Rare Book of the Month: April 2019

The April 2019 rare book of the month is Cyfreithjeu Hywel Dda ac Eraill, printed in London, 1730.

title page reduced

The Laws of Hywel (Cyfreithjeu Hywel Dda ac Eraill) are a c. 940 codification of laws by the Welsh king Hywel Dda (Hywel the good or well).  Hywel Dda was king of Deheubarth and eventually most of Wales. His codification of laws would come to represent foundational laws across Wales for six hundred years until the union with England. The surviving early versions are predominantly printed in Welsh. However, some are printed in Latin or side-by-side translation of Welsh and Latin. Of the copies still extant, their sources are presumed to be from surviving versions of the laws dated to the twelfth to thirteenth century. In the surviving versions of the Laws there is a general common organization. However, there is still much variety in the form and content between versions. The extant versions are categorised as: Cyfnerth, Iorwerth, Blegywryd, and Latin A,B,C,D and E. The chronology between and within the Latin and Welsh versions are not certain. It is believed that Latin A to E could be either precursors or descendants of the Welsh texts. While they are comprised differently, it is believed that all of them share a common tradition in their origin. Of these sections the Cyfraith y Gwragedd (Law of Women) is unique among contemporary laws of the period and throughout much of history.

The Law of Women recognised ‘the rights of women and children’ and, while not seeing women as equals, the laws gave women some protections, freedoms, and responsibilities in their own right. The Laws saw each person within society to have roles, rights and freedoms of differing degrees. Among the various laws concerning women, the mentioning of the position of the Queen is an excellent example for the laws uniqueness. Among other contemporary, and later, codes found within Germany, England, or Ireland, no mention of the position is found. The Laws of Hywel Dda and specifically The Law of Women, were influential in the earliest codification of regional Swedish law: the Law of Västergötland. Some of the most unique legal statutes concerning the position of women are found in the extensive section on repayments, rights, and payments concerning chastity, marriage, and property.

title page 2 reduced

The Law of Women codified the rights of women in a variety of areas concerning marriage and in property.  Under this codification, marriage was seen strictly as a secular matter, a civil contract, which was of no concern legally to ecclesiastical powers. Unlike Anglo-Saxon law, this contract could be undone by either the man or the woman. This could also be followed by transfers of money or possessions: aweddi, being a woman’s separation payment to the man unless the union had lasted less than seven years. Or the argyfrau which was a sum of money which could be returned to the woman upon separation. Separation could be done for a variety of reasons including, not providing an heir, on the third incident of a husband being unfaithful, or simply on mutual agreement. As well, if the wife was pregnant at the time of separation the husband was required to provide financial support to the upkeep of the child. This was given at two-thirds the cost up to the age of 14. Law of Women also had requirements relating to the term Diweirdeb (chastity/purity from unlawful sexual intercourse). This was a payment made by the husband to the wife for the preservation of virginity. In association with diwerideb were dilystod or dilysrwydd, which were in effect payments to the woman by the man responsible for the unlawful loss of virginity. With regards to property, women could also inherit and hold property, once they had attained majority, and could live where they chose. Stipulations did remain, as land ownership could only be by tir gwelyauc (clan or group). The Laws of Hywel Dda were extensive in laying out a legal place for women within the law which was unique in its time. The above are just samples of the laws concerning women.

The Law of Women within the Laws of Hywel Dda or Cyfraith Hywel continued to function within Wales to varying degrees for six hundred years. It was under Edward II and later Henry VII, under the Laws in Wales Acts of 1535 and 1542, that saw Wales become completely subject to English laws. However, one thousand years later ‘the Welsh Government contuine[s] to look to the laws of Hywel Dda … as they pursue recognition for the role of women.’


Rare Book of the Month: #Throwback

In this new regular feature we re-post the rare book of the month features that were originally published on the Middle Temple website.

The June 2016 rare book of the month is a work that shows evidence of ownership by the founder of the library, Robert Ashley (1565-1641). It is Florián de Ocampo’s Los çinco libros primeros dela cronica general de España, printed in 1553 in Medina del Campo. Medina del Campo is best known for the 1489 treaty named after it, which outlined the marriage details between Catherine of Aragon and Prince Arthur, as well outlining a reduction of tariffs between Spain and England. Due to its insistence on an anti-French alliance between England and Spain however, amendments made to it by Henry VII in 1490 were rejected by Spain and the treaty was never fully ratified by the two countries.

