Tag Archives: Library blogs

Centers of legal history: Paris

Perhaps writing about historical research in Paris is bringing coals to Newcastle. Is there any real need for yet another attempt to bring information together? If you want to study France and French legal history you will be able to read French. If you are convinced French scholars have said all you would like to know, just skip this post, I will not feel offended… The Portail Numérique de l’Histoire du Droit and Paolo Alvazzi del Frate’s blog Storia giuridica francese-Histoire juridique française are two of the safest points of depart for any research into French legal history, but you will soon admit they do not focus in particular on institutions in Paris.

A month ago I could point in a post on French customary law to a useful guide to legal history online created by the Bibliothèque Cujas, and it is certainly wise to use it. For the legal history of medieval France you can start visiting Ménestrel, in particular for the great sections on auxiliary historical sciences, such as diplomatics, palaeography and sigillography which are each models of its kind, as is the section on cartularies. However, the section Histoire du droit contains only a few links, albeit with full commentaries, and a few book reviews. An earlier version of Ménestrel had a section on medieval canon law, but now there is only a paragraph on the ecumenical councils in the section on religious history. The section on France offers a useful overview of institutions, libraries, archives and museums relevant to French medieval history. In this post I will give slightly more attention to medieval history than to other periods. I hope this will not be an obstacle to seeing the core of this post, Paris as a center for doing legal history.

Centers for legal history

Where to start in Paris? In view of the high degree of centralization in France the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) has a claim to take the first place. Its Institut d’Histoire du Droit (IHD) is associated with the Université Panthéon-Assas Paris-II and the Centre Historique des Archives Nationales. This spring the IHD offers a seminar led by Isabelle Brancourt on the history of the French parlements, the regional high courts, and royal justice during the Ancien Régime in an European perspective. Isabelle Brancourt blogs regularly about her research on the Parlement de Paris. At its website the IHD offers access to a large number of databases, starting with the DRoits ANTiques bibliography on ancient law. Most databases are concerned with the French judiciary. The oldest records, registers from the archives of the Parlement de Paris, can be tracked down with the help of the Olim database, an index to the registers of verdicts of the royal court between 1254 and 1319. Similar indices are provided for the fourteenth and fifteenth century, for the parlement during its period at Poitiers (1418-1439) and Tours (1589-1592), and for the parlement criminel between 1311 and 1328. The edition by Auguste-Arthur Beugnot, Les Olim, ou registres des arrêts rendus par le Cour du Roi (…) (4 vol., Paris 1839-1848) can be consulted online at Gallica. At the Hathi Trust Digital Library you can find the volume edited by Edgard Boutaric, Arrêts et enquêtes antérieurs aux Olim, 1180-1254 (Paris 1863). The IHD has microfilms of relevant manuscripts and further materials concerning French royal jurisprudence, including a refined thesaurus for defining the character and subjects of cases, and a bibliography of publications concerning the Parlement de Paris.

A second centre at the Université Panthéon-Assas Paris-II is the Centre Sainte Barbe. This center is host to the Institut de Droit Romain and its famous series of Friday lectures during every winter and spring by scholars from all Europe. Its building house also a library, the Bibliothèque Sainte Barbe. More lectures, seminars and workshops in Paris are announced by the Société d’Histoire du Droit, also seated at the Place du Panthéon. Apart from the Bibliothèque nationale de France Paris can boast a number of important libraries. Legal historians will find much at the Bibliothèque Cujas of the Université Sorbonne Paris-I. This library maintains Jurisguide, a special site with online guides to many fields of law and jurisprudence, including legal history. Some books in its rich holdings have been digitized in its own digital library, with not only French publications but also editions for medieval canon law. The online exhibition on the bicentenary of the Code civil (1804-2004) amounts to a short introduction to French legal history. Among the Parisian centers devoted to the study of modern legal history is also the CERAL, the Centre de Recherche sur l’Action Locale of the Université Paris-XIII. Slavery and its history get attention at a CNRS institute, the Centre International de Recherches Esclavages. Criminocorpus, the platform for the study of the history of justice, crimes and punishments, is another major project in which CNRS, the Centre d’Histoire des Sciences Po, the Ministère de la Justice and the Archives nationales de l’outre-mer cooperate.

Medieval canon law

Medieval canon law is one of the areas of interest at the Centre Droit et Sociétés Religieuses of the Université Paris-XI, Faculté Jean Monnet. This center, too, has its own library. François Jankowiak is responsible for GREGORIUS, an international bibliography for the history of medieval canon law. Even at home you can benefit from their list of works on medieval canon law and medieval religious institutions digitized by Google Books or presented at Gallica. Both for the history of canon law and for modern ecclesiastical law the Institut Catholique de Paris has a special library, the Bibliothèque de la Faculté de Droit Canonique. Here it is appropriate to mention the Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris and the ongoing work for Gallia pontificia, the edition of medieval papal documents in France.

