CANON LAWS FROM A JUDGE’S LIBRARY

Compendium textuale compilationis decretalium Gregorii noni sine qua (ut est vulgaris prudentium sententia) omnis ceca practica est.

Paris (Rouen), Franciscum Regnault (Impressum Rothomagi opera magistri Petri Olivier), February 16, 1519.

£3,500

8vo. ff. (ii), (ccxlviij), in two columns. Lettre Bâtard. Title in red and black with Regnault’s small woodcut elephant device, repeated on verso of last, text in red and black with small white on black criblé initials, “Rothomagi opera magistri Petri Olivier 1519” in early hand at foot of title, remains of of wax seal in blank margin above, book plate ‘Bachem’ on pastedown. Title fractionally dusty, general light age yellowing and light marginal spotting. A very good copy, crisp and clean, in contemporary red morocco, covers blind and gilt ruled to a panel design, small fleurons to outer corners, silver fleuron at centers, ‘M. Ant. Sangavic’ gilt lettered on covers, spine with alternate small and large raised bands, title gilt lettered vertically, all edges gilt and gauffered, head and tail of spine restored, corners slightly worn.

A beautifully printed edition of Gregory IX’s decretals, in a fine miniscule Lettre Bâtard, with glosses by the lawyer Johannes Faber in a very charming contemporary French morocco binding. Unfortunately we have not been able to identify the first owner “Ant. Sangavic” whose name is gilt on the covers. Prepared originally by Raymundus de Pennaforte and promulgated in 1234, the Decretals of Gregory IX remained the basis of canon law at least until 1918.

Decretals are Papal edicts that formulate decisions in ecclesiastical law. These make up most of the ‘Corpus Juris’. They cover such topics as usury, the treatment of heretics and schismatics, the rights and restrictions applying to Muslims and Jews, testamentary succession, sexual offenses and divorce and a wide range of what would now be classed as general civil and criminal law. The Decretals, also known as the Liber extra, a compilation of 1971 papal letters, constitutions and conciliar canons drawn principally from the century prior to its issue, has long been understood as a key text for the study of the medieval papacy, the rise of scholasticism within the universities, and the extension of the Church’s jurisdiction into almost every area of medieval life.

This edition is glossed by Johannes Faber (died 1340) who was a Judge in the town of La Rochefoucauld, and who became, according to several biographers, Chancellor of France (though this is questionable). He had profound knowledge of Roman law and also glossed the Institutiones Justiniani amongst other works. We have not been able to find any earlier edition of the Decretals with his gloss, and they are certainly much rarer than those by Bernard Bottoni with the additions of Joannes Andreae. A very good copy.

BM STC Fr. C16th p. 382. Adams, G1215.

L1180

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