Tag Archives: Medieval procedure

A mosaic of digitized medieval legal manuscripts

On this blog the twin brother of the walking historian is the armchair historian, comfortably seated at his desk in front of a computer screen, with access to a multitude of digitized sources online. Among these sources medieval legal manuscripts, too, are present. The ability to see a source in its original form can be fascinating, although at the same time you need to know about old scripts to read and interpret them correctly. On my website for legal history I mention a number of websites with digitized legal manuscripts, both for medieval law as a general subject and more specifically for medieval canon law. Some of the websites indicated offer solely digitized medieval legal manuscripts. In this post I will look at two digitization projects at the Università di Bologna, Europe’s oldest university, where the teaching of law was for centuries at the very heart of the university.

Progetto Irnerio

Logo Progetto Irnerio

The first project to be discussed is the Progetto Irnerio in which the legal manuscripts at the Collegio di Spagna (Real Colegio de España) in Bologna have been digitized. The collection of manuscripts was started by cardinal Gil de Albornoz (1310-1367) who founded this college in 1364 and gave 36 manuscripts to the library of his new foundation. The college has illustrious people such as Ignatius of Loyola and Miguel Cervantes among its students. In 1992 a team of scholars published a detailed catalogue of the sizeable manuscript collection, I codici del Collegio di Spagna di Bologna, Domenico Maffei, Ennio Cortese, Antonio García y García, et alii (eds.) (Milan 1992) which stressed the rich value of the nearly 300 manuscripts for the study of the history of medieval and early modern law. In 2002 the CIRSFID, the center for the history of law, philosophy and sociology of law and legal information at the Università di Bologna, started the project for the digitization of these manuscripts.

On this project the images of the manuscripts can be viewed in two ways. Subscribers to the project get access to high-resolution images. The snag for non-subscribers is that even when you try to enlarge images the resolution is so low that they are almost useless. The registration includes the signing of a full contract with all kind of stipulations. A restricted number of images can be viewed freely, for anything more one has to pay. It creates the distinct impression one will get access to documents with a priceless value or at least value to create a considerable sum of money out of them. The project was founded with money stemming partially from a foundation created by a savings bank in Bologna, the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio. The difference between the liberality with which information about the manuscripts is available and searchable at this project, and the strictness of the access to images which can be used for study is questionable.

Progetto Mosaico

Logo Mosaico

For the second project the same center at Bologna cooperates since 2008 with a number of libraries, initially with the Università di Roma Tre and the Università di Napoli, but now also with institutions outside Italy such as the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich and the ENRICH project for a European digital library of manuscripts, an offspring of Manuscriptorium. In the Progetto Mosaico you will find both descriptions of medieval legal manuscripts and a number of digitized relevant manuscripts. The number of manuscripts with images currently shown is surely not very high.

The first main difference between the Irnerio and Mosaico projects is the presentation of high quality zoomable images at the Progetto Mosaico. Progetto Mosaico offers immediately full access to the manuscript images after agreeing online with the terms and conditions of use. A second substantial difference is the grouping of the manuscripts around a number of subjects. Let’s look at the largest of these groups which focuses on the Authenticum, the medieval collection of Justinian’s Novellae. Not only the Digest but also these constitutions from the sixth century became the object or study only from the twelfth century onwards. At Mosaico 28 descriptions of manuscripts are given and their contents are compared. A further overview graphically shows the slow way the manuscripts with these constitutions were taken into account and described in the first half of the nineteenth century. For four manuscripts images are available (Angers, Bibliothèque Municipale, 333; Bologna, Biblioteca Comunale dell’Archiginnasio, A 132; Florence, Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana, sin.7 plu.9; Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek, Haenel 5).

