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The term decretists refers in general to civil and ecclesiastical jurists of the Middle Ages whose main object of study was the laws of the Church (decreta ), in contrast to secular laws (leges ). More specifically the term designates that group of canonists of the period between the Decretum of gratian (c. 1140) and the Decretals of gregory ix (1234), whose primary interest was the Decretum of Gratian. The publication of the Decretum of Gratian was followed by almost a century of intense exegesis of the legal tradition of the Church as set out by Gratian in more than 4,000 texts. Bologna was the hub of all this activity, but great centers also arose in France (Paris), the Rhineland (Cologne), and England (Oxford) after stephen of tournai had introduced the methods of Bologna to Paris c. 1160. This period of decretist activity, which overlaps the era of the first decretalists, had two distinct phases: a time (c. 11401200) that concentrated on the Decretum and was productive of cumulative rather than coherent glosses; and a less prolific, but more incisive time (c. 120020) that, together with the stimulus provided by new decretal collections and decretalist writing, fathered great systematic commentaries of glosses (apparatus glossarum ).

First Decretist Phase (c. 11401200). During the early period, the principal methods that were to dominate the history of scientific canon law were evolved: glossa, summa, quaestio.

Glossa. A glossa is a marginal or interlinear annotation of a word, phrase, or passage in the Decretum, and it is the basis of all other exegetical techniques. It began in an elementary fashion, sometimes consisting of no more than a cross reference or a marginal underlining (argumentum, nota, ita habes, etc.) of noteworthy points (notabilia ), generally rules of law, legal norms, and doctrinal commonplaces. From about 1150, however, the glossators became more venturesome: the techniques of civil law (explanation of conflicting references, citations from non-Decretum sources) were adopted under the influence of rufinus (Summa and glosses, before 1160); the use of extravagantes (i.e., legislation, etc., not found in, or coming after, the Decretum ) became common from the time of simon of bisignano (Summa and glosses before 1180). A wealth of glosses of this period survive; they are chiefly in the form of mixed glosses, i.e., selections from oral or published glosses of the masters of Bologna and elsewhere. As decretist succeeded decretist these glosses were added to, layer upon layer; there are extant almost 200 copies of the Decretum glossed in this way, and the variety is astonishing. From these mixed or cumulative glosses, and from the personal writings of masters of Bologna and elsewhere, the names of many glossators are known. From Bologna there are, before 1150, paucapalea (Gratian's disciple and collaborator) and Rolandus Bandinelli (alexander iii); Rufinus (before 1160); joannes faventinus (of Faenza); peter of spain; Albert of Benevento (Gregory VIII, 1187); Cardinalis (Gratianus); Gandulphus (all c. 116070); David of London (?); Melendus, and bazianus (118090). From the Franco-Rhenish school there are Gerard Pucelle (c. 115570), Godfrey of Cologne (c. 1170), sicardus of cremona, and Rodoicus Modicipassus (117585). From the Anglo-Norman school come honorius magister (mainly Paris, 118090), John of Tynemouth, Nicholas de Aquila, Simon of Southwell, Simon of Apulia, John of Kent, Simon of Derby, and Gregory of London (all c. 118898).

Summa. A summa is a composition that presents a concise, ordered rendering of and commentary upon the principal contents of the Decretum. The first summae were hardly more than summaries or lists of contents of the Decretum. From about 1160, however, they became progressively more systematic and more aware of non-Decretum sources (e.g., Rufinus, before 1160, and Simon of Bisignano, before 1180), less tied to the formal divisions (e.g., Sicardus, 117981) and order (e.g., Peter of Blois, Distinctiones, c. 1180; Honorius, Summa, 118690) of the Decretum, and more inventive (e.g., the quaestiones of Sicardus and Honorius). As a literary genre the summa is really a continuous gloss that has detached itself from its Decretum moorings. It allowed a greater freedom of movement than the glossa and attracted a large number of decretistsfrom Bologna: Paucapalea (114048), Rolandus Bandinelli (Stroma, c. 1148), omnibonus (Abbreviatio, c. 1157), rufinus (before 1160), stephen of tournai (c. 1160), Joannes Faventinus (c. 1171), simon of bisignano, huguccio (118890), richard de mores (Paris 118687; Bologna 119698), and Summa Reginensis (Peter of Benevento? c. 1191); from the Franco-Rhenish schools: Coloniensis (1169, Godfrey of Cologne?), Monacensis (c. 1175), Tractaturus magister (117578) summa parisiensis (c. 116070), Permissio quaedam (117887), Sicardus (117981), Reverentia sacrorum canonum (c. 118590), and Everard of Ypres (c. 1185); from the Anglo-Norman school: De multiplici iuris divisione, Odo of Dover, Decreta minora (both 116070), De iure naturali (117179), Omnis qui iuste (Lipsiensis, the most elaborate commentary before that of Huguccio), In nomine, De iure canonico tractaturus (Honorius, at Paris), Duacensis (all c. 118690), Prima primi uxor Adae, and Quamvis leges saeculares (both c. 1192).

