London: Richard Tottell, 1569. First. hardcover. [xxxii], 444 [i.e. 442] leaves. Some engraved decorative initials throughout the text; pages quite clean. Thick 4to, contemporary brown calf with decorative crest on covers, neatly re-cased and re-cornered in similar leather. London: Richardum Totellum, 1569. First edition. "The first printed edition of the entire work was published by Richard Tottell in 1569, with a preface by one T.N. (whose identity has never been determined), in which credit is taken for a careful recension of the text"--DNB. Errors in foliation: leaf 362 is misnumbered 360; 439 is misnumbered 437; 173 and 174 are omitted in the numbering. Occasional staining in the gutter margins, but otherwise a remarkably clean, tight and full-margined copy. Near fine. near fine.
[The Laws and Customs of England] is the first modern treatise on English law. A systematic work, divided into five well-indexed books, it emphasizes the separation of procedural and substantive matters and also cites cases as sources of at least intellectual, if not formal, authority. In Maitland's words, Bracton's Legibus is "the crown and flower of English medieval jurisprudence" and "by far the greatest of our medieval law books." Sweet & Maxwell adds that it "is distinguished by rich casuistic details, and by the careful reproduction of the judicial decisions on individual cases of law.": Sweet & Maxwell, A Legal Bibliography of the British Commonwealth 1:51(6). --STC 3475; PMM 89; BEALE T323; ESTC S122159. Very scarce and desireable -- OCLC lists only 20 copies, including those at Yale, Harvard, University of Pernnsylvania, Stanford, and Bibliotheque Nationale de France.