilt tooling and the arms of Edinburgh University stamped on both covers. The accompanying engraved bookplate on the front pastedown, which uses an older version of the University’s name, Collegio Jac. VI. Edinburgi, identifies the awardee as David Brand who was awarded the book by Archibald Campbell Swinton, a professor of civil law, for high achievement in his legal studies. Prize books were awarded to students by schools for high marks. This copy has all those typical features, but is unusual for its size. Prize books of the 19th century were often smaller in size, and often had some kind of edifying content, but a scholarly edition of Corpus Juris Civilis seems a bit more dense and heavy than usual.

According to the prior owner, this copy sold at auction in 1990 for 1,000 British Pounds.


Goldsmid, E. Complete Catalogue of all the Publications of the Elzevier Presses at Leyden, Amsterdam, the Hague and Utrecht, 1140.

Huerta de Soto, Jesús. Money, Bank Credit and Economic Cycles.

McSweeney, Thomas J. and Spike, Michéle K., The Significance of the Corpus Juris Civilis: Matilda of Canossa and the Revival of Roman Law”.


In stock

Stock Code: 1441B17 Collection: Catalogue:


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