Tag Archives: Roman law

The dog, the cat and the mouse: animals and legal history

Monkeys playing slaves - sculpture in wood - source: Kommissio für das Deutsche Rechtswörterbuch, Heidelberg

Man and animals live together since the domestication of a number of animals many thousand years ago. Through the ages they often got along quite well, but sometimes man needed the law to deal with the unexpected behaviour of animals. The company and companionship between women, men and animals is not completely harmless or effortless. Relationships ranged and range today from animal worship and sometimes almost human care for pets at one end to harsh treatment as mere objects and outright systematic cruelty, serving mankind in the end as food, provider of skins, cruel entertainment and other goals.

In a conference on Das Tier in der Rechtsgeschichte [Animals in legal history] at Heidelberg from April 2 to 4, 2014, legal historians and other scholars will discuss several aspects of animal and human life and the interaction between them. The program of the conference at Heidelberg has been created in cooperation with the commission for the Deutsches Rechtswörterbuch. In this post I will look at some aspects of the interaction between animal history and legal history. This is an occasion, too, to look at the Deutsches Rechtswörterbuch, one of the typical German dictionary projects.

Of man and beasts

Animals are no aliens in legal history. Especially in German legal history animals come into view already early. I invite you to look for example at images from medieval bestiaries in Bestiaire du Moyen Âge, a virtual exhibition of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (interface French, English and Spanish), They are portrayed in various ways in the famous illuminated manuscripts of Eike von Repgow’s Sachsenspiegel. In April Dietlinde Munzel-Everling will discuss the animals in the Sachsenspiegel. Jacob Grimm, one of the pioneers of German academic legal history did not only study and publish versions of the medieval animal epic about the fox Renard in his Reinhart Fuchs (Berlin 1834). In an earlier post here I looked in more depth at the various versions of this much liked medieval story. His explanation of German words in his Deutsche Grammatik (first edition Göttingen 1819) often included historical explanations. The word vogelfrei, meaning literally and originally “free as a bird”, was in the context of exiled people and victims of execution who were denied a funeral narrowed to “delivered to the birds”. No doubt Grimm will figure in the contribution of Michael Frosser-Schell on animals in his edition of the Weisthümer (6 vol., Göttingen 1840-1878).

At the conference in Heidelberg a physician and a theologian will help looking at animals and legal history from different academic disciplines. Wolfgang Eckhart will look at relations between humans and animals from a cultural and medieval perspective. Martin Jung will look at animals in early French protestant theology. Apart from a section on animals in some selected legal sources the conference has sections on animals in public and private law, both in towns and rural areas, animals and their roles in criminal law, animals and law in art and language, and finally a section looking at animals in Spanish law (Marita Giménes-Candela) and animals in the German and French Enlightenment (Ulrich Kronauer). In this last contribution the change in views about the maltreatment of animals will be discussed.

Legal procedure is a subject in the contribution of Inge Kroppenberg about the damnatio ad bestias in Roman law. Peter Dinzelbacher, too, will look at Tierprozesse, criminal procedures against animals. The hanging of dogs is the theme of Stephan Meder’s contribution. Hopefully they pay due respect to the classic study The criminal prosecution and capital punishment of animals by Edward Payson Evans (London 1906; reprint London 1987), but follow also the example of historians such as Esther Cohen to look beyond cases to their context and to patterns of argumentation. For studies about animal behavior and views about animals it is worth looking at the Animal Studies Bibliography created at Michigan State University. The College of Law at this university is home to the Animal Legal & Historical Center where you can conveniently search for specific historical cases and subjects, broader themes and jurisdictions.

Animals, law, history and the German language

Logo Deutsches Rechtswörterbuch

In the second part of this post the Deutsches Rechtswörterbuch (DRW) takes pride of place. German scholars have a fine tradition of creating and editing dictionaries, with without any doubt the Deutsches Wörterbuch started by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm as one of its major feats. The long time it takes to create such dictionaries is almost proverbial for the tenacity of German scholarship. A second association with these enterprises are the efforts of the various German learned academies. Not only academies with a budget for these projects, but also scholarly teams have the courage to start them, for example the team of 400 scholars behind the second edition of the Handwörterbuch zur deutschen Rechtsgeschichte (HRG). The online version of the HRG gives you free access to the list of entries and keywords, some examples and to excerpts of the other articles. Paid subscription is necessary for full access to the complete online version, but you can buy PDF’s of separate articles.

The project for the DRW was started in 1897 by the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Since 1959 the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften leads and finances the project. This academy supports also the Dictionnaire Étymologique de l’Ancien Français. The idea for a dictionary of the German legal language comes from the philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. On the website of the DRW you can view the original printed version, a digital version and a summary of each article. The DRW has now reached the word Schulbuch. The website of the DRW contains an introduction in English and French to facilitate its use. For the DRW a great number of sources from Germany and elsewhere for example from the Netherlands, has been digitized on a separate website, where you can search in specific sources; you can check this overview with a list of the digitized titles. A list with externally digitized relevant sources counts some 1,300 titles. The DRW has a special text archive for full text searches. Thanks to scholars such as Grimm the scope of the DRW is not just the legal language of Germany, the former Holy Roman Empire. Grimm wanted it to cover all languages of the Western Germanic language family. Thus Old English, Anglo-Saxon, Old and Middle Dutch, Old Frisian and even Lombardic, and the several medieval phases of the German language are included.

As with any dictionary created over a long time span the early parts of the DRW are not as rich as later volumes. The first volume appeared in 1914. The presence of digitized resources helps you to extend the examples adduced for early and later articles of the DRW. Let’s look for example at the cat (Katze) (DRW VII, col. 563-564). The cat figures gruesomely in a punishment dating from the Early Modern period in which someone was to be put into a sack with some living animals, among them a cat. The Katze was also the nickname of a punishment or a prison. The DRW links directly to other general German dictionaries, and indicated further textual sources, where you can even exclude certain word forms. Interestingly the ten additional textual examples from digitized sources for the cat stem all from Old Frisian law, mainly from the Westerlauwersches Recht, W.J. Buma (ed.) (Góttingen 1977). Here the cat is one of the animals which when they cause damages oblige their owner to pay only a part of the normal sum of money to be paid as a fine. The cat gave its name also to a number of following entries in the DRW which you might look up yourself.

I owe you here information about the other animals figuring in the title of my post. The mouse (Maus) is only very rarely mentioned in a legal context (DRW IX, col. 380). In fact the evidence from a trial according to canon law Tirol around 1520 given by the DRW has already been printed by Evans (p. 259-260) in Appendix A of his study from a German almanac for 1843. As a Dutchman I can dream of a case of mice invading a room with Dutch cheese! Combining cats and dogs in the title of this post was seducing, but I could have guessed easily that a dog (Hund) would only for its literal sense take very much space in the DRW (VII, col. 53-61). However, the hunting dog (Jagdhund) has an entry for itself (DRW VI, col. 356-357), with additional entries for such subjects as the servant dealing with hunting dogs. I could not help smiling at the wonderful long compound German word for the very brief separate entry concerning the costs of the care for a hunting dog, Jagdhundverpflegungskosten.

Mistaking the scope of dictionaries

Even if you can detect limits to the range and quality of the Deutsches Rechtswörterbuch you should remember that most languages do not have any kind of legal-historical dictionary worthy of a comparison with the DRW. Many people in my country complain about the largest dictionary – nicknamed the Dikke Van Dale [The Fat Dictionary] – it does not explain everything like an encyclopedia. They would be baffled by the Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal (WNT) which looks very much like an encyclopedia of the Dutch language from 1500 to roughly 1925. Its sheer size makes it the largest existing dictionary of any language. You will forgive me this paragraph when I tell you on this website you can even find words from the Lex Salica using the combined search mode of the WNT with dictionaries for Old Dutch and Middle Dutch. A dictionary of the Frisian language is also present on this website. Verily the DRW is not an encyclopedia, and also not a lexicon of juridical constructions and concepts, for which you can turn to the HRG.

I would have liked to comment on the image with the chained apes, presumably a wooden sculpture somewhere in Germany, but I have not yet found more information about it. At the end of this post I would like to turn from history to the present, For a dictionary of current legal German you can consult online for example the Rechtswörterbuch, which brings you also to current German laws and legal study books. Animals in contemporary German law are the subject on the website of the foundation Tier im Recht. When I looked at this website with a poodle staring at you Germans will remember Goethe’s words in Faust about the heart of the matter, des Pudels Kern. In my opinion the various ways we looked and look at, dealt and deal with animals can say much about our attitude towards people, life and nature. The story of animals and animal law is not to be detached from human history, because it tells us about both the bright and darker sides of human life, our views of culture and society, its order and limits.


