Changing your search angle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A postscript

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

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

Annette Pales-Gobilliard edited and translated the texts of the manuscript British Library, Add. 4697 in Le livre des sentences de l’inquisiteur Bernard Gui, 1308-1323 (2 vol., Paris 2002). The Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna has also digitized its copy of Van Limborch’s edition of the Liber Sententiarum.

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