Rare Books Blog

February 16, 2010

Fragment: Unknown (Italy)
Date: c. 1350-1450
Found in: Corpus iuris civilis. 12 vols. Lyons: Guillaume Rouillé, 1581.

Each of the twelve small volumes of this 1581 edition of the Corpus iuris civilis is neatly covered in parchment featuring passages from a single unidentified work. The most noticeable feature of the text is the nearly constant citation of passages from different books of the Bible, including Kings, Daniel, Proverbs, Tobias, Ecclesiastes, and Chronicles (Paralipomenon).

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

POSTSCRIPT: Thanks to Richard Rouse (UCLA) for clarifying the origin of the manuscript fragment.

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

February 16, 2010

Fragment: Sermon (Italy or Germany)
Date: c. 1325-1475
Found in: Bottoni, Bernardo. Casus longi super quinque libros decretalium. [Basel: Michael Wenssler, not after 1479.]

Preaching was an important part of Christian life throughout the Middle Ages. Early saints preached to the non-believers, communities listened to sermons from their priests on Sundays, monks and nuns heard sermons in their convents, and friars preached in the streets. In the words of Pope Innocent III (1198-1216), “Among the many ministries that belong to the pastoral office, the virtue of holy preaching is the most excellent.”

The main text of the fragment seen here is from an as-yet unidentified collection of sermons. The passage on top is about the “tears of Christ” (lachrimae Christi), a common topic for medieval sermons. The large, red capital “D” near the bottom of the page begins a new sermon with Luke 18:10: “Duo homines ascenderunt in templum ut orarent: unus pharisaeus et alter publicanus,” that is, “Two men went up into the temple to pray: one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.” If you look carefully at these sermons, you may be able to see that the text has been “pointed,” marked with very fine strokes to indicate places to breathe and pause. The fact that the text is pointed confirms that, as we might expect, the sermon was meant to be read aloud.

At the top of the fragment is another interesting feature: a late-medieval inscription. According to this note, this printed book was given to the Carthusian monastery of St. Albans near Trier by “Frater Paulus de Muntzdail.” We know from other sources that Brother Paul held a doctorate in canon law and that, before moving to Trier to become a Carthusian, he served as the provost of the Church of Saint Mary in Flanheim, and the rector of the parish church in Kreuznach near Mainz. He died in 1487.

    – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

POSTSCRIPT: Thanks to Richard Rouse (UCLA) for clarifying the origin of the manuscript fragment.

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

February 16, 2010

Fragment: Aquinas’s Commentary on the Metaphysics
Date: c. 1375-1475
Found in: Barbier, Jean. Viatorium utriusque iuris. [Strassburg: Johann Pruss, 1493.]

The philosopher and theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas (c. 1226-1274) lived at a time of great intellectual development in European society. The works of Aristotle were being translated into Latin and widely disseminated at the same time that the first Christian universities were being founded. The nature of the relationship between reason and faith was being explored and debated across the continent, and Aquinas would ultimately become one of the most influential thinkers on this topic. Born in southern Italy, Aquinas entered the University of Naples before joining the Dominican Order and travelling to northern Europe where he studied under Saint Albertus Magnus (d. 1280), a pioneer in the application of Aristotelian philosophy to Christian thought. Late in his life, Aquinas wrote commentaries on twelve of Aristotle’s works.

The manuscript leaves used as pastedowns at the front and rear of this volume contain part of Aquinas’s Commentary on the Metaphysics (Book 7, Lecture 13) written in the early 1270s. Excerpts from Aristotle are underlined in red, and the rest of the text is Aquinas’s detailed discussion of that passage. The radically abbreviated 15th-century script employs many symbols (sigla) that stand in for groups of letters or even entire words. At the left edge of the fragment we can see small “pricking holes,” between which the scribe would have ruled parallel lines to help him write the text straight across the page. The Commentary on the Metaphysics was first printed in Paris in 1480, then again in Venice in 1493.

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

February 16, 2010

Fragment: Cicero’s “Dream of Scipio” (Italy)
Date: c. 1275-1325
Found in: Jame, Pierre. Aurea et famosissima practica. [Lyons: A. Dury, 1527.]

The parchment used to cover this volume features a portion of Cicero’s “Dream of Scipio” (“Somnium Scipionis”), the sixth book of his De re publica (completed in 51 BCE). Cicero wrote De re publica as a Roman version of Plato’s Republic, and the “Dream of Scipio” is the only substantial piece of the work to survive. In the dream, the grandfather of the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus appears and tells Scipio about the composition of the heavens, the fleeting nature of worldly fame, and the immortality of the soul (the latter two topics are mentioned in the visible fragment).

The “Dream of Scipio” survives because the late-antique Neo-Platonist philosopher Macrobius (fl. 395-423) wrote a commentary on the dream, to which an early copyist appended a complete copy of Cicero’s text. Macrobius’s commentary - which contained an elaborate system of dream classification - was highly respected in the Middle Ages. It served as one of the most important avenues of transmission for Platonist ideas, and as a foundational source for the Scholastic movement and medieval science in general. The “Dream of Scipio” is mentioned in the French dream-poem the Roman de la rose (13th century) as well as Geoffrey Chaucer’s dream-poems (14th century). Approximately fifty manuscripts of Macrobius’s commentary are known.

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

POSTSCRIPT: Thanks to Richard Rouse (UCLA) for clarifying the origin of the manuscript fragment.

