Codex Justinianus [with the Glossa ordinaria of Accursius and the Summaria of Hieronymous Clarius]
Venice, Bernardinus Stagninus de Tridino 16 Sept 1495
Folio, 15.5 x 10.3 inches, 16th century blind stamped alum-yawed pigskin with the clasps, skilful repairs to hinges and top of spine, leaf edges blue, 318ff, printed in two columns within two columns of glosses, 72 to 82 lines, printed in black and red, discreet library stamp on first leaf, a few contemporary annotations in ink the margins on ff.37, 41, 42, 58, 182, 184, 185, 198, 199, early ownership in brown ink on first blank of Schwarz, a fresh copy.
USA Univ of Illinois only [Goff J585]. UK no copy. GW 7743 Hain 9618, BSB-Ink C573 see Printing & the Mind of Man no.4. Not in the BL but see BL, XVth century books, V, p.xxx, p.363 for the printer.
INCUNABLE PRINTING OF EMPEROR JUSTINIAN’S CODEX.
The Codex Justinianus [first printed in Mainz 1475] was the first of four parts of what became known as the Corpus Juris Civilis, a collection of fundamental works on Roman law that was issued from 529 to 534 AD by order of Justinian I, Eastern Roman Emperor. It has been called “the most notable and enduring achievement of the age”, in which “the old (Roman) imperium displayed its full powers” (George Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State). The codex was a compilation in Latin of the existing imperial constitutiones (imperial pronouncements having the force of law), back to the time of Emperor Hadrian in the second century. Although the other parts, the Digest [Rome 1476] and the Institutes [Mainz 1468] and the Novellae [Mainz 1477], were arguably more original, containing an important anthology of jurisprudence, a handbook for teaching and a list of the most recent decrees, everything rested on the laws contained in the Codex; indeed at the time of the publication of its first version all imperial laws not included were repealed.
The collections of Justinian provided the basis for law thereafter in the eastern Roman [Byzantine] empire. They were rediscovered in the West in the late eleventh century. Because the emphases in the Codex were both Christian and Imperial, it provided source material for church lawyers, in the greatest period of the development of canon law, and for civil lawyers, at a time when the Holy Roman Emperors were keen to develop their authority. It appealed, therefore, to a wide range of lawyers, the most famous on the civil side being Accursius [c.1182-c.1260], a professor at Bologna, the greatest law university of the middle ages, and a leading jurist. “For the next 500 years the Glossa [or annotations] of Accursius remained an indispensable complement to the texts of Roman law. His work made Roman law a popular course of study during the Renaissance period. Accursius’s interpretations of Roman law also influenced the development of later European legal codes, among them the Code Napoléon, or French Civil Code, enacted in the early 19th century.” Encycl Britannica.
The printer was Bernardinus Stagninus, de Tridino, [died 1537]. The earliest authenticated book from his press is Rhazes Liber...ad Almansorem 1483. Although the BL does not have a copy of this 1495 printing of the Codex, they have a printing by the same printer of Justinian’s Digestum with commentary by Accursius. “His output was so irregular...that it is evident he was...primarily a bookseller rather than a printer”.
In recent years complete copies of incunable printings of Justinian’s Codex have been very infrequently for sale in commerce.