Title page to Los çinco libros primeros dela cronica general de España, showing the two inscriptions
Close-up of the legible inscription

Ocampo (also known as Florián do Campo) was born circa 1495 and died in 1558. He is described in the Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance as a “Spanish chronicler” and he was in fact the “first official royal historian” of Emperor Charles V. The title page features a large woodcut coat-of-arms which has been hand-coloured in this copy. The text has been printed in red and black. The book is a historical chronicle of Spain and was first published in 1543, with this 1553 edition being a continuation and enlargement of that first work. According to the Dictionary, it “attempts to trace the Habsburg dynasty to its roots in the ancient world through a compilation of the medieval chronicles of Castile”. The work was originally intended to cover from prehistory to the 16th century. As Ocampo died in 1558, however, the work was continued by Ambrosio de Morales and others; this 1553 edition is the final one completed by Ocampo. The last ‘volume’ was issued in 1601, written by Juan de Mariana, and entitled Historia general de España.

Robert Ashley’s cross-reference in Ocampo, to Mendoza’s work

The title page has two inscriptions- showing signs of previous ownership. One of the signatures is partially legible, despite a later hand trying to scratch it out- ‘Frey Garcia de Feibrez’. The other inscription has become too damaged to read. A third ownership sign- that of Robert Ashley, appears on the verso of folio lxxviii. It makes reference to two other works which mention ‘Guadelqueuir’ (i.e. Guadalquivir, a river in Iberia), one by Ambrosio de Morales and a work entitled Historia del Monte Celia de Nuestra Senora de la Salceda, by Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, printed in Grenada in 1616. In the copy of the Mendoza book held by the library, Ashley has cross-referenced back to this entry in Ocampo’s work. This highlights how Ashley was using the books in his library- reading and referencing works of interest and highlighting additional information to be found in them on certain topics. As is common throughout the non-English books owned by Ashley, he has written his notes in the original language of the book, in this case Spanish.

Robert Ashley’s cross-reference in the 1616 work by Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza

In addition to his legal work, Ashley translated six books during his lifetime:

Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas, L’Uranie ou muse celeste, 1589- translated from the French into Latin

A comparison of the English and Spanish nation, 1589- translated from the French into English

Louis Leroy, Of the interchangeable course, or variety of things in the whole world, 1594- translated from the French into English

Miguel de Luna, Almansor the learned, 1627- translated from the Spanish into English

Cristoforo Borri, Cochin-China, 1633- translated from the Italian into English

Virgilio Malvezzi, David persecuted– translated from the Italian into English

Rare Book of the Month: March 2019

tp 1911 with Th. illu

The rare book of the month for March 2019 is the 1911 biographical centenary edition of William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (1847), which comprises the first two volumes of this 26 volume set of Thackeray’s complete works. These volumes were presented to Middle Temple Library in 1912 by Reginald J. Smith, head of the publishing house Smith, Elder & Co., who published these editions.

The central character of Vanity Fair is Becky Sharp, and she is the primary reason for the selection of these volumes as our rare book of the month – to coincide with the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 which allowed women to practice as barristers for the first time, we are selecting books written by, printed, or about women. The novel charts Becky’s rise in social position as she attempts to escape from a lowly and impoverished background, using her wits and ambition as well as ruthlessness.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Thackeray is today remembered and regarded as a highly acclaimed nineteenth century novelist. After his formal education at Cambridge, and  following some time spent studying in Germany, Thackeray took up law studies in 1831 at Middle Temple. According to Peter L. Shillingsburg in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, he “read law, clerked, attended dinners, and disparaged his work in letters home”. He “roam[ed] the streets and attended plays” a routine he kept up for nearly year, “during which his passion for the theatre and for reading fiction and history were developed more assiduously than the law”. He eventually abandoned his legal studies and took up a variety of ‘ungentlemanly’ pursuits, such as “bill counter, desultory journalist, and artist.”

