1491 DECRETALS Pope Boniface VIII MEDIEVAL CANON LAW Incunable In GOTHIC BINDING
Item History and Pricing
Printed in Venice by Baptista de Tortis, 4 November 1491. Text in Latin. Edited with additions by Hieronymus Clarius, 15th-century lawyer from Brescia.RARE (only 35 copies extant in libraries worldwide, of which only 3 in the US).This is a fine and rare incunable edition of one of the key texts of the medieval Canon Law, beautifully printe...d in imposing Royal Folio format (43-centimeter tall), and attractively rubricated in a contemporary hand with numerous pleasing hand-painted initials in three colors (red, blue and green). This very large, apparently untrimmed, examplar is preserved in its striking original gothic binding (with some restorations), retaining all its ten original brass bosses.Numerous interesting manuscript marginal notes and small drawings in very fine scholarly late 15th- early 16th-century hands offer a fascinating evidence of the volume's early use for legal practice or an academic study, and beckon a deeper exploration.Note that De Totis also printed a supplemental volume containing Constitutiones by pope Clemens V with a separate collation and separate colophon dated 10 Dec. 1491, i.e. over a month later than this volume's. Although, apparently intended to be bound together with this edition of Liber Sextus, it is often found separately: e.g. Harvard University Law School Library; Merton College (Oxford); and Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid) all have the Constitutiones bound separately without the Liber Sextus. Our example of the 1491 Liber Sextus was clearly bound alone, ab origine.Attempts to codify the body of Canon Law began during the Carolingian Empire. These efforts reached fruition between 1020 and 1025 in the twenty-volume Decretum of Burchard, Bishop of Worms. The next great step was taken in 1234 with the Libri Quinque Decretalium (1253) of Gregory IX, which formed the basis of the Corpus Juris Canonici. The Liber Sextus Decretalium of Boniface VIII (1298), the last great canonical collection of the pre-Reformation era, consists of updates and modifications. Liber Sextus was commissioned by Pope Boniface VIII and sent out to the universities in 1298, requiring it to be used in the teaching of Canon Law. The collection was compiled under order of Boniface VIII by Guillaume de Mandagot, Bishop of Embrun, Berenger Fredoli, Bishop of Beziers, and Ricardo Petroni, of Siena, vice-chancellor of the pope. It was approved as an authentic and official collection in the Bull "Sacrosanctae" of March 3, 1298. Like the Decretals of Gregory IX, the Liber Sextus comprises five books, subdivided into titles and chapters. It contains in addition eighty-eight rules of law (regulae juris) borrowed from the Roman law, and compiled probably by Dino de' Rossoni, professor of civil law at the University of Bologna. It is an obligatory code of laws, abrogating all previous general laws enacted from the time of the publication of the Decretals of Gregory IX till the accession of Boniface VIII (1234 - 1294), with the exception of those that were "reserved" either by decretals inserted in the "Sextus", declaring that these laws were to remain in force, or by their Incipit being included in the collection. The Decretals of Gregory IX were revoked, insofar as they were inconsistent with the new statutes. This canonical collection was called by Boniface VIII himself the "Liber Sextus": firstly, because it is a continuation of the five books of the Decretals of Gregory IX, and secondly, because six is a perfect number. According to Euclid, the number six is perfect, because it is equal to the sum of all its factors (1+2+3=6). According to Boethius, a number is to be compared to an organized body, all the parts of which (factors, quotients, or aliquot parts) represent the members. A perfect number thus denotes a body, the members of which are in perfect harmony with that body. This title will indicate, Boniface says in the Bull of approbation ("Sacrosanctae"), that the complete body of canon law, henceforth collected into six books (i.e. a perfect number of books), will furnish a perfect rule of action and be a safe guide in morals. Pope Boniface VIII, born Benedetto Caetani (or Gaetani) (ca. 1235 - 1303), who was the head of the Catholic Church from 24 December 1294 to his death in 1303, is probably most remembered today for his feuds with Dante, who placed him in the Eighth Circle of Hell in his Divine Comedy, among the simoniacs. It should be remembered, however, that Boniface instituted a patronage of the arts and sciences which could be compared to the later Medici and was unprecedented in the papacy at that time. Under Boniface the cathedral of Orvieto was largely completed, several churches at Rome, including St. Peter's, were restored for the Jubilee of 1300, and Giotto was called to Rome. Boniface also founded the universities at Rome and Fermo, and he gave fresh impetus to building the Vatican library collection. "A contemporary and eyewitness, Giovanni Villani, has left in his Florentine chronicle a portrait of Boniface which the judicious Von Reumont seems to consider quite reliable. According to it Boniface, the most clever canonist of his time, was a great-hearted and generous man and a lover of magnificence, but also arrogant, proud, and stern in manner, more feared than loved, too worldly-minded for his high office and too fond of money both for the Church and for his family. His nepotism was open. He founded the Roman house of the Gaetani, and in the process of exalting his family drew down upon himself the effective hatred of the Colonna and their strong clansmen. Gröne, a German Catholic historian of the popes, says of Boniface that while his utterances equal in importance those of Gregory VII and Innocent III, the latter were always more ready to