It is good to have here detailed descriptions of the manuscripts and the texts included in them. It reminds you the text of the Authenticum was transmitted together with other legal texts. Most of the manuscripts described here contain also glosses. In the study by Charles Radding and Antonio Ciaralli, The Corpus Iuris Civilis in the Middle Ages. Manuscripts and transmission from the sixth century to the juristic revival (Leiden, etc., 2007) the earliest medieval manuscripts of the Authenticum figure, too. One of the arguments Radding favors is to consider the possibility of new datations of these manuscripts. In the nineteenth century many manuscripts were ascribed a date which according to the modern knowledge about palaeography and codicology might strongly differ, a century or even more. In principle this could place the start of the renewed interest in Justinian’s compilations and constitutions much earlier, and also in other places. In order to localize and date manuscripts it is very useful to have them together. The online presentation of manuscripts held at many different cities across the world is a most welcome tool to facilitate such inquiries and to probe Radding’s hypotheses.

Among the other manuscripts presented at Mosaico is a focus on legal procedure. One of the results of the study by twelfth-century lawyers of the actiones in Roman law was the creation by Giovanni Bassiano of the so called Arbor actionum, the “Tree of Actions”, a kind of didactic scheme to explain the main differences between legal actions. On the Mosaico website the design of this tree is explained, and two different versions of it are presented. Images are provided from two manuscripts with the vulgate – most common – version, Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, ms. Can 23, fols. 270v-271r, and Bern, Burgerbibliothek, fols. 61v-62r. A different version has been preserved in three manuscripts, of which Admont, Stiftsbibliothek, 234, fols. 179v-180r, and Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, ms. Jur. 13, fols. 1v-2r can be viewed at Mosaico. The third manuscript, Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek, 921, fol. 187v-188r, can be seen at Manuscripta Mediaevalia. In this section you will find also ample references to earlier literature about the arbores actionum.

Mosaico shows that medieval lawyers did not only know the arbores consanguinitatis et affinitatis, about which you can read in two recent blog posts, the first by Jolande Goldberg at In Custodia Legis, the blog of the law librarians of the Library of Congress, the second at Interfaces/Livres anciens de l’Université de Lyon. At this French blog a comment guides you to an online exhibition of the Bibliothèque nationale de France about the symbolic value of the tree in medieval thought with an analysis of the genealogical uses.

The other manuscripts presented at Mosaico concerning medieval legal procedure are Olomouc, Státni árchiv, C.O.40 with the Tractatus quaestionum attributed to Giuliano da Sesso, introduced and transcribed by Lucia Sorrenti, the author of Il “Libellus Quaestionum” di Giuliano da Sesso. Un giurista ghibellino a Vercelli (Messina 1992), and Prague, Knihovna Národního Muzea, XVII.A.10, with the glosses of Roffredus Beneventanus on the Codex Justinianus. For the manuscript Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 8011 an introduction and summary description is lacking. In fact only a part of this manuscript is shown (fols. 86r-107v) with quaestiones disputatae in iure canonico by Aegidius de Fuscariis and other jurists.

Presenting medieval manuscripts and texts

One of the interesting aspects at Mosaico is the use of different models for presenting the images and creating space for transcriptions and comments. This makes the project a kind of laboratory for editing manuscripts using online tools. In the absence of agreement among scholars about a general way of describing medieval manuscripts along standards which are also consistent with presentation online using XML, and dealing with both data and meta-data concerning manuscripts, any initiative showing different approaches for one very wide manuscript genre is valuable in itself. The model Susa – after Henricus de Segusio (1190/1200-1271), often nicknamed Hostiensis because he ended his life as cardinal of Ostia – is a simple database for searching manuscripts, with for now perhaps not enough data to consider its functioning properly. The model San Pietroburgo presents data and meta-data in a series of windows with information for each manuscript page.

