Yale Law Library - Rare Books Blog
July 2011 - Posts
New book with our images
A new book by José Cárdenas Bunsen, Escritura y Derecho Canónico en la obra de fray Bartolomé de las Casas (Madrid: Iberoamericana-Vervuert, 2011), includes several illustrations taken from the Rare Book Collection, including those adorning the cover. The images come from the 1514 editions of the Liber Sextus of Boniface VIII and the Decretals of Gregory IX, issued by the Venetian printer Luca Antonio Giunta.
Bartolomé de las Casas (1484-1566) is considered a pioneer in the campaign for human rights.He participated in the Spanish conquest of Cuba and was shocked by the atrocities that the Spaniards inflicted on the native inhabitants. He eventually entered the Dominican order, was later named Bishop of Chiapas, and spent the last fifty years of his life as an outspoken advocate for the rights of native peoples. See his biography in Wikipedia for a fuller account.
In his book, Cárdenas Bunsen argues that canon law played a decisive role in shaping the world view of de las Casas and the arguments he deployed in his writings, such as the Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias (Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies). The book also includes a useful description of canon law studies at the University of Salamanca in the early 16th century.
Cárdenas Bunsen is now Assistant Professor of Spanish at Bucknell University, and was a frequent visitor to the Rare Book Room while researching his doctoral dissertation at Yale.
Rare Book Librarian
One of my favorite books in our collection is featured in the July/August issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine. Justin Zaremby (Yale Law School Class of 2010) wrote "Marginalia" about a heavily annotated copy of Sir Edward Coke's First Part of the Institutes of the Lawes of England (1633), commonly known as Coke on Littleton. Zaremby was the lead curator on our recent exhibit, "Life and Law in Early Modern Europe." Read the complete article here.
In his article, Zaremby notes that "Marginalia allowed lawyers to update their printed books with references to recent cases, statutes, and treatises." Coke's infamously dense and erudite work is itself a collection of marginalia or glosses on the early classic of English property law, Thomas Littleton's Tenures. A contemporary of Coke's, John Aubrey, joked that "The world expected from him a Commentary on Littleton's Tenures; and he left them his Common-place book." One of this volume's annotators was Samuel Butler (1612-1680), author of Hudibras, a satire on the Puritans that was one of the best-sellers in late 17th-century England. A later owner was H. Buxton Forman (1842-1917), who collaborated with Thomas J. Wise on some of the most notorious literary forgeries of modern times.
I first saw this fascinating book a couple of years before my arrival at Yale, and I was thrilled to be able to finally acquire it in 2009. I'm even more thrilled that Justin put it to such good use.
Rare Book Librarian
Rare Book School 2011
A big thanks to all those who helped make the "Law Books: History and Connoisseurship" course that I taught June 13-17 at the Rare Book School such a success. My wife, Emma Molina Widener, was a valuable source for advice and support. Elizabeth Ott, the Rare Book School staffer, handled all the logistics. Thanks most of all to the nine colleagues who took the class and taught their teacher so much.
Thanks also to Special Collections, Arthur J. Morris Law Library, University of Virginia School of Law, for hosting a field trip where the class viewed close to 50 volumes from their splendid rare book collection; and to Michael von der Linn, Manager of the Antiquarian Book Department of Lawbook Exchange, for submitting to an hour and a half of questions from the class about the antiquarian book market.
I will be teaching the class again in the summer of 2013.
Rare Book Librarian
The 2011 "Law Books: History and Connoisseurship" class, Rare Book School, University of Virginia. L-R: Elizabeth Ott (Rare Book School), Julie Griffith Kees (Bounds Law Library, U. of Alabama), Stewart Plein (Farmer Law Library, West Virginia U.), Linda Hocking (Litchfield Historical Society), Marisol Floren (College of Law Library, Florida International U.), Ryan Greenwood (Library & Information Science, Rutgers U.), Mike Widener, Robert Steele (Burns Law Library, George Washington U.), Emma Molina Widener (World Languages, Southern Connecticut State U.), John Kazanjian (Lawbook Exchange), John R. Block (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), Marguerite Most (Goodson Law Library, Duke U.).