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

February 16, 2010

 

Fragment: Codex Iustiniani (Italy, probably Bologna)
Date: c. 1275-1325
Found in: Savoy (Duchy). Statuta Sabaudie. [Turin: Bernardus de Sylva, 1530.]

It was probably not mere coincidence that a leaf of the Corpus iuris civilis was used to cover this volume of legal statutes from the Duchy of Savoy. After all, Roman law as represented in the Corpus iuris civilis was the most influential source of legal thinking for medieval and early modern lawmakers. The Corpus iuris civilis was issued in three parts (the Codex, the Digest, and the Institutes) under the Emperor Justinian in 529-534. Issued from Constantinople at a time when the Roman Empire no longer had control over most of Western Europe, Justinian’s laws were introduced in Italy in the 550s, but fell out of use over the following decades. Late in the 11th century the Corpus iuris civilis was rediscovered and students in Bologna began to learn about the law of ancient Rome. The sophistication and scope of Roman law made it hugely popular, and along with canon law it was quickly adopted as the European common law (the ius commune).

The fragment displayed here is from the Codex Iustiniani, which was a collection of all the surviving imperial legislation issued since the time of the emperor Hadrian (d. 138). It contains all of Book 11, Title 1-3 and the beginning of Title 4. These passages contain regulations pertaining to the compulsory transport of public property by private ship-owners. Like the Bible (no. 2), the Liber extra (no. 17), and the Liber sextus (no. 18), the Corpus iuris civilis was heavily glossed in the Middle Ages. The gloss here has not been identified, but may be that of the Italian jurist Accursius (d. 1263) who compiled the most well-known gloss of the Corpus iuris civilis in the 1220s.

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

POSTSCRIPT: Thanks to Richard Rouse (UCLA) for clarifying the origin of the manuscript fragment, and to Susan L’Engle (Saint Louis University) for the following: “Very little gloss, so probably pre-glossa ordinaria. Initials are blue, stroked in red, typical of Italy/Bologna. Sentence capitals in 1-line red.”

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .[at]yale.edu>

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

 

February 16, 2010

Fragment: Decretales Gregorii IX, with gloss (Bologna or Avignon)
Date: c. 1240-50
Found in: Massa, Antonio. De usuris. Rome: Valerio Dorico, 1557.

The landscape of medieval jurisprudence changed radically in the 12th century, when the monk Gratian’s revolutionary collection of canons and decrees known as the Decretum began to circulate, quickly becoming the core textbook for canon law. During the decades that followed, scholars and students identified many issues that current canon law was unable to resolve, and because of this, more and more bishops sent queries to the papacy seeking guidance for cases in their diocesan courts. The letters that the popes sent back to these bishops were known as “decretals.” Since there was no system of court reporting, jurists who wished to keep abreast of the law would copy any decretal they came across. These informal private collections rapidly gave way to more systematic compilations that found their way into the canon law curriculum. Concerned by the lack of an “official” body of updated canon law, Pope Gregory IX instructed the canonist Raymond of Peñafort to assemble an authoritative supplement to the Decretum. The Decretales Gregorii IX (commonly referred to as the Liber extra) was made official canon law in September 1234.

The fragment visible here contains the end of Book 1, Title 14 and the beginning of Book 1, Title 15 in the second column, along with the standard academic commentary on that passage (known as the “gloss”) in the first column. The standard gloss for the Decretales Gregorii IX was written by the jurist Bernard of Parma in the 1260s. The beginning of Title 15 (on anointing the sick) is marked by illuminated initials in both the gloss and the main text. Inside the front cover of the wrapper (not visible here), a medieval reader has carefully marked a passage (from X 1.14.14) using a drawing of a small hand (a notation called a manicula). The passage reads, in translation, “For it is preferable, especially in the ordination of priests, to have a few good ministers than many bad ones, for if a blind man leads another blind man, both will fall into the pit.”

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

POSTSCRIPT: Richard Rouse (UCLA) believes the manuscript originates in Italy or Avignon; Susan L’Engle (Saint Louis University) believes the manuscript is from Bologna and dates it 1240-1250.

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

February 16, 2010

Fragment: Sextus liber decretalium (Bologna or Padua)
Date: c. 1320-1330?
Found in: Bologna (Italy). Statutorum inclytae civitatis … Bononiae, vol. 2. Bologna: Giovanni Rossi, 1569.

 

Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303) held a doctorate in canon and civil law and, like Gregory IX seventy years earlier, sought to update and expand the body of canon law jurisprudence. He did so by commissioning a new collection of decretals, which he sent to the universities in 1298 with instructions that it be incorporated into the canon law curriculum. The Sextus liber decretalium (the Sixth Book of Decretals, often simply called the Liber sextus) thus took its place beside the Decretum and the Decretales Gregorii IX as a core element of the Corpus iuris canonici. The standard gloss of the Liber sextus was written by Giovanni d’Andrea in the early 1300s.

In the fragment of the Liber sextus seen here (from Book 5, Title 2, Chapter 20) Boniface himself discusses techniques for questioning suspected heretics. Giovanni d’Andrea’s gloss surrounds the main text. The manuscript was probably copied in Bologna as the script is characteristic of Bolognese gothic book hands.

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

POSTSCRIPT: Richard Rouse (UCLA) assigns an Italian origin to the manuscript and calls attention to the line fillers, which look like exclamation points. Susan L’Engle (Saint Louis University) believes the manuscript is from Bologna or Padua, 1320-1330?, and notes the “Italian script, text keyed to gloss by letters of alphabet, an Italian practice.”

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

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