He described the legal curriculum as “one of the most cold-blooded prejudiced pieces of invention that ever a man was slave to”. Despite this he was eventually Called to the Bar in 1848, and occupied chambers in Crown Office Row until 1855.

Vanity Fair

Rumoured to have been turned down by at least five publishers, Vanity Fair was eventually taken on by Bradbury and Evans (who were the proprietors of Punch) in January 1847, who agreed to publish it in the same style and format as the works of Charles Dickens, their ‘star author’. This serial publication ran for nineteen months and was the first to include the name of William Makepeace Thackeray on the title page. For Vanity Fair, Thackeray made £1200 plus a share of the profits.

In the centenary biographical edition of Thackeray’s works each volume has a special title page. A number of the volumes have reproductions of the vignette title-pages of the original edition (published in parts, 1847-56) as well as some which have reproductions of original covers. This includes volume one of Vanity Fair which can be seen here.

orig. tp.
Original cover from 1847, reproduced in the 1911 edition.

This edition is illustrated throughout by Thackeray himself, as can be seen in the image below, which shows Becky Sharp making acquaintance with a ‘live Baronet’.

Illustration of Becky Sharp by Thackeray, with the caption ‘Rebecca makes acquaintance with a live Baronet’

Becky Sharp

The focal point of the novel is the development of Becky Sharp. Another important female character is Amelia Sedley, a school friend of Becky. Both their lives are intertwined throughout the novel, and contrasted in terms of their fortunes and their characters. Amelia, who is kindly and virtuous, is the sentimental foil to Becky, who is portrayed as seemingly without the attributes of conventional morality. In the traditions of nineteenth century literature, Amelia would be the novel’s primary heroine, but it is Becky who stays in the reader’s mind, almost as sole protagonist. Also note Vanity Fair’s subtitle – ‘A Novel Without a Hero’ – an indication that no single central character is a representative of honour or contemporary conceptions of moral virtue.

John Carey, in his introduction to the Penguin Classics edition, describes Becky Sharp as the novel’s most complex character: “[s]he is condemned by its morals, but makes its morals seem inadequate. […] In few other Victorian novels is a woman so clearly the most intelligent character.” (p.xxii) Sharp is a relatively unique female character in the mid-nineteenth century, in neither being an insipid heroine nor an unrelatable grotesque. Her wit, drive and ambition make her hard to forget.

Rare Book of the Month: #Throwback

In this new regular feature we re-post the rare book of the month features that were originally published on the Middle Temple website.

For May we are, in essence, featuring two books of the month: Gabriel Powel’s De adiaphoris theses theologicæ ac scholasticæ, printed in London by Robert Barker in 1606, and a manuscript leaf from the Tables of Toulouse, dated to the 15th century.

Powel’s book is a work on adiaphora, or religious indifferentism. Robert Barker was a successful printer in London who co-printed the second edition of Richard Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations in 1598-1600 and as king’s printer, the King James Bible in 1611. Powel (or Powell) was a Calvinist and chaplain to the bishop of London, Richard Vaughan. He was baptised in 1576, the son of David Powel (1549-1598) and died in 1611. In this work he examines the idea that “monarchs might enjoy direct authority over Church discipline” and was “an answer to William Bradshaw’s puritan analysis of adiaphora”. Powel wrote over twenty theological works, many of which were anti-papal and anti-Puritan polemics; he considered Catholicism an “idolatrous and even heathenish religion” and Puritans as “factious brethren”. The library has one other work by Powel, A consideration of the Papists reasons of state and religion, for toleration of poperie in England, printed in Oxford in 1604.

The book was most likely part of Robert Ashley’s bequest of 1641, but there is no direct evidence of his ownership present in the book- no underlining, marginalia or marks of numbering. Ashley was interested in questions of religion, and owned a large number of works on Calvinism, Catholicism, Islam, Judaism and Protestantism, many of which would have been considered controversial and/or seditious works during the late 16th, early 17th century.

What makes this work particularly interesting is the fact that it is bound in a parchment manuscript leaf. It was common practice during this time to bind a book in a manuscript ‘scrap’- binders and printers commonly tore up old manuscripts to use in their bindings. Fragments of illuminated manuscripts are commonly found in the spines, end-leaves and press-board bindings of early modern books.

