Show themes

Medieval canon law

800 years of Dominican books

The contribution of the Dominicans to the study and teaching of philosophy, theology and in biblical scholarship in the universities has already been illustrated in earlier themes in the exhibition. Equally important was their contribution to the study and teaching of Canon Law. The fundamental text of the twelfth century, the Decretum of the canonist, Gratian (fl. ca 1130–ca 1160), was supplemented by a new Decretals ordered by Pope Gregory IX (1227–1241) the compilation of which was entrusted to the Catalan Dominican, Raymund de Peñafort (ca 1185–1275), the greatest of the canon lawyers of the order. Raymund may have involved others in the writing of this work, but substantially it is by him and was promulgated in 1232. Although this was a fundamental text intended for canon lawyers, Raymund’s other work in the field of canon law, the Summa de penitentia et matrimonia, was useful in its first part as a manual for confessors and its second part on marriage particularly for the instruction of parish priests. The second part discusses in detail the issues of impediments to marriage, grounds for divorce and recognition of legitimacy or illegitimacy of children.

Image reproduced by kind permission of the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College.