The old libraries and manuscripts

Let’s not forget the old libraries in Paris: the Bibliothèque Mazarine has rich holdings for the Ancien Régime. Among the digitized treasures is one of the mazarinades, the various texts from the turbulent period of the Fronde in which the policies of cardinal Mazarin were often criticized. The illuminated medieval manuscripts of this library and those of the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève can be consulted at the Liber Floridus website. The Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève has for the Fonds Général its own digital collection in the Internet Archive. For the Réserve there is a digitization plan for the incunables, and La Nordique, the Scandinavian department, deserves at the very least a mentioning for its 160,000 books. Speaking of manuscripts, the Bibliothèque nationale de France has its own special website for searching manuscripts, which also covers the former Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal. Your research for manuscripts in Paris can be reinforced by the search functions of the Catalogue collectif de France. Calames, the collective manuscript catalogue of French institutions for higher education, searches for manuscripts in eighteen (!) other Parisian libraries.

Archival records

The French national archives are busy building a third center at Pierrefitte-sur-Seine. The importance of these archival collections is beyond question. The ARCHIM database of the Archives nationales contains a wealth of digitized archival records. A few examples will have to suffice, such as the records of the 1307 interrogation concerning the Templars (J 413, no. 18) and registers of the French royal chancellary during the thirteenth and fourteenth century, a small set of key documents concerning the French Revolution and constitutions from 1791 to 1958. You will soon see that many of the sources mentioned for example in the online database guide to the history of slavery and its abolition are to be found at the Archives nationales. The municipal archives of Paris are certainly as interesting. It is not possible to make a short list of the many judicial archives of this city, including the records of several prisons. Among their digitized sources are the pre-1860 cadastral plans of Paris and annexated comunes.

Other research institutions

Approaching the great institutes for historical research means again posing the question of priority: with which institute should you begin? Fortunately legal history, and more specifically institutional history and the auxiliary historical sciences have been at the heart of the École nationale de Chartes (ENC) since its start in 1821. The ENC has been the model for institutes of its kind in Europe. The ENC, too, has an important library, with its own small digital library. Almost embarrassing is the series of websites with digitized sources: the ELEC presents such things as eight digitized cartularies from the Île-de-France, accounts of the consuls of Montferrand, a bibliography of studies on French diplomatics, a formulary book for notaries from the fifteenth century, the Edict of Nantes and earlier pacification edicts, and charters of the royal abbey of Saint-Denis. The digitized version of Ducange’s Glossarium infimae et medii latinitatis rightfully has its own website. Through the TELMA website you can gain access to actes royaux, the Cartulaire de Nesle, to CartulR, an online repertory of medieval cartularies, to editions of charters dating before 1121 in French collections, enquêtes of the last Capetian kings, and to ordinances concerning the Hôtel du Roi. In 1839 the ENC founded one of France’s oldest historical journals, the Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartes. Old issues of this journal can be consulted online at Persée.

The École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) is home to a large number of équipes of which at least some do touch upon legal history. I would single out GAHOM, the Groupe d’anthropologie historique de l’Occident Médiéval, founded in 1978 by Jacques Le Goff and led by Jean-Claude Schmitt since 1992. Human behavior in historical context is the research subject of this équipe, which has for instance studied medieval exempla for the perspectives these texts offer on exemplary behavior, and more implicitly about do’s and don’ts.

From GAHOM stems GAS, the Groupe d’anthropologie scolastique. A seminar on ecclesiology and politics has just been held, another seminar on concepts of hierarchy runs until April. Two members of this équipe, Charles de Miramon and Maaike van der Lugt edited an essay volume, L’hérédité entre Moyen Âge et Époque moderne. Perspectives historiques (Florence 2008), with contributions on hereditary law and heredity in its widest sense. Building on the pioneer research of Palémon Glorieux this research group has developed a database for searching theological quodlibeta from Paris in the period 1230-1350. After subscribing to Quodlibase you can find not only theological debates, but also some questions about legal problems. Norms and values and their development in time are the central themes of the well known Centre d’études des normes juridiques “Yan Thomas”. This centre regularly invites legal historians. Among the projects for databases and research tools at the Centre des Recherches Historiques of the EHESS one finds a project on the “Ars Mercatoria”, books on commerce and commercial law between 1700 and 1820, and a project on legal books in print from the fifteenth to the eigtheenth century.

Formally part of the École Normale Supérieure, but also a research group of the EHESS is the Atelier Simiand. One of its research themes are law and economic history. In the field of history the ENS cooperates with the ENC, and let’s not forget the libraries of the ENS: the Bibliothèque Jourdan-Sciences humaines et sociales and the Bibliothèque Ulm-Lettres et Sciences Humaines are worth noting. As an historian I have to mention the ENS’s Institut d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine. Among the online services is the bibliography of French history to 1958 and a bibliography of scientific works printed in Rome between 1527 and 1720. One of the projects is concerned with an edition of letters from the Archivo Datini in Prato. Seeing among the online exhibitions of the ENS an exhibition from 2006 on the Dreyfus affair, “Savoir et engagement”, reminds me of another very well documented online exhibition concerning Dreyfus – “1906 Dreyfus réhabilité” – created by Culture.fr which can be consulted in English, too.

