January 6 was the anniversary of the death of Raymond of Peñafort (1175-1275), compiler of the Decretales of Gregory IX, also known as Liber Extra—one of the most important works in the history of the canon law of the Catholic Church. In light of the occasion, we thought we might take this opportunity to introduce three items related to the Liber Extra that the Law Library was fortunate to acquire in 2017.
Raymond of Peñafort was a jurist and a professor of canon law in Barcelona and Bologna. At the height of his career, his reputation for learning gained him the attention of Pope Gregory IX (ca. 1145-1241). Pope Gregory appointed him to collect and consolidate a number of legal sources, including the papal decretal letters that had been issued since the publication of Gratian’s Decretum of ca. 1150. Preexisting compilations of church decrees contained voluminous, disorganized, and sometimes contradictory orders. The Pope declared it the purpose of Raymond’s work to address this difficulty. To that end, he decreed that only Raymond’s compilation was authoritative. The result of Raymond’s work, the Liber extravantium decretalium (1234), or as it is often called Decretales of Gregory IX, remained an authoritative source of law for nearly 700 years until 1917, when the Catholic Church adopted a new code of canon law. It is interesting to note that the Catholic Church recognizes Raymond of Peñafort as the patron saint of canon lawyers.
Last year, the Law Library acquired an extremely scarce incunabular edition of the Decretales. It was printed in Venice in 1498. The Incunabula Short Title Catalog locates only one other copy of this edition. The volume is bound in blind-tooled pigskin on wooden boards and retains its clasps.
Decretales: cum summariis suis et textuum diuisionibus ac etiam rubricarum continuationibus. Venice: Baptista de Tortis, 1498.
Another important acquisition for 2017 was a remarkable late-thirteenth century manuscript of Bernard of Parma’s gloss on the Decretales of Gregory IX. Bernard of Parma, or as he is also known, Bernard of Botone (d. 1263 or 1266), was a professor of canon law at the University of Bologna and eventually the chancellor of that university. His commentary on Liber Extra, which he completed just before his death, was his most important work. This item is a decorated manuscript on vellum, probably produced in the latter quarter of the thirteenth century. It is bound in late-medieval blind-tooled pigskin. There is a medieval metal boss on the front board as well as the stubs of two clasps. The binding’s most interesting feature is a horn nameplate on the front board under which is visible a notation of the work’s name and author.
Botone, Bernard of. Glossa ordinaria on Gregory IX’s Decretales of Gregory IX. Medieval manuscript, Germany, ca. 1290AD.
The Law Library also acquired a manuscript containing an unedited and unidentified copy of a commentary on Book II of the Decretales of Gregory IX. The commentary is attributed to Petrus de Perusio, a name that may refer to a member of the famous Perugian family of canon lawyers of which the most important figure is Baldus de Ubaldi. The Petrus mentioned in this document may be Petrus de Ubaldis Junior, a nephew of Baldus de Ubaldis. The manuscript is on paper and is written in a dark brown ink in a hasty cursive.
Commentarium super Decretales Gregorii IX or Lectura super quibusdam titulis lib. II. Decretalium Gregorii IX. In Latin, manuscript on paper. 1385-1397.