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Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Medieval and Early Modern Jurists

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Report No. t232

Laelius Torellus



Alternative Names

Laelius Taurellus (Tavrellus) Fanensis; Laelio Torelli



L. had an initial humanistic formation at Ferrara, where he was born, but he obtained his doctorate in utroque at Perugia at the age of 22. He began a meteoric rise in a succession of political offices: podestà of Fossombrone, one of the chief magistrates of Fano, ambassador of Fano to Roma and Firenze, governor of Benevento (1529), member of Rota Fiorentina (1533–6). He attracted the attention of Cosimo I, duke of Firenze and ultimately of Tuscany, who made him chancellor of the palace and secretary of state in 1546, positions that he held until his death in Firenze in 1576. He played a leading role in forming the Florentine bureaucracy and opposed the influence of the papacy in the affairs of the Florentine state.

L. wrote many consilia that remain in manuscript. In the years between his membership on the Rota Fiorentina and his appointment as what was, in effect, Cosimo’s chief of staff, he published three works: a commentary on D.28.2.9, another on D.45.1.4, and a treatise De militis ex casu (TUI 1584 t. 12). All three works were in the humanist style, relying solely on the sources from antiquity and not making use of the medieval commentary. The De casu challenged the prevailing opinion of Budé and Zasius that the feudal landholding of medieval Europe originated in the Roman practice of clientage. In the same period he, with others, notably Antonio Augustín and Jean Matal, worked on an edition of the Digest based solely on the codex Florentinus. This edition was ultimately published in 1553, with the aid of L's son Francesco. It was an important step in separating humanistic commentary from that which was still prevalent in the Italian schools. Eventually, it came to play an important role in humanistic studies of the text of Digest beyond the borders of Italy.

Source: D. Edigati, in DGI.

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