Quaestio. A quaestio is a method of interpreting, clarifying or propounding the content of the Decretum by means of dialectical techniques. Although the quaestio owes something to the civil law quaestiones legitimae (problems illustrating laws), its more immediate inspiration was the dialectical framework of the Decretum itself. Originating in Franco-Rhenish circles between 1160 and 1170, it was popularized to some extent by Sicardus and his imitator, Everard of Ypres.

One basic form of the canonical quaestio was the quaestio decretalis, a gloss consisting of a dialectical examination of a question arising out of, or suggested by, a Decretum in order to arrive at a clearer idea of the implications of that decretum. A question is proposed ("Utrum"), then contrary approaches are outlined ("Quod videtur Sed contra videtur posse probari") that deploy relevant parts of the whole decretum and thus make possible a balanced solutio of the question. A variant on this exegetical type of quaestio was used widely for purposes of teaching, but the quaestio or query in this case did not spring from a decretum as such, but from a thema or "problem" in which a real or fictitious legal situation was presented in the manner of a mathematical problem or a moral casus. Very many collections of the "problem" questio are extant, and often the same stock problems and queries recur from collection to collection. Another version of the canonical quaestio was the quaestio disputata: a classroom exercise, akin to the better-known quaestiones disputatae of the civilian and theological schools, in which two students demonstrated their knowledge of the Decretum by taking opposite sides on a question before their professor, who at the end provided the definitive solutio on the basis of the arguments presented pro and contra.

The quaestio was also employed in systematic expositions (summae ) of the Decretum. These summae quaestionum originated probably among Anglo-Norman masters [e.g., Honorius, summa quaestionum decretalium (Paris 118690)], and may have been introduced to Bologna by the Englishman Richard de Mores [Summa, "Circa ius naturale" (Paris 118687); Summa brevis (Bologna c. 119698)]. The Summae quaestionum decretalium, however, are not, as such, collections of quaestiones decretales or quaestiones disputatae, but rather textbooks of the Decretum in the form of a series of quaestiones decretales. They are also quite distinct from the Casus decretorum, a form of reference work in which the main content of each text in the Decretum is briefly reported (e.g., that of Benencasa of Arezzo at Bologna c. 11901200). A more refined literary genre is that of Distinctiones, a technique whereby a conclusion from, or a Summary of, some text or series of texts in the Decretum was tested by arguments "Sed contra" based on general dialectic principles (e.g., the Distinctiones of Peter of Blois, c. 1180); or whereby concepts or doctrines were analyzed in diagrammatic condensations (e.g., Distinctiones of Richard of Mores, c. 119698). Other forms of decretist activity before c. 1200 include rearrangements of the Decretum (Transformationes ), e.g., that by Laborans (c. 1182); and monographic tracts, e.g., the Summae de matrimonio (11731179) and De electione (117779) of Bernard of Pavia, the Summa De ordine iudiciario of Richard de Mores (119698), or the anonymous De presumptionibus ("Perpendiculum," c. 1180).

Second Decretist Phase (c. 120020). The exhaustive Summa of Huguccio (Bologna, 118890) crowned fifty years of "summarist" activity. On the other hand, glossator scholarship, for all its industry, had not achieved by 1190 anything more than amalgamations of mixed glossesnot even in the great composite gloss Ordinaturus magister (c. 1180). However, when Bolognese glossators, after a slight pause, turned once more (c. 1200) to the Decretum, their method was now tight and controlled. Two factors conditioned, if they did not inspire, this new, and in fact final, decretist phase: the publication in 119192 of the great collection of decretals (Breviarium extravagantium, the Compilatio prima of the quinque compilationes antiquae) of Bernard of Pavia; and the coherent, systematic glosses (apparatus glossarum ) in which a fresh breed of canonists (Decretalists) were to cast their exegesis of the texts. This new literary form (in use among Bolognese civilians, and possibly among French decretists, e.g., the apparatus, Ecce vicit leo and Animal est substantia; c. 120210) clearly showed up the shapelessness of mixed-gloss compositions.