The model with the tempting name Processo di Satana offers a viewer in which you can compare two manuscripts and add comments and transcriptions. In the late Middle Ages several texts presented the story of a trial of the devil against God claiming human souls. These treatises offer a kind of nutshell guide to forms of procedure at court, and at the same time also a guide to a number of theological matters. At Mosaico you will find the Processus Sathanae contra genus humanum ascribed to Bartolo da Sassoferato (1313-1357). The manuscript tradition of this treatise is the subject of another section, which alas is not complete, but at least you will find an introduction and a provisory list with 43 manuscripts. The list is certainly not complete, but has the distinct merit of noticing the context of the transmission in both juridical and theological manuscripts. You can view images of four manuscripts of Bartolus’ text. Readers of an earlier post here might remember that Bartolus’ treatises have been preserved in many manuscripts. The fourth model Bertram offers images, a classic transcription and commentary by Martin Bertram of the manuscript Montecassino 266 of Goffredo da Trani’s Apparatus decretalium, one of the earliest and most original commentaries on the Liber Extra, the major official decretal collection published in 1234.

It is only fair to indicate that Mosaico offers the result of work in progress. At some turns there is little to desire, at other points progress seems to have halted soon after the start. It is certainly thoughtful of the makers to present the manuscripts from the Biblioteca Comunale dell’Archiginnasio in Bologna also in a separate section, but here, too, an introduction is lacking. Ms. A 34 contains the Processus Sathanae. Ms. B.1484 presents the text of Salatiel’s Ars notariae. Ms. B.2794 and ms. B.2795 are both manuscripts with various legal texts which again are concerned with legal procedure. The first has for example the Margarita legum of Alberico Galiotti, quaestiones by Azo and the Libellus questionum of Pillius and a Summula de libellis formandis atrributed to Salatinus. The second manuscript offers a Libellus de ordine iudiciorum ascribed to Pillius, Guido de Suzaria on the same subject, the Tractatus de summaria cognitione by Giovanni Faseoli, and a number of texts without a clear attribution. The best modern starting point for research on these two manuscripts is no doubt the study by Linda Fowler-Magerl, Ordo judiciorum vel ordo judiciarius. Begriff und Literaturgattung (Frankfurt am Main 1984). The genre of the quaestiones is one of the subjects dealt with by Annalisa Belloni, Le questioni civilistiche del secolo XII: Da Bulgaro a Pillio da Medicina e Azzone (Frankfurt am Main 1989), and in the proceedings of a symposium, Die Kunst der Disputation. Probleme der Rechtsauslegung und Rechtsanwendung im 13. und 14. Jahrhundert, Manlio Bellomo (ed.) (Munich 1997).

A summary of the contents of the twin manuscripts B.2794-2795 is also to be found in the catalogue of the microfilms held at the Istituto di Storia del Diritto Italiano, Sezione di diritto medievale e moderno, in Milan. For medieval manuscripts in Italy one can use online BIBMAN, the Bibliografia dei manoscritti in alfabeto latino conservati in Italia, which helps you finding literature on specific manuscripts, MANUS, the Censimento dei manoscritti conservati in biblioteche italiane, a general database for Italian manuscripts, the Nuova Biblioteca Manoscritta database for manuscripts in the Veneto, and Codex, the Inventario dei manoscritti medievali della Toscana, yet another database for manuscripts. For Lombardy a comparable censimento exists, to mention only the largest regional projects and those projects most relevant for legal history. However, musical manuscripts and Greek palimpsests (Rinascimento Virtuale) are certainly not forgotten in Italy, and you can find more projects in this list at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and at the portal Internet Culturale. The Vatican Library is anyway in a class of its own, and this is certainly the case for its manuscripts. Searching for manuscripts in Italy bearing a date is possible online with the online version of Manoscritti Datati d’Italia.

Bologna, Alma Mater Studiorum

Logo Università di Bologna

Near the end of this post it is clear that at Mosaico the door is wide open for studies in the field of medieval legal procedure. The models for presentation merit close scrutiny and further elaboration. The doors of the Progetto Irnerio remain much more closed, an alluring treasure vaguely visible from outside. It is time to put my findings in a perspective, first on the level of medieval legal manuscripts, secondly in the context of other Bolognese libraries and their services.