Legal texts in digitized manuscripts at the British Library

Logo British Library - image http://pressandpolicy.bl.uk/Last week I spotted somewhere on the web an announcement about the digitization of a particularly lavishly illuminated medieval manuscript with a legal text, the Decretales Gregorii IX, the major collection of papal decretals issued in 1234 by command of pope Gregory IX. The manuscript from the fourteenth century which prompted me to write this post is commonly called the Smithfield Decretals (Royal 10 E IV). At the British Library in London the digitization of manuscripts is a project on a vast scale, first of all in view of its rich and manifold collections concerning many themes, periods and countries. A blog dedicated to news on digitized medieval manuscripts at the BL helps you to stay informed about the progress of digitization for manuscripts from a particular period. The BL even advertises a smart phone application for the Royal manuscripts, but this app will no longer be supported.

In this post I will look at legal manuscripts digitized by the British Library. Even if the absolute number of relevant manuscripts is really small, an overview of them might be useful. The variety of periods and legal systems merits attention. To redress the balance I will take into account here also illuminated manuscripts with legal texts for which the BL has digitized at least a number of pages or illustrations. A comparison of the search functions of both catalogues is included, too. At the end of this post it might perhaps be possible to conclude which legal text could be scheduled as a new addition to the eBook Treasures of the British Library.

Searching for digitized legal texts at the BL

Some people will like to know as quickly as possible about the things that make a search interface more effectively or hamper its working. For once I agree in starting with a negative remark: the detailed view with the description – and most often a detailed bibliography – of a digitized manuscript at the BL seemed at first to lack a permanent web address. When you save the URL of this view – without noticing the tiny notice “Show link URL” – and you try to reopen it in a new tab or window you cannot access it anymore. A redirection notice appears, and you have to enter your search again. Thus the link I provided in the first paragraph to the Smithfield Decretals is not the link to the detailed view, but to the first page of the digitized manuscript Royal 10 E IV itself. I will give below the correct links to the full descriptions. In the manuscript view you will find a summary of the content placed at the top of the screen. You can search for manuscripts either using a quick search with two fields, keywords and manuscript numbers, or using the advanced search interface with search fields for keywords, manuscript number, title, author/scribe, provenance and acquisition, and bibliography.

A long search for digitized manuscripts with legal texts yielded as a result a rather short list with only some twenty manuscripts. For each manuscript I give the call number, a summary view of the contents, its date and a link to the full description:

The papyrus with the complete text of the Athenian Constitution is the subject of a recent post at the BL’s manuscripts blog. What strikes me most while searching for these manuscripts is the lack of concise categories added to the description of a manuscript. Of course I realize the difficulty in adding systematic descriptors when dealing with composite manuscripts and convolutes. The sheer number of manuscripts in the British Library has as one of its consequences that some manuscript descriptions can be rather outdated, but newer descriptions are often very detailed.

Some legal texts surfaced really by chance. I looked for the exchequer when I found Harley 1498, an agreement concerning the royal burial chapel at Westminster. This indenture is not a chirograph, a charter split into two or more parts, but a book with indentures. A second part of it is kept at the National Archives, E 33/1. The coronation book of the French king Charles V (Cotton Tiberius B VIII) can serve as a reminder that a coronation is a ritual with legal elements in it. The texts of French coronation ordines have been edited anew by Richard A. Jackson (ed.) , Ordines Coronationis Franciae: Texts and Ordines for the Coronation of Frankish and French Kings and Queens in the Middle Ages (2 vols., Philadelphia, 2001).

After repeated searches with a substantial number of very different search terms with a clear meaning for legal history I still have not found more than this tiny sample from the immensely varied and large manuscript collections of the British Library. I hesitate to include here a fragment of farming memoranda of Ely Abbey from the first quarter of the eleventh century (Add. 61735). The New Minster Liber Vitae from Winchester (Stowe 944) does contain the text of some charters and the will of King Ælfred, but these legal texts are not the core of this manuscript.

For some manuscripts guidance can be found online in repertories, and sometimes even at a specialised blog. Greek manuscripts clearly get special attention in London. The Zonaras blog for the history of Eastern Christian canon law is a very useful guide to this field, and I am happy to point to it for more information about authors such as John Zonaras and Theodoros Balsamon. Manuscripts with text concerning Byzantine law are the subject of two German repertories which are available online at the Max-Planck-Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte in Frankfurt am Main. You can download PDF’s of both the Repertorium der Handschriften des byzantinischen Rechts, Teil I: Die Handschriften des weltlichen Rechts (Nr. 1-327), Ludwig Burgmann, Marie-Theres Fögen, Andreas Schminck and Dieter Simon (eds.) (Frankfurt am Main, 1995), and the Repertorium der Handschriften des byzantinischen Rechts, Teil II: Die Handschriften des kirchlichen Rechts I (Nr. 328-427), Andreas Schminck and Dorotei Getov (eds.) (Frankfurt am Main 2011). Both books were published in the series Forschungen zum Byzantinischen Rechts; more PDF’s of some publications in this series can be found at a special subdomain of the website of the Frankfurt institute. English legal manuscripts are being catalogued by the untiring efforts of Sir John Hamilton Baker. He did this also for the Taussig collection with many English manuscripts now at the Lillian Goldman Law Library of Yale University [John H. Baker and Anthony Taussig (eds.), A catalogue of the legal manuscripts of Anthony Taussig (London 2007)].

Light on illuminated legal manuscripts

The Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library does quickly dispel any misgiving about the percentage of legal texts among the various manuscript collections. Let’s not overdo things here, and first go to the origin of this post, manuscripts with decretals or commentaries on papal decretals. Here, too, you can choose between a quick general search and an advanced search mode.

Prisoner seeking sanctuary, bas-de-page scene from the Smithfield Decretals

Prisoner seeking sanctuary – Smithfield Decretals, British Library, ms. Royal 10 E IV, fol. 206 verso – image British Library

A search for illuminated manuscripts with decretals yields 35 records. For each manuscript you can go to a page with thumbnail images and summary descriptions of the illuminations. Often you will find more detailed images, too. Thus choosing a scene using this overview from the bas-de-page illustrations of the Smithfield Decretals is even easier than using the complete digital version of this manuscript. The illustrations in the lower margins present often consecutive scenes and tales. In August 2012 Alixe Bovey (University of Kent) contributed a very interesting post on the decorations of this manuscript to the BL’s manuscripts blog, ‘Finishing the Smithfield Decretals’. Some books have only penwork flourishes at the beginning of chapters. Among these illuminated manuscripts with decretals I would like to single out Harley 2349, a manuscript written between 1340 and 1450 with papal decretals and statutes of England. The manuscript Royal 10 C IV with the Abbreviatio Decreti Gratiani by Omnibonus, written between 1198 and 1202 has penwork initials and some additional drawings in the margins. Omnibonus’s name made me remember the Omne Bonum, the illustrated encyclopedia by James le Palmer, a clerk of the Exchequer (four volumes, Royal 6 E VI and 6 E VII, written around 1360-1375).

A lawyer addressing an assembly

A lawyer addressing an assembly – British Library, ms. Harley 947, fol. 107r – image British Library (size reduced)

As for other legal texts in illuminated manuscripts you will have to pick your choice from a wide variety of manuscripts, from books with only one decorated initial to manuscripts with lavish almost full-page illustrations in historiated initials. Let one example suffice, the Statuta Angliae. This text and other statutes can be found in nearly sixty illuminated manuscripts. Hargrave 274 (written around 1488) contains the Nova Statuta and is probably the most elaborately illustrated example. Harley 947 (first half fourteenth century) with both the Statuta Angliae and the text of the Magna Carta deserves mentioning for its picture of a lawyer speaking to an assembly.

The Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts is truly a treasure trove, even if the manuscripts of the Cotton collection have not yet been included. When searching for an image with some relevance for legal history you find yourself here with a mer à boire. Legal iconography will not come back empty-handed from searches at this website or in the Online Gallery of the British Library. It is surely possible to include the BL in a comparison of online image resources of major research libraries, something that might be really interesting. In particular the use of taxonomies such as Iconclass might come into view when comparing different databases. A comparison with a portal such as Manuscripts Online: Written Culture from 1000 to 1500 would be equally valuable. In this post, however, I wanted to give due attention to the world’s second largest library and its manuscript holdings. I invite you to use its resources for yourself and to choose a manuscript that deserves digitization, or even inclusion among the showcases. The British Library has much more to offer, and I am sure this library will be present again in future posts.

