Liber decretorum, sive Panormia.

[Basel]: Michael Furter, 6 & 7 Mar. 1499.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. ff. (iv) 178. Gothic letter. Verso of t-p with fine full-page woodcut of Bishop Ivo within an elaborately framed arch in the Gothic style with figures of apostles and saints; woodcut printer’s device with shields and dragons to last; white on black decorated initials. T-p recto a little soiled, scattered worming affecting woodcut and some letters, light marginal waterstaining or slight foxing in places, couple of ll. slightly browned. A remarkably well-preserved, clean copy, on thick, high-quality paper, in contemporary quarter pigskin over wooden boards, lacking clasp, paper waste with printed German astrological text to rear pastedown, double blind ruled to a panel design, large rosettes in blind, raised bands, little worming. Erased inscription ‘F[rati] Bertholdi Lindmani s[um] coenobij Paderborn[ensis] anno 1500’ to front pastedown, ex-libris of Monastery of St Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg and inscription ‘Hu[n]c lib[rum] dono accepi à v[ener]ando D[omino] Bertholdo Lindmano [illegible] Obersandj an 1552 die 26 octobr[is] [illegible]’ at foot of t-p.

In 1500 this copy was in the library of Berthold Lindman, then probably a monk in one of the monasteries at Paderborn, Westphalia. His name is absent from major German national biographies and the provenance index of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. In 1552, Lindman gave this copy to a new owner whose autograph is illegible; towards the end of the C16 it was at the monastery of St Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg, the ex-libris of which appears on the t-p in a later hand.

A remarkably well-preserved, clean copy of the first edition of this extremely influential work on canon law—the first printed legal collection before Gratian’s ‘Edict’ (Rolker, ‘Canon Law’, 31). Ivo (later St Ivo, c.1040-1115) was bishop of Chartres and a major canon law scholar. He had ties with key centres in medieval Europe: the Abbey of Bec in Normandy, where he probably met St Anselm of Canterbury, the Abbey of St Quentin at Beauvais and, as bishop, Chartres. In 1499, ‘Panormia’—his major scholarly effort —was printed for the first time. It was edited by Sebastian Brant, a doctor ‘in utroque’ (civic and canon law) best remembered for his influential, magnificently illustrated satire ‘Das Narrenschiff’ (‘Ship of Fools’, 1494). Brant first identified the ‘Panormia’ with the ‘summa decretorum Ivonis’ mentioned in Vincent of Beauvais’s ‘Speculum historiale’; the ‘Speculum’, however, also mentioned a ‘liber decretorum’ referring to a larger epitome, hence the ambivalent title of this edition. In the prologue, Ivo explained he had gathered in a single corpus norms coming from ecclesiastical exceptions, papal decrees, episcopal concilia, works by the Church Fathers and the regulations of religious institutions and orders. Greatly influenced by the works of St Augustine and St Paul rather than those of his contemporaries, Ivo’s theological stance focused on the view of ‘caritas’ as ‘magistra boni’ (teacher of the good); justices should induce contrition in the guilty by exercising their ‘caritas’ rather than resorting directly to severe punishment. In the first section, ‘Panormia’ addressed the difference between the procedures of admonition (an initial reproach with no immediate legal consequences but which stayed on record), indulgence, prohibition, dispensation or remission, addressing discrepancies between sources. The second part presented summaries of major theological points (e.g., Christ’s nativity) to be used as guidelines in arguments against heretics, as well as regulations on ecclesiastical matters (e.g., the election of the Pope), crimes (e.g., homicide perpetrated by a cleric and when homicide is or is not a sin) and canon law questions concerning lay people (e.g., what should be done when a husband is impotent or if he beats his pregnant wife). As the ex-libris on this copy shows, this work became indispensable reference material for religious houses, like the monastery of St Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg, and for religious and laymen.

ISTC ii00223000; Goff I223; Bod-inc I-050; BMC III 785; BSB-Ink I-698; GW M15936. C. Rolker, Canon Law and the Letters of Ivo of Chartres (Cambridge, 2009).


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