How do both projects compare with other websites and presentations devoted solely or partially to medieval legal manuscripts? Illuminating the Law is a fine online exhibition of beautiful medieval juridical manuscripts at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. However, the exhibition shows only twenty images, almost exclusively from canon law manuscripts. The first images show the tree of consanguinity (Decretum Gratiani, ms. 262, fol. 71r) and the tree of affinity (ms. 262, fol. 71v). From a manuscript with the Volumen parvum which contains Justinian’s Institutiones and the Authenticum (McClean 139, fols. iv-iir), the arbor actionum is shown. Penn in Hand, the gallery of digitized manuscripts at the libraries of the University of Pennsylvania, contains a number of medieval legal manuscripts and records among a very large selection. The UPenn libraries offer only very short descriptions of these manuscripts. The Saint Laurentius Digital Manuscript Library of Lund Universitet, too, contains a number of legal manuscripts, with a full description of all 77 digitized manuscripts. Both Scandinavian law, and texts on Roman and canon law are present. Using the various websites which present illuminated medieval manuscripts one can easily find more images of the legal trees mentioned here.

Libraries and others institutions in Bologna offer more besides the Progetto Irnerio and Progetto Mosaico. The Biblioteca Universitaria has much to offer, including a substantial number of online databases. The link collection gives due attention to legal websites in Italy. In ALMA@DL, the digital library, a whole section is devoted to digitized historical works, AMS Historica. A digital version of the Corpus Iuris Civilis in the edition Lyon 1556-1558 is its showcase. The historical catalogue of the university library has been digitized for the Cataloghi Storici project of the Biblioteca Digitale Italiana. The university’s Archivio Storico is worth attention, too, with historic photographs and its online database in which you can find diplomas, charters, medals and much more. The various colleges are not forgotten, with for example the Collegio Jacobs, nowadays the Collegio dei Fiamminghi.

Bologna is home to more archives. The largest institution is the Archivio di Stato di Bologna (ASB), which has also its own Scuola di archivistica, paleogafia e diplomatica. Among the digitized sources is the Liber Paradisus, a register about the liberation of nearly six thousand slaves at Bologna in 1257. Together with the Centro Gino Fasoli per la Storia delle Città the ASB has created a digital version of the Estimi di Bologna di 1296-97, records estimating the properties of Bolognese citizens. After online registration you get immediate access to the original documents and further information on them, including an overview of similar records, a guide on the structure of the estimi and a bibliography. The Archivio Comunale di Bologna is the city archive. It participates in the initiative of a number of European municipal archives, Evidence! Europe reflected in archives. Other archives include the Archivio Storico Provinciale di Bologna and the Archivio Generale Arcivescovile.

Logo Archiginnasio

At Bologna the Biblioteca Comunale dell’Archiginnasio is really a jewel in the crown for everyone looking for old printed books and manuscripts. The library has several special catalogues online - for example for seventeenth and eighteenth century printed books – and a full overview of its collections. Archiweb, the digital library, presents a wealth of varieties of which I can hardly make a choice for a shortlist: the Bibliografia bolognese (1888) by Luigi Frati, the Raccolta dei Bandi Merlani with 22,000 digitized decrees and other legislative documents for Bologna from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, Il Blasone Bolognese, a database with heraldic images created between 1791 and 1795, and FACIES, 10,000 digitized portrait images, are just some highlights you might want to look at when you are going to study Bologna’s legal history. Among the online exhibitions I would like to mention Nascità di una nazione on the Risorgimento period and the creation of a unified Italy.

If you would like to search for medieval lawyers in one of Bologna’s museums, the Museo Civico Medievale, one of the four Musei Civici d’Arte Antica, would certainly live up to your expectations thanks to the collection of medieval tombs, sculptures and inscriptions. In order to find more museums, archives and libraries in Bologna and in the region around Bologna you should benefit from the online guides provided by the Provincia di Bologna. The only institution without a website which nonetheless deserves at least mention here is the Deputazione di Storia Patria per le Provinze di Romagna.

With a comparison of two projects at Bologna presenting medieval manuscripts, reference to some projects elsewhere, and two nutshell guides, both for manuscripts in Italy and for archives, libraries and some museums in Bologna this post has become rather long. It is almost too much of a good thing, but I am sure you will find something of interest. Perhaps the very length of this post is fitting when you write about medieval Bologna. The town had two nicknames, La Dotta, the learned, and La Grossa, the fat one. It’s for you and your taste to file this post in the appropriate category!