At the death of two leading Dutch legal historians

Tom de SmidtLast month Dutch legal historians were saddened to hear about the death of Jacobus Thomas de Smidt (December 19, 1923-February 18, 2013). In several obituaries, for instance by Arthur Elias for Leiden University, by Joke Roelevink for the Huygens Institute of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, and at the website of the Dutch National Archives, the great efforts and merits of Tom de Smidt for the study of Dutch legal history and the organization between Dutch legal historians are commemorated. Among the major projects he initiated are the project on the history of the Great Council of Malines, a project for the edition of the Dutch codifications in the period around 1800, and for example the West Indisch Plakaatboek, a multivolume edition of legal sources for Dutch colonial history in the Caribbean. De Smidt also helped Dutch archives to modernize, and helped the Indonesian government to deal with the records of the Dutch East India Company in the Indonesian National Archives. People remember his warm personality, his sense of humour and his encouragement to young scholars, and I can testify myself for this. In fact his words “Ja, moet je doen!” [Yes, do it!] are for me among his most characteristic utterances.

Robert Feenstra 1920-2013On March 2, 2013, Robert Feenstra passed away at the age of 92. For legal historians abroad he was without any doubt the best known and most respected Dutch legal historian. This week John W. Cairns (Edinburgh) is one of the first legal historians to commemorate Feenstra. If you want to mention major themes and projects with which Feenstra dealt during his long scholarly life you are faced with a very great variety. The history of Roman law in Europe after the end of the Roman Empire and Dutch legal history give only the boundaries of his research interests. Let it suffice here that only four years ago he published with Jeroen Vervliet a new edition of Hugo Grotius’ Mare Liberum (Hugo Grotius, Mare Liberum 1609-2009 (Leyden 2009)), and that in 2011 he witnessed the completion of the project for the Dutch translation of the Corpus Iuris Civilis. He continued the research started by Eduard Maurits Meijers (1880-1954) on the history of the School of Orléans, and many scholars from Leiden have followed him on this path. Feenstra published a number of volumes with articles by Meijers.

For six decades Feenstra was on the editorial board of the Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis. Feenstra helped fostering the relations between Belgian and Dutch scholars. Just like Tom de Smidt he served for many years on the board of the Foundation for the Study of Old Dutch Law. Today Paul Brood (Nationaal Archief) wrote a brief obituary for both scholars on the website of this foundation. Surely its own journal Pro Memorie will contain longer obituaries on both scholars in its coming issue. Luckily this journal published in its series Rechtshistorici uit de Lage Landen [Legal historians from the Low Countries] interviews with both scholars on their scholarly lives and careers (Pro Memorie 5 (2003) 3-38 (Feenstra); with De Smidt in the special issue Prominenten kijken terug. Achttien rechtshistorici uit de Lage Landen over leven, werk en recht [Prominent scholars look back. Eighteen legal historians from the Low Countries on life, work and law] (Pro Memorie 6 (2004) 313-329). Feenstra founded a circle of scholars studying the reception of Roman law in the Low Countries – convening either in Leiden or in Antwerp – where young scholars, too, often got and get a chance to present their doctoral research. I remember how I presented the first results of my doctoral research for this circle. The austere company listened patiently, asked questions on subjects I had neglected or problems which I had not yet grasped, and encouraged me to pursue my research. Robert Feenstra had a keen interest in people and he did not fail to help scholars with practical advice and suggestions for sources and literature. One of the things that impressed me always was the way Feenstra corrected his own views expressed in earlier articles. It makes you realizes how Feenstra’s career spanned almost half a century, his tenacity about cherished subjects, and the high scientific standards he applied to scholars and to himself. His presence at scholarly meetings all over the world expressed the continuity of Dutch legal history.

It is sad that both scholars are no longer with us to respond to our ideas, questions and emerging publications, but we can remain faithful to their memory by remembering their tireless efforts, smiling presence and amazing wide interests in contemporary life and legal history, and by following the paths and roads they paved for present-day scholars and future generations.

A postscript

On March 6, 2013, the Max-Planck-Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte in Frankfurt am Main published an obituary of Robert Feenstra. On March 28, 2013 the blog of the Peace Palace Library publshed an in memoriam on Robert Feenstra by Laurens Winkel.

Blogging about medieval glosses

Today I launched my new blog Glossae – Middeleeuwse juriidische glossen in beeld, “Glosses – Looking at medieval legal glosses”. The very heart of this blog is a manuscript fragment with glosses, marginal and interlinear comments, on Justinian’s Digest, not the ordinary gloss edited by Francesco Accursio in the thirteenth century, but glosses by twelfth-century lawyers, collectively sometimes known as the glossators. The fragment with these early glosses surfaced during the cataloguing of fragments, in itself part of the preparation of a new manuscript catalogue at the Department of Special Collections of Utrecht University Library. Bart Jaski kindly provided detailed photographs of the manuscript (Utrecht UB, ms. fragm. 7.67) which help very much in the decipherment of the glosses which are sometimes very small and barely visible in the original.

The new blog is the first Dutch blog at the Hypotheses network, a French initiative. In 2012 a German branch has been founded. Encouragements from this branch helped me to decide to join this German portal. Of course the question of the main language for my contributions looms large. I have published a first, more general description of the blog in Dutch, with summaries in German and English. The study of medieval legal glosses is indeed marked by the uses of several modern languages, such as French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Publications in English are relatively new in this field. In my first post I mention the appearance of several blogs concerning medieval – in particular Carolingian –  glosses based in the Netherlands.

A very Dutch phenomenon is the collaborative study of manuscripts by both lawyers, historians and palaeographers. I feel privileged to have participated in the yearly Friday seminars on juridical palaeography at Leiden University. It seems this example has until now not be followed anywhere, but its advantages have been recognized and applauded. Scholars from Leiden, Utrecht and Amsterdam joined in the decipherment and study of medieval legal manuscripts, often covered with tiny glosses. By bringing together each other’s skills, talents and experience we were able to read these manuscripts and to discuss their contents at a level which hardly one of the learned participants could have reached independently. The seminar at Leiden gave me a living example of the great importance of scholarly exchange, discussion and support.

Even when writing (sometimes) in Dutch, a langauge spoken only by some 22 million people worldwide, I am very much aware of the need to transcend borders in time, language and approaches. I am happy that Bart Jaski will join me to write postings for the new blog, either about the manuscript fragment at Utrecht, about other juridical fragments, or about interesting projects and promising methods to deal with medieval manuscripts at large. In particular the use of digital tools to edit and comment on (layers of) annotation seems able to shed new light on the edition of medieval glosses, too.

In itself the fragment at Utrecht is not particularly long. Its importance lies in the presence of the relatively rare preaccursian – i.e. before the Glossa ordinaria edited by Francesco Accursio – glosses, which help us to document not only the development of medieval legal doctrine but also the growth of the mass with many thousand glosses at the disposal of Francesco Accursio during the decades in which he created the final form of the ordinary gloss. This year hope to bring you regularly news about my new project. Hopefully it will not distract me too much from this blog. I could not resist the opportunity to create a wider network around my new blog with a new Twitter account, @GlossaeIuris.

Centers of legal history: Milan

Followers of the series Centers of legal history will have some expectations about a post featuring an Italian city. Which city will I choose? In earlier posts outside this series several Italian towns have figured. In the post on digitized Italian city statutes I pointed to websites all over Italy. My post on the Codex Florentinus contained references to institutions in Florence. The recent post with a discussion of two digitization projects in Bologna ended with a nutshell’s guide to research institutions and other relevant projects at Bologna. Creating a guide for Rome and legal history within the scope of just one blog post is something beyond my powers, and probably just too long and too uneven to be worth the effort. Milan offers itself as the town to figure here, and where possible and sensible I have added institutions and initiatives in Lombardy.

