CANON LAWYER'S HANDBOOK, a composite volume: ROFFREDUS BENEVENTANUS (c.1170-1244), Libellus in iure canonico; handbook for scribes; two collections of decretals, in Latin, MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
155 x 117mm. a) 45 leaves: 1-312, 49(of 12, three final blanks cancelled), COMPLETE, 27 to 28 lines written in brown in a minute gothic bookhand between two verticals and 27 to 28 horizontals ruled in plummet, justification: 108 x 90mm, rubrics and paraphs in red, text capitals touched red, prickings in outer margin; b) a single gathering of 14 leaves, 26 lines in brown ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 27 horizontals ruled in brown, justification: 109 x 66mm, prickings in outer margin; c) 18, 25(of 6, a cancelled blank after ii), 38, 47(of 8, a cancelled blank after iii), 56(of 8, two blanks cancelled after i), 62, 76(of ?, ii and v singletons, but with four stubs and likely lacking at least one leaf with text), two final singletons (final text lacking leaves at end and final two leaves with ink stains and corrosion to upper outer corners, lower corner missing from final leaf). Medieval bevelled wooden boards (detached, lacking leather, spine and clasp, bands broken, losses at hinges from worming).
1. The manuscript has been annotated in rather a desultory way by an early owner, whose interest focussed chiefly on sections concerning usury, marriage and women on ff.49-52v (in which the running titles 'super usuris' and 'super matrimonio' are added in the same hand), f.62 and ff.85-7)
2. Comte Paul Durrieu: numbered '5' in a label in his hand pasted to inside upper cover, noting that the book was newly collated in December 1883, and loaned to M. [Arthur] Giry on 18 March 1886. By descent to the present owner.
1. 'Libellus Rotfredi in iure cano[n]ico' [i.e. Roffredus Beneventanus, Libelli de iure canonico], ff.1-45
2. Fragment of a handbook for scribes, ff.46-48
3. Decretals on usury, marriage, patronage, rules governing the clergy and other matters, ff.48-59
4. Set of decretals, lettered alphabetically from 'A' to 'Q', ff.60-103.
Roffredus of Benevento (c.1170-1244) was a well known jurist and advocate, at various times on either side of the conflict between the emperor Frederick II and the papacy. Already the author of a similar work on civil law, he began his 'libelli de iure canonico' in 1236, leaving it unfinished at his death: his introduction indicates that the surviving portion constitutes approximately half of the work as originally envisaged. Roffredus based his work on the practice of the Roman Curia, and wrote that it was intended for 'jurists who know little or nothing of canon law'; humorous and sometimes anti-clerical, he approaches canon law rather as an extension of his own speciality of civil law. Each 'libellus' deals briefly with a different subject, ranging from episcopal powers to marriage, tithes and patronage; the substantial section on marriage considers issues as diverse as impotence, annulment, consanguinity, and marriage of minors, of those of different religion, or of those in sacred orders. The 'libelli de iure canonico' appears to have enjoyed wide distribution and survives in at least 87 copies; the fact that the present copy is written above the top line (a practice increasingly rare after 1220) marks this as a very early copy indeed.
In contrast with Roffredus's syncretic work, the basic material of canon law took the form of the collections of papal judgements known as decretals, the best known of which were the Decretales Gregorii IX or Liber Extra assembled by Raymund of Peñafort and published in 1234, though these were followed by a wide range of later collections, both official and unofficial: the two fragmentary examples in the present volume apparently belong to the latter category, and are likely to be close in date to the Liber Extra. The ordering of the second set into sections denoted by the letters of the alphabet was doubtless dependent on an index which is now, frustratingly, lacking.
The survival in the volume of a fragment of a handbook for scribes seems likely to be owing to the accident of its sharing a gathering with a set of decretals. This attractive text, whose content suggests it may have been aimed at scribes in the papal chancery, offers guidance not only on such basic subjects as the formation of the various letters of the alphabet as majuscule and minuscule or in the variant forms for word-endings ('Item hec littere m & n cum in fine ... ponuntur semper ultimus pes infinis trahitur') and the use of abbreviations, but also on more complex questions such as the proper precedence and form for addressing senior clerics in letters, including the correct usage for including names of city, church, diocese or province in an address, and ending with the correct manner of addressing letters to the excommunicate and those in rebellion or outside one's jurisdiction. The epistolary formularies, which draw exclusively on Italian place names and give the pope's name as Gregory, suggest that the text was composed in Italy during the pontificate of Gregory IX (d.1241); the script marks out the present copy, however, as northern European, mostly probably French.