Some breathing space…

The cornucopia of Paris has more in stock! Let’s notice halfway that I am very much aware that you can find more information in printed guides to resources for historical research in Paris. A quick check tells me most of them restricted themselves to clearly defined areas and periods, for example David Spear’s article ‘Research facilities in Normandy and Paris: a guide for students of medieval Norman history’, Comitatus 12 (1981) 40-53. If you use the World Guide to Libraries you will find perhaps too much, and on a site like Libdex not enough, at least not for Paris. Steering a middle course on the oceans of knowledge calls to mind a lot of famous quotes, including last words, and I had better wait until the end of this post before unveiling my choice.

…and continuing

With the Liber Floridus and TELMA websites we encountered in fact already the Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes (IRHT). The services for medievalists of this institute in Paris and Orleans are manifold. Manuscript studies are not really feasible without the IRHT. The scholars of the IRHT and their online databases support this field of research. For legal historians the Base Budé for the transmission of ancient and medieval texts, the Pinakes database of texts and manuscripts in Greek, and the JONAS database for texts in medieval French and Occitan deserve highlighting. The JONAS database gives for example information about manuscripts and studies on Philippe de Beaumanoir and his Coutumes de Beuavaisis.

For the French Revolution Paris has a special institute, the Institut d’Histoire de la Révolution Française. Anyone working on this epoch will benefit from the resources of this institute. On the website I would like you to enjoy in particular their excellent list of digital image collections. Approaching modern times it warms me to read that the library of the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Paris was created also with a view to the needs of the GAHOM research group. Even when law and its history is not often the focus of the MSH its research themes do bear upon them, and they offer welcome orientation. The Parisian branches – there is also a MSH Paris Nord – are part of a nation wide network of MSH’s. I was rather surprised by the library of the Cité des Sciences, one of the major late twenthieth century cultural institutions created by presidential order. Among the plethora of collections and activities is Scientifica, an interesting digital library of the Bibliothèque des Sciences et de l’Industrie, with nineteenth century books on themes such as social hygiene, mental health and phrenology, themes which were very much in the minds of lawyers in this period, too.

Au revoir!

Let’s not overdo things and stop the tour of libraries, research institutes and digital collections in Paris. I will not put everything in just one post. No epigraphy or Byzantine law, nothing on Akkadian and Egyptian law, only a few things touching politics and administration, and no museums, I have to face it. Memories of Joyce Pennings’ Wegwijzer middeleeuwse studiën te Rome (Rijswijk 1987), a guide to medieval studies in Rome, came back when writing this nutshell guide on Paris. It is a long way to repeat her achievement. Where to find more? I hope the impromptu set of links collections with which I will end here will function as a kind of preview of more things in Paris to discover and discuss:

I owe you a few of the quotes that have inspired me during the composition of this post: the first is Attempto, “I try”, the motto of the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, and the second a quote from Hugh of Saint-Victor’s Didascalicon, not by chance to be found at the website of GAHOM: Disce omnia, videbis postea nihil superfluum esse. Coartata scientia iucunda non est, “Learn everything, and you will see later that nothing is superfluous. Restricted knowledge is not agreeable”. Not everything is available in Paris: the Bibliographie d’histoire du droit en langue française is maintained by the Centre Lorrain d’Histoire du Droit. In the middle of the great wealth and variety of libraries which adorn Paris it is good to see the ENS library at the rue d’Ulm partners with the university library at Port-au-Prince in Bibliothèques sans Frontières (Libraries without Frontiers) to rebuild Haitian libraries.

A postscript

A fairly recent and most interesting guide for historical research in Paris can be consulted online: Aude Argouse and Mona Huerta, ‘Guide du chercheur américaniste: l’Amérique latine dans les bibliothèques et centres d’archives de Paris et d’Île-de-France’, Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos 2009. This journal offers every year a number of similar guides in its section Guía del investigador americanista, for example for Madrid, Amsterdam, the Archivo General de Indias, Berlin, London, Oxford and Philadelphia.

A second postscript

In 2012 I devoted an entire post to one of the libraries mentioned here, the Bibliothèque Mazarine. In this post I focused particular on the mazarinades, seventeenth-century pamphlets concerning the policies of cardinal Mazarin.

What makes a book rare?

No doubt in 2011 rare books will show up in this blog. But what makes a book rare? I had no idea I would write about rare books in my first posting this year, and perhaps this fact helps to understand the word rare better. Instead of rare, meaning only seldom seen, known to be present at only a few locations, rare often has the added quality of being unlooked for. The departments of research libraries for Rare Books and Special Collections often combine this approach of bringing together manuscripts and books that have survived the centuries, editions of texts once common but now only found after extended research, and books and items brought into the possession of a scientific institution in a remarkable way. A scholar left his book collection, his research notes, lectures or papers to a university library, or a librarian succeeds at an auction in buying books on a particular theme. Sometimes a particular book was already a rarity at the time it left the press because of its contested contents or of its beautiful layout. It could have been printed on expensive paper or even parchment, and a priceless luxury binding increased its value, too.