Legal history in Milan

The presence of several universities is one of the reasons to include Milan in this series. I will start with the Università degli Studi di Milano and its department for legal history. Among the current staff of the Sezione di storias medievale e moderno Claudia Storti is now probably the best known scholar, but among former scholars at Milan it is surely Antonio Padoa Schioppa. The library of this section and its digitization projects command respect. In particular the bibliographical database and the database of offprints are worth noting as something only seldom found elsewhere, as is the online database of microfilms of medieval legal manuscripts. The presence of filters for specific themes shows the sheer width of this collection. I Gridari del ducato di Milano del XVIII secolo is a project with digitized legislation from the eighteenth century for the former duchy of Milan. The second digital library contains a wide variety of more than 700 old legal works. The Università degli Studi di Milano has also contributed to the creation of the Censimento dei manoscritti medievali della Lombardia, the online census of medieval manuscripts in Lombardy.

The section for Roman law is less well-known than its counterpart. One of the most salient features is the project on the rights of “others” in Roman and Greek law in which five Italian universities participate. The department has a substantial library. Pride of place should go to the department’s journal Dike for the history of Greek and Hellenistic law. The issues of this journal between 198 and 2007 have been digitized.

The second university to present here is the Università Bocconi - in full Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi – and its Dipartimento di Studi Giuridiche Angelo Sraffa. Unfortunately the pages of the section for Roman law lack information. Of the small section for medieval and modern legal history I would like to mention Annamaria Monti. She contributed to the interesting online exhibition I libri antichi di Angelo Sraffa which focuses on Benvenuto Straccha, a sixteenth-century lawyer, and his treatise De mercatura, an early treatise devoted exclusively to commercial law. Other treatises on this subject, a bibliography and a catalogue of the early printed books donated by Angelo Sraffa (1865-1937) to the Università Bocconi, accompany this exhibition. A second online exhibition shows Italian editions of the Consolato del Mare from 1576 onwards. The Llibre del Consolat del Mar, a legal text from Catalonia, is one of the major sources of medieval maritime law. By the way, together with the Università degli Studi di Pavia the Università Bocconi has created an Italian Law School.

The third university is the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, a university which is active in five Italian towns: Milan, Brescia, Piacenza, Rome and Campobasso. Despite careful searching at the websites of the law faculties in Milan and Piacenza I was unable to find any activity in the field of legal history. A fourth smaller university, the Università Milano-Bicocca has more to present. At this university you will find a department for medieval and modern legal history and a department for canon law. Loredana Garlati is one of the editors of the Italian legal history portal Storia del diritto medievale e moderno. At this portal you can find in particular detailed information about the legal historians active in Italian universities. I guess I have not found every legal historian in Milan at the website of her or his university, but this portal can bring you safely to them.

Legal history at large in Milan and Lombardy

If you are tempted to conclude that the first half of my post is distinctly meagre despite the presence of four universities the second half should contain sufficient arguments to convince you about the wealth and variety of institutions and their projects in Milan and Lombardy. Let’s start with the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense, where I found only two digitized journals dealing with law from the early twentieth century in the Emeroteca of its Biblioteca digitale. Alessandro Lattes, a legal historian, and his brother Elia donated the books which now form the Raccolta Ebraica at the Braidense. The Braidense has got an extended collection of microfilms with historical works concerning the Waldensians.

The Biblioteca Ambrosiana was founded in 1609 by cardinal Federico Borromeo (1564-1631). Its name stems from Ambrose, the famous fourth-century bishop of Milan. After the Bodleian Library (1602) in Oxford and the Biblioteca Angelica in Rome (1604) the Ambrosiana is one of the oldest public libraries in Europe. The library has a truly marvellous collection of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. Some of the more famous manuscripts have been digitized, with probably the Codex Atlanticus of Leonardo da Vinci as the most often sought item. For legal historians and church historians one of the most interesting digital sources are the Acta Ecclesiae Mediolanensis (1582), the first episcopal acts under the aegis of cardinal Carlo Borromeo (1538-1584) in which he tried to follow the decrees of the Council of Trent as closely as possible, with numerous important changes for church life. These acts became quickly the model for the Catholic Church of the Counter-Reformation.

We saw already digitized materials on the legal history of the Duchy of Milan. The Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche has created an online bibliography on the gridi and editi between 1560 and 1796, and of course digitized sources, which you can use after registration. The Archivio lombardo della legislazione storica is an online repertory for legislation in the field of public law in Lombardy from 1749 to 1859. This site is maintained by the Ministero per i Beni Culturali of the Regione Lombarda, which has created a portal on the cultural history of Lombardy. The Codice diplomatico della Lombardia medievale (secoli VIII-XII) is one of the largest projects for the digital edition of medieval charters, and remarkable for including such early charters.

One of the quickest and most update ways to find information about online projects concerning the history of Milan, Lombardy and the whole of Italy is the blog Bibliostoria maintained at the Biblioteca delle Scienze della Storia of the Università degli Studi di Milano.This library has also created a special Bibliostoria Web Resources database and a separate catalogue for women’s history. From the blog and the database I can choose almost at random several announcements about relevant projects. Recently the twenty volumes of the Corpus Nummorum Italicorum have been digitized. The very word Corpus reminds me not to forget the digital version only recently launched of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum at Berlin, where you will find Roman inscriptions from Italy partially ordered by region.

The Archivio di Stato di Milano has created an online version of their exhibition commemorating 150 years of Italian unity in 2011, Itali siam tutti, un popol solo. The Atlante dei Catasti Storici e delle Carte Topgraphiche di Lombardia is a special website of the Archivio di Stato at Milan with historical tax registers and maps, where you will also find materials from the Veneto. You can combine your research here with information from Territori, a similar website covering all Italy. The state archive of Milan is present, too, at the portal site for culture in Lombardy, LombardiBeniCulturali. On this portal La memoria degli Sforza presents a digital version of the first sixteen registri of Francesco I Sforza (1450-1466) with a useful bibliography.

At the Castello Sforzesco in Milan you will find the Archivio Storico Civico and the Biblioteca Trivulziana. The link here brings you to many more links of cultural institutions in Milan, and I would single out the portal Storia di Milano. At the website for the Civiche Raccolte Storiche you can also find the Museo del RisorgimentoDigatimi is a digital library on Milan with literary works, including chronicles of Milan’s history. The portal LombardiBeniCulturali gives you short but good general overviews of the history of Lombardy, and provides you with information about institutions which preserve and present Lombardy’s history and cultural heritage. Bibliostoria mentions the bibliographical database of the library of the Senato della Repubblica in Rome where you can search for old works concerning Italian local and regional bibliography in the Fondo Antico di Storia Locale. At a server of the University of Naples you will find a database on the canons of the principal collegiate churches in Lombardy during the Sforza era; this project belongs to the Reti Medievali initiative.

The websites dedicated to the history of Milan and Lombardy should in no way diminish the role of general portals, websites and online projects for Italy. If you execute a search for Milan at InternetCulturale you will have to filter the many thousands results you get.

With this post I hope to have ended this year’s summer pause in a rewarding way. I look forward to resume writing about many subjects which all touch in one way or another the rich territories of legal history.

Earlier posts in the series Centers of legal history

Starting with the post on Paris I offer for each town also a general guide to research institutions in the fields of history and legal history. The post concerning medieval canon law and the recent congress in Toronto belongs in a way also to this ongoing series.

More medieval legal manuscripts at Europeana Regia

In December 2011 I gave in a post about the Europeana Regia project for the virtual reconstruction of three medieval royal libraries a provisional list of digitized legal manuscripts. On January 25, 2012 the addition of manuscripts kept at Amiens, Rheims and Valenciennes was announced on the project website. At Europeana Regia you can read a report and watch two short videos about this latest digitization campaign. Following the example of this earlier post I will provide here a similar list of digitized manuscripts with medieval legal texts. After the original impulse for a new list more manuscripts have been added from other libraries as well. For brevity’s sake I will not give here a short presentation of these mostly well-known libraries. It took the project team several months to digitize more manuscripts and to create the webpages presenting them. In January 2012 only a restricted number of newly digitized manuscripts became immediately visible at Europeana Regia, hence the delay in publishing this post.

Three French libraries

The Bibliothèques d’Amiens Métropole has as its core the former Bibliothèque Municipale, where since the French Revolution a number of manuscripts from confiscated monasteries have been kept, in particular from Corbie. Europeana Regia contains eleven manuscripts kept at Amiens. The Bibliothèque municipale de Reims holds medieval manuscripts from Rheims Cathedral and from former abbeys around Rheims. You can search directly for manuscripts in the library catalogue. The Bibliothèque de Valenciennes offers not only the possibility to browse a number of medieval manuscripts in color, but also a chance to look at digitized black and white microfilms of other manuscripts. The library has organized these versions in chronological order, but you can also consult a general index and a list of provenances. Valenciennes is strong in manuscripts from the abbey of Saint-Amand. This library points to the Catalogue Général des Manuscrits, part of the Catalogue Collectif de France, where you can also search for manuscripts in the holdings of other French municipal libraries.

