Printing and the Mind of Man 89: The First Treatise on English Law Bracton, Henry de [d. 1268]. De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae, Libri Quinq; In Varios Tractatus Distincti, ad Diversorum et Vetustissimorum Codicum Collationem, Ingenti Cura, Nunc Primu[m] Typis Vulgati; Quorum Quid Cuiq; Insit, Proxima Pagina Demonstrabit. London: Apud Richardum Tottellum, An. do. 1569. With imprimatur "Cum priuilegio" at foot of title. [xvi], 172, 175-444 ff. Complete. Folio (11-1/4" x 7-3/4"). Nineteenth-century diced calf, gilt rules to boards, gilt fillets, ornaments and title to spine, gilt rules to board edges, gilt inside rules, marbled endpapers, ribbon marker. Light rubbing to boards, faint dampstain to front board, moderate rubbing to extremities, front joint just starting at head, corners bumped and somewhat worn, armorial bookplate (ExLibris Munden) to front pastedown. Attractive large woodcut decorated initials. Light toning to text, somewhat heavier in places, light foxing and finger smudges to some leaves, some fading to text of ff. 1 and 2. A handsome copy of a landmark work. $8,500. * First edition. Written between 1250 and 1256, De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae [The Laws and Customs of England] is the first treatise on English law. A systematic work, it emphasizes the separation of procedural and substantive matters and also cites cases as sources of at least intellectual, if not formal, authority. The principles formulated in this work including mens rea (criminal intent) and its use of precedents determined the development of English law and established the method adopted by Littleton and Coke. In Maitland's words, it is "the crown and flower of English medieval jurisprudence" and "by far the greatest of our medieval law books." Maitland, Collected Papers II:43. Beale, Bibliography of Early English Law Books T323. Printing and the Mind of Man 89. English Short-Title Catalogue S122159. STC (2nd ed.), 3475.
Book number 67367