Changing your search angle

Many posts on this blog and a growing list on my website are concerned with digital libraries with holdings for legal history. At the back of my mind there has been a nagging doubt whether this is the only way to find digitized books. Luckily the answer is negative: there are other ways to find them. Remarks by Robin Vose (St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick) led me again to the medieval inquisition and libraries with holdings concerning this institution, and I am grateful for his encouragements.

In my post Digitizing a medieval inquisitor (January 4, 2011) I had presented a digital version of the manuscript Toulouse, Bibliothèque Municipale, 609. I mentioned also the Historia Inquisitionis, a famous book on the inquisition by the Dutch writer Philippus van Limborch, but at that time I could not offer you information about a digital version of it. Its second part contains an edition of a manuscript now in the British Library (Add. 4697) with records of an inquisition held in the early fourteenth century by Jacques Fournier and Bernard Gui.

Using the BASE search engine at the University of Bielefeld I found a digital version of Van Limborch’s Historia Inquisitionis (Amsterdam 1692) . Both parts of Van Limborch’s book have been digitized: at page 417 the “Liber Sententiarum Inquisitionis Tholosanae” starts. The digital version, published on June 3, 2010, is present in the DSpace of the CEU-Net libraries, Universidad San Pablo CEU, Madrid, at this link. You can find digitized versions of the English translation of Van Limborch’s work in the Hathi Trust Library, but this English translation does not include the second volume with the edition of the inquisitorial records.

BASE, the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine, enables you to search with one search action in a very large number of digital libraries and repositories. More than 1700 collections are covered now. A digital repository typically holds the publications of scholars from one scientific institution.

Robin Vose was involved in creating the online exhibition on the materials for the history of the medieval and Spanish inquisition at Notre Dame University. I would like to draw your attention to their online exhibition Familia Praedicatoria on the history of the Dominican order. A number of Dominicans became very soon after the foundation of this mendicant order involved with the medieval inquisition. Vose points to several other American libraries with holdings on this subject, in particular the Henry Charles Lea Library at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. Among the digitized manuscripts in Pen in Hand: Selected Manuscripts of UPenn Libraries, too, one finds some items concerning the medieval, the Spanish and the Roman inquisition. The Lilly Library of the Indiana University at Bloomington Libraries has some manuscripts concerning the inquisition in Peru, but none of these is to be found in the digital collections of this library. Chicago’s Newberry Library has fine holdings for literature concerning the various inquisitions. Among their wealth of digital collections presented together with other libraries in Illinois at CARLI no item is connected with the history of the Catholic inquisitions. As a happy reader of the Introduction to Manuscript Studies by Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham (Ithaca-London 2007) I am a bit surprised that the Newberry Library which provided many illustrations for this volume does not have many manuscripts bearing on legal history, apart from charters and administrative rolls. Looking at the libraries of the Hebrew Union College did not bring me immediately to materials in their holdings, but I can at least mention the digitized version of the American Jewish Archives Journal. The Witchcraft Collection of Cornell University Library yields only four digitized books focusing on any form of the inquisition.

Perhaps this sunny Friday afternoon does not help me much to dig deeper, but surely it’s time to look briefly at European institutions. Perhaps it is a kind of justice that this afternoon the search function of the MICHAEL website does not seem to work at all, and thus it seems wiser to turn again to the BASE engine. Was finding Van Limborch a case of being just lucky, or can this search engine bring you more? The results might have been relevant only when searching for the Middle Dutch Roman van Limborch or the Limburg brothers… With the basic search term inquisition at least two of the results have directly to do with Jacques Fournier, the article ‘Per modum quem solent tenere heretici in respondendo. Confessione, prova e dissimulazione nel tribunale di Jacques Fournier (1318-1325)’ , Les Dossiers du Grihl, 2009-2 by Irene Bueno, and her article ‘Dal carnalis concubitus all’heretica pravitate. Sesso, matrimonio ed eresia nel tribunale di Jacques Fournier (1318-1325)’, L’Atelier du Centre de recherches historiques, 4-2009.