The new list contains 22 medieval legal manuscripts, twice as much as in the first list where I listed eleven manuscripts. Still 33 legal manuscripts as an overall total is not particularly rewarding. Just two medieval legal manuscripts at Amiens, none at the two other French libraries added in 2012, is meagre. Looking at the harvest of newly digitized legal manuscripts it seems almost one has read my earlier post with the list of manuscripts of the Collectio Dionysio-Hadriana at Munich which now have been added to Europeana Regia. The number of legal manuscripts at Sankt Gallen included here is comparatively low. In the project for the Codices Electronici Sangallenses 436 manuscripts have now been digitized. On May 31, 2012 a final conference at Paris will be held to discuss the general results and the future of Europeana Regia. One of the questions one can think of is why these medieval kings obviously did not collect more legal texts. Europeana Regia offers indeed a filtered view on the transmission of medieval legal manuscripts. I would like to repeat that in most cases you can find more digitized medieval legal manuscripts at the websites of contributing libraries.

When I first looked at the presentation of the manuscripts at Europeana Regia the absence of a search function, apart from the predefined filters for collection, location, language and date, made me frown. I thought this was really exceptional, but this year Utrecht University Library changed the online presentation of its digital special collections. On the new website the showcases are splendid, as are the accompanying essays and the small current exhibition Heavenly discoveries at Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht. However, instead of the old ordered presentation you will only find an alphabetical list of digitized “objects”. Both the manager of the digital collections and the keeper of manuscripts have said to me it is their absolute priority to add a search function to this website…

In the list here below I will give the link to the English version of each manuscript description as provided at Europeana Regia, brief information about the texts in and the date of each manuscript, and the link to the digitized version.

A postscript

In the final version of Europeana Regia you can use a direct free text search for manuscripts and also an advanced search interface with fields for shelfmark, author, title and place of origin. The project ended in the summer of 2012. The resurfacing of the advanced search mode unarms my earlier remarks about the lack of this mode. You can even filter the results by author, origin, illuminator, scribe and writing material. Even the Dutch version of this part of the portal has been created.

A number of manuscripts from other libraries than those listed below in May 2012 have been added, but I think it is easy to find out now which legal texts are included in the manuscripts added in the latest phase. Looking for collectio one would easily overlook the manuscript Sion, Archive du Chapitre, 120 with the Collectio Dacheriana, because only the word Dacheriana appears in the description. At Paris more manuscripts with French translations of the major texts for Roman law have been added. You will find now for example four manuscripts with the Lex Salica.




-ms. 671: Dionysius Exiguus, Collectio canonum priscorum conciliorum et epistolarum decretalium summorum pontificum, 9th century – digitized version

-ms. 789: Institutio et Regula canonicorum in concilio Aquisgranensi (816) editae, 9th century – digitized version



Apart from these three libraries more legal manuscripts have been added since the end of 2011 for the other libraries participating in the project:

Brussels, BR

-ms. 10127-44: Liturgical texts and treatises on canon law, 8th-9th century – digitized version

-ms. 5413-22: collection of canon law, with – mainly – historical and astronomical additions – digitized version

-ms. 8780-93: canon law texts, 8th century – digitized version

Munich, BSB

-Clm 6243: Collectio canonum “Frisingensis”, late 8th century, around 800 – digitized version

-Clm 6244: Collection canonum Dionysio-Hadriana; Exhortatio, Freising, early 9th century – digitized version

-Clm 6355Collection canonum Dionysio-Hadriana, Freising, 2nd quarter of the 9th century – digitized version

-Clm 14008: Collection canonum Dionysiana adaucta, Rome, late 9th century – digitized version

-Clm 14422: Collectio canonum Dionysio-Hadriana, early 9th century – digitized version

-Clm 14780: Theodorus, Canones paenitentiales Theodori, around 800 – digitized version

-Clm 19415Lex Bauivariorum, Iunilius Africanus: De partibus divinae legis, etc., Freising, 820-830 – digitized version

Paris, BnF

-ms. Français 495: Justinianus I, Digeste veille, anonymous French translation; France, around 1270-1280 – digitized version

-ms. Français 1064: Justinianus I, Institutiones, anonymous French translation; France, 2nd half of the 13th century – digitized version

-ms. Italien 408Ordinacione fate per lo S.re Pere Terzo Re d’Aragona supra lo regimento de tuti li oficiali de la sua corte, 15th century – digitized version

-ms. Latin 4436: Justinianus I Imperator, InstitutionesAuthenticum, cum glossa ordinaria; Bologna, 13th-14th century – digitized version

-ms. Latin 4476Infortiatum, cum glossis Accursii; Bologna, late 13th century – digitized version

-ms. Latin 4594: Petrus de Unzola, Opus IudiciorumDisceptatio daemonis in judicio contendentis adversus homines et beatam Mariam eorum advocatam; Bologna, first quarter of the 14th century – digitized version

-ms. Latin 5411: Johannes Berardi, Chartularium monasterii Casaurensis, ordinis sancti Benedicti, around 1170-1182; chartulary of San Clemente a Casauria – digitized version

-ms. Latin 4670 A: Usatici et Constitutiones Cataloniae, 14th-15th century – digitized version

-ms. Latin 10758: Capitularia,leges et varia de Carolo Magno, 10th century – digitized version

Sankt Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek

-Cod. Sang. 150Libri paenitentiales, texts of the Church Fathers, and other texts, 9th-10th century – digitized version

-Cod. Sang 731: Lex Romana Visigothorum, Lex Salica, Lex Alamannorum, 794 - digitized version

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!

Antonio Agustín, a pioneer of the history of medieval canon law

During the sixteenth century European humanists developed their interest in the history of texts. Instead of just printing texts from old manuscripts they started comparing different versions of texts. Thus they stood at the cradle of philology and modern philological methods. The majority of these humanists devoted themselves to texts from Classical Antiquity, few of them set feet on the field of textual criticism for the Bible, and even less looked to legal texts other than the sources of Roman law. Antonio Agustín (1517-1586) was the first scholar to deal with the text of the Decretum Gratiani, the most important medieval collection of texts concerning canon law that held a central place in the study of canon law until 1917. In this post I will give an overview of his works, their accessibility online, and I will point to modern studies on his work and life.

A prince of scholars

Antonio Agustín

Antonio Agustín – portrait early seventeenth century

Antonio Agustín y Albanell was born in 1517 in the Spanish town Zaragoza. His father was the vice-chancellor of Aragon. Already in 1526 Agustín went for his studies to university, first at Alcalá de Henares, two years later at Salamanca. In 1535 he started to study law at the university of Bologna, where he met Andrea Alciato (1492-1550), one of the foremost humanistic lawyers. In 1537 he went to Padua to study Greek. In 1541 Agustín received at Bologna the degree of doctor utriusque iuris, for both Roman and canon law.

In the field of the history of Roman law Agustín made himself immediately known with his first published work. In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century a small number of scholars examined the Codex Florentinus, the manuscript of Justinian’s Digest, since 1406 kept as a treasure in Florence. In 1543 Agustín published a study in which he argued that this manuscript is closer to the original text from the sixth century than the vulgate version of the Digest found in countless manuscripts since the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and reprinted in many editions since the late fifteenth century. The Emendationum et opinionum libri quattuor were first published in Venice, and soon reprinted in Basel (1544) and Lyons. Using the Hathi Trust Digital Library it is possible to consult online two copies of the first edition held at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. The edition Basel 1544 can be consulted online (Digitale Sammlungen, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich), and also the editions Lyons 1559, Lyons 1574 and Heidelberg 1594, all present at Munich.

Agustín’s career can be summarised fairly quickly, but this does not do justice to his scholarly activities. In 1544 Agustin became an auditor, judge, of the Rota Romana, one of the highest courts of the Catholic Church. Charles Lefebvre edited an unpublished text by Agustín on the practices of the Rota Romana in the volume Antonii Augustini Praxis Rotae. Jacobi Emerix Tractatus seu Notitiae S. Rotae Romanae : deux traités inédits sur la procédure de la S. Rote Romaine (Tournai, s.d. (1961)). The popes sent him on several diplomatic missions. In 1562 and 1563 he attended sessions of the Council of Trent. He became bishop of Alife in the Kingdom of Naples in 1556. In 1561 Agustín was called to the see of Lérida in Spain, and in 1576 he became archbishop of Tarragona, where he died in 1586.

