Huge incunable leaf, 1486. Pope Gregory IX

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The Decretales of Pope Gregory IX

The Decretals of Pope Gregory IX (1143-1241) were an important collection of medieval canon law, and in this edition by Drach were accompanied by commentary by the noted Italian canonist Bernard of Botone, also known as Bernard of Parma. The leaf contains general encyclicals (papal letters on doctrine) in the centre of the page surrounded by the gloss of related decretals (papal decrees relating to canon law).

Verso:  Text in Latin printed in a rounded gothic type set in red and black on quality rag paper.  Numerous three-line initials and paragraph markers printed in red.  Heading Liber Secundus (Book Two).

Recto:  As Verso with the heading De apellationibus (About appeals).

Printer: Peter Drach, Speyer, Germany.

Date: 16 August 1486.

Condition:  Apart from five worm holes, minor edge tears, a light stain in the bottom corner and slight edge browning this huge 1486 leaf is in fine condition -  a testament to the quality of the paper and the printing skills of Drach.  It is a splendid example of early printing from a lavish and remarkably large folio edition of this important work.  The leaf size is equal to the Gutenberg Bible.

Size:  Leaf: 425x290 mm.  Text block: 300x205.

Notes: When Gregory became pope in 1227, the chief collection of the legal tradition of the church was still the Decretum of Gratian. In 1230 Gregory, a lawyer of quality himself, called on the Spanish Dominican, Raymond of Pennafort, a former professor of law at Bologna, to produce a systematic compilation of the scattered collections of papal legislation. The result of Raymond's work was in reality a fresh edition of decretal law; universal in character. It brought about a host of commentaries, and is the heart of the official Corpus Juris Canonici of 1582.

References:  Goff G-461, Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke, 11473.

Item No: PSA132a

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