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  • The Correctores Romani: Gratian's Decretum and the Counter-Reformation Humanists
  • Henry Ansgar Kelly
The Correctores Romani: Gratian's Decretum and the Counter-Reformation Humanists. By Mary E. Sommar. [Pluralisierung & Autorität, Band 19.] (Munster: LIT Verlag. Distrib. Transaction Publishers. 2009. Pp. xxii, 139. €24,90. ISBN 978-3-643-90019-7.)

This book is prefaced by Peter Landau's account in German of the history of the Roman Correctors of the Corpus Juris Canonici and of Mary E. Sommar's undertaking. In Sommar's introduction she discusses the official, three-volume edition of the Corpus issued in 1582; the first volume, composed of Gratian's Decretum, included not only the marginalia of the Correctors but also extensive notations in the body of the text. In referring to this edition, she uses the page numbers of the volumes on the UCLA Library Web site.

The Roman Correctors were a group of mainly humanist scholars who, in the wake of the Council of Trent, set about editing the texts of canon law. Sommar responds to the mainly negative or apologetic assessments that have been made of their work, first by examining the charge that the scholarly credentials of the committee were insufficient. Three of the five cardinals who composed the core of the original congregation (established in 1566 under [End Page 804] the direction of Pope Pius V) were renowned scholars: Ugo Buoncompagni (later Pope Gregory XIII), probably the most expert canonist in the papal curia; Guglielmo Sirleto, expert in both Greek and Latin manuscripts, and director of the Vatican libraries since 1554; and Francesco Alciati, former professor of law at the University of Pavia. There were twenty-eight other members, both lay and clerical, many with outstanding dossiers. The effective leader of the committee was Miguel Thomás Taxaquet, protégé of the famed canonist Antonio Agustín, archbishop of Tarragona (who preferred to stay outside the group; his assessment of their work was published in 1587, the year after his death).

In the second chapter Sommar examines the finished product, the first volume (Gratian) of the 1582 edition; and in the third chapter she studies the minutes and working papers of the Correctors that survive in Vatican manuscripts, which are summarized in an appendix (pp. 105-22). She demonstrates that they did their work diligently and intelligently, although there was a division "between those who believed that good Humanist text-critical practice was of primary importance and those who were reluctant to part with medieval tradition" (p. 62). One point in which tradition triumphed was their defense of the Donation of Constantine (pp. 79-81, 95). In her analysis of the edition itself, she sums up (pp. 27-29) the Correctors' statement of purpose in their long note to the reader and discusses their corrections and additions to the text. In chapter 4, she presents specific examples from Gratian's Causa 2. She summarizes her findings in a conclusion.

The two most important tools for using the 1582 edition of Gratian are the Margarita at the end, which is not a commentary but a subject index to the canons, and the Notatu digna table at the beginning, an index not only to the Ordinary Gloss but also (it claims) to novae notationes, but these indexed "new notations" do not include the even newer notations of the Correctors (for instance, the long comment on the Donation of Constantine). It should be noted that Sommar states (p. 46) that I suggest that the Correctors were following the texts of the canons and decretals as found in the edition of Jean Chappuis at the beginning of the sixteenth century. However, I was speaking not of the canons and decretals but rather of the additions to the Ordinary Gloss, which, like the indices and other front-matter and back-matter, were inherited from earlier editors and which received only occasional comments from the Correctors in marginalia.

Sommar's book is a solid achievement, which may stimulate others to study further how the great corpus of canon law evolved up to its official presentation in 1582. [End Page 805]

Henry Ansgar Kelly
University of California, Los Angeles


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