Dr. Bernard R. Goldstein, University Professor Emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh, via the Royal Astronomical Society Librarian, very kindly identified the fragment as a leaf “from the Tables of Toulouse for caput draconis, the head of the dragon, i.e., the lunar ascending node. Line 1 is the radix 2s 26;24,32° or 86 degrees 24 minutes and 32 seconds: this is the position in longitude (measured along the ecliptic) for the epoch, March 1, 1 AD. The succeeding entries represent the motion of the lunar ascending node in ‘collected years’ at 24-year intervals. The final column displays the motion of the lunar ascending node in years from 1 to 24. This table was described and transcribed by E. Poulle, “Un témoin de l’astronomie latine du XIIIe siècle, Les tables de Toulouse,” in Comprendre et maîtriser la nature au moyen âge: Mélanges d’histoire des sciences offerts à Guy Beaujouan (Geneva, 1994).”

The Tables of Toulouse were astronomical tables used to calculate eclipses and motions of the planets, based on the theories of Ptolemy, which placed the earth at the centre of the universe. These tabular calculations were superseded by the mid-16th century, when it became acknowledged that the earth in fact revolved around the sun. Such astronomical tables were calculated for various European cities during the 12th and 13th centuries, most notably Toledo, which were used as the basis to calculate tables for other cities such as Pisa, London and, in this case, Toulouse. The Tables of Toulouse were known to have been used by Parisian astronomers as well, most likely due to the “proximity of the meridians of Toulouse and Paris”. The work has been digitised and is available here.

Rare Book of the Month: #ThrowBack

In this new regular feature we re-post the rare book of the month features that were originally published on the Middle Temple website.

Knightley D’Anvers, A general abridgment of the common and most useful parts of the statute law, 1705

The rare book of the month for April 2016 is something of a bibliographical mystery. Although D’Anvers’s two volume A general abridgment of the common law (1705-1713) is a well-known work, until recently this ‘variant’ was not recorded in the English Short Title Catalogue, which lists all known English works published between 1483 and 1800. John D. Cowley does mention it in his A bibliography of abridgments, digests, dictionaries and indexes of English law (Selden Society, 1932), and thus it’s unclear why it remained unreported for so long.

Knightley D’Anvers originally joined Middle Temple in 1691 but later jointed Inner Temple and was admitted there on 16 May 1696. He was married to Alice D’Anvers (nee Clarke), who wrote three works of poetry in the 18th century and is described in the Dictionary of National Biography as “an astute commentator on political and university life in the reign of William and Mary”. Knightley D’Anvers was Deputy Recorder of Northampton.

D’Anvers’s Abridgment is in fact a translation of Henry Rolle’s Un abridgment des plusieurs cases et resolutions del common ley, 1668. The work is divided into two volumes, originally printed in 1705 and 1713; a second edition was printed in 1722-1725.* A supplement to volume two was printed in 1727, with a later supplement, leading the work up to ‘extinguishment’, being printed in 1737. Although the work was dedicated to Lord Chief Justice John Holt (1642-1710), he refused to sign the imprimatur (the official declaration to allow publication of a work). Lord Holt must have had a change of heart at some point, as he later complimented D’Anvers from the “Bench and left him an annuity of £20”, as recounted by Charles Viner in his Abridgment (xviii, preface).

The English Short Title Catalogue does have a secondary reference to our book of the month, which is an advertisement in the ‘Term Catalogue’ entitled Proposals for printing of A general abridgement of the common and most useful part of the statute law of England (ESTC T142512). The Term Catalogue was a series of book lists issued by London booksellers from 1668 to 1709, during the law terms. D’Anvers’s project suffered from lack of funding, subscribers and patronage, which could explain why it was only completed until ‘extinguishment’.

