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Our Montebuono manuscript is published!
Our 15th-century manuscript of the statutes of Montebuono, Italy, is now available in a full-color facsimile edition, along with a full transcription and three scholarly studies. Lo Statuto di Montebuono in Sabina del 1437 (Rome: Viella Libreria Editrice, 2011) is available for purchase from the publisher's website. It includes an introductory essay by Mario Ascheri, the leading scholar of Italian statuti, as well as a history of medieval Montebuono by Tersilio Leggio, and a detailed study of the Montebuono statutes by legal historian Sandro Notari. In addition, Alda Spotti of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma provided a transcript of the Latin manuscript.
I was honored to speak at a symposium marking the publication of the volume on November 23 at the Biblioteca del Senato della Repubblica in Rome. Other speakers included Mario Ascheri (Università di Roma 3), Sandro Notari, Sandro Bulgarelli (director, Biblioteca del Senato della Repubblica), Maria Teresa Caciorgna (Università di Roma 3), the Hon. Dario Santori (mayor, Comune di Montebuono), and Yale's own Professor Anders Winroth. Following is an excerpt from my talk:
My library's involvement with the Statuto di Montebuono began in 1946. In that year Samuel Thorne was appointed as the head librarian of the Yale Law Library. Thorne was not a librarian by training. He was a legal historian, one of the outstanding historians of medieval English law in the 20th century. However, Thorne had a librarian's instincts. With the help of a large endowment, he began a ten-year campaign of buying rare books and manuscripts. He put the Yale Law Library into the first rank of historical law collections in the United States.
In his first annual report, for 1946, Thorne wrote: "The outstanding acquisition of the year was the notable collection of Italian statuta, numbering almost nine hundred volumes, purchased from a learned Italian lawyer who had brought it, over a period of fifty years, to its present completeness. It contained fifty-two manuscripts of the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries, nine incunabula, and many sixteenth-century editions."
With this single purchase, the Yale Law Library acquired what is still the largest collection of Italian statuti in the Americas. Among these nine hundred volumes was the 15th century manuscript of the Statuto di Montebuono.
In 2007, Professor Anders Winroth brought his medieval legal history seminar into our Rare Book Collection. One of his doctoral students, Ms. Oriana Bleecher, chose the Statuto di Montebuono for her research project.
Ms. Bleecher was perhaps the key catalyst in the project that led to the book we are celebrating today. She asked me if the Law Library could acquire a book that the Fondazione Gabriele Berionne had just published, Montebuono e il suo territorio. The Fondazione refused to sell us the book. Instead, Renata Ferraro insisted on donating this beautiful book to my library, on behalf of the Fondazione. As a token of gratitude, I sent Sig.ra Ferraro a copy of Ms. Bleecher's seminar paper.
Soon after, Sig.ra Ferraro sent me a full-page article from the newspaper, Montebuono Spazio Comune, about our Montebuono manuscript and Ms. Bleecher's research. In 2008, my library featured the Statuto di Montebuono in the inaugural exhibit in our new exhibit gallery. The title of the exhibit was "The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library."
At Sig.ra Ferraro's request, we digitized the Statuto di Montebuono, and then I put her in touch with Mario Ascheri, the world's leading scholar of early Italian statutes. The result of their collaboration, Lo Statuto di Montebuono in Sabina del 1437 (Rome: Viella Libreria Editrice, 2011) is before us today. The Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School, and I are deeply, deeply honored to have played a part in making this publication a reality.
I learned that my Italian colleagues consider the Montebuono statutes to be particularly significant: medieval municipal statutes from the Sabina region are generally rare, and especially such sophisticated statutes from a small rural community.
Rare Book Librarian
Biblioteca del Senato della
Repubblica, Rome, 23 Nov. 2011. L-R: Prof. Maria Teresa Caciorgna (Università di Roma 3), Sandro
Notari, Prof. Mario Ascheri (Università di Roma 3), Prof. Anders Winroth (Yale University), Mike Widener.
Homecoming for the Montebuono manuscript
On a recent trip to Rome I had the great professional and personal pleasure of reuniting an Italian town with an important piece of its history.
Among the volumes in our outstanding collection of early Italian statutes is a 15th-century manuscript of the statutes of Montebuono, a village about 60 km. north of Rome (see map). The manuscript was featured in our 2008 exhibit, "The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library.” The Fondazione Gabriele Berionne and its president, Renata Ferraro, were extremely helpful in supporting research on the manuscript.
In gratitude for this help, the Lillian Goldman Law Library digitized the Montebuono manuscript. I was pleased to deliver it in person to the mayor of Montebuono, the Hon. Dario Santori, during a visit hosted by Renata Ferraro on November 29. The Comune di Montebuono is actively in historic preservation activities, including the restoration of its beautiful 11th-century church, San Pietro ad Muricentum, which is built atop an ancient Roman villa that belonged to the architect of the Pantheon, Marcus Agrippa. The Fondazione Gabriele Berionne has supported these preservation efforts and published a splendid illustrated book, Montebuono e il suo territorio: storia, architetture e restauri inizia la ricerca
(Mariasanta Valenti, ed.; Rome: Fondazione Gabriele Berionne, 2007),
which can be consulted in the Paskus-Danziger Rare Book Reading Room.
For more information on Montebuono, see the Montebuono On Line
website; follow the links for "Storia e Monumenti."
My wife and I thank Renata Ferraro, her husband Giovanni Carosio, and Mayor Santori for a memorable visit, and Fiorenzo Francioli, a Montebuono official, for a learned and fascinating tour of San Pietro.
Rare Book Librarian
L-R: Dario Santori (mayor of Montebuono), Emma Widener, Renata Ferraro,
Giovanni Carosio, Mike Widener, Fiorenzo Francioli, and Antonella
Francioli. 29 Nov. 2009 at Il Boschetto restaurant near Montebuono.
Early Italian Statutes: Montebuono
The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library
Montebuono (Italy). Statuti communis et hominum terre Montis Boni (manuscript, Montebuono, middle or late 15th century). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, May 1946.
(View Montebuono on a map.)
The statutes from the town of Montebuono (about thirty miles north of Rome) were collected and revised by the notary Eusebius Angeli of Narni as part of a reform program in 1437. The manuscript you see here was copied out by a scribe named Maximus Vincentius several years later. The statutes are organized into four sections: the first deals with city government; the second with damages to property; the third with civil, social, and legal matters; and the fourth with violent crimes and perjury. Luckily, one statute prohibited the throwing of dead animals or other filth onto people walking along the public road.
Yale Law School’s rare manuscript is attracting attention in modern-day Montebuono, now a village of about a thousand residents. Renata Ferraro, president of the Fondazione Gabriele Berionne, wrote an article about the Yale manuscript in the August 2008 issue of Montebuono Spazio Comune. The issue is available as a PDF file, at the Montebuono On Line website, and Ferraro's article is on pages 6 and 8. The article is based on a detailed study of the manuscript authored by Yale graduate student Oriana Bleecher.
If you are interested in learning more about the rich history of Montebuono, see Montebuono e il suo territorio: storia, architetture e restauri inizia la ricerca (Mariasanta Valenti, ed.; Rome: Fondazione Gabriele Berionne, 2007), shelved in the Paskus-Danziger Rare Book Reading Room. We thank Renata Ferraro and the Fondazione Gabriele Berionne for the gift of this splendidly illustrated volume.
BENJAMIN YOUSEY-HINDES & MIKE WIDENER
“The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library” is on display October 2008 through February 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.