POPULAR TEXTS OF CANON LAW


Sextus decretalium liber in Lugdunensi coniclio editus. (with) Clementinarum Constitutionum liber. (with) Extravagantes communes a diversis Romanis Pontificibus. (with) Extravagantes seu constitutions viginti.

Paris, Ioannes Kerbriand, 1531.

£1,750

4 works in 1, 8vo. ff. 78 [ii]; 36; 44; 20. Lettre Batârde, double column in red and black throughout, first and second titles within elaborate woodcut borders of jesters, fools, grotesques and foliage, full page printed diagram on last leaf of first work, fine woodcut initials in several series, summaries indicated with a charming red finger. One or two inksplashes here and there, a few very light spots to some leaves, a very good and clean copy in contemporary French calf gilt, covers with central floral tool within a gilt- and blind-ruled frame and fleurons at corners, narrow tear with lack to front cover, two wormholes, small parts of spine lacking, joints cracked. Early underlinings, early ms motto in blank portion of title ‘In valesta vera virtus’ and ‘Joannes’ in the same hand on final page, contemporary ex-libris at head of title page of the Capuchins of Valence, 19th-century library stamp of a French seminary beneath.

Early editions of four very popular texts of canon law, including the Decretals of Boniface VIII, one of the greatest jurists of his age. Although printed with their own title pages and sold separately, these works are sometimes preserved together, as here. Boniface VIII’s decretals were first published in 1465, these works were published together in Basel in 1511 in folio. These are re-impressions of the Paris editions of 1523. 

Decretals are Papal letters that formulate decisions in ecclesiastical law. These make up most of the ‘Corpus Juris’. They cover such topics as the ordination and privileges of priests and the election of bishops; the sacraments, including baptism (with a woodcut table of impediments) and the veneration of relics.

The first text is the great work on canon law by Boniface VIII, who added a great deal to ecclesiastical legislation, which came to be known as the Liber Sextus (the Decretals of Gregory IX (1239) had consisted of five books). The Liber Sextus is glossed by Giovanni d’Andrea, one of the greatest canonists of his age, and the woodcut illustration on the final page is his ‘Arbor Consanguinitatis’.

The second text is by Clement V, who inaugurated the Avignon Papacy, after the condemnation of Boniface VIII as a heretic under pressure from the French King, Philip the Fair. The Extravagantes are the collections of decretals that were not included in any of the three official collections of decretals (including the Liber Sextus). They should be found in all complete editions of the Corpus Juris Canonici. When John XXII (1316-1334) published the decretals known as the Clementines, there already existed some pontifical documents, obligatory upon the whole Church but not included in the Corpus Juris; hence these decretals were called Extravagantes.

In 1325 Zenselinus de Cassanis added a gloss to twenty constitutions of Pope John XXII, and named this collection Viginti Extravagantes pap Joannis XXII. The others were known as “Extravagantes communes”, a title given to the collection by Jean Chappuis in the Paris edition of the Corpus Juris. He adopted the systematic order of the official collections of canon law, and classified in a similar way the Extravagantes commonly met with in the editions of the Corpus Juris.

All four texts in this edition are rare: COPAC records one copy only of all four together (at Glasgow), and only one copy has sold at auction in the last 30 years; RLG records one copy only of three of the texts (at Harvard) and none of the Extravagantes communes.

Adams B-2440 (part I only); Index Aureliensis 122.004 (part I only); not in BM STC Fr., Brunet or Graesse.

L577

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