Title page
The title page does not give the author’s name and was printed by Richard and Edward Atkins

The lack of funding could also explain why our book of the month has a title page which varies from the work as we now know it. As shown in the image above, the title page does not give the author’s name and was printed by Richard and Edward Atkins. The work cost thirteen shillings (roughly £96 in today’s money) per book ‘in sheets’, which refers to the fact, as was common at the time, to sell the book without a binding- the purchaser paid separately to have the book bound. It also differs from the more well-known 1705-1713 edition in that it does not have a dedication to Lord Holt, the preface, ‘To the Reader’ is very slightly different, and it does not have a list of subscribers. In addition, this edition is printed in gatherings of four, whereas the 1705-1713 edition is in gatherings of two, and it was printed by John Walthoe, whose shop was located in Vine-Court in Middle Temple. Walthoe includes some self-promotion in the book- a list of ‘Books lately printed’ and ‘Law books printed’, respectively placed after the ‘Table of several titles’ and page 810, just before the ‘Table of cases’. A copy of volume one of the 1705-1713 edition can be viewed on Google Books.

Our copy of the 1705 edition was donated to the Inn on 26 January 1926 by The Honourable Stephen Ogle Henn Collins, who in turn inherited it from his father, Richard Henn Collins (Baron Collins). This is shown by the two separate signatures on the title page. In addition to being a Bencher, Treasurer of the Inn, KC and Judge of the High Court, S.O. Henn Collins was granted a patent in 1912 for the ‘Means for indicating the striking force of golf-clubs or similar instruments’ Master Collins donated at least eleven books to the Inn.

*Cowley states in his bibliography that the second edition should be dated to 1732, but ESTC and other sources reference it as 1722-1725.

Rare Book of the Month: #Throwback

In this new regular feature we re-post the rare book of the month features that were originally published on the Middle Temple website.

Leo Africanus De totius Africae description, libri IX

The rare book of the month for February 2016 is a hugely influential Renaissance volume written by Leo Africanus (or Al-Hassan Ibn Mohammad al-Weza al-Fasis). Leo Africanus was born circa 1492 in Granada and died circa 1550, probably in Tunis. The work is an account of his extensive travels from 1512 to 1520, when he visited the Maghrib, Tunis, sub-Saharan Africa, Guinea, the Niger Basin and Lake Chad. During this period he also travelled to Constantinople, Egypt, and Armenia. He is known to have travelled “up the Nile from Cairo to Aswan” during his 1517-1520 travels.

Leo Africanus was captured during his travels (in 1520) off the island of Djerba and handed over as a slave to Pope Leo X. Some accounts say his captors were pirates, others that they were Christian sailors (Knights of Saint John to be exact). He was “persuaded to convert to Christianity” during this time, sponsored by Pope Leo at his baptism, conferring upon him his own names, Johannes and Leo. Leo wrote an account of his travels at the behest of Pope Leo X. The original version was probably written in Arabic, but this manuscript is now lost. However, an Italian manuscript version of Leo’s voyages entitled Cosmographia e descrizione de Affrica was re-discovered in 1931 and is now held at the Biblioteca nazionale centrale in Rome: MS Vitt. Em.953. The first printed version of the work appeared in Italian in 1550, as part of Giovanni Battista Rumsio’s Delle navigationi e viaggi, [primo volume]. The Library has a 1563 edition of this compendium, printed in Venice. The work then appeared in French, in Lyon in 1556. The Latin translation held by the Library was made by Joannes Florianus and printed in Antwerp by Jean Laet in 1556. It is this Latin version which was then translated into English by John Pory in 1600 “at the suggestion of Richard Hakluyt”. The English version includes a map, a scan of which can be viewed here.

In 2011 the BBC produced a 54 minute documentary about Leo Africanus:

The image below shows the book open at Leo’s description of Timbuktu, where he mentions the king’s riches, the houses and temples, trade and the scarcity of salt available in the city. An English translation of the 1526 manuscript account is available to read here.

The book open at Leo’s description of Timbuktu

As shown in this image below, the title page is adorned with a printer’s device. In this case, it is the device of Jean Laet (ca. 1525-ca. 1567) and it depicts a farmer sowing the field surrounded by the motto- ‘Spes alit agricolas’, Hope feeds the farmers. Printers often created (or expropriated) devices and mottos in order to stamp their work and make it distinctive. In this case, Laet has chosen an emblem-style of device, which became a common practice amongst printers by the 1550s.

Title page
Title page adorned with printer’s device.