You might have guessed that I somehow could not help spotting old books today, completely against the planning for new postings. I surfed to Belgica, the digital library of the Royal Library in Brussels. As an example of valuable editions now digitized the Royal Library presents in its showcase a volume with 43 juridical dissertations defended between 1652 and 1655 at the University of Franeker under the aegis of Johann Jacob Wissenbach (1607-1665). The accompanying note states these dissertations are not included in the Short Title Catalogue Netherlands (STCN). The STCN aims at presenting data on Dutch imprints between 1540 and 1800 present in a generous selection of major Dutch libraries.

Which facts would enforce the conviction that these old juridical dissertations once defended at a university in Frisia are indeed rare and worth digitizing? The volume came originally from the library of the dukes of Arenberg and was confiscated after the First World War. This story accounts at least for the unexpected way this volume came into the possession of the Belgian Royal Library, but surely more can be done to estimate its rarity. One of the major projects for digitizing old dissertations is housed at the Max-Planck-Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte at Frankfurt am Main. To its holdings belong more than 70,000 juridical dissertations defended at universities within the borders of the former Holy Roman Empire. At Frankfurt 31 dissertations from Franeker have been digitized, and the dissertations at Brussels are not among them. This fact can rightfully form an indication that the 43 mid seventeenth-century dissertations are rare indeed.

I will not make this post any longer than necessary, and therefore I will just indicate which further steps need to be taken to ascertain more about the rarity of this volume. One step is to look at the holdings of libraries worldwide for particular dissertations within this set. Modern meta-catalogues are truly catalogi omnium catalogorum, foremost among them the Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog. The KVK enables you to search in many catalogues – including collective catalogues – at the same time with just one search action; text search is one of the latest additions to the KVK. Neither the KVK nor a few other major collective catalogues mention these particular dissertations. The other way to tackle this question is the road of bibliographies. Ferenc Postma and Jacob van Sluis published for the Frysk Akademie a bibliography of publications from Franeker, Auditorium Academiae Franekerensis. Bibliographie der Reden, Disputationen und Gelegenheitsdruckwerke der Universität und des Athenäums in Franeker 1585 – 1843 (Leeuwarden 1995). Postma and Van Sluis did every effort to find disputations from Franeker wherever held. In my opinion one can state safely whether an old edition from Franeker is rare or not by referring to their bibliography. Tracking juridical dissertations and establishing their authorship is something for specialists indeed. On publications by lawyers from Franeker it is also useful to look at the Bibliografie van hoogleraren in de rechten aan de Franeker universiteit tot 1811 by Robert Feenstra, Theo Veen and Margreet Ahsmann (Amsterdam 2003).

Tresoar at Leeuwarden is the institution which combines the forces of the Frysk Riksarchyf and the Provincial Library of Frisia. For curiosity’s sake and because of the rich holdings housed at the former Treasury I checked for Johann Jakob Wissenbach in its catalogue. For Douvo Mellinga who held a disputation in 1654 contained in the set at Brussels a small volume survives with laudatory words by Wissenbach; to guess from the abbreviated title poems are concerned.

To round off for today, some books are certainly unlooked for! You will not expect Frisian books at Brussels. However, take for a random example a digitized book on Danish litterature at Tresoar in Leeuwarden, the edition Hafniae (Copenhagen) 1651 of [Runir] seu Danica literatura antiquissima by Ole Worm, is less surprising in view of the relatively small distance between Frisia and Denmark. I look forward to find more at the Belgica collection at Brussels, even if I have to inform you that the search function for this digital library does not work as expected. Using the normal catalogue and being alert for URL’s in the search results brings you to the digitized items, not just books, but also maps, music scores, drawings, engravings and medals.

A postscript

In this post I did not give a clear and succinct answer to the question whether the Brussels volume is rare indeed, but I can now safely vouch for its rarity. Checking for Douvo Mellinga in the Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog led me to the Gemeinsamer Verbund Katalog which shows at the Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg a volume with two sets of disputations from Franeker, 43 in the first and 59 in the second, all presided by Johann Jakob Wissenbach, printed by Arcerius (Franeker 1658). In this volume the first disputation by Bartholomaeus Franck seems to be identical with the first disputation in the Brussels convoluted set, and the eleventh disputation in both sets is by Douvo Mellinga. It seems the Hamburg online catalogue shows old or incomplete bibliographical data, or more probable, one assumed the publisher of the second set to be also the publisher of the earlier “first” set. Cataloguing old juridical dissertations is a task for experts, and I do not want to offend any librarian. Ferenc Postma send me a comment stating he and Jacob van Sluis have found some 500 “new” titles for a supplement to their bibliography.