In the sixteenth century leading scholars wrote many letters to keep in touch with each other. Cándido Flores Sellés edited an Epistolario de Antonio Agustín (Salamanca 1980). Letters by Agustín are included in the Correspondance de Lelio Torelli avec Antonio Agustín et Jean Matal (1542-1553), Jean-Louis Ferrary (ed.) (Como 1992). Juan E. Alcina Rovira and Joan Salvadó Recasens have recently studied Agustín’s library, La biblioteca de Antonio Agustín. Los impresos de un humanista de la Contrarreforma (Alcañiz 2007). Many of his books and a number of manuscripts with Greek texts stemming from Agustin’s library found their way to the library of the Escorial.

In this post I will not discuss Agustín as a scholar of Roman law, even though he kept working in this field, too. In 1567 he even published two text editions in one volume, the Constitutiones Graecarum Codicis Justiniani imperatoris collectio et interpretatio, with the Greek constitutions in the Codex Justinianus, and Novellarum Juliani antecessoris Epitome, cum notis et constitutionibus, graece (Lérida 1567), with the Epitome Juliani. Pietro Fiorelli and Anna Maria Bartoletti Colombo edited the volume Iuliani epitome latina Novellarum Justiniani, secondo l’edizione di Gustavo Haenel e col glossario d’Antonio Agustín (Florence 1996) which uses Agustín’s work. Agustín edited also texts by Marcus Terentius Varro, Sextus Pomponius Festus and Marcus Verrius Flaccus, and he wrote about Roman antiquities and inscriptions. On Roman law he published further in particular De nominibus propriis tou Pandektou Florentini (Tarragona 1579; online in the Hathi Trust Digital Library) and De legibus et senatus consultis (Rome 1583; online at the Hathi Trust, at Granada and at Munich). For brevity’s sake I have skipped later editions of these works. In the eighteenth century appeared the collection Antonii Augustini Archiepiscopi Tarraconensis Opera omnia (8 vol., Lucca 1765-1774; online, Hathi Trust) which contains also a number of his letters.

Agustín and medieval canon law

The Council of Trent (1545-1563) had addressed many aspects of church life, but not canon law. Ecclesiastical law came under review during the pontificate of pope Pius V. He decided in 1566 that an official edition of the various sources within the Corpus Iuris Canonici should be made. The correctores Romani, a team of scholars, was charged with this task. Originally the commission would have been led by Antonio Agustín, but he declined this position. He kept in touch with the scholarly team. In 1580 pope Gregory XIII could finally promulgate the new edition, published in three volumes (Rome 1582), consultable online at the library of the University of California at Los Angeles. Recently Mary Sommar has published a study about the project for this edition, The Correctores Romani: Gratian’s Decretum and the counter-reformation humanists (Berlin 2009).

The sheer width of Agustín’s activity comes into sight when you realize he did not forget his episcopal duties. As bishop of Lérida he personally supervised the making of the Sacerdotale (…) Ilerdense (Lérida 1567), nowadays a rare work. The Institut d’Estudis Ilerdenc in Lérida has digitized its copy. As an archbishop he helped starting a printing firm at Tarragona. Agustín was responsible for the Constitutionum prouincialium Tarraconensium libri quinque (Tarragona 1580; online, Hathi Trust) and Constitutionum synodalium Tarraconensium partes quinque (Tarragona 1581; online, Hathi Trust). In the third volume of the Italian Opera omnia you can find a reprint of these constitutions, and also the synodal constitutions for this archdiocese.

At Lérida appeared in 1576 the first edition of the Compilationes antiquae, with four of the five decretal collections before the Decretalium liber Gregorii IX – more commonly called the Liber Extra – was promulgated in 1234. Using the Hispana portal the Antiquae collectiones decretalium (Lérida 1576) can be found in digitized form at several Spanish libraries. They offer this work in the PDF format. At Munich you can consult a page by page version of this edition. Agustín’s edition has been reprinted in source editions by scholars ever since, but no new edition of the Compilationes antiquae has appeared until now, for Emil Friedberg presented in his Quinque compilationes antiquae (…) (Leipzig 1882; reprint Graz 1956) only the incipits of the papal decretals included in these collections. Stephan Kuttner discussed Agustín’s edition in ‘Antonio Agustín’s edition of the Compilationes antiquae’, Bulletin of Medieval Canon Law, New Series 7 (1977) 1-14.

For the history of medieval canon law Agustín’s De emendatione Gratiani dialogorum libri duo (Tarragona 1587) is no doubt his most important work. I could find an online version of the first edition, again at the Hathi Trust Digital Library, but not for the important reprint edited by Étienne Baluze (Antonii Augustini archiepiscopi Tarraconensis dialogorum libri duo de emendatione Gratiani (Paris 1672)). Agustín discusses matters such as the original title of Gratian’s work, the problem of misleading inscriptions of various canones, the sources used by Gratian and their supposed or real origin, in particular for canons stemming from church councils. He did notice at many turns erroneous attributions of canons. In particular canons from the collection ascribed to Isidorus Mercator got his attention, but even though Agustin expressed grave doubt about the quality of this collection he did not proceed here or elsewhere to a full examination of the complex of the Pseudo-Isidorian decretals. In the so-called Magdeburg Centuries (Historia ecclesiastica (…) (13 volumes, Basle, 1559-1574)) protestant historians had unmasked this collection as a massive falsification. For catholic writers in the sixteenth century it was difficult to support this view. As few others Agustín was certainly equipped to deal with this problem.

The Epitome iuris pontificii veteris is the companion work to De emendatione Gratiani, and indeed without this compendium of canon law the latter would not have appeared at all. The first part of this Epitome was published at Tarragona in 1587; a digital version (PDF) has been created by the Universidad de Granada. In the first volume with the subtitle De personis Agustín deals with ecclesiastical functions, with laity and heretics, and at the end briefly with the position of Jews and pagans. The second and third volume were published posthumously for the first time as Iuris pontificii veteris epitome (…) at Rome between 1611 and 1614. The second volume deals with de rebus, matters, the third with de iudiciis, verdicts. At Ghent only the first and second volume of the 1611 edition have been digitized. In the second part Agustín starts with an overview of the history of conciliar collections before Gratian with the title De quibusdam veteribus canonum ecclesiasticorum collectoribus iudicium, et censura.

In the volume Canones paenitentiales (…) (Venice 1584; online, Hathi Trust) Agustín edited six texts concerning penance, including a Poenitentiale Romanum. He gives an introduction to the history of penance, penitential canones and in particular the early medieval libri paenitentiales. One of the reasons he adduces in his preface for taking interest in these sources is the fact that the Decretum Gratiani has not the same authority as papal decretals and conciliar canons, and therefore it is necessary to look at the original sources. The first edition of this edition appeared again in Tarragona in 1582.

In an Epistola decretalis Innocentii III. Summi Pontificii (…) (Paris 1609; online, University Library, Ghent) the text of the famous decretal Per venerabilem (X. 4.7.13) of pope Innocent III from 1202 is given, a letter first included in the Compilatio Tertia (3 Comp. 4.12.2). The text of the decretal is taken from Agustín’s 1576 edition of the Compilationes quinque - at f. 209r-210r -, but the source of the following commentary is not clear. The core of the short introductory text is a defense of the prerogatives of the French king and the traditional independent ecclesiastical position of France.

Studying Antonio Agustín

Up to the twentieth century only a small group of scholars endeavoured on the paths first walked by Agustín. I mentioned already Étienne Baluze. Praise for Agustín came directly after his death in a work by Andreas Schott, a Flemish scholar, in his Laudatio funebris. V.Cl. Antonii Augustini (…) (Antwerp 1586). About this text José C. Miralles Maldonado recently wrote an article which can be consulted online, ‘Andreas Schott y su laudatio funebris en memoria del humanista aragonés Antonio Agustín’Myrtia 23 (2008) 315-342. Gregorio Mayáns y Siscár (1699-1781) published a Vida de D. Antonio Agustín arzobispo de Tarragona (Madrid 1734), online in Munich. This work helped in the long run resuscitating interest in this sixteenth-century scholar. It led to the publication of his Opera omnia at Lucca between 1765 and 1774, and to several editions of his letters from manuscripts scattered around Europe.