The book does not have any significant marginal annotations or provenance marks (apart from some underlining of the text), but it most likely formed part of the 1641 Robert Ashley bequest. Ashley was interested in travel, geography and accounts of foreign lands; there are nine other works in the early printed books collection on Africa and its history.

This book is in need of conservation and would cost £175 to repair. If you would like to sponsor its repair, full details on how to do so are available here or email the Librarian on: r.satterley@middletemple.org.uk.

Rare Book of the Month: #ThrowBack

In this new regular feature we re-post the rare book of the month features that were originally published on the Middle Temple website. We start with the debut rare book of the month published in February 2016.

Giovanni Battista Rossi’s Organo de cantori per intendere da se stesso ogni passo difficile che si trova nella musica, et anco per imparare contrapunto

Welcome to a new feature from Middle Temple Library- Rare Book of the Month. We begin this feature with a reasonably rare copy of a work on counterpoint which includes four instrumental canzonas, written by Giovanni Battista Rossi and published in Venice in 1618. As per the title page, Rossi was from Genoa and of the Somaschi order, a congregation founded in the 16th century by St. Jerome Emiliani in Somasca, Venice. The order still exists, known in English as the Somascan Fathers.

Title page
Title page, Giovanni Battista Rossi’s Organo de cantori per intendere da se stesso ogni passo difficile che si trova nella musica, et anco per imparare contrapunto

According to the entry by Tim Carter in The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians, Rossi was a composer and theorist who flourished between 1585 and 1628. Carter relates that Rossi’s manuscript for this work was originally written in 1585, but was stolen, hence the much later publication date of 1618 for this work. Carter states that the work was designed “for self-instruction … [covering] elementary ground up to the basics of counterpoint. The examples include music by Josquin and Palestrina, as well as some rather dull cantilenas (some with Italian texts) by the author for two to five voices with and without continuo.

The stave line, printed in a broken-up fashion

The book was printed by Bartholomeo Magni who published a large number of music books including many madrigals. According to Philip Gaskell, music was originally printed “by double impression, the staves (lines) being printed at one impression and the notes at another.” Later in the 16th century music was printed in single impressions “each piece of type bearing a note (complete with stem if it had one) and sections of the stave, made so that the stave lines joined with the lines of the adjacent pieces of type.” It is likely that this book was printed with the single impression technique, as exemplified in this image which shows a discrepancy in the alignment under the words ‘Titolo Terzo’. The stave line has also been printed in a broken-up fashion, rather than a continuous line.

Information on the history of music printing, along with some interesting photos and video is available here.

Close up from the title page showing handwritten code ‘Hw.i’, most likely a bookseller’s mark.

The book most likely came to the library through the Robert Ashley bequest of 1641; it appears in the manuscript catalogues of 1688 and the first printed catalogue of 1700. In both catalogues it is listed under ‘mathematical’ works. There is a small hand-written code on the title page beside the printer statement – ‘Hw.i’ which is most likely a bookseller’s mark, possibly indicating a pricing code. A large number of Ashley’s books show booksellers’ marks such as this. The title page and last leaf of the work show the printer’s mark- a lion and bear upholding a rose and a banner with the motto ‘Concordes virtute et naturae miraculis’ (see below). This mark was appropriated from the Venetian press of Angelo Gardano, hence the initials ‘A.G.’. The appropriation of more well-known (or more accomplished) printers was a common phenomenon. An example of the original printer mark can be seen here. Virtue was a central theme to the Venetian republic at this time.

Printer’s mark, featured on the title page and last leaf of the work – a lion and bear upholding a rose and a banner with the motto ‘Concordes virtute et naturae miraculis’

If you would like to know more about the rare books collection, please visit this page of our website. If you would like to help our conservation efforts, you can sponsor a rare book. The cost ranges from £175.00 to £2,000 and full details are available here.

Rare Book of the Month: February 2019

The February 2019 rare book of the month is Marie de Romieu’s Les devis amoureux de Mariende et Florimonde, mere & fille d’Allience, printed in Paris in 1607.

This is truly a rare book in the sense that not many copies of it have been recorded in other libraries. Both the Heritage of the Printed Book database and the Universal Short Title Catalogue list one other copy, at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Marie de Romieu was a poet and translator, born circa 1545 and died circa 1590. Biographical details of her life are scarce, but we know that she lived in eastern France, in the Vivarais region, had an older brother named Jacques, and most likely had a son. Marian Rothstein writes that her poetry was influenced by Pierre de Ronsard and Philippe Desportes, as well as Hesiod, Ovid and Virgil.