It was no chance to find after a first attempt already two incunabula in the Verteilte Inkunabelbibliothek of the Herzog-August-Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel and the University Library in Cologne of works mentioning the workings of the inquisition in passing – the Summa theologica of Antoninus of Florence – and more substantially – the Practica nova judicialis by Johannes Petrus de Ferrariis. Doing the same search with the INKA Inkunabelkatalog for incunabula in German scientific libraries yields results with indications of digitized copies of for example Francesco Accolti’s commentary to the decretals of the title De accusationibus, inquisitionibus et denunciationibus (X. 5.1). The Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-Preussischer Kulturbesitz also increasingly marks search results with links to digitized copies, for instance a copy at Munich of repetitiones by Azo de Ramenghis, including a repetitio on X. 5.1. Because the new DFG-viewer of the digital collections at Munich is not yet easily reached I will give the permanent link to it.

In the Digi20 project of the Digitale Sammlungen in Munich you can find fairly recent publications on the Roman inquisition from the series Römische Inquisition und Indexkongregation edited by Hubert Wolf. The literature database of the Regesta Imperii, an indispensable tool when searching literature on the Middle Ages, too, has started to mark search results with indications of digital versions. You will find here much more on Bernard Gui and Jacques Fournier. Let’s finish today’s search for digital collections with the Editti e bandi pontifici at the Biblioteca Casanatense in Rome, a collection of papal documents from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century mainly concerning censorship of books by the Roman inquisition, but sometimes about the inquisition in its widest sense.

You might argue with some justification that this post only skates the surface of the huge literature on the inquisition in its various incarnations and deviations. What needs underlining for the medieval inquisition is its deep inner paradox of being an institution in which the role of accusing party and judge were united in one person against all indication of what constitutes due process. Medieval canonists did work to create the doctrine of due process while at the same time they factually condoned or ignored the workings of medieval inquisitors. Unravelling the facts surrounding such questions is one of the arguments of placing high value on research concerning medieval canon law, its doctrinal development, jurisprudence and actual practice. The digitization of manuscripts and books pertaining to this history is one of the means to fulfill this aim, and certainly not the only one.

A postscript

I should add two rather obvious additions to works in medieval canon law concerning the inquisitorial procedures of which digitized incunabula exist. The Digitale Sammlungen at Munich contain several incunabula editions of the major reference work on medieval procedure, the Speculum iudiciale by Guillelmus Durandus (or Duranti). In this digital library, and in the Verteilte Inkunabelbibliothek, you can find also the Repertorium aureum iuris canonici ascribed to this author. In this work “inquisitio” is a separate lemma. Sometimes this repertory is also included within the bindings of, or printed alongside the Speculum iudiciale.

A second postscript: the Universidad San Pablo-CEU in Madrid has at its website a PDF with a collection of books from Emil Van der Vekene, the author of the Bibliotheca bibliographica historiae sanctae inquisitionis (3 vol., Vaduz 1982-1992). In Dresden Gerd Schwerhoff has created a fine bibliographical introduction to inquisitional history.

Annette Pales-Gobilliard edited and translated the texts of the manuscript British Library, Add. 4697 in Le livre des sentences de l’inquisiteur Bernard Gui, 1308-1323 (2 vol., Paris 2002).

Digitizing a medieval inquisitor

Does being familiar with historical sources, with special collections, old editions, archival records and buildings in their original or restored state, ever satisfy you completely? Writing for a virtual public I more and more realize how special it is to have historic material near at hand. Within half an hour I can walk to monuments from many centuries. On bicycle or by bus and train even more is within easy reach. Yet often you are not in a position to see the originals. Today the web brings many things to your home or even to your portable computer that normally would only visualize before your eyes after a voyage or prolonged research.

