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Primitive Decretal Collections in the British Museum

  • Charles Duggan (a1)


Ecclesiastical historians are already aware of the richness of the British Museum in canonical manuscripts of all kinds. The Royal Library alone preserves at least one copy of the greater number of major canonical collections, as well as an imposing range of the works of leading commentators, decretists and decretalists alike, glosses and summae, together with the fascinating, if minor, canonistic exercises known as distinctiones, abbreviations, casus, quaestiones, transformationes and notabilia. A history of the canon law of the medieval Church could in most essentials be written on the basis of these considerable and varied sources. What is perhaps rather less familiar is the particular value of these manuscripts to the historian of the medieval English Church, both in a positive and a negative way: negative in the sense of the ample evidence provided of a rapid and wide-spread reception of ecclesiastical common law in England; and positive in the sense of the record preserved of the initiative and originality revealed by English canonists, and of the contribution which they made in turn to the law of the Universal Church.



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Page 132 of note 1 Warner, G. F. and Gilson, J.P., Catalogue of Western Manuscripts in the Old Royal and King’s Collections, 111 (1921): King’s Manuscripts and Indexes, under ‘Canon Law,’ 112-4; S. Kuttner, ‘Repertorium der Kanonistik, 1140-1234,’ Studi e Testi, LXXI (1937,) 126, 128, 143, 148, 219, 220, 229, 231, 235, 251, 259, 269-70, 322-44, 477-8, etc. Kuttner lists forty-two volumes in the British Museum each including at least one canonical work from the period 1140-1234.

Page 133 of note 1 See especially Brooke, Z.N., The English Church and the Papacy from the Conquest to the Reign of John, Cambridge 1931, 5783,231-45, 247, et passim.

Page 133 of note 2 Royal MS 9 E.VII, ff. 191-9. Cf.Kuttner, S. and Rathbone, E., ‘Anglo-Norman Canonists of the Twelfth Century: an Introductory Study,’ Traditio, VII (1951), 317-21. The volume includes the Summa of Johannes Faventinus and a commentary on part of Gratian’s Decretum; it belonged originally to St Augustine’s Canterbury.

Page 133 of note 3 Royal MS 9 E.VIII, 198 fols, transcribed on paper. The main element is a set of lectures delivered by Walter Cachepol (ϯ 1369) on the Gregorian Decretales, the Liber Sextus and the Clementinae; the notes are preceded on ff. 1-26 by an alphabetical table of topics, and provide a tabulation on f. 172. In addition to Cachepol, the catalogue lists numerous English canonists whose views are referred to in the volume. Cf.Emden, A.B., Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, Oxford 1957, 1, 337 .

Page 133 of note 4 For Compilano Prima, see Friedberg, E., ed. Quinque Compilations Antiquae necnon Compilatio Lipsiensis, Leipzig 1882 ; Naz, R., ‘Compilationes (Quinque Antiquae)’ in DDC, 1942, 111, 1239-41; etc.

Page 133 of note 5 Among many recent studies on Gratian’s work, see Kuttner, ‘Graziano: L’Uomo e l’Opera,’ in Forchielli, J. and Stickler, A. M., edd. Studia Gratiana, 1 (1953), 1729 ; Vetulani, A., ‘Le Décret de Gratien et les premiers décrétistes à la lumière d’une source nouvelle,’ Studia Gratiana, VII (1959), 273353 .

Page 134 of note 1 Excellent summaries of these developments are provided in W. Holtzmann, ‘Über eine Ausgabe der päpstlichen Dekretalen des 12. Jahrhunderts,’ Nachrichten von der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen, Phil.-Hist. Kl. 1945, 15-36; idem and Kemp, E. W., Papal Decretals relating to the Diocese of Lincoln in the Twelfth Century: Lincoln Record Society, 1954, XLVII, ixxvii ; Kuttner, , ‘Notes on a Projected Corpus of Twelfth-Century Decretal Letters,’ Traditio, VI (1948), 345-51; van Hove, A., Prolegomena ad Codicem Iuris Canonici, Malines-Rome 1945, 345-57. See also my Twelfth-Century Decretal Collections and their Importance in English History, University of London Historical Studies, 1963, XII, for a more detailed examination of many points dealt with very briefly in this essay.

Page 135 of note 1 Holtzmann, Nachrichten, 15-36, especially 21ff.; idem and Kemp, Lincoln Decretals, xi-xvi; Kuttner, Repertorium, 272ff.; idem, Projected Corpus, 345-51; etc.

Page 135 of note 2 Duggan, Decretal Collections, especially ch. 4: ‘The English Decretal Collections,’ 66-117.

Page 137 of note 1 Duggan, , ‘The Trinity Collection of Decretals and the Early Worcester Family,’ Traditio, XVII (1961), 506-26.

Page 138 of note 1 For the Bamberg, Leipzig and other related collections, see Friedberg, , Die Canonessammlungen zwischen Gratian und Bernhard von Pavia, Leipzig 1897 ; and, more recently, W.Deeters, Die Bambergensisgruppe der Dekretalensammlungen des 12. Jahrhunderts, Doctoral dissertation, Bonn 1956.

Page 138 of note 2 Duggan, , ‘English Canonists and the Appendix Concilii Lateranensis; with an analysis of the St John’s College, Cambridge, MS 148,’ Traditio, XVIII (1962), 459-68.

Page 138 of note 3 Cf. Holtzmann and Kemp, Lincoln Decretals, xii-xv.

Page 139 of note 1 Holtzmann, , ‘Die Collectio Eberbacensis,’ Zeitschrift der Savigny Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, Kanonistiche Abteilung, XVII (1928), 548-55; idem, Nachrichten, 21; Kuttner, Projected Corpus, 346; Duggan, Decretal Collections, 126-28.

Page 139 of note 2 Ibid. 124-35.

Page 139 of note 3 Cf.Holtzmann, , ‘Die Register Papst Alexanders III. in den Händen der Kanonisten,’ Quellen und Forschungen aus italienischen Archiven und Bibliotheken, XXX (1940), 1387 ; Vetulani, , ‘L’Origine des collections primitives de décrétales à la fin du XIIe siècle,’ Congrès de Droit Canonique Médiéval, Louvain 1959, 6472 ; etc.

Page 140 of note 1 Duggan, Decretal Collections, 118-51: in the supplement on MSS, appended below, all references to this volume are identified as Decretal Collections; in most instances, details are also found sub nominibus in Kuttner, Repertorium; Holtzmann, Nachrichten; idem and Kemp, Lincoln Decretals; and DDC.

Primitive Decretal Collections in the British Museum

  • Charles Duggan (a1)


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