Universal and utopian

This year I have spent quite some time searching the internet both for information for my postings and for the pages of my website www.rechtshistorie.nl. At some turns I felt the clear temptation to use the main gateways to online information. In particular when dealing with digital libraries the presence of WorldCat, the Open Library and the World Digital Library seemed an invitation to refer people for once and forever to these endeavours which aim so much wider and higher than my efforts. However, when I tried to use these websites most times I returned empty-handed. With only 1350 items the World Digital Library still has many empty shelves, even if one has to applaud the fact that all continents and major regions of the world are represented. Many months ago a notice by archivist Eric Hennekam on his Dutch archive forum made me smile about such heroic efforts. It makes one aware of the many obstacles faced by the pioneers behind these projects with a claim to completeness or worldwide coverage, and of the fact that the 21st century is not the first century to witness similar proposals. Through the centuries lawyers, too, have left their footprints on this trail.

The Mundaneum

Logo MundaneumHennekam pointed to the history of the Mundaneum at Mons, about which institution The New Yorker had published in June 2008 an article by Alex Wright, “The Web Time Forgot“. The Internet Archive has stored the documentary All Knowledge of the World (Alle kennis van de wereld) by the Dutch VPRO television from 1998 about the creator of the Mundaneum, Paul Otlet (1868-1944). Wright tells the story with more skill than I have at my disposal, so I will only give a summary. Otlet was a Belgian bibliographer who created the Universal Decimal Classification. He worked together with the Belgian politician and pacifist Henri la Fontaine (1854-1943) who won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1913 for his Bureau International de la Paix. La Fontaine teached international law at the Université Libre at Bruxelles. In 1895 Otlet and La Fontaine founded the “Institut International de Bibliographie”. Otlet did not only devise a new classification system, but used it at his institute and envisaged powering it with a mechanical system to link information. Many million library records survive and eventually the project became too vast. In 1934 Otlet published his major bibliographical work, the Traité de documentation in which he presented his vision of reading library books at home using a kind of telescope. The card collection was housed at several addresses before the remains arrived at Mons after the Second World War. Today the Mundaneum offers shelter to archives on feminism, pacifism and anarchism.

Were Otlet and Fontaine the first people to create such projects? The nickname of an early multivolume collection of juridical treatises, the series called Primum [-Decimum] volumen tractatuum doctorum iuris published in Lyon in 1535 was “Oceanus iuris”, “The Ocean of Law”. At Jena the Thüringer Universitäts- und Landesbiblothek has created a digital edition of this edition in ten volumes from its “Historische Bestände“. The Bibliotheca Universalis (1545) of Konrad Gessner – online at the Universitat de Valencia – can claim to be the first early modern attempt at universal bibliography. More early editions books of works by this Swiss scholar have been digitized for E-Rara. The Lyon 1549 edition of the Tractatus Universi Iuris counts seventeen volumes, and the better known version printed between 1584 and 1586 at Venice has 27 volumes with four volumes for the indices. Gaetano Colli has used his book about this edition of the Tractatus Universi Iuris to create an online database to assist the search for treatises by particular authors or on special subjects in this collection.

Other early lawyers tried to create comprehensive surveys of all fields of law. Giovanni Nevizzano published a Index librorum omnium qui in vtroque iure hinc inde eduntur (Venice 1525; online in Vienna at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek), a generation later superseded by Giovanni Baptista Ziletti and his Index librorum omnium nomina complectens, in utroque iure tam pontificio quam caesareo (Venice 1559), better known as the Index librorum omnium iuris tam pontificii quam caesarei (Venice 1566), an edition digitized at the Göttingen Digitalisierungszentrum. Among their successors are for instance Agostino Fontana with his Amphitheatrum legale (4 volumes, Parma 1688-1694; reprint Turin 1961; online at the University of Michigan, Hathi Trust Digital Library) and Martinus Lipenius with the Bibliotheca realis iuridica first published in 1679. The Leipzig 1757 edition – online at Polib, the digital library of the universities of Lille - has been reprinted in 1970. The 1775 and 1789 supplements are online at the Hathi Trust Digital Library, and now also the edition 1679. It should not surprise you that I have not yet found a digital version of all works mentioned here. Please do not hesitate to share your knowledge if you know more!

A most remarkable digitization project is to be found at the Biblioteca Marucelliana in Florence for the multi volume manuscript called Mare Magnum, a universal bibliography created at the beginning of the eighteenth century by Francesco Marucelli. This manuscript was never printed, but can now be consulted online. In the last century John Gilissen and a team of legal historians working with him edited a bibliographical project with a less ambitious title, Introduction bibliographique à l’histoire du droit et à l’ethnologie juridique (6 vol. in 8 parts, Bruxelles 1963-1988).

I would like to finish this posting by bringing you to a digital library at the Université de Poitiers called Les premiers socialismes, a new project with both modern studies on the first French socialists such as Fourier and Saint-Simon and works by them. Socialist utopism was an important current in the nineteenth century. The links selection on this site could bring you to the Familistère de Guise, a housing and factory project near St. Quentin, on its website characterized as a realized utopia.

Clearly some people will keep trying to realize utopian projects. Modern technology certainly offers some of the means to create also virtual utopias. The internet realizes to a large extent even more than visionaries like Jules Verne could dream of or describe. These days it is clear that bringing digital information on an unprecedented worldwide scale is not just the dream of scholars or journalists, but a major fact in private lives and public life. Politics and law are touched by it and try to influence it. A legal history of Internet is not a fancy book title anymore.