Let’s take medieval texts as an example. Often you had to be quite happy when the university library in your town had an edition of particular texts. Virtual libraries make it possible to consult many editions on your screen. On my website for legal history I have created a page on medieval procedure with sections on the officials, the lawyers heading the diocesan tribunals created in the thirteenth century, on Guillaume Durand, the author of the Speculum iudiciale, an encyclopedic treatise on medieval procedure, on the Rota Romana and other tribunals at Rome, and on the medieval inquisition. Even if one is not particularly interested in the subject it simply had to be included. In this section you will find mainly a list with source editions and modern studies on the subject by historians specializing in medieval and legal history.

Pointing to websites with clear and reliable information on the medieval inquisition proved to be rather difficult. The clarity offered by many popular sites runs often completely against reliability. Among the few safe guides are the pages at the University of Notre Dame on their collection concerning the medieval inquisition, and the webpages of Jean Duvernoy with a list of his editions and transcriptions of sources on the inquisition in the Languedoc. For further research I could mention in particular the Henry Charles Lea Library at the University of Pennsylvania.

Duvernoy offers transcriptions of several important manuscripts with inquisitorial sources, mainly from the Doat collection at the Bibliothèque nationale de France of seventeenth century transcriptions of medieval sources from Toulouse, many of them no longer existing. Pride of place is taken by the transcriptions of the manuscript Toulouse, Bibliothèque municipale, 609, with the records of the inquisitions held by Bernard de Caux in the Lauragais during 1245 and 1246. I feel quite happy to have Duvernoy’s transcriptions of the manuscript at Toulouse long recognized as a very important source. Scholars like Mark Gregory Pegg in his studies The corruption of angels. The great inquisition of 1245-1246 (Princeton-Oxford 2001) and A Most Holy War. The Albigensian Crusade and the Battle for Christendom (Oxford, etc., 2008) have studied the manuscript in situ. You might guess how much surprised I am to find a digitized version of Toulouse 609 at the Bibliothèque numérique of Toulouse’s city library. The Bibliothèque Municipale at Toulouse has digitized a substantial number of medieval manuscripts. Interestingly the library has partnered with the French national library for this digitization project, and thus you can find these manuscripts at Toulouse through the services of Gallica.

Looking at the manuscript on my screen I encountered a few difficulties in getting a detailed view of the written text. The enlargement could have been better. Creating a PDF, one of the services shown at the website’s viewer, did not work with the browser I normally use. After downloading an image of a random page the original photograph turned out to have a rather less sharp resolution than needed for normal decipherment of a medieval manuscript. When your eyes have adjusted to the script reading will certainly go easier, but I had expected a better technical quality. I do not at all like to quibble about these matters, but they do matter. When I first found out about the collection on the medieval inquisition at Notre Dame I hoped they would have digitized their copy of Philipp van Limborch’s Historia Inquisitionis (Amsterdam 1692) who printed as an appendix the famous record on the Montaillou inquisition by Bernard Gui and Jacques Fournier, the future pope Benedict XII, from the manuscript only much later identified with London, British Library, Add. 4697. I have not yet spotted a digitized version of this edition. For now having digital access at home to a manuscript that has been so often studied, a real treasure of medieval legal history, is just most welcome.

A postscript on the Bibliothèque numérique of the Bibliothèque Municipale de Toulouse and the quality of digitization: I have looked here at more images of digitized manuscripts. It seems that the pictures taken of illuminated pages are generally of a better quality than those of text pages. The digitized images of music scores, including autographs such as Gabriel Fauré’s Berceuse for violin and orchestra (Res. Mus. B. 557) and music editions from the sixteenth century (e.g. madrigals by Phillipus de Monte), are really sharp. Among the digitized manuscripts of legal interest are a collection of conciliar canons (Ms. 364) and letters from and to Jean de Boysonné (1505-1559?), a lawyer and poet at Toulouse (Ms. 834). The four thousand photographs taken by Eugène Trutat (1840-1910) are not always presented in their original dimensions, but his images of places like Moissac and for example an Italian fresco with the judgment of Solomon (TRU C 1906) have historic value.