First Selden Edition of Fortescue's De Laudibus Fortescue, Sir John [1394?-1476?] [Selden, John (1584-1654), Editor]. [Mulcaster, Robert, Translator and Editor]. De Laudibus Legum Angliae Writen by Sir Iohn Fortescue L. Ch. Iustice, and After L. Chancellor to K. Henry VI. Hereto are Ioind the Two Summes of Sir Ralph de Hengham L. Ch. Iustice to K. Edward I. Commonly Calld Hengham Magna, And Hengham Parva. Never Before Publisht. Notes Both on Fortescue and Hengham are Added. London: Printed [by Adam Islip] for the Companie of Stationers, 1616. [ix], 132,  ff.; 56, , 35, 34-159,  pp. Two parts, each with title page and individual pagination. First part in parallel columns; Latin with running English translation. Texts of Summes in Latin with notes in English. Octavo (5-1/2" x 3-1/2"). Contemporary vellum, early hand-lettered title to spine, ties lacking. Light soiling, some rubbing to extremities, pastedowns loose, some edgewear to rear pastedown, a few partial cracks to text block. Moderate toning to text, occasional minor worming to margins, mostly along gutter, small faint library stamp to head of p. iii, tiny withdrawal stamp to (blank) verso of final leaf. A nice copy. $1,250. * First Selden edition. De Laudibus Legum Angliae, a history of English law, was written for the instruction of Edward, the young Prince of Wales. Cast in dialogue form, it demonstrates that the common law was the oldest and most reasonable legal system in Europe. It also compares the common and Roman systems and extols the superiority of a constitutionally limited monarchy. De Laudibus was written around 1470 and first printed in 1567. Selden's was the first critical edition of this work, perhaps the first critical editions of an early English legal work. Aside from their value to the elucidation of Fortescue's text, Selden's notes interrogate aspects of Fortescue's text and offer rich insights into jurisprudence and the nature of the English constitution. As noted by Christianson, his conclusions disputed "the concept of immemorial custom argued by [Sir John] Davies and the anachronistic historical interpretations displayed by [Sir Edward] Coke." It was reissued in 1660, 1672 and 1737 with various additions. "Fortescue was a favorite among the old lawyers, and will be read with profit in modern times.
Book number 68259