JUSTINIANUS (ca. 482-565). Institutiones. With the Glossa ordinaria of Accursius. Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 27 December 1486.
Median 2o (335 x 219 mm). Collation: a-b10 c8 d6 e-f10 g12; h10 i6 k8 (a1 blank, a1r text, k7r colophon, k7v-k8 blank). 89 leaves (of 90, without the final blank). Double column, 81 lines of commentary surrounding text. Types: 7:92(83)G (text), 12:64aG (commentary). Section headings printed in red. Space for miniature on a2r, one 7-line and numerous 3- and 4-line spaces for initials, some with printed guide-letters. ILLUMINATED MINIATURE OF JUSTINIAN by a contemporary Nuremberg(?) artist on a2r, showing the emperor in a red robe seated on a throne on a blue parquet with background of incised and punch-dotted burnished gold, within a blue frame with red and green leafy flourishes and gold bezants; 7-line illuminated initial on same page, in blue with white penwork decoration on a gold ground. Two initials in blue and red on a2r, otherwise unrubricated. (A few small wormholes in first two quires, a2 rehinged and with clean tear through upper corner of text.)
Binding: contemporary Augsburg binding of blind-tooled calf over wooden boards, upper cover with author's name lettered at top, three outer borders stamped respectively with O Maria banderoles, Bogenfries and scrolling vine roll, and Rautengerank alternating with 5-petalled flowers, the latter gilt, central panel with a Maria roll and a narrow hunting roll framing a row of small flower or star tools, lower cover with the Bogenfries and vine roll in outer borders and three vertical rows of a zig-zag roll in central panel, O Maria banderole repeated on spine: the tools similar but not identical to several Augsburg groups reproduced by Kyriss (cf. shops 81-83); two chased brass fore-edge catchplates, formerly chained, nail hole for hasp at top of lower cover (lacking clasps, restoration to head and tail of spine, a few small scrapes to covers and some discreet restoration, endpapers renewed); folding cloth chemise and slipcase.
Provenance: contemporary list of contents on recto of flyleaf and on a fragment of earlier endpaper, preserved on a guard -- Veit von Seyboltstorff: inscription dated 1533(?) with coat-of-arms on first blank verso (1533 Benedicta sit Sancta Trinitatis Veit von Seyboltstorff zur Schl[sic]) -- early note on same page; a few contemporary marginalia -- Munich, Royal Library, duplicate: "duplum" inscription -- John A. Saks: (bookplate removed); sale, Christie's New York, 1 October 1980, lot 99 (binding erroneously attributed to Jörg Schapf) -- [Quaritch, cat. 1016 no. 106]
Justinian viewed the codification and rationalization of the Roman legal system as essential to his project of restoring Rome's former ascendancy. To this purpose he put the jurist Tribonian at the head of a commission charged with codifying all the extant imperial constitutions: this resulted in the Codex. Next they tackled the body of previous jurists, which required the consultation of approximately 2,000 codices; the final Digest formed a turning-point in Roman law, as the often contradictory case law of the past was now subsumed into an ordered legal system. The Institutiones, the third part of the Corpus juris civilis, were conceived as an introductory manual that provided a clear and concise outline of the law, based in part on the compilation of the 2nd-century jurist Gaius. The work continued to serve for centuries as the elementary text with which students began their studies of Roman law, and over 85 incunable editions are recorded. Koberger published the Digest in 1482 (reprinted in 1483), and the Codex in 1488.
HC 9519*; BMC II, 430 (IB.7368); BSB-Ink. C-651; GW 7614; Harvard/Walsh 707-708; Goff J-529.