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  • Stephan Kuttners's last Discovery on Walter of Coutances:A Commemoration 110 Years after Kuttner's Birthday
  • Peter Landau

Stephan Kuttner (†1996) established the Institute of Medieval Canon Law at The Catholic University of America in 1955. He moved it to Yale University in 1964 and then to the University of California, Berkeley in 1969. It then was moved to Munich for almost twenty years and renamed the Stephan Kuttner Institute of Medieval Canon Law. In 2016 the Institute was transferred to Yale University under the direction of Anders Winroth. Kuttner was also the founder of this journal in 1971. Ludwig Schmugge has aptly dubbed him the 'Pope' of canon law studies during the twentieth century.

He was very active in his scholarly research until the final years of his life.1 His last publication was probably an essay on the Stroma of the canonist Rolandus of Bologna published in 1990.2 Working on a revised edition of his collection of articles with the title Gratian and the Schools of Law 1140-1234 I used Kuttner's personal copy of this book with many additions of the author that he made in the margins after 1983. Studying these notes I found a typed text among his 'Retractationes' for p. 321 of his essay 'Anglo-Norman Canonists of the Twelfth Century' referring to bishop Walter of Lincoln. This text runs like this.

Walter bishop of Lincoln: This was Walter of Coutances (de Constantiis), archdeacon of Oxford 1175-82, bishop of Lincoln 1183, archbishop of Rouen from 1184 or 1185, who died in 1207. He addressed to the bishop of Exeter 'super negociis iuris librum unum', see John Bale 'Index Britanniae scriptorum', ed. R. L. Poole (Oxford 1902) 103. [A second edition, by Poole and M. Bateson, was published in Cambridge 1990.] I shall give a fuller bibliography and discuss the possibility of other writings by Walther of Coutances in an article planned for a Festschrift to appear in 1994. [End Page 229]

In John Bale's Index the reference on p. 251 is formulated like this: 'In Summa legum continetur, in tractatu de actionibus'. The same formulation can be found in an anonymous Ordo iudiciarius, edited by Carl Gross in 1870 as a title for the second part of this 'ordo' dealing with actions.3

In an article I published in 2004 I conjectured that the work edited by Gross had been written by Walter of Coutances, who had started his career as teacher of canon law in Paris around 1165.4 He later became the archbishop of Rouen and was a learned canonist who inspired the Anglo-Norman school until his death.

My thesis on Walter as author of the 'ordo iudiciarius' Tractaturi de iudiciis was approved by the late André Gouron in his last volume of essays Pionniers du droit occidental: 'proposée, avec un très haut degré de probabilité'.5 I can now say that Kuttner also certainly discovered this forgotten author. I could not find out in which Festschrift Kuttner wanted to present the results of his research. But we can be sure that he still was still active and exploring canonical texts during the last years of his life between 1990 and 1994. [End Page 230]

Peter Landau


1. Ludwig Schmugge, 'Stephan Kuttner (1907-1996): The "Pope" of Canon Law Studies: Between Germany , the Vatican and the USA', BMCL 30 (2013) 141-165.

2. Stephan Kuttner, 'Did Rolandus of Bologna write a "Stroma ex Decre-torum corpore carptum"?,' BMCL 20 (1990) 69.

3. Incerti Auctoris Ordo Judiciarius, Pars Summae Legum et Tractatus de Praescriptione, ed. Carl Gross, (Innsbruck 1870) 1.

4. Peter Landau, 'Walter von Coutances und die Anfänge der anglo-normannischen Rechtswissenschaft', ed. Orazio Condorelli, Panta rei: Studi dedicati a Manlio Bellomo (5 vols. Roma 2004) 3.183-204.

5. Pionniers du droit occidental au Moyen Âge (Collected Studies 865; Ashgate 2006), Addenda et Corridenda p. 3.



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