New in Special Collections – Two Early Law Dictionaries


1481 imprint of Jodocus of Erfurt’s Vocabularius


Georgetown Law Library recently acquired a 1481 imprint of the Vocabularius Utriusque Iuris [Vocabulary of Both Laws (i.e. – canon and civil law)] commonly attributed to the 15th century jurist Jodocus of Erfurt. Considered the first printed law dictionary by legal historians, the Vocabularius was first published circa 1474 in Basel. Highly esteemed as an authoritative source by early modern jurists, the Vocabularius went through nearly 80 editions over the course of the next two centuries.

The library’s copy is bound together with a 1488 imprint of the Postilla Super Epistolas et Evangelia, a 1437 collection of scripture excerpts appropriate to use in church services. This pairing would seem to indicate ownership by a canon lawyer or church official.

The binding itself is a beautiful contemporary calf with intricate blind stamping, raised bands, intact and functional brass clasps, and decorative brass corner and center pieces. The Vocabularius also has contemporary hand-lettered rubrications in red throughout (as shown in the image above), as well as a few contemporary or near-contemporary annotations.


1567 imprint of Duprat’s Lexicon Juris Civilis

 Another recent acquisition is a first edition of Pardoux Duprat’s Lexicon Juris Civilis et canonici.  Duprat was a 16th century French humanist and official annotator of the laws of Charles IX of France. The most influential of Duprat’s works, the Lexicon would be printed six more times in just 15 years.  In addition to defining and discussing words and terms from contemporary civil and canon law, Duprat also covered some aspects of ancient Greek law. The breadth of Duprat’s scholarship is revealed by his use of not only works of earlier jurists and legal lexicographers, but of noted medical and literary works as well. His definitions go well beyond merely legal issues to discuss relevant lexicographical and philological matters. Georgetown Law Library’s copy is in a contemporary vellum binding fashioned from a scraped manuscript leaf, the partly erased text of which is still visible.

To view these and other recent rare and historical acquisitions, contact Erin Kidwell or Special Collections, or visit us in Williams 210 M-F from 9am to 5pm.

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