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Bernard of Montmirat


Abbot and canonist; b. Montmirat (southern France), c. 1225; d. Monte Cassino, 1296. It is not known whether he was already a Benedictine monk when he studied in Bologna under Peter of Sampson, whom he followed to Avignon. Subsequently he taught Canon Law at Béziers, and it is now known that he was a professor also at Toulouse. Appointed abbot of Montmajour in 1266 and rector of the March of Ancona in 1277 and 1278, he continued as abbot until 1286, when Pope Honorius IV appointed him bishop of Tripoli in Syria. Unable to take possession of his see because of political circumstances, he was employed on various missions, notably on legations to England and Sweden (129192) in connection with the projected crusade of Nicholas IV. In 1295 he was appointed administrator of the abbey of Monte Cassino. His canonical works were very successful: his Lectura (125966; printed Strasbourg 1510, Venice 1588) on the Decretals of gregory ix and his commentary (unprinted) on the Novellae of Innocent IV are famous; parts of his Distinctiones have survived also. These writings display a remarkable knowledge of classical Canon Law and are on a level with the works of other great doctors of the 13th century. Bernard was known at first as Abbas, and later called "Abbas antiquus" to distinguish him from the great abbot-canonist of the 15th century, Nicolaus de tudeschis ("Abbas Modernus").

Bibliography: s. kuttner, "Wer war der Dekretalist Abbas Antiquus'?" Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, Kanonistische Abteilung 26 (1937) 471489. a. van hove, Commentarium Lovaniense in Codicem iuris cononici 1 (Mechlin 1928) 1:456. a. villien, Dictionnaire de droit canonique, ed. r. naz (Paris 193565) 1:12. j. f. von schulte, Die Geschichte der Quellen und der Literatur des kanonischen Rechts (Stuttgart 187580) 2:130132.

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