GREGORY IX Decretales Epistolae

Paris, Claudium Cheuallonium, 1537


8vo. ff. [20] 332. Mainly Roman letter, some Italic, woodcut printer’s device to t-p, small floriated woodcut initials, two larger at start, depicting Gregory enthroned with a book of the decretals. Light age yellowing, infrequent slight foxing, small ink stain with some corrosion to upper foreedge of final quires, faint mostly marginal dampstain to a few leaves at end. A good copy in contemp. double blind-ruled and thick gilt interlacing ropework panel-stamped goatskin, slightly arabesque central gilt ornament composed of smaller tools, and matching corner pieces. Spine blind-tooled in criss-cross pattern. 3 corners, upper edge of lower board and part of spine carefully repaired. 3 pages of early Latin mss at start: extract from Titulus VI of the Decretal (p. 24v) on front pastedown, name ‘ASONA’ below; collection of legal maxims in two near-contemporary hands to fep, e.g. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” “Wrong demands no vengeance but justice.” A few leaves annotated with explanatory gloss in very small hand. On t-p, autograph at head ‘… sorbonnis’, ‘Ad usum Alexandri Bandini…’ crossed through, ‘Collegii Solesani’ of the Abbey at Solesmes below, ‘Angiolo Bidarii’ crossed through at foot. On t-p verso ‘Ex libris universitis Scrivistica?’. Latin line from 2 Timothy 2 on rear fep r: “No man, being a soldier to God, entangleth himself with secular businesses,” pen and ink drawing, of the end of a lawyer’s bench?, to verso. Aeg, richly gauffered, matching interlacing of cover panels, lacking ties.

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 offences and divorce and a wide range of what would now be classed as general civil and criminal law. The (all-around) glosses are those originally compiled by Bernardo Bottoni (d. 1266), with later accretions by Giovanni d’Andrea and others.

The attractive binding is from Northern Italy (probably Venetian) and is contemporary with the book. The outer border and panel somewhat resemble Henry Davis Gift Vol. 3, 241; the luxurious combination of high-grade goatskin and gilding, and ornately gauffered edges suggest a wealthy law student or practitioner.

Solesmes Abbey is a French Benedictine monastery, founded in 1010.

We have not been able to identify Asona, or Alessandro Bandini (though there was a Florentine architect of that name in the 1780s.)

Not in BM STC Fr., Adams, Brunet or Graesse.
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