Gratian's Decree


The Decretum Gratiani, also known as the Concordantia Discordantium Canonum, is a collection of canon law completed around 1140 by Gratian, a Benedictine monk from Italy who taught at the Monastery of Saints Felix and Nabor in Bologna, and who is known as the father of the study of canon law. The work was used in the School of Law at the University of Bologna and later in other European universities. Gratian drew upon existing conciliar canons up to and including the Second Lateran Council in 1139. Different law cases are discussed by means of fictitious or hypothetical causae (causes). This 12th-century codex from Schäftlarn Abbey near Munich is the earliest known manuscript of Decretum Gratiani with extensive illustrations of the individual causes. The pen-drawings are executed on colored ground within the initials at the beginning of each cause. In cause 15, the case of a cleric is depicted in a virtuoso manner. Before his ordination, the cleric became involved with a woman; he then committed a murder during his priesthood, and is now being put on trial by his former mistress.

Last updated: January 25, 2019