French Renaissance Paleography


France? England? 1550/1650
Commentaries on William Rastell’s Collection of all the statutes
Chicago, Newberry Library, VAULT Folio Case MS 5078


William Rastell was an English printer and lawyer, active in the first half of the sixteenth century. A nephew of Thomas More, he began his career as a printer, but then turned to the law instead. As a Catholic, he was forced to flee England twice, once in 1549 during the ascension of King Edward VI, and again in 1563 during Queen Elizabeth’s reign.

This manuscript is a set of commentaries on A Collection of All the Statutes (1557), an important law book edited and published by Rastell, containing statutes from the Magna Carta to 1557. The commentaries are believed to have been compiled somewhere in France around 1600 and possibly earlier.