You can find online more interesting articles about Agustín and his correspondance, for example Jean-Louis Ferrary, ‘Les travaux d’Antonio Agustín à travers la lumière de lettres inédites à Lelio Torelli,’ Faventia (1992) 60-83, and Joan Carbonell Manils, ‘La relación epistolar inédita entro Antonio Agustín y el papa Gregorio XIII’Faventia 22 (2000) 121-138. To these online articles one should add in particular an article by Cándido Flores Selles, ‘Respuestas ineditas de Antonio Agustín a consultas de amigos’, Revista de la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid 73 (1987-1988) 111-185. Francis M. de Zulueta devoted his 1939 David Murray Lecture to Don Antonio Agustín (Glsagow 1939), an eminently useful starting point if you would like to start with or stick to literature in English. M.H. Crawford edited a volume of essays on Agustín, Antonio Agustín between Renaissance and Counter-Reform (London 1993). Crawford wrote the article on Agustín for the Encyclopedia of the Renaissance, Paul F. Grendler (ed.) (6 vol. New York 1999), in volume I, pp. 26-27. For sources about Agustíns library, his life and correspondence Marc Mayer’s article, ‘Towards a History of the Library of Antonio Agustín’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 60 (1997) 262-272, is well worth reading.

Agustín deserves his position among the pioneers of the history of Roman and canon law in particular for his unflagging interest in both fields. His interests in legal history were accompanied by studies on Classical Antiquity in the widest sense, including for example inscriptions. He wrote also about medals and even about heraldry. His Dialogos de las armas, i linages de la nobleza de España was published by Mayáns y Siscár (Madrid 1734), of which a facsimile edition appeared recently (Valencia 2005). It is again in the Digitale Sammlungen at Munich that you can find an online version of the 1734 edition, and for example also at Santiago de Compostela. Using the search functionalities at the Hispana portal you can find in Spain more digital versions of his works, and also some library catalogues with manuscripts of his works. Mentioning this work should not diminish the fact that Agustín was a scholar with a mind to work in major legal disciplines and the auxiliary historical sciences. He did not devote himself exclusively to one field, something which scholars nowadays all too often simply have to do. I hope this post shows you something of Agustíns versatility and his lasting importance for those who are working in the field of medieval canon law.

Unravelling the secrets of the Codex Florentinus

The Digest, the massive anthology of classic Roman law created for emperor Justinian (482-565), is the core text studied by scholars of Roman law. The textual tradition of the Digest is not straightforward. One of the most intriguing questions is the sudden return of the unabridged text of the Digest in the eleventh century. A key role for establishing the text of the Digest is traditionally given to the Codex Florentinus, a manuscript present in Florence since 1406, now kept at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana. On the library’s webpage with an overview of its manuscript collections this manuscript figures in a class of its own. The Pandette, the Italian rendering of the Greek name Pandektai for the Justinian Digest, is special indeed. Recently the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (BML) has added a PDF of a very extensive article by Davide Baldi about the history of the Codex Florentinus, ‘Il Codex Florentinus del Digesto e il Fondo Pandette della Biblioteca Laurenziana (con un’appendice dei documenti inediti)’, Segno e Testo 8 (2010) 99-186.

Baldi’s article deserves close reading, if only for the extensive references to scholarly publications, the edition of sources about the presence, consultation and treatment in Florence of the manuscript from the fifteenth century until 1800, and the additional set with color photographs of the Codex Florentinus. The strength of his article is the wealth of information and its availability online. In this post I will summarize and comment on Baldi’s article which in my view deserves translation into other languages.

A witness from the sixth century

The history of the Codex Florentinus holds a lot of riddles. Where did it come from? When was it written? How did it reach Italy? Why does the common version of the Digest found in seemingly countless medieval manuscripts written from the late eleventh century onwards differ so much from the text in this manuscript? Scholars of Roman law, antiquarians, palaeographers and codicologists have wrestled with these questions and studied this manuscript for centuries.

Logo BMLThe online catalogue of the BML has a filter to search for bibliographical information about manuscripts, including the Pandette, the search term which gives already an impression of earlier research. Today you can see for yourself who did actually consult the Pandette since 1992 using the BML’s Dedalo, the online monitor of manuscript movements. Anyway the BML provides you with a links collection for manuscript and papyri research.

In his article Baldi offers first of all a very detailed codicological and palaeographical description of the Codex Florentinus. This information points in the end more conclusively than ever before to Constantinople and the sixth century as the time and place of its completion, but Baldi admits this cannot be established with absolute certainty and remains a debated question. A date in the sixth century is probably as close as we can get to the official publication of the Digest by Justinian in 533. Apart from the medieval manuscripts with the text of the Digest the Greek Basilica, a reworking of the Digest for the East Roman Empire, and a small number of papyri are textual witnesses of the Digest. Baldi points to the Leuven Database of Ancient Books (LDAB) where these papyri and the Florentine manuscript are listed, the latter as LDAB 7619. For the Basilica Baldi mentions the edition by G.E. and C.G.E. Heimbach and others (Basilicorum Libri LX (Leipzig 1833-1846)), which surely was used by scholars before the modern edition by the team at Groningen led by Herman Scheltema (17 vol., Groningen-’s-Gravenhage 1953-1988). The Codex Florentinus has been the subject of two facsimile editions, Iustiniani Augusti Digestorum seu Pandectarum codex Florentinus olim Pisanus phototypice expressus (Rome 1902-1910) and Justiniani Augusti Pandectarum codex Florentinus (2 vol., Florence 1988).

The Codex Florentinus is not without textual lacunae. Baldi notes carefully all missing manuscript pages. These lacunae are very important for tracking the relation with the Florentine manuscript in later manuscripts, but they give also an indication of its closeness to the original manuscripts made in 533. The scripts used – without space between words - and the lay-out, the writing hands and decoration, scribal notes and remarks of users, and in particular the bindings and much else are carefully examined with due reference to relevant publications which are sometimes difficult to trace.

A chequered history

One of the stories accompanying the Florentine manuscript is the legendary tale of its conquest from Amalfi by the Pisans around 1135. Baldi admits that Amalfi was closely connected to the Byzantine empire, but he cannot find any substantial evidence for this story. In the mid-twelfth century the Bolognese lawyers Bulgarus and Rogerius saw the manuscript in Pisa. In the years around 1360 Leonzio Pilato studied the graeca, the Greek words used in the Latin text, and made a list of them on two new quires which were added to the two volumes of the codice Pisano, one of the other names for this manuscript. This addition is astonishing in view of the high regard for this manuscript. Leonzio’s Greek and his handwriting were not good: the list is hard to read and mistakes are around everywhere. The Codex Florentinus contains an epigram in Greek celebrating emperor Justinian. Leonzio’s transcription of this text, too, is faulty.

The coming of the Pandette from Pisa to Florence happened for sure in 1406, a fact noted in a number of chronicles. In the Palazzo dei Priori a Sancta Sanctorum, a kind of tabernacle, was created to contain the precious manuscript. In 1439 the official acts of the Council of Ferrara-Florence were deposited in it, too. In 1445 the manuscript got new bindings. For details of the period since 1406 Baldi is often able to use and adduce sources present at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana or kept at the Archivio di Stato in Florence on a scale not done before in studies concerning the littera Florentina, yet another nickname of the manuscript.

In 1490 Angelo Poliziano made a full collation – a detailed material inspection – of the manuscript. His notes left the Palazzo dei Priori in 1517, got lost, but finally came to the Laurenziana in 1760 (Laur. Plut. 91 inf. 15-17). In 1525 the Signoria ordered a transcription of the Codex Florentinus in which somehow the libri D. 21 to D. 27 are lacking. These three volumes are now at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (Banco Rari 24, 25 and 26). Baldi follows the Pandette to its new location in the mid-sixteenth century in the Cappella di San Bernardo of the Palazzo dei Priori. In 1553, the year of the publication of Lelio Torelli’s edition of the Digest for which he had amply consulted the famous manuscript, it moved to the Stanza della Guardaroba. In 1690 the manuscript miraculously was not damaged by a great fire in the Palazzo. I have skipped the name of numerous famous humanists and scholars that came to look at the manuscript. From Boccacio and Marsilio Ficino to Jean Mabillon and Laurens Theodor Gronovius, all of them saw in Florence the venerable manuscript. A landmark is the study made by Hendrik Brenkman (1681-1736) who published the Historia Pandectarum (Trajecti ad Rhenum 1722; facsimile Frankfurt am Main 2005), still consulted nowadays. Bernard Stolte’s book Henrik Brenkman, Jurist and Classicist (Groningen 1981) will inform you about this scholar who intended to publish a new critical edition of the Digest. Only Theodor Mommsen and Paul Krueger succeeded in fulfilling this wish (Digesta Iustiniani Augusti (2 vol., Berlin 1868-1870 – the editio maior)).