A postscript

On March 17, 2011, Mike Widener, curator of the Rare Book Room of the Lilian Goldman Law Library of Yale University, wrote a blog post showing the frontispiece of the Jena 1743 edition of Burkhard Gotthelf von Struve’s Bibliotheca iuris selecta, another legal bibliography. Of Struve’s work several reprints and enlarged editions exist. Many works by Struve have been digitized in Halle, Dresden and Munich. Using the OPAC Plus catalogue at Munich you can now find seven (!) digitized editions of Struve’s Bibliotheca iuris selecta, Jena 1703, 1710, 1714, 1720, 1725, 1743 and finally the 1756 edition. The Jena 1725 edition has also been digitized now at Dresden.

A rare edition of Grotius

On November 23, 2010, the Peace Palace Library in The Hague announced the acquisition of a copy of the very rare first Paris 1625 edition of De iure belli ac pacis libri tres by Hugo Grotius. This library has probably the largest and richest collection of Grotius editions in the world. The online exhibition for the centenary in 2004 gives a vivid introduction to the Peace Palace library. The announcement states that until now the only known copy of the Paris 1625 edition was at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Almost a year ago my first blog postings were on Hugo Grotius, and it seemed not bad to look at Grotius again. My aim here is mainly to bring some information together. In 2009 the Yale Law Library held an exhibition on Grotius’ Mare liberum. The Royal Library at The Hague created an online edition of Mare Liberum with both a digital version of the first edition from 1609 and a transcription. Robert Feenstra and Jeroen Vervliet published a new Latin-English edition, Hugo Grotius Mare Liberum 1609-2009 (Leiden 2009). Arthur Eyffinger published a Dutch translation with the Latin text, De vrije zee. Een uiteenzetting over het recht van de Nederlanders om handel te drijven in Oost-Indië (The Hague 2009), and an essay on Grotius and the 1609 truce between the Dutch Republic and Spain, Oorlog, vrede of bestand? 1609 gezien door de ogen van Hugo de Groot (The Hague 2009), with in an appendix translations of several documents.

The Peace Palace Library (PPL) has won a Dutch award for the best digital library of 2010. The PPL uses not only RSS-feeds on its site, but has also a Flickr image collection and a collection of digitized books reachable for subscribers through its own custom developed link system, and these are just a few of the services for library users. As library of the International Court of Justice the PPL participates in The Hague Justice Portal also by virtue of the The Hague Academy of International Law. The PPL presents an online research guide for Grotius, interestingly in the format of a Wikipedia page. In my search for digital libraries with collections on legal history I hoped the PPL would have its own collection of digitized old books, preferably in an open access version, but this is not the case.

No doubt the Digital Library for Dutch Literature (DBNL) has one of the largest online collection of digitized and scanned texts by Hugo Grotius, including the critical edition of De iure belli ac pacis by B.J.A. de Kanter-Hettinga Tromp (Leiden 1939; reprint Aalen 1993). Among the legal texts is the Inleidinge tot de Hollandsche rechts-geleerdheid, Grotius’ introduction to Dutch law and jurisprudence, written between 1619 and 1621 and first published in 1631. The scans are from the 1910 edition by S.J. Fockema Andreae, not from the 1965 edition with the additions and corrections from Grotius’ own copy of the 1636 edition now at Lund. Apart from being a lawyer, philosopher and theologian, Grotius was also a renown poet, a historian and a most active writer of letters. This correspondence can be found here, too. The Huygens Instituut of the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences (KNAW) has created a searchable database for Grotius’ correspondence. The PPL research guide for Grotius mentions a link to a new edition of De iure praedae (The law of booty, 1603) at the KNAW site for datasets, but this dataset has not yet arrived. You can find Grotius’ manuscript with a transcription as work in progress of a colloborative edition at the TextLaboratorium. It is great to have this beside the 2005 translation of De iure praedae by Martine Julia van Ittersum at The Online Library of Liberty. The 1868 edition of the Latin text by H.G. Hamaker is available online thanks to the services of the University of Michigan at the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

Is there somewhere on Internet a digital version of an old edition of De iure belli ac pacis? The first port of call is The Philological Museum, the initiative of Dana F. Sutton (University of California at Irvine) for a survey of digital editions of texts in Neo-Latin, lists three digital versions of editions printed in Paris in 1625 of De iure belli ac pacis, one at Gallica, the digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, one at the Posner Memorial Collection of the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries in Pittsburgh, and one at Kyushu University, Fukuoka. In their Bibliographie des écrits imprimés de Hugo Grotius (The Hague 1950) Jacob ter Meulen and P.J.J. Diermanse listed at no. 565 three different versions of the first edition. The digitized books in Paris, Pittsburgh and Fukuoka are copies of version 565iii. The PPL has acquired a copy of no. 565i. Other digitized Grotius editions can be found for instance using the catalog of the Hathi Trust Digital Library, an initiative of several American scientific libraries, and the OPACplus of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich. In particular the Europeana portal points to the rich collections for Grotius at Munich. It surprised me very much one cannot trace these digitized old editions at the Digitale Sammlungen. Clearly some tuning is needed between the two sites at Munich.

