Early French-Language Edition of Catherine's Nakaz Catherine II [1762-1796], Empress of Russia. [Landres, J. Rodolphe Frey de, Translator]. Instructions Adressees par Sa Majeste L'Imperatrice de Toutes les Russies: A la Commission Etablie Pour Travailler a L'Execution du Projet d'un Nouveau Code de Lois. Traduit de l'Allemand. "A Petersbourg" [i.e. Yverdon, Switzerland]: [s.n.], 1769. 286 pp. 12mo. (6" x 4"). Early quarter vellum over marbled boards, untrimmed edges, a few unopenened signatures. Light soiling, corners lightly bumped and worn. Moderate toning to interior, somewhat heavier in places, some leaves have light foxing, a few have light dampstaining to margins, internally clean. Ex-library with a small inkstamp to title page. A handsome copy. $1,000. * Reissue of the first edition in French, published by the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences for private distribution in 1769. This important text, also known as the Nakaz, or Instruction, is a statement of legal principles written by Catherine II from 1764 and 1766. Permeated with the ideas of the French Enlightenment, and copied mostly from the work of Voltaire, Montesquieu and Beccaria, it was compiled as a guide for the All-Russia Legislative Commission convened by the Empress in 1767 to create a new code to replace the 1649 Muscovite Code. Revised in consultation with Beccaria, Frederick the Great and Voltaire, the Instruction proclaimed the equality of all men before the law and disapproved of death penalty and torture. Unfortunately, her proposed code was never completed. Catherine's manuscript was written in French, and she later produced a Russian translation. Editions in German and Russian were published in Moscow in 1767. The book was initially banned in France because it was too liberal, which is why the first French-language edition was produced in Switzerland (with a false imprint). French and Latin editions were eventually published in 1770. OCLC locates 6 copies of this imprint in North American law libraries (Columbia, George Washington University, Harvard, Library of Congress, UC-Berkeley, Yale). Butler, The Nakaz of Catherine the Great 531 (Entry 40).
Book number 64773