Early Legal Justification of Colonization

Sigonio, Carlo. De antiquo iure civium romanorum libri duo. Eiusdem de antiquo iure italiæ libri tres. Ab ipso auctore multis in locis aucti. Index rerum, and verborum copiosissimus.

Parisiis: Apud Allardum Iulianum, sub signo Victoriæ, in vico Bellouaco, mdlxxiii [1573]. 174 x 103 mm (6 ¾ x 4 in). Octavo. [8], 154, [26] ll. ; [10], 120, [14] ll. In Latin. Two parts in one.  Printer’s device on the title page; woodcut initials and head-pieces.

USTC 170128

OCLC WordCat reports five u.s. libraries with holdings of this edition. 

Bound with: —. Sigonio, Carlo. Orationes. 

Parisiis: Apud Allardum Iulianum, sub signo Victoriæ in vico Bellonaco, MDLXXIII [1573]. 174 x 103 mm (6 ¾ x 4 in). Octavo. 59, [1] ll. In Latin.

ustc 170168

This one quite rare and held by only three libraries in the u.s. per oclc WorldCat. 

Both works bound together in contemporary brown blind paneled calf with gilt-tooled ornaments in corners and center. Spine with six compartments, each with a gilt ornament; gilt tooled spine label. Two bookplates on front pastedown. The first has the text rerum cognoscere causas” [from Virgil’s Georgics, Book 2] in a circular border. The second an armorial bookplate: Ex Libris Joannis Bapitistæ Eliæ Camus de Pontcarré de Vermes Magistri Supplicationum.” Stray ink markings on front free endpaper. Ink inscription on verso of front free endpaper is a brief biography of Carlo Sigonio. Two ownership autographs on the title page. One canceled; the other reads: f. de l’Aulnaye.”

Binding good: Leather repaired at the foot of the spine; edges and covers rubbed and some cracking. Interior generally very good; front free endpaper loose but holding. Ink stains and light damage to bookplates.

Carlo Sigonio was a 16th century humanist scholar known for his studies of legal, political, and social institutions in classical Rome and Greece which revolutionized historical scholarship and formed the leading accounts of Roman history for the next two centuries. Born in Modena in 1524, Sigonio studied or taught in Bologna, Modena, Venice, and Padua. He sought historical authenticity by emphasizing scrutiny of primary sources in order to reconstruct the structural elements of the society under study.

An innovative work of history. This focus on institutions and their interactions with different social roles is seen in the present work. First published in Venice in 1560 by Giordano Ziletti, De antiquo iure civium romanorum, the first of two parts, is presented here in two books. The first focuses on political and legal institutions of the Roman Republic: the organization of the urban and the rural, the census, the military. The second book focuses on roles within Roman society, with chapters on senators, scribes, treasurers, merchants, judges. The second part is a history of the laws and politics of ancient Italic societies, Roman colonization, and up to the reign of Caesar Augustus. Sigonio would eventually apply his archival research methods to post-classical history, which drew criticism from religious authorities and attention from the Counter-Reformation despite being a devout Catholic his whole life. Sigonio was also involved in many academic rivalries, often challenging historical accounts offered by some of his contemporaries. Perhaps the most famous controversy surrounds the supposed discovery in 1583 of a complete work by Cicero, De consolatio, in which Cicero laments the death of his daughter. Many of Sigonio’s contemporaries deemed it a forgery though Sigonio publicly proclaimed its authenticity until his death a year later.

The first edition to be published outside of venice. This Paris edition marks the first to be published outside of Venice, demonstrating the widening interest in and influence of the Modenese historian. Sigonio’s historical knowledge allowed comparisons to be made between Classical and Renaissance Europe in areas like political philosophy, such as republican government, and even colonization. Thus, Sigonio’s views of ancient Rome from the 16th century helped Renaissance scholars form the intellectual background for modern visions of empire” (Renaissance of Roman Colonization). 

Presents a legal justification for settler colonialism via roman law. Although a comprehensive study of the life and work of Signoio exists, recent scholarship and a recently published book The Renaissance of Roman Colonization: Carlo Sigonio and the Making of Legal Colonial Discourse, turned to Sigonio again to understand the precedents of issues today, such as the influence of Roman legal colonial frameworks on the settler colonialism of the 16th–19th centuries. A third work with essays on oratorical eloquence, history, and humanism rounds out the collection.

The present copy was once owned by the civil officer (prévôt des marchands) Jean Baptiste Elie Camus (1702–1775) who founded the Bibliothèque de l’Hôtel de Ville (City Hall Library) in Paris. Another ownership autograph is legible and possibly belongs to François de l’Aulnaye (1739–1830), a librarian who edited the works of Rabelais and translated Cervantes.


The Renaissance of Roman Colonization: Carlo Sigonio and the Making of Legal Colonial Discourse. Edited by Jeremia Pelgrom and Arthur Weststeijn. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.

McCuaig, William. Carlo Sigonio: The Changing World of the Late Renaissance. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.


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Stock Code: 1146B16 Collection: Catalogue:


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