Writing today this posting about Hugo Grotius served for me also as a kind of test case for the use of digital libraries and digital library portals. The portals do not only offer a more or less rough indication of existing materials but present often also important things. When discussing Grotius’ view it matters urgently which old printed version, translation or critical edition one uses. Sometimes Grotius’ opinions were more known in a translated form, as for example Jean de Barbeyrac’s translation of De iure belli ac pacis. The information in the bibliography by Ter Meulen and Diermanse and the succinct guide to the Grotius’ editions at the PPL is therefore very helpful in determining whether to use the first version near at hand in your town or on Internet, or to be more diligent. Even in this posting which offers just a note on Grotius a succinct table of the main texts mentioned and their versions might be useful:

De iure belli ac pacis

  • the third version of the Paris 1625 edition is available online at Gallica and at Pittsburgh
  • several other old editions are available online at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and the Hathi Trust Digital Library
  • the 1939 critical edition is online at the DBNL
  • the Online Library of Liberty presents both the 1814/1901 translation by Arthur Campbell and the translation by Richard Tuck (2005)
  • only the prolegomena and first book have been translated into Dutch, available online at the DBNL

Mare Liberum

  • the 1609 edition has been digitized alongside a modern Dutch translation at the Dutch Royal Library
  • the Leiden 1633 edition is available online at the Hathi Trust Digital Library and also at the SOMNI collection of the Universitat de Valencia
  • the 1916 translation by Magoffin – together with the Latin text - is available online at the Online Library of Liberty, as is Richard Hakluyt’s translation
  • the 1609 edition is available in print with an English translation and a facsimile (Feenstra and Vervliet 2009)
  • the 1609 edition has been translated into Dutch (Eyffinger 2009)

De iure praedae

  • photographs of the manuscript Leiden, University Library, BPL 917, are online at TextLaboratorium with a transcription
  • the 1868 edition by Hamaker is online at the Hathi Trust Digital Library
  • the English translation by Martine Julia van Ittersum is present at the Online Library of Liberty
  • Onno Damsté translated the text into Dutch: Verhandeling over het recht op buit (Leiden 1934)

Inleidinge tot de Hollandsche rechts-geleerdheid

  • the second impression ‘s-Graven-haghe, 1631 is online at the Digital Special Collections of Utrecht University Library
  • the 1910 critical edition is available at the DBNL and the Hathi Trust Digital Library
  • the 1965 critical edition is only available in printed form

The Index Translationum of the UNESCO did not bring me to an English version of the Inleidinge, but it mentions translations into several languages of other works. The guide to the PPL’s Grotius collection mentions several English translations of the Inleidinge.

An addendum: when revisiting the online exhibit on Grotius of the Yale Law Library Rare Book Room I noticed several titles mentioned here, too, with digitized title pages. Yale’s copy of the Mare Liberum edition Leiden 1633 is available in electronic form at Yale’s intranet, as is the copy at Harvard at their intranet. Obviously it is not quite feasible to have library cards or subscriptions to all these fine library services, and therefore I focused here on electronic resources in open access.

A postscript

A digitized copy of an early Dutch translation of Grotius’ Mare Liberum, entitled Vrye zeevaert, ofte bewiis van ‘t recht (..) (Leiden-Amsterdam 1614), can be viewed online in the Digital Special Collections of Utrecht University Library. Selections from De iure belli ac pacis have been translated into Dutch and commented on by Arthur Eyffinger and B.P. Vermeulen, Hugo de Groot, Denken over oorlog en vrede (Baarn 1991; Geschiedenis van de wijsbegeerte in Nederland, vol. 8). The Peace Palace Library has created a slideshow concerning editions of De iure belli ac pacis.

A facsimile of the French translation of De iure belli ac pacis by Jean Barbeyrac (Amsterdam 1724) has been published recently: Hugo Grotius, Le droit de la guerre et de la paix (2 vol., Caen 2011).

Lex scripta

Lex scripta, “written law”, a thing you would almost take for granted. Our medieval ancestors coined the phrase quod non est in actis, non est in mundo, “what is not noted in acts, does not exist in the world”. Written evidence started to become the only evidence admitted in court, yet oral proceedings and oral pleading exist until today. I could continue musing on this theme, but today I would like to bring something else to your attention. Thanks to the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, affectionately abbreviated to Penn Libraries, you can now find the digital proceedings of the second Annual Lawrence J. Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age, held October 30-31, 2009, under the title Lex Scripta: The Manuscript as Witness to the History of Law.

