Hispana Collectio (Isidoriana)

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The most extensive and important canonical collection of the first ten centuries; it gathers and classifies all the traditional legislation in two parts: that of councils and that of papal decretals. The number of decretals, 103, is almost invariable in all the manuscripts and includes decretals from Popes Damasus (366384) to Gregory I (604). The conciliar part, however, has met with three recensions: the Isidorian, to the Fourth Council of Toledo (633), with no manuscript in existence; the Ervigian, to the Twelfth Council of Toledo (685), in six manuscripts, three Spanish and three Gallican in form; the Vulgate, to the Seventeenth Council of Toledo (694), in eight Spanish and two foreign manuscripts. The Hispana recension, the lengthiest, comprises in geographical order, 11 Greek councils, eight African councils, 17 French councils, and 30 Spanish councils, setting in strict chronological order all the councils of the same city, thus meriting the name of Hispana Collectio.


Although the oldest recension (63335) of the Spanish collection is from the Isidorian era, there are reasons to date it to the Leandrine era, before 600 (M. Díaz y Díaz). A controversy as to whether St. isidore of se ville was the author of this collection dates to the 16th century. On the affirmative side are P. Sejourné and J. Madoz; on the doubtful side, without considering it a proved fact, is G. Le Bras. The medieval manuscript tradition never attributed to Isidore the genuine Hispana, but it did ascribe to him the false decretals, basing its belief on the preface of Isidorus Mercator. The author is still unknown, although it seems probable that it was St. Isidore of Seville.


The Isidorian, Ervigian, and Vulgate recensions were either written by the hierarchy or under the immediate control of the hierarchy, so that it can be called the official collection of the Spanish Church, making other collections obsolete. The three were used exclusively for almost 500 years, until the Gregorian reform.

The Hispana Collectio appeared at the beginning of the eighth century in Gaul, where it spread rapidly, representing the traditional, universal, and ecclesiastical law against the particularistic disintegration of the penitential literature. Being transcribed by itself, as in the Codex Rachionis, copied in 787 for the bishop of Strasbourg, or combined with other collectionsHispana-Adriana, dacherianait served for a century as juridical support of the Carolingian attempt at reform. Its authority served in the ninth century to conceal the greatest literary fraud of the history of Canon Law, the false decretals.

Using the Hispana Chronologica as the basis, the socalled Excerpta came into existence in Spain around 656. These Excerpta included the canons of the Isidorian recension (Fourth Council of Toledo) and the canons of the Fifth to Tenth Councils of Toledo systetematically ordered in ten books according to subject matter, each one summarized in a line. They were transcribed at the beginning of the Spanish manuscripts of the Hispana, both in the Ervigian and the Vulgate recensions.

The Hispana Systematica was formed by substituting the summary of each canon of the Excerpta for the complete text. Although preserved in three French manuscripts, it is considered Spanish in origin, since it was used by the Mozarabs of the south of Spain, a fact evidenced by the Arabic version (Madrid, B.N. 4879, s. XI).

Bibliography: p. sÉjournÉ, Le Dernier pére de l'Église: