Arnoldi Vinnii JC. in Quatuor Libros Institutionum Imperialium Commentarius: Academicus & Forensis

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Institutionum Imperialium Commentarius

Title page from Institutionum Imperialium Commentarius: Academicus & Forensis, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author {{{author}}}
Editor Arnoldus Vinnius and Johann Gottlieb Heineccius
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published Lugduni Batavorum: Apud Joannem van der Linden, Juniorem
Date 1726
Edition {{{edition}}}
Language Latin
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages [18], 908, [26]
Desc. 4to (25 cm.)
Location Shelf G-4
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]

The Institutes of Justinian is one of the four parts of the Corpus Juris Civilis, a comprehensive body of Roman Law.[1] Created by order of Emperor Justinian under the guidance of his minister Tribonian, the work is the basis of modern civil law systems.[2] The Institutes serve as an introduction to the law, a way for students unfamiliar with the law to build a legal framework by organizing the law into a three part scheme: the law of people, things, and actions. [3] Unlike Justinian's Digest, "each title appears to be a single, continuous essay."[4] The emphasis is on avoidance of confusion, ease of use, and the development of basic knowledge necessary to analyze more complex portions of the law.[5] In Justinian’s own words, it is a "cunabula legume" or cradle of the law.[6]

Bookplate of The Right Honourable the Lord Viscount Lymington, front pastedown.

Tribonian did not create the Institutes from scratch.[7] Scholars posit that he polished and edited the drafts of two law professors in making the final version.[8] In addition, Tribonian relied heavily on older Roman law sources, especially the Institutes of Gaius.[9] Today, Justinian's Institutes form the basis of modern European civil law and their influence is often conspicuous.[10]

This version of the Institutes, Institutionum Imperialium Commentarius, includes commentary by Arnoldus Vinnius (1588 – 1657), professor of law at Leiden. The "commentary draws on the best recent scholarship, but in addition it both goes back to the Glossators and Postglossators and also brings in modern legal practice, especially in the decisions of the 'Grand Conseil of Malines."[11] J.G. Heineccius (1681 – 1741) expanded Vinnius' original work to produce the present edition.

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as [Vi?]nnii institutiones. 4to. and given by Thomas Jefferson to James Dinsmore. Brown's Bibliography[12] suggests the 1726 Leiden edition of Arnoldi Vinii J.C. In Quatuor Libros Institutionum Imperialium: Commentrius Academicus & Forensis. George Wythe's Library[13] on LibraryThing lists the title, D. Justiniani, Sacratissimi Principis, Institutionum, sive, Elementorum, Libri Quatuor, and notes "Precise edition unknown. Vinnius' edition of this work was published multiple times with similar titles." The Wolf Law Library owns copies of both titles mentioned by Brown and LibraryThing. But the library's copy of D. Justiniani, Sacratissimi Principis, Institutionum, sive, Elementorum, Libri Quatuor, published in Amsterdam in 1669, is a two-volume duodecimo, therefore it was not added to the George Wythe Collection. The library also owns a copy of the quarto 1726 publication Arnoldi Vinnii JC. in Quatuor Libros Institutionum Imperialium: Commentarius Academicus & Forensis, which was moved from the general rare books collection to the George Wythe Collection.

Illustration of paternal relationships, opposite page 563.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in contemporary full calf; spine features raised bands, gilt-decorated compartments and a gilt-lettered label. Includes the bookplate of "The Right Honourable the Lord Viscount Lymington with the French motto "En suivant la verite" (Following truth) on the front pastedown.

Images of the library's copy of this book are available on Flickr. View the record for this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

Full text

See also


  1. The Columbia Encyclopedia, s.v. "Corpus Juris Civilis," accessed March 28, 2014.
  2. Justinian’s Institutes, trans. with intro. by Peter Birks and Grant McLeod (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987), 8.
  3. Ibid., 12-13.
  4. Ibid., 12.
  5. Ibid., 15-16.
  6. Ibid., 15.
  7. Ibid., 12.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid., 16.
  10. Ibid., 18-28.
  11. Ibid., 22.
  12. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  13. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on November 15, 2013.

External Links

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