In the proceedings of this two-day symposium edited by Lynn Ransom you will find papers by Abigail Firey, Edward Peters, Kathleen E. Kennedy and Susan L’Engle on medieval manuscripts. Jonathon Brockopp discusses early Islamic legal manuscripts -alas there is not yet a PDF of his and L’Engle’s presentations- and Georg Vogeler writes about the forms of presenting charters online. Timothy Stinson reports on the concluding panel discussion concerning the digitization of medieval legal documents. Hugh Cayless addresses the subject of open licensing and images of medieval manuscripts.

The symposium last year was also held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Henry Charles Lea, the great historian of the medieval inquisition, whose library has been held since 1926 by Penn Libraries. At the symposium Edward Peters discussed Lea’s early work and his views on medieval canon law. Speaking of medieval canon law: it is never too late to visit the new website of ICMAC, the Iuris Canonici Medii Aevi Consociatio or International Society of Medieval Canon Law, launched last February at the University of Toronto!

Another vast subject of legal history is touched upon by many of the digital exhibitions also presented on the website of Penn Libraries at their Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. Jewish law is one of the main subjects in the Judaica Online Exhibitions. This last section, too, helps to confirm the merits of the plural name Penn Libraries. Let’s not forget to mention the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image (SCETI) with information on manuscripts from the Schoenberg collection and the Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts, the enterprise to bring together information on the sales and presents whereabouts of medieval manuscripts.

An addendum: these digital proceedings are really not the only materials concerning medieval canon law now available online. In particular The Medieval Canon Law Virtual Library is worth visiting.

A second addendum : Jörg Erdmann wrote a study called “Quod est in actis, non est in mundo”. Päpstliche Benefizialpolitik im sacrum imperium des 14. Jahrhundert (Tübingen 2006) published by the Deutsches Historisches Institut in Rome. At the DHI website you can find statistical appendices to his book.

Yet another postscript: some images accompanying Kenneth Pennington’s lecture Legal Manuscripts and Books in Cyberspace can be found at his own website.

Centers of legal history: the Robbins Collection

First of all an apology: I have been just too busy this month with other activities and duties, including work on my new website, to publish new posts on this blog. Today’s post might offer you some solace…

The Robbins Collection

Perhaps you know already about the Robbins Collection at Boalt Hall, the library for legal history of the University of California at Berkeley. This library started in 1952. In 1970 Stephan Kuttner, the founder of the Institute of Medieval Canon Law, now in Munich, became its director. The Robbins Collection with over 300,000 volumes is not just one collection, it brings together collections on civil law, religious law and comparative law. One of its strengths is the collection of European law books from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. In the field of religious law you will find not only works on canon law, the law system of the Catholic church, but also on Jewish and Islamic law. The Robbins Collection offered from 1970 a fitting surrounding for David Daube, the most versatile scholar of legal history of his generation. For Daube no boundaries existed between research on history, law systems and religions: the essays in the commemorative issue from 2004 of the online journal Roman Legal Tradition will give you some idea of the sheer width of Daube’s research. The Robbins Collection has its own publication series in which the collected articles of Daube have been published. On the website of the library you get an impression of some of the books in the rich collections: there are online exhibitions on The Medieval Law School and The Roman-Dutch Legal Tradition; you can also consult the manuscript and incunables catalogue online. Manuscripts from the collections can be seen on the Digital Scriptorium, a website originally at Berkeley but recently moved to Columbia University, New York. The Robbins Collection organizes regularly conferences and lectures on legal history.

An addendum: thanks to Mike Widener (Yale University) I was alerted to another online exhibition at the website of the Robbins Collection, called Milestones in Legal Culture and Traditions which offers a general introduction to the various collections at Boalt Hall. It seems now I had simply overlooked the general link to the exhibits on the Robbins Collection website. A fourth exhibit from 2008 was held on Famous Trials and their Legacies. A fifth exhibit from 2012 presents California’s Legal Heritage, with links to digitized books.

Spanning centuries, cultures and continents

The nice alliteration “a blog on this subject that spans centuries, cultures and continents” in my first post made me worry a bit to fall dreadfully short of my promise. However, when I saw the web presence of the Harvard Law School Library I guessed my confidence would be rewarded. In fact, one can select interesting subjects at random. Let’s make a short tour and restrict it to the digital collections. The partnership with the Ames Foundation for Bracton Online and the English Year Books is perhaps the best known digital activity of the HLSL. I was genuinely surprised by the twenty digitized scrolls from the Japanese manuscript collection that spans the period 1158-1591, acquired in 1936. Oliver Wendell Holmes jr. is present, too, of course. By far the greatest project here is the collection of documents of the Nuremberg Trials Project. Those looking for images will applaud Legal Portraits Online, a 4,000 picture collection of lawyers and political theorists. When I saw the link to the French coutumes I knew for sure my own interest in medieval history and law would be satisfied: the HLSL has 600 editions of coutumes and twenty manuscripts. The digitized manuscript from around 1300 of the Grand Coutumier de Normandie is wonderful indeed! British crime broadsides from the eighteenth and nineteenth century, materials on the American Red Cross at work after the First World War, old library catalogues and a series of HLS class photos from 1875 to 2007: one post is just too short! I am sure to return to the HLSL’s website, and I will use alliteration more carefully.