Corpus juris canonici: Liber Sextus, with gloss

Pastedown to upper board


Oxford, Bodleian Library, A 2.8 Art. Seld.

Ruth Mullett and Nigel Palmer, 2016

General Information

Date of Origin: 14th century

Script, Hands:

Southern Textualis. A compact and characteristically Northern Italian/Southern French gothic bookhand, datable to the 14th century. The form of ‘box-a’ and the pointed upper lobe of a probably point to France. Punctuation is restricted to the punctus; red paraphs.

General Remarks:

Associated Fragments: Two leaves in Cambridge, Emmanuel College, MSS 5.2.13 (see under Binding).

Original Condition

Dimensions (Page Width): at least 205 mm

Width of Written Area: 165 – 168 mm

Number of Columns: 2

Width of Columns: at least 55 mm

Ruling: Ruled in lead point for 2 columns of text and 2 columns of gloss.

Current Condition

More about the Current Condition:

Stained and in places badly rubbed, but still mostly legible.

In situ pastedown glued to the inner face of the upper board (now detached) of the host volume; there is no evidence today of the hook that was presumably wrapped round the first quire of the incunable Sammelband.  It is likely there was once also a pastedown on the lower board, but any traces are now concealed by a modern replacement pastedown.

Book Decoration


Red and blue minor initials (3-line initials in the text, 2-line initials in the gloss) with distinctively Southern French decorative penwork (ex inf. Susan L’Engle), both in the text and in the gloss. The decoration provides the basis for considering an attribution of this fragment to a workshop in Southern France, rather than Italy.


  • Content Item
    • Content Description:

      An imperfect leaf from the Liber Sextus Decretalium of Boniface VIII, promulgated in 1298, together with the Glossa aurea of Johannes Monachus (d. 1313). The text is from the Regulae juris in Sextum, an appendix to the Liber Sextus, framed by the corresponding text of the gloss. For these texts, see Dondorp and Schrage, ‘Medieval learned law’ (2010), pp. 45β€’46.  

      ‘]piunt neque diem. Semel deo dedicatum … Non est obligatorium contra bonos mores prestitum iuramentum.[’ Gloss: ‘]cio quam in possessionem. missio quod est … tunc ipsa res sequestratur aut [immobilis et tunc fructus seque ...] ... (col. b) ut in dubio videatur electio non vicio materie ... Actus. legitimi actus est potencie effectusque Nam actus a potencia egreditur ... maior est defectus in vno[’.

      Reg. 50β€’58 and the Glossa aurea to Reg. 48β€’52. Corpus iuris canonici, ed.  Friedberg (1879β€’91), vol. II, p. 1123; Ioannes Monachus, Glossa aurea (1585 edn), fol. 398r-v Reg. 48.17 (line 17 [sequenta]cio quam) β€’ 48.22 (line 11) and 49 (line 5) β€’ 52 (line 22).

      Only the verso is visible as the leaf remains pasted to the upper board.  

    • Remarks:

      Dimensions: 313 x 203β€’05 mm (trimmed); text block (Liber Sextus) 53 x 115 mm; intercolumnar space 8 mm; text block including the gloss c.290 x 165β€’68 mm (trimmed at the bottom); upper margin 22β€’23 mm; outer margin 17β€’21 mm (most likely trimmed); inner margin 20 mm.

      Layout: Main text in 2 columns (55 mm, intercolumnar space 8 mm), framed by the surrounding gloss in 2 columns with 6 lines of the gloss above the text, and 49 below (originally most likely c.65). Running head in red, touched in blue: ‘Ł’. The present appearance of the leaf is deceptive. The loss of approximately 114 words of the Glossa aurea at the foot of the page between the 2 columns, which can be assessed on the basis of comparison with the 1585 edition, amounting to about 16 lines of text (c.63 mm), indicates that the leaf is likely to derive from a tall narrow manuscript, much larger than might at first sight be apparent. Allowance needs to be made for the loss of a broad strip of the inner margin, which will have been hooked around the first quire of the host volume, the whole of the lower margin (in addition to the lost c.16 lines of text), and the possibility that the outer margin, now trimmed to 17β€’21 mm, may originally have been very much broader. Originally the leaf might well have been as large as 390 x 227β€’37 (ratio 1:0.58 / 1:0.61). Bozzola and Ornato, Livre manuscrit (1983), p. 307, conclude that the average ratio of height/breadth for 14th-century manuscripts is 1:0.701 (the majority all within the range of 0.660 and 0.749), and Gumbert’s statistics (‘Size of manuscripts’ (1980), p. 279) indicate that most dated manuscripts from the period before 1400 have a format in the region of 0.67β€’0.72. On this basis it seems likely that this copy of the Liber Sextus should be placed in the much less common category of tall narrow manuscripts described by Kwakkel (‘Afwijkende bladdimensies’ (2012), passim), on the basis of 11th- and 12th-century dated examples, as ‘holsterbooks’ (defined as 0.60 and narrower). It may represent a tendency towards narrower formats in Italian manuscripts (cf. Gumbert, ‘Size of manuscripts’ (1980)), especially glossed law books.



(Host volume)

1. Richard Gorton (fl.1518β€’40), a Benedictine of Westminster Abbey; inscription on title-page of item 1 in the volume. See Bod-Inc. (2005), vol. VI, p. 2870.

