Tractatus non minus utilissimus quam necessarius de inventarii confectione.

Venice, Giovanni Battista Somaschi, 1573 (printed in 1572, dated in the colophon).

8vo, ff. [40], 235; woodcut printer’s centaur device to the title-page, woodcut initials; occasional contemporary underlining; a few leaves lightly browned, a very little foxing, short worm-trail to gutter of three quires, sometime touching a few letters without impairing legibility; a good, unsophisticated copy, in contemporary limp vellum, lacking ties, title inked to lower fore-edge and spine; a couple of minor worm holes in the lower side; contemporary ownership inscription ‘J. Pinson’ to the title-page, a further early inscription at the head of the title-page, scored through in ink.


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Very rare first edition of the successful Tractatus of the statesman and jurist Rolando della Valle. It is the first work to systematically treat the procedure for the drawing of organized lists or inventories to be used in the practice of inheritance law.

Della Valle’s purpose is to provide a technical, comprehensive and unassailable procedure for the preparation of inventories from the perspective of succession and inheritance law: not merely the principles, but all the minute practicalities of the question are examined, in a bid to remedy a lack of ‘scrupulousness’ (see the Proemium) which had ridden the field of inheritance law with unfairness and litigations. The drawing of inventories, della Valle declares in the introduction, ‘res scrupolosa est, et in eius confectione saepe industriosi falluntur’.

One of the key players in the making of the power balance between the Northern-Italian Renaissance states, and an important contributor to the great Cinquecento body of common law, in his work della Valle applies the use of logical and technical legal tools joined with a keen attention for the practice: a much-cited example of mos italicus. He came to publishing tracts on succession towards the end of his life (he would die in 1575), and his tract draws on fifty years of experience as well as on sources from civil and feudal law.

Not in Adams or BM STC. OCLC lists three locations only: Harvard Law, and two in Europe, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, and the BNF. No copies are recorded in any Italian library.

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