Baldi shows his capacities as a detective masterfully in the paragraph on the attempts since 1761 to transfer the Codex Florentinus to the Biblioteca Laurenziana. Only in 1786 did the manuscript actually arrive. He ends his many-sided tale with short notices on the modern embellishments of the bindings and the creation of facsimiles of this manuscript that has been on public display for the last time in 1983. The appendices to Baldi’s article with the transcription of numerous archival records are given on more than thirty pages. The ten color plates show a number of manuscript pages and details of the texts, the fifteenth-century binding and the artistic additions to the covers from the nineteenth and twentieth century.

Less is more

Here I have knowingly condensed a very dense article, and I could have told you more about the contents of the Digest. Baldi succeeds in his really long article in giving both a very detailed description of the manuscript itself and a detailed story in nuce of the documented presence of this utterly remarkable manuscript. The sudden surfacing of the Digest in the eleventh century remains one of the most enigmatic and most influential events in Western legal history.

Of the remarkable archival records edited by Baldi I will give here just one example. At pp. 160-161 Baldi gives as document XIX a fragment of the seventeenth-century study by Giuseppe Averani (1662-1738) from a manuscript kept at the BML. Baldi cites Averani, a most versatile scholar who teached law in Pisa, on more occasions. Here Averani discusses one of the most curious and intriguing habits of medieval lawyers citing the Digest, the use of the abbreviation ff. Even the great German scholar Hermann Kantorowicz was at a loss for a clear explanation in his Über die Entstehung der Digestenvulgata. Ergänzungen zu Mommsen (1910), originally an article in the Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte 43 (1909) and 44 (1910). I have my own opinion about a solution for this riddle, but Averani came already with a very simple and elegant explanation for the origin of this habit. In his view medieval lawyers originally used the Greek letter Π (pi) when referring to the Digest or Pandectae. Because medieval people did not understand Greek – this, however, is a rude generalization – the two vertical lines and the horizontal line on top of them got transformed into two f’s. It remains to be shown by palaeographers and calligraphers whether this scribal transformation is indeed so easy to realize, but for me Averani’s explanation rings true. By sheer coincidence I read today a notice about the Palaeographia website and the beta version of the Graphoskop, a new tool to assist the analysis of historical handwriting. It will take some time before such tools can be used with confidence.

The Istoria delle Pandette fiorentine of Averani (Florence, BML, Ashburnham 1332) merits further study, perhaps even an edition, even if it clearly starts as a reworking of Brenkman’s book. Davide Baldi kindly informed me he has transcribed Averani’s text. He is planning to publish it. Brenkman had helped Averani to get his Interpretationes Iuris published in Holland (first edition Leiden 1716). Averani does figure in the second edition of Juristen: ein biographisches Lexikon. Von der Antike bis zum 20. Jahrhundert, Michael Stolleis (ed.) (Munich 2001).

A host of scholars has studied the Codex Florentinus. Baldi’s article shows graphically how many skills they need to study this manuscript in depth. In fact the modern study of it shows in a nutshell how disciplines in the humanities not only can work together, but more strongly that only by combining forces and accumulated knowledge, methods and tools such study will remain fruitful. Dealing with a number of both modern and classical languages is here a condition sine qua non. I have added a link to Baldi’s article on my webpage concerning medieval law, where you will find Baldi in the company of scholars as Wolfgang Kaiser, Tammo Wallinga and others who have studied and will continue studying the Florentine Pandette anew for our times. In view of threatening – and actually happening – drastic cuts in funding of both legal history departments and the humanities in general one might doubt whether future generations will be able to acquire or assemble all qualities needed to follow in their footsteps. Nani super humeros gigantum, dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, is a proverbial expression from the twelfth century that well may revive.

A postscript

Hans Erich Troje published last year a study about the sixteenth-century editions of Justinian’s Digest, “Crisis Digestorum”. Studien zur historia pandectarum (Frankfurt am Main 2011; Studien zur europäischen Rechtsgeschichte, 264).

Centers of legal history: Edinburgh

Centre for Legal History, Edinburgh

The longest running series of posts here is concerned with centers of legal history. After a long break I will continue this series, starting at Edinburgh. The Centre for Legal history at the University of Edinburgh, founded in 1992, offers a many-sided program to its students. The research done by its staff concerns several main themes of legal history, in particular Roman law and law in Classical Antiquity in the interdisciplinary network Ancient Law in Context. A university in Scotland gives of course due attention to Scots law and Scottish legal history.

The staff of the Centre publishes some of its research results in the Edinburgh Studies in Law. One of the latest volumes edited by John Cairns and Paul du Plessis, The Creation of the Ius Commune: From Casus to Regula (Edinburgh, 2010) has been presented here in a comparison of two volumes of essays introducing medieval law. Apart from Cairns and Du Plessis W.H.D. Sellar and Hector MacQueen are the other staff members of the Centre. MacQueen blogs with Scott Wortley on Scots Law News, and he is also a member of the team behind the blog for European Private Law News. It is interesting to note Sellar’s activity as the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the official heraldic authority in Scotland with responsibility for State Ceremonial in Scotland. A King of Arms is the main herald of a region or country.

On its website the Centre – notice the British spelling! – provides easily accessible information to its activities and its research. Every year a substantial number of lectures and other events is organized. The Legal History Discussion Group is one of the key elements in the yearly schedule of activities. For the annual Peter Chiene Lectures, held in memory of Peter Chiene, scholars from all over the world are invited. All this is crowned by a fine selection of links. The legal historians at Edinburgh have their own blog, edited by John Cairns and Paul du Plessis, with very regular postings, and they are also active at Twitter to provide you the latest news in legal history. The website of the Edinburgh Law School features among the podcasts also lectures on aspects of legal history. You can look in particular at or hear several lectures given during the 2007 Tercentenary of Edinburgh Law School.

Law and history in Edinburgh

The Centre for Legal History at Edinburgh is part of the School of Law at the University of Edinburgh. The Law and Europa Library is located in the Old School, home to the School of Law. Apart from the Main Library of the university it is good to be aware of the Scottish Studies Library. The University of Edinburgh has a number of virtual image collections, none of them specifically dealing with legal history or Scots law. Charting the Nation: Maps of Scotland and associated archives, 1550-1740 is probably the one with the most immediate interest for legal historians. Both the popular and scholarly imagination of Scottish and medieval history have been fueled and inspired to considerable extent by the writings and activities of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). The University of Edinburgh has a digital archive on him. The Edinburgh University Archives have created an online database for the alumni of this university. As for now substantial periods and indeed whole faculties and schools are not yet dealt with here.

In Edinburgh the National Library of Scotland has many things to offer to scholars. Just looking briefly at the wealth of presentations in the Digital Gallery brings you for example to maps of Scotland, including the 1654 Atlas of Scotland by Blaeu, Jacobite prints and broadsides – which could have figured in the recent post on riots – and the digital collection The Word on the Street with more broadsides, and these I did notice in my July post on ballads and broadsides. The Early Gaelic Book collection is worth mentioning, too, as is Scottish History in Print with digitized editions from the publications of a number of historical societies, and a number of transcriptions of historical documents. A Guid Cause…: The women’s suffrage movement in Scotland is a digital collection for educational purposes on the history of Scottish suffragettes. Among the manuscripts and collections at the NLS one should notice not only manuscripts, but also estate papers.

For images alone it is useful to turn to the project Scotlands Images. The online collection of the National Galleries of Scotland can bring you to portraits of Scottish lawyers. For searching in this database you can use the taxonomy of the Art & Architecture Thesaurus created at the Getty Institute.

The National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh have as one of its particular strengths on its website the series of guides to several genres of historical records. Sources for legal history take pride of place here. Another service is the online introduction to the palaeography of Scottish documents. The NAS contribute also to the website Scottish Documents where you can find in particular digitized wills and testaments, most easily searched, however, at the website Scotlands People, with also census records and coats of arms. For Scottish charters and their presence online you should benefit from this links selection provided by Glasgow University, a reminder that you do not have to look exclusively at Edinburgh. My own selection of links for Scottish legal history can bring you more, but for seeing a wider context it is wise to visit first the selection of legal history links at the website of the Edinburgh Centre for Legal History.

The series Centers of legal history