Title page rsz
Title page

Unlike other women authors of this period, de Romieu’s had much of her poetry printed, rather than circulated only in manuscript form. It was common during this time for women to circulate their writings in manuscript amongst their friends and social circle. During her lifetime, two works were printed, with a further four printed posthumously, including this volume. Those printed during her lifetime were: Instruction pour les jeunes dames (1572) and Les premières oeuvres poetiques (1581). Those printed posthumously were: Instruction pour les jeunes dames (1597); Les devis amoureux (1607); La messagère d’amour (1616); Discours de l’excellence de la femme (1618). All of these volumes are exceedingly rare and in many instances only one or two copies are recorded. It is therefore possible that other books were printed in the late 16th/early 17th century but that they simply have not survived or been attributed to de Romieu.

According to Marian Rothstein, Romieu’s most interesting works “are quasi translations of poems by Italian male authors. In keeping with the standards of her time, she translates them freely, incorporating modifications to suit her own sex, time, place, and station (which was presumably that of her audience). Romieu wrote mainly, though by no means exclusively, for women.” This book consists of a series of dialogues between Mariende (mere) and Florimonde (fille). According to Brunet, this edition is in fact the same work as the Instruction pour les jeunes dames, which itself was a translation of Dialogo della bella creanza, by Alessandro Piccolomini. This has been reiterated in a recent publication, La Raphaëlle, edited by Mireille Blanc-Sanchez.

The book was printed by Jean Corrozet, who was part of a longstanding printing family. His father (Galliot Corrozet) and grandfather (Gilles Corrozet) were both well-known printers in Paris. Galliot and Jean Corrozet used the same printer’s device.

Pencil marks rsz
Faint pencil markings in the margins of the text

This copy contains numerous faint pencil marks in the margins but no indication of previous ownership, although it was part of the Robert Ashley bequest of 1641.

Renae Satterley


February 2019

Rare Book of the Month: January 2019

The first rare book of the month for 2019 is a book which features in the current library exhibition, Women in the Law. It is John Aylmer’s An harborovve for faithfull and trevve subiectes, agaynst the late blowne Blaste, printed in 1559.

Elizabeth I, Queen of England
Queen Elizabeth I

Aylmer was Bishop of London but had to flee to Strasbourg in 1554, having been “implicated in Wyatt’s rebellion in January 1554”. He then moved to Zurich in 1557. While there he wrote this treatise, in response to John Knox’s The First blast against the monstrous regiment of women. Knox’s book famously argues that women are not, and should not be, rulers; if a woman finds herself in the position of ruler, Knox argues that she should be deposed. While Aylmer’s book “attempts to repair the damage inflicted” by Knox’s work, it is not exactly a glowing recommendation for women rulers. At various points he describes women as weak, feeble and unskilled. Instead, he argues that it is Elizabeth I’s personal qualities which commend her as a monarch.

Aylmer additionally demanded an “end to episcopal lordliness and the equitable distribution of ecclesiastical revenues on behalf of educational projects”. While Elizabeth I declined to respond to this request, she nonetheless allowed Aylmer to return from exile in 1559. By 1560 he had been restored as a deacon and in 1562 was elevated to Archdeacon of Lincoln. He became Bishop of London in 1577.

The title page states that the book was printed ‘At Strasborowe’ (i.e. Strasbourg), but this is a false imprint and it was in fact printed in London by John Day. Day was a reasonably prolific printer of illicit Protestant material during the 1550s and was arrested for this in 1554. He is probably best known for printing John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Like Aylmer, Foxe had been in exile during the reign of Mary I, also returning in 1559 upon Elizabeth I’s accession to the throne. Foxe had correspondence with Aylmer in 1557 regarding Lady Jane Grey, while researching and seeking out accounts for his book.

title page rsz
Title page of John Aylmer’s An harborovve for faithfull and trevve subiectes, agaynst the late blowne Blaste

Aylmer’s book has a contemporary signature on the title page, which is now obscured by damage. The name ‘Emanuel’ is still visible however (see close-up below). The book appears in the 1700 catalogue (https://www.middletemple.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Bibliotheca_Medii_Templi-13M.pdf), but with the wrong printing date of 1587. Neither the publication date nor author is included on the title page, which explains their absence from the printed catalogue entry. The 18th century cataloguers probably were not aware of the author and publication date.

title page close-up

This book is in need of restoration. If you would like to sponsor its repair at a cost of £400, contact the Librarian: r.satterley@middletemple.org.uk.

