JOHANNES DE DEO (c.1190-1267), Liber poenitentiarius de cautela simplicium sacerdotum in seven books, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM.
164 x 121mm. i + 56 leaves: 112, 2-68, 74(of 8, lacking iv and v, vii and viii cancelled blanks), catchwords at lower inner corner of final versos, quires numbered in centre of lower margin of final versos, two columns of 29 lines written in brown ink in a regular gothic bookhand between four verticals and 30 horizontals ruled in brown, justification: 122 x 90mm, prickings survive in outer margins, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one- to three-line, mostly two-line, initials in red, some with accompanying penwork flourishing extending the length or width of margins, annotated in a 15th-century hand, with marginal headings and maniculae, marginal drawing in red of a dragon, f.32 (some minor worming, occasional light surface soiling, recto of opening leaf slightly darkened, drawing of dragon cropped). Contemporary red-stained leather over beech boards, panelled in blind with intersecting fillets in saltire, brass plate from strap on lower cover, lifted front pastedown a 13th-century leaf from a commentary on the descent of Jesus and John the Baptist (lacking pin and clasp, six wormholes, scuffing to edges and spine, small losses next to endbands).
1. There are several indications of medieval ownership, including a prayer written in a minuscule hand on f.1. The final two folios contain prayers written in a 15th-century hand, and a further inscription 'Lyber d[omi]ni ortolffij wernburg.
2. Illegible inscription on verso of first pastedown opening 'Clerici'.
3. Modern shelfmark 12/XII/(g.26) on paper label pasted on upper cover.
Johannes De Deo, Liber poenitentiarius de cautela simplicium sacerdotum ff.1v-55v: Dedication and opening rubric f.1; summaries of books ff.1v-3v; Books i-vii, lacking two leaves at end with final chapter, ff.3v-55v.
Johannes de Deo was born in Silves in the Algarve between 1189 and 1191 and studied canon law, and possibly civil law, at Bologna for at least the six years preceding 1229. His long subsequent tenure as a professor of law at the university gave rise to a body of summaries and digests of canon law, principal among them being a lectura for the Decretals, a breviarium decretorum, the Quaestiones de processu canonico and the present Liber poenitentiarius. Johannes remained in Bologna until not long after 1255; by 1260 he was archdeacon in Lisbon, where he had held the post of canon since 1241; he died there in 1267. The high esteem for his works in the Middle Ages is demonstrated in a number of tributes by other scholars, as well as by the broad diffusion of his manuscripts up to the end of the 15th century.
There has been some uncertainty as to the date of the Liber poenitentiarius, though A.D. de Sousa Costa affirms the date of October 1247 found in some manuscripts. Much indebted to the Summa de casibus poenitentiae of St Raymond of Peñafort (a predecessor at Bologna), it does not attempt Raymond's broad consideration of confession and atonement in juristic and practical senses, but instead aims to provide a manageable guide for the benefit of practising clergy. The early 13th century saw the development in the western Church of the modern concept of 'private penance', with its confession, absolution and light formal penance, replacing the older mechanistic system of the 'penitential books'. Canon 25 of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) required confession in penance to the parish priest at least once a year.
J.P. von Schulte in Geschichte der Quellen und der Literatur des kanonischen Rechts II, Stuttgart 1877, pp.94-107; A.D. de Sousa Costa in Antonianum 33 (1958), pp.76-124.