2. John Selden (1584β€’1654), with whose library the volume came to the Bodleian in 1659. See Bod-Inc. (2005), vol. VI, pp. 2915β€’16.

Host Volume

Title: A 2. 8 Art. Seld.

Date of Origin/Publication: Printed 1500β€’1512, bound shortly thereafter.

Place of Origin/Publication: All printed in Venice, bound in England (Oxford).

Shelfmark: A 2. 8 Art. Seld.


Information on host volume from the description in Bod-Inc. vol. 1, p. 65 (A-037), with additions.

A collection of Latin commentaries on Aristotle, the Isagoge of Porphyry, and other philosophical writings, all printed in chancery folio.

1. Walter Burley, In Isagogas [librum Universalium] Porphyrii; In librum Praedicamentorum Aristotelis; In librum Sex principiorum Gilberti Porretani; In librum Perihermenias Aristotelis. Venice: Philippus Pincius, 1509. 94 fols.

2. Johannes Duns Scotus, Quaestiones super Universalibus Porphyrii et super Praedicamentis et Perihermeniis Aristotelis; Antonius Andreae, Quaestiones super Sex principiis Gilberti Porretani; Johannes Anglicus, Commentum super Quaestionibus de Universalibus Johannis Scoti. Venice: Philippus Pincius, 1512. 102 fols.

3. Mauritius Hibernicus, Lectura in Quaestiones Joannis Scoti super Ysagogis Porphyrii; Johannes Duns Scotus, De modis significandi. Venice: 1512. 76 fols.

4. Robert Grosseteste, Commentaria in libros Posteriorum Aristotelis; Walter Burley, Super eosdem libros Posteriorum. Venice: Petrus de Quarengis, 1504. 40 fols. 

5. Johannes Duns Scotus, Quaestiones super libros Priorum analyticorum Aristotelis; Quaestiones super libros Posteriorum. Venice: Philippus Pincius, 1512. 55 fols.

6. Giles of Rome (Aegidius Romanus), Expositio supra libros Elenchorum Aristotelis; Quaestio de medio demonstrationis defensiva opinionis domini Egidii Romani. Venice: Simon de Luere, for Andreas Torresanus de Asula, 24 Sept. 1500. 71 fols. (Bod-Inc. A-037 (2); ISTC ia00076500; GW 7196).

Binding: English (Oxford). Contemporary blind-tooled brown calf over wooden boards, identified in Bod-Inc. as employing Ker’s Roll I, ‘first used between 1515 and 1520’ (and not attested after 1523); see Ker, Pastedowns (2nd edn, 2004), pp. 7β€’9, 203 with pl. i; Pearson, Oxford Bookbinding (2000), pp. 155β€’56 (neither with this example). Two leaves from the same manuscript of the Liber Sextus are preserved as pastedowns in the binding of an Emmanuel College Cambridge Sammelband included by Ker in his list of bindings with Roll I: MSS 5.2.13 (a 1515 Venetian edition of Ptolemy's Almagest together with early printings of Cornelius Celsus's De medicina and Alfarabi's Book of Rhetoric).


  • Alan Coates et al., A Catalogue of Books printed in the Fifteenth Century now in the Bodleian Library, 6 vols (Oxford, 2005), vol. I, p. 65 (A-037 (2)). Cited as ‘Bod-Inc.’.

  • Carla Bozzolo and Ezio Ornato, Pour une histoire du livre manuscrit au Moyen Âge: Trois essais de codicologie quantitative (Paris, 1983).

  • Corpus iuris canonici, ed. Emil Friedberg, 2nd edn (Leipzig, 1879β€’81).

  • Harry Dondorp and Eltjo J. H. Schrage, ‘The sources of medieval learned law’, in: The Creation of the Ius Commune: From Casus to Regula, ed. John W. Cairns and Paul J. du Plessis, Edinburgh Studies in Law 7 (Edinburgh, 2010), pp. 7β€’56.

  • J. P. Gumbert, ‘The sizes of manuscripts: Some statistics and notes’, in: Hellinga. Festschrift/Feestbundel/Mélanges. Forty-three Studies in Bibliography presented to Prof. Dr. Wytze Hellinga on the Occasion of his Retirement from the Chair of Neophilology in the University of Amsterdam at the End of the Year 1978 (Amsterdam, 1980), pp. 277β€’88.

  • Neil Ripley Ker, Fragments of Medieval Manuscripts used as Pastedowns in Oxford Bindings with a Survey of Oxford Binding c.1515β€’1620. Reprint with corrigenda and addenda by Scott Mandelbrote and David Rundle, Oxford Bibliographical Society, 3rd series, vol. 4 (Oxford, 2004).

  • Erik Kwakkel, ‘“Dit boek heeft niet de vereiste breedte”: Afwijkende bladdimensies in de elfde en twaalfde eeuw’, Jaarboek voor Nederlandse boekgeschiedenis 19 (2012), pp. 33β€’49.

  • Ioannes Monachus, In Sextum Librum Decretalium dilucida commentaria Glossa aurea nuncupata, with additions by Philippus Probus (Venice, 1585).

  • David Pearson, Oxford Bookbinding 1500β€’1640: Including a Supplement to Neil Ker's Fragments of Medieval Manuscripts used as Pastedowns in Oxford Bindings, Oxford Bibliographical Society, 3rd series, vol. 3 (Oxford, 2000).  

  • Manuscript: Cambridge, Emmanuel College, MSS 5.2.13.