Renae Satterley


January 2019

Rare Book of the Month: December 2018

The final rare book of the month for 2018 is a manuscript: MS 100, Case reports 26 to 32 Elizabeth I, written by an anonymous scribe possibly around 1592. The manuscript is undated and includes Elizabethan case law from circa 1584 to 1590 as well as transcriptions of moots performed at Middle Temple. According to Sir John Baker some of the cases are “attributed to named members of Middle Temple” and may stem from existing reported cases. The manuscript also describes a reading by Matthew Cracherode (admitted 3 November 1560) which according to Sir John is the “only known reading on the statute of 4 & 5 Phil. & Mar. c. 8 on the abduction of heiresses”. This is the statute entitled An Act for the Punishment of such as shall take away Maydens that be Inheritors, being within the Age of sixteen Years, or that marry them without Consent of their Parents (short title: Abduction Act 1557).

Second opening

The manuscript is inscribed ‘R. Bromley of the Middle Temple’ on the first leaf. There is a ‘Robert Bromley, eldest son of John Bromley of Wiggan, Lancashire’ listed in the Register of Admissions as being admitted to the Inn on 12 November 1755. According to the Alumni Cantabrigienses: A Biographical List of All Known Students, Robert was rector of St. Mildred Poultry, London from 1775-1806, then of St. Bartholomew-by-the-Exchange until his death in 1806.

The manuscript is written in a fairly rough secretary hand predominately in Law French. It was rebound (poorly) during the 19th century, as were many of the library’s rare books and manuscripts. This was presumably done when the ‘new’ library was built in 1861, in order to have uniformity amongst the bindings.

The manuscript has been damaged by water at some point and improperly dried out, resulting in mould damage to the end-papers and tide lines in the text block. The original binding was most likely a clasped one, which has resulted in a deformed textblock. The use of clasped bindings was common for manuscript compilations such as this one, and the library still has some 18th century manuscript law reports in clasped bindings. The textblock has been trimmed, resulting in the loss of the headers. As seen here, however some of the headers have not been trimmed, and consist of the term dates (e.g. 26 Elizabeth), meaning that the manuscript was most likely ordered by date, not topic heading. The date ‘1583’ is also visible.

Opening of the text

The manuscript serves as an example of an Elizabethan lawyer’s commonplace book or miscellany, containing a mix of moots, readings and case reports. The creation and use of commonplace books was fairly typical of the time, as law students and lawyers routinely compiled this type of material as learning exercises. Sir John notes that the manuscript be of interest to scholars as it could show how cases were being discussed at the Inns in the 16th century. Frederick Pollock once noted that manuscript notes of cases: “were freely handed about among barristers and students, as lecture-notes are to this day in the universities”.

While there were volumes of printed law reports readily available during this time period, lawyers continued to compile manuscript case law until at least the late 18th century. It is very possible that the scribe who compiled this volume either copied these cases out from another manuscript or printed book, wrote notes down while in court, or rewrote rough notes taken down in court; that level of analysis is beyond the scope of a blog post, unfortunately.

Mould damage
Mould damage

Due to previous damage, the manuscript is now in a highly fragile state. A report from The Sussex Conservation Consortium Ltd. has shown that dirt has become heavily ingrained in places. Mechanical damage to the paper in addition to the dirt is causing loss of the text, which in some places is substantial. This report has shown that, without intervention and repair, there will be continued deterioration and loss. Middle Temple Library is crowd-funding for the repair of this important work, which will cost £1,090 to repair. If you would like to donate to this cause, please contact the Librarian at: r.satterley@middletemple.org.uk ; 020 7427 4830.

Renae Satterley


December 2018