act, Boniface to discourse; they relied on the Divine strength of their office, Boniface on the cleverness of his canonical deductions." (Catholic Encyclopedia)Also included in this stately folio is Super arboribus consanguinitatis et affinitatis, a short but immensely influential and popular treatise on the canon law statutes concerning kinship and marriage written ca. 1303, and dealing with degrees of consanguinity and affinity and on the spiritual relationships, as created by godparents and their families. Its author, Giovanni d'Andrea (c. 1270 - 1348) was an early 14th-century Italian jurist, the most renowned and successful canonist of the later Middle Ages, called by his contemporaries 'Iuris canonici fons et tuba' ("the fount and trumpet of canon law"). Born at Rifredo, near Florence, d'Andrea studied Roman law and canon law at the University of Bologna, the great law school of the age, where he distinguished himself in this subject so much that he was made professor at Padua, and then at Pisa before returning to Bologna, where he stayed from 1301 until his death.It is related that by way of self-mortification he lay every night for twenty years on the bare ground with only a bear's skin for a covering. Yet it is known that he remained a layman, was married and had children. It is also told that in an audience he had with Pope Boniface VIII his extraordinary shortness of stature led the pope to believe he was kneeling, and to ask him three times to rise, to the immense merriment of the cardinals. He is reported to have died at Bologna of the Black Death in 1348, and an epitaph in the church of the Dominicans in which he was buried, calling him Rabbi Doctorum, Lux, Censor, Normaque Morum testifies to the public estimation of his character.Bibliographic references:Goff B1006; Hain-Copinger 3618; Pellechet 2758; Proctor 4645; BMC V 326; BSB-Ink B-728; GW 4888; CIBN B-714; IGI 1983; Walsh 1934; Rhodes (Oxford Colleges) 423.Physical description:Royal Folio, leaves measure approx. 43 cm x 29 cm (very wide margins, most likely untrimmed). Contemporary (late 15th-century) Italian (?) gothic binding: blind-ruled leather (probably goatskin?) over wooden boards, with 5 large brass bosses on each cover (one center- and 4 corner-pieces); three brass catch-plates on rear cover (two at fore-edge, one at bottom edge); clasps gone. Leather on both covers blind-ruled to geometric pattern of rectangular panels with diagonals.Foliation , 4-104 leaves (forming 208 pages). Signatures: a-n8.
Collated and COMPLETE. (Bound without the companion volume containing Clemens V's Constitutiones, and issued with separate collation and colophon dated 34 days later than this Libri Quinque Decretalium).Printed in red and black throughout in gothic types (Typ. 10:82G, 12:95G). Decretals' text printed (center page) in double column in larger type, surrounded with glosses printed in smaller type. 82 lines of glosses per page.With red lombard initials and red printed paragraph marks; additionally rubricated throughout in contemporary hand with numerous capital spaces filled with attractive hand-painted initials in blue and green.Blank space for illumination at the opening of the Liber sextus and a few capital spaces left unfilled.Recto of the first leaf (a1r) blank; Index (Tabula omnium rubricarum) on leaves a1v-2r printed in four columns; Andrea's Super arboribus on leaves a2v-3v, followed by the glossed text Boniface VIII's decretals.
Colophon and registrum on leaf n8v.Diagrammatically arranged 'tree' of consanguinity on a3r with 'branches' neatly and attractively added in ink in contemporary hand, 'tree' of affinity on a3v also with some pleasing manuscript additions.Blank a1r contains densely and neatly written manuscript text pertaining to the relations of consanguinity and affinity in a fine late 15th-century hand, entitled: Designatio arboris consangwinitatis and Designatio arboris affinitatis (probably a work by Baldus de Ubaldis of Perugia).
Many interesting manuscript marginal notes in elegant early hands, as well as pleasing hand-drawn ’maniculae’ (‘pointing hands’) and other small neat drawings including a grotesque face, a key, a sword and an armor helm.Condition:Very Good antiquarian condition. Complete (though without the separately printed Constitutiones of Clemens V, intended to be bound with this work, but dated over a month later and often found separately). Binding shows some wear, small wormholes and repairs to binding with portions of original leather replaced with patches of matching modern leather. All original metal attachments, except the clasps and possibly one catch plate, are present, and showing some wear and patina. Original endpapers preserved (front inner hinge reinforced). Binding tight, boards firmly attached. Interior with intermittent light-to-moderate patchy browning, mostly marginal. Several small worm-holes to leaves, more numerous in the final quire and the three preliminary leaves, generally quite unobtrusive. One quire (h) with a thin, short worm-trail (1/2 to 1-inch long) affecting single letters in three to four lines per page. Many interesting manuscript marginal notes in elegant early hands, as well as pleasing hand-drawn ‘pointing hands’ and other small neat drawings including a grotesque face, a sword and a helm. Blank a1r with neatly written manuscript text in an elegant contemporary hand; many further interesting manuscript marginal notes in elegant early (late 15th- to early 16th-century) hands in dark-brown and red ink, as well as neatly drawn ‘pointing hands’ and other small neat drawings. In all a magnificent incunabulum with fine red-and-black typography and attractive hand-painted initials. The massive Royal Folio volume with its very wide, apparently uncut margins, and its striking medieval binding, is a truly imposing presence.
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