There now followed at Bologna a burst of decretist activity (largely decretalist-decretist) that resulted in four splendid apparatus between 1200 and 1220, including the overdue glossa ordinaria: the Ius naturale of alanus anglicus (c. 1202, a revision of an earlier effort, c. 1192); the apparatus of lawrence of spain (121015); the Glossa Palatina (121015), which leaned heavily on Lawrence; and finally, the apparatus of joannes teu tonicus (1216), a revised form of which was received at Bologna as the glossa ordinaria c. 1220. Side by side with these apparatus, and in the midst of intense decretal research and scholarship, there were many other decretalist-decretist and decretist productions: the Summa Posnaniensis (120409); glosses from bernard of compostella, the elder (121015), Martin of Zamora, Damasus of Hungary, vincent and Pelagius of Spain, raymond of peÑafort, William of Gascony, Peter of Brittany, james of albenga; apparatus-glossae on the De poenitentia and De consecratione (121012); summae titulorum decreti from Bernard of Pavia (1198), Ambrosius (after 1215), and Damasus (c. 1215); collections of quaestiones disputatae of Bernard of Compostella, the Elder (120409, Vicenza?), Damasus, tancred and Joannes Teutonicus; notabilia of Bernard of Pavia, Richard de Mores, Paul of Hungary; brocarda of de Mores and Damasus.

The glossa ordinaria of Joannes Teutonicus marks the end of the decretist era as such, but although the study of decretals took place primarily after 1234 (see gregory ix, decretals of), the Decretum continued to evoke writings from generation after generation of decretalists, e.g., bartholomew of brescia (Quaestiones, c. 1234; revision of casus and of glossa ordinaria, 124045), the Irishman Joannes de Phintona, to whom is due the division of the Decretum into parts and paragraphs (Lecturae, after 1240), Petrus de Salines (Lectura, c. 1250), and guido de baysio (Rosarium, 1300, supplementing B. of Brescia's revision of the ordinaria, particularly important for incorporating much from the decretists who preceded the glossa ordinaria ), not to mention the various authors of Flores Decreti, Breviaria, etc., such as Martin of Poland (c. 1279) and his popular Tabula Decreti (Margarita ).

Bibliography: j. f. von schulte, Die Geschichte der Quellen und der Literatur des kanonischen Rechts (Stuttgart 187580) v.12. j. juncker, "Summen und Glossen," Zietschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, Kanonistische Abteilung 14 (1925) 384474. s. kuttner, Repertorium der Kanonistik (Rome 1937). h. kantorowicz, "The Quaestiones disputatae of the Glossators," Tijdschrift voor rechtsgeschiedenis 16 (1939) 167. s. kuttner, "Les Débuts de l'école canoniste française," Pontificio instituto utrisque iuris, Studia et documenta historiae et iuris (1938) 193204; "Bernardus Compostellanus Antiquus," Traditio 1 (1943) 277340; "Some Gratian Manuscripts with Early Glosses," ibid. 19 (1963) 532536; ed., "Notes on Manuscripts," Bulletin of the Institute of Research and Study in Medieval Cannon Law, ibid. v.1114, 1617 (195558, 196061). s. kuttner and e. rathbone, "Anglo-Norman Canonists of the 12th Century," ibid. 7 (194951) 279358. g. fransen, "Les Quaestiones des canonistes," ibid. 12 (1956) 566592; 13 (1957) 481501; 19 (1963) 516531; 20 (1964) 495502. a. van hove, Commentatium Lovaniense in Codicem iuris canonici 1 (Mechlin 1928) 1:412427. a.m. stickler, "Sacerdotium et regnum nei decretisti e primi decretalisti," Salesianum 15 (1953) 575612; "Decretisti Bolognesi dementicati," Studia Gratiana 3 (1955) 375410; Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiberg 195765) 5:12891302. h. e. feine, Kirchliche Rechtsgeschichte (3d ed. Weimar 1955) 247251. c. lefebvre and g. fransen, Dictionnaire de droit canonique, ed. r. naz (Paris 193565) 7:409418. g. le bras et al., L'Âge classique, 11401378. Sources et théorie du droit (Histoire du droit et des institutions de l'Église en Occident 7; Paris 1965).

[l. e. boyle]