1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Accursius, Franciscus

ACCURSIUS (Ital. Accorso), FRANCISCUS (1182–1260), Italian jurist, was born at Florence about 1182. A pupil of Azo, he first practised law in his native city, and was afterwards appointed professor at Bologna, where he had great success as a teacher. He undertook the great work of arranging into one body the almost innumerable comments and remarks upon the Code, the Institutes and Digests, the confused dispersion of which among the works of different writers caused much obscurity and contradiction. This compilation, bearing the title Glossa ordinaria or magistralis, but usually known as the Great Gloss, though written in barbarous Latin, has more method than that of any preceding writer on the subject. The best edition of it is that of Denis Godefroi (1549–1621), published at Lyons in 1589, in 6 vols. folio. When Accursius was employed in this work, it is said that, hearing of a similar one proposed and begun by Odofred, another lawyer of Bologna, he feigned indisposition, interrupted his public lectures, and shut himself up, till with the utmost expedition he had accomplished his design. Accursius was greatly extolled by the lawyers of his own and the immediately succeeding age, and he was even called the idol of jurisconsults, but those of later times formed a much lower estimate of his merits. There can be no doubt that he disentangled the sense of many laws with much skill, but it is equally undeniable that his ignorance of history and antiquities often led him into absurdities, and was the cause of many defects in his explanations and commentaries. He died at Bologna in 1260. His eldest son Franciscus (1225–1293), who also filled the chair of law at Bologna, was invited to Oxford by King Edward I., and in 1275 or 1276 read lectures on law in the university.