Collection Description


Roman Law and ius commune

Classical Roman law, medieval jurisprudence and the ius commune tradition constitute the central part of the Robbins civil law holdings. Medieval civil law doctrine is particularly well represented by an extensive corpus of commentaries on the Corpus iuris civilis, ranging from the first generations of glossators to the doctores of the late Middle Ages. Of special interest are two fourteenth-century Italian manuscripts of the Digestum vetus and the Digestum novum from Justinian’s compilation, along with the Glossa ordinaria of Accursius and several layers of post-Accursian additions. All of the great commentators, including Jacques de Revigny, Cino da Pistoia, Bartolo da Sassoferrato, and Baldo degli Ubaldi, are well-represented in the collection. Furthermore, the collection possesses the earliest known copy of the Statutes of the Faculty of Law at the University of Bologna from 1251, which was bound together with a thirteenth-century Italian copy of Bonaccorso degli Elisei’s Ordo iudiciarius.

Feudal and Customary Law

The medieval legal world cannot be understood without considering feudal and customary law, and any collection of medieval legal sources would be incomplete without extensive material in these areas. Our collection is particularly strong in French customary law, and also includes compilations from Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Of particular note is an early fifteenth-century French manuscript of the Lectura super usibus feudorum of Baldo degli Ubaldi (†1400) and an Italian fifteenth-century manuscript of the Super usibus pheudorum of Martinus de Garata Laudensis.


Canon and Ecclesiastical Law

Lloyd M. Robbins’s first major donation to the law library was the first edition of William of Lyndwood’s Super constituciones provinciales (Oxford: Theodoricus Rood, 1483), the foundation of English canon law. Since then many more incunables and early printings have been added to the rare book collection. The collection also holds numerous manuscripts. Of these, the two earliest are twelfth-century copies of the Collectio tripartita by Yves de Chartres and the Collectio in decem partes. A comprehensive body of more recent books, secondary literature and journals complements the material available for research in canon and ecclesiastical law.

The ecclesiastical law holdings are not limited to the Roman church. The collection encompasses the Anglican and Protestant denominations, as well as the Slavic and Byzantine churches, highlighted by a thirteenth-century manuscript of the Canons of the Church Councils and the Nomocanon of Photius—both of which are accompanied by the commentaries of Theodore Balsamon, the Greek archbishop of Antioch (c. 1140-1195)—and a fifteenth-century Greek manuscript of the Epitome iuris canonici of Konstantinos Harmenopoulos († 1380).

Jewish Law

The extensive Jewish law holdings form another important part of the religious law collection. While the collection contains predominantly halachic material, there are also numerous philosophical works, as well as some works in other areas of study, such as Midrash, biblical exegesis, Jewish history, and encyclopedias. The collection possesses the basic materials needed to engage in Jewish law research, such as various Hebrew, English, and German editions of the Talmud (both the Babylonian and the Jerusalem Talmud), along with concordances and the major halachic treatises and commentaries. In addition, the most distinguished feature of the Jewish law section of the Robbins Collection is its extensive collection of Responsa, one of the best in the United States. The Hebrew part of the Jewish law collection is being cataloged and will soon be available online.

The holdings of the Judaica collection range from early sixteenth-century printed books—among them a number of volumes from the Bomberg printing shop in Venice—to nineteenth- and twentieth-century monographs (published in Hebrew, English, French, German, and other languages) to periodicals dealing with contemporary halachic problems. Finally, there are a number of valuable first editions, such as a copy of Gevuroth Hashem by Rabbi Jehudah Loew ben Bezalel, known as the Maharal of Prague, published in Cracow in 1582.

Islamic Law

The Islamic law section is an integral part of the religious law collection. In conjunction with the extensive resources available in other Berkeley libraries both on and off campus, the Islamic law material provides excellent access to the field of comparative religious law.

The Islamic law section contains codes, sources, and summaries of schools of Islamic law that were compiled and printed by European colonial offices to assist their administration of Muslim territories, especially India, North Africa, and Indonesia. The Collection also holds numerous monographs, seminar and conference reports that analyze Islamic law in the areas of personal status, family law and inheritance, the status of women, human rights, and banking and finance. Secondary works summarizing the sources, history, and development of Islamic law, along with translations of the Qur’an with modern commentaries, constitute a helpful complement to the above-mentioned material.


One of the greatest strengths of the Robbins Collection is its extensive corpus of sixteenth- to eighteenth-century editions, numbering well into the thousands. This corpus represents not only the ius commune tradition, but also the various national, regional, and territorial legal systems of continental Europe and England. Of particular note is the first edition of Hobbes’s Leviathan, published in London in 1651. The holdings of sixteenth-century imprints include all the major commentaries and treatises on law and jurisprudence, often in a variety of editions, as well as a particularly impressive selection of editions of the Corpus iuris civilis and the Corpus iuris canonici. In addition to a vast range of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century works by German and Italian authors, the elegant Roman-Dutch jurisprudence is well represented by a significant number of original seventeenth-century Dutch editions of works by jurists such as Grotius, Vinnius and Voet.

Furthermore, the collection includes many works of nineteenth-century legal literature, the main emphasis being on the nineteenth-century codifications. The holdings include original editions of almost all of the major continental European codes, along with extensive source materials such as drafts and reports of the legislative commissions. In addition, the collection contains the important scholarly writings of this period as well as the first law journals and case reporters.

Finally, the legal history holdings are completed by a comprehensive collection of secondary literature, which range from the early nineteenth-century works of this emerging discipline to the latest publications.


A much-used part of the Robbins Collection is its extensive comparative and foreign law collection that ranks among the best in the United States. With an emphasis on continental European legal systems—such as French, German, Spanish, Swiss, and Italian law—and, to a lesser extent, on non-European legal systems, the collection attracts scholars and graduate students engaged in comparative research from the United States and abroad. The Robbins Collection subscribes to more than 1,200 foreign and comparative journals, annuals and other serials, as well as numerous monographs, commentaries and official case reporters. While all areas of the law are represented, the collection is particularly comprehensive in private, commercial, and corporation law, which are areas of great interest to internationally-oriented legal scholars and practitioners.