JUSTINIAN I, Emperor (483–565 CE). Novellae constitutiones and Codicis libri X-XII, with the Glossa ordinaria by Accursius Florentinus (1184-1263); with: Obertus de Horto (fl. 12th century). Libri feudorum, with gloss by Jacobus Columbi (fl. 13th century).
Printed on vellum.
Mainz: Peter Schoeffer, 21 August 1477. (06420)
The layout of legal texts with surrounding commentaries had been established by the fourteenth-century scribes at the University of Bologna, where the main text was written in columns of large script at the center of the page, while the commentary was relegated to surrounding blocks of smaller script. This formula was used throughout medieval Europe to add commentary in both Latin and Hebrew manuscripts, and Fust and Schoeffer were the first to establish it as the standard format in printed books. Maintaining the consistent correlation of text and commentary on each page presented a type composition problem of tremendous complexity, and yet the printers had established a handsome and effective page layout that remained influential for decades.
The original owner of this compendium of Roman civil law was Johannes von Dalburg (1455–1503), Bishop of Worms, Chancellor of Heidelberg University, founder of the college of civil law there, imperial diplomat, and humanist scholar. The Dalburg family coat of arms was painted at the bottom of the first leaf in 1478, while Dalburg was traveling in Italy. Bridwell Library’s copy is one of only three copies printed on vellum that survive.