GRATIANUS (d. ca 1160). Decretum. Commentary by Johannes Teutonicus (Seneca), reworked by Bartholomaeus Brixiensis (d. 1258). Venice: Baptista de Tortis, 20th April 1499.
Super-royal 2o (423 x 283 mm). Collation: a10 b-z \\i \\j \\g A-Q8. 338 leaves. Text with commentary surround, 82 lines of commentary, double column. Gothic types 10:82 (commentary), 12:95 (text), 14:185 (head-lines). Title, incipits, initial letters, paragraph marks and printer's device printed in red. Lombard initials supplied in blue, some with delicate pen flourishing. (Small marginal hole in the first quire, few other small marginal tears, some pale dampstaining in lower fore-corner and some occasional light marginal soiling.)
Binding: contemporary South-German blind-stamped calf over unbevelled wooden boards, covers panelled with triple fillets, outer panel filled with repeated alternating rosette and floral tools, central panel tooled with fillets to a diamond pattern, compartments filled with repeated acorn tool, two brass fore-edge catches, plain brass corner protectors, remains of staple on rear cover where chained? (rebacked preserving a portion of the original spine, some rubbing and drying); quarter morocco folding case. Provenance: early French inscription on front pastedown; James William Ellsworth (1849-1925), Hudson, Ohio collector (bookplates; sold his collection in 1923 to A.S.W Rosenbach); Estelle Doheny (morocco bookplate on title; purchased from A.S.W. Rosenbach, Philadelphia, 1 September 1942); donated to SMS September 1942.
VERY FINE EDITION OF GRATIAN'S IMPORTANT TEXT ON CANON LAW, and one of only 2 copies recorded in American institutions, the other being in the Huntington Library. A collection of nearly 4,000 patristic texts, conciliar decrees and Papal pronouncements touching on all fields of church discipline, the Decretum quickly became the authoritative text on canon law, and came to form the first part of the Corpus juris Canonici. At least 33 incunable editions of Gratian's landmark work are recorded.
Practically nothing is known of Gratian's life; he probably became a monk at some stage, although where is unknown and he may have been a consultant to a Papal judge in 1143. Gratian is assigned a place in Paradise by Dante (Paradiso, 10, 103-105).
Baptista de Tortis's first book appears to be the Roman Missal of 31 August 1481; his press was active past the turn of the century. This edition of the Decretum is not in the British Museum. The binding tools are apparently unrecorded. BSB-Ink. G-287; GW 11386; H *7917; Rhodes 857; Goff G-390. RARE.