GREGORY IX, POPE (c.1145-1241), Decretales Gregorii IX, with gloss of BERNARDO DA BOTONE OF PARMA (d.1266), in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM.
318 x 185mm. v + 355 + i leaves: f.i lifted pastedown, ff.ii-iii bifolio, 12(with ff.iv-v a later bifolio inserted in the middle), 2-1212, 138, 1415(15 a singleton), 15-1812, 1914, 2012, 219(9 a singleton), 22-3012, 312, apparently COMPLETE, catchwords on final versos of many gatherings, guide letters to rubrics, two columns of 34-39 lines written in black or brown ink in a round gothic bookhand, with up to 85 lines of gloss written in all four margins in brown or black ink in various hands, lemmata underlined in red or brown, text between four verticals and 40 horizontals ruled in plummet, justification: 168 x 85mm, the gloss written on an independent ruling, one smaller leaf with gloss only in two columns, rubrics in red, headings of Book number in alternate letters of red and blue, paragraph marks in red or blue, one-line initials in red or blue stroked red, two-line initials of blue flourished red, FOUR PENWORK TITLE PANELS AND FIVE LARGE FLOURISHED INITIALS at the opening of the five books, TWO TABLES IN RED AND BLACK, manicula and small informal drawings of faces or animals, many early marginal annotations (original patch lacking f.3, several neat cockling cuts, one folio with corner cut into gloss, two folios with sewn cuts touching final letters of outer column, not affecting legibility). 18th-century half brown calf, the spine gilt-tooled in six compartments (worn).
1. The preface of this copy of the Decretals is addressed to the doctors and scholars of the university of Paris, Gregorius episcopus servus servorum Dei, dilectis filiis doctoribus et scholaribus universis Parisius..., although it may be that it was copied in southern France, perhaps for use at Montpellier or Toulouse, both with universities teaching canon law. The gatherings of twelve leaves and the underlined lemmata are both typically French.
2. The volume may have remained in use in France until at least the 16th century, although some annotations are in a 14th-century English hand, which also supplied cadels to ff.2-21. The additional leaves and the originally blank f.1 carry supplementary texts in 14th-century hands; a 15th-century hand has added a list of the tituli on an inserted smaller bifolio, following an earlier interrupted attempt on f.1v; other writings include a debt acknowledgement by Roland f.1. Unfortunately the names have been erased from a record of sale by a priest in the diocese of Lyon to a magister, f.1v. This could be the Maistre Jacques dubon(?) who recorded his ownership on the added leaf at the end, where a French poem is signed Corbin among other 15th- or 16th-century additions in French.
3. Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872): inscribed inside upper cover and on f.1 Phillipps ms 23022; purchased at the sale of the Rev. J.H. Todd (1805-1869), Regius Professor of Hebrew and Librarian at Trinity College, Dublin, held by John Fleming Jones, Dublin, 15 November 1869, A.N.L. Munby, Phillipps Studies, III, p.21 and IV, pp.138-209.
4. no 441 in slip from sale catalogue pasted inside lower cover, where R.S. initialled in pencil in London, III 03, perhaps March 1903.
5. Printed label inside upper cover of A.H. Spencer Pty Ltd, Booksellers of Melbourne.
Gregory IX: Decretalium D. Gregorii Papae IX compilatio ff.3-356, with the Glossa ordinaria of Bernardo da Parma opening with the preface f.2 and then continuing around the text from ff.3-356: Book I De iudice ff.3-88; Book II De iudiciis ff.88-157; Book III De vita et de honestate clericorum ff.158-240; Book IV De sponsalibus et matrimoniis ff.241-261; Tractatus de consanguinitate with tables of consanguinity and affinity ff.261v-262v; Book V De actionibus et inquisitionibus et denunciatoribus ff.262v-356.
The Decretals of Gregory IX became the fundamental text of canon law, which controlled many aspects of secular as well as clerical life. This was what the Pope intended when in 1230 he ordered his confessor, Raymond of Peñaforte, to organise into one authoritative text the existing five compilations of canon law with their subsequent additions, including his own. In 1234 the Pope sent the new work to the universities of Paris and Bologna and decreed that this was henceforth to be the official collection. The annotations show that this manuscript continued to be a working copy into at least the 16th century.
Such a crucial text rapidly acquired commentators, with the Glossa Ordinaria, completed c.1266, being the most popular gloss as opposed to independent commentary. The uniformity of text, esssential for law operative throughout western Christendom, was reflected in comparatively uniform layouts and systems of decoration. The penwork title panels with the name Gregorius and the flourished initials, found in volumes from both Italy and northern Europe, are part of a carefully ordered articulation of text and gloss designed for ease of use. The diagrams of consanguninuty and affinity, which clarify the content of Book IV, had originated with the earlier canon law collections and became common with the Decretals only in the 14th century and then usually inserted on a separate bifolium. Although it became usual for the diagrams to be surrounded by an explanatory treatise, as here, this is a significantly early example of their inclusion in the Decretals and a rare example of their incorporation into the original structure of the book. For the Decretals, see S. L'Engle and R. Gibbs, Illuminating the Law, Legal Manuscripts in Cambridge Collections, 2001, esp. pp.15-19, 69-71.
Comparatively few copies of this essential text remain in private hands: the latest to be offered at auction was incomplete (Sotheby's, London, 5 December 1995, lot 32).