Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
196
CANON LAW

In the very middle of the 9th century a much enlarged edition of the Hispana began to be circulated in France. To this rich collection the author, who assumes the name of Isidore, the saintly bishop of Seville, added a good number The false decretals. of apocryphal documents already existing, as well as a series of letters ascribed to the popes of the earliest centuries, from Clement to Silvester and Damasus inclusive, thus filling up the gap before the decretal of Siricius, which is the first genuine one in the collection. The other papal letters only rarely show signs of alteration or falsification, and the text of the councils is entirely respected.[1] From the same source and at the same date came two other forged documents—firstly, a collection of Capitularies, in three books, ascribed to a certain Benedict (Benedictus Levita),[2] a deacon of the church of Mainz; this collection, in which authentic documents find very little place, stands with regard to civil legislation exactly in the position of the False Decretals with regard to canon law. The other document, of more limited scope, is a group of Capitula given under the name of Angilram, bishop of Metz. It is nowadays admitted by all that these three collections come from the same source. For a study of the historical questions connected with the famous False Decretals, see the article Decretals (False); here we have only to consider them with reference to the place they occupy in the formation of ecclesiastical law. In spite of some hesitation, with regard rather to the official character than to the historical authenticity of the letters attributed to the popes of the earlier centuries, the False Decretals were accepted with confidence, together with the authentic texts which served as a passport for them. All later collections availed themselves indiscriminately of the contents of this vast collection, whether authentic or forged, without the least suspicion. The False Decretals did not greatly modify nor corrupt the Canon Law, but they contributed much to accelerate its progress towards unity. For they were the last of the chronological collections, i.e. those which give the texts in the order in which they appeared. From this time on, canonists began Systematic collections. to exercise their individual judgment in arranging their collections according to some systematic order, grouping their materials under divisions more or less happy, according to the object they had in view. This was the beginning of a codification of a common canon law, in which the sources drawn upon lose, as it were, their local character. This is made even more noticeable by the fact that, in a good number of the works extant, the author is not content merely to set forth and classify the texts; but he proceeds to discuss the point, drawing conclusions and sometimes outlining some controversy on the subject, just as Gratian was to do more fully later on.

During this period, which extended from the end of the 9th century to the middle of the 12th, we can enumerate about forty systematic collections, of varying value and circulation, which all played a greater or lesser part in preparing the juridical renaissance of the 12th century, and most of which were utilized by Gratian. We need mention only the chief of them—the Regino. Collectio Anselmo dedicata, by an unknown author of the end of the 9th century; the Libri duo de synodalibus causis et disciplinis ecclesiasticis,[3] compiled about 906 by Regino, abbot of Prüm, and dedicated to Hatto of Mainz, relatively a very original treatise; the enormous compilation Burchard. in twenty books of Burchard, bishop of Worms (1112–1122), the Decretum or Collectarium,[4] very widely spread and known under the name of Brocardum, of which the 19th book, dealing with the process of confession, is specially noteworthy. Towards the end of the 11th century, under the influence of Hildebrand, the reforming movement makes itself felt in several collections of canons, intended to support the rights of the Holy See and the Church against the pretensions of the emperor. To this group belong an anonymous collection, described by M. P. Fournier as the first manual of the Reform;[5] the collection of Anselm, bishop of Lucca,[6] in 13 Anselm Deusdedit. books (1080–1086); that of Cardinal Deusdedit,[7] in 4 books, dedicated to Pope Victor III. (1086–1087); and lastly that of Bonizo,[8] bishop of Sutri, in 10 books (1089). In the 12th century, the canonical works of Ivo of Chartres[9] are of great importance. His Panormia, compiled Ivo of Chartres. about 1095 or 1096, is a handy and well-arranged collection in 8 books; as to the Decretum, a weighty compilation in 17 books, there seems sufficient proof that it is a collection of material made by Ivo in view of his Panormia. To the 12th century belong the collection in the MS. of Saragossa (Caesaraugustana) to which attention was drawn by Antonio Agustin; that of Cardinal Gregory, called by him the Polycarpus, in 8 books (about 1115); and finally the Liber de misericordia et justitia of Algerus,[10] scholasticus of Liége, in 3 books, compiled at latest in 1123.

But all these works were to be superseded by the Decretum of Gratian.

2. The Decretum of Gratian and the Corpus Juris Canonici.—The work of Gratian, though prepared and made possible by those of his predecessors, greatly surpasses them in scientific value and in magnitude. It is certainly The Decretum of Gratian. the work which had the greatest influence on the formation of canon law; it soon became the sole manual, both for teaching and for practice, and even after the publication of the Decretals was the chief authority in the universities. The work is not without its faults; Gratian is lacking in historical and critical faculty; his theories are often hesitating; but on the whole, his treatise is as complete and as perfect as it could be; so much so that no other work of the same kind has been compiled; just as there has never been made another Book of the Sentences. These two works, which were almost contemporary (Gratian is only about two years earlier),[11] were destined to have the same fate; they were the manuals, one for theology, the other for canon law, in use in all the universities, taught, glossed and commented on by the most illustrious masters. From this period dates the more marked and definitive separation between theology and ecclesiastical law.

Of Gratian we know practically nothing. He was a Camaldulensian monk of the convent of St Felix at Bologna, where he taught canon law, and published, probably in 1148, his treatise called at first Concordantia discordantium canonum, but soon known under the name of the Decretum. Nowadays, and for some time past, the only part of the Decretum considered is the collection of texts; but it is actually a treatise, in which the author endeavours to piece together a coherent juridical system from the vast body of texts, of widely differing periods and origin, which are furnished by the collections. These texts Dicta Gratiani.

he inserts bodily in the course of his dissertation; where they do not agree, he divides them into opposite groups and endeavours to reconcile them; but the really original part of his work are the Dicta Gratiani, inserted between the texts, which are still read. Gratian drew his materials from the existing collections, and especially from the

  1. The collection of the False Decretals has been published with a long critical introduction by P. Hinschius, Decretales Pseudo-Isidorianae et capitula Angilramni (Leipzig, 1863). For the rest of the bibliography, see Decretals (False).
  2. The latest edition is in Pertz, Monumenta Germaniae, vol. ii. part ii.
  3. Edited by Wasserschleben (Leipzig, 1840); reproduced by Migne, P.L. 132.
  4. Edited several times; in Migne, P.L. 140.
  5. P. Fournier, “Le Premier Manuel canonique de la réforme du XIe siècle,” in Mélanges de l’École française de Rome, xiv. (1894).
  6. Unpublished.
  7. Edited by Mgr. Pio Martinucci (Venice, 1869). On this collection see Wolf von Glanvell, Die Kanonessammlung des Kardinals Deusdedit (Paderborn, 1905).
  8. Unpublished.
  9. Several times edited; in Migne, P.L. 161. See P. Fournier, “Les Collections canoniques attribuées à Yves de Chartres,” Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartres (1896 and 1897).
  10. Printed in Martene, Nov. Thesaur. anecdot. vol. v. col. 1019.
  11. See P. Fournier, “Deux Controverses sur les origines du Décret de Gratien,” in the Revue d’histoire et de littérature religieuses, vol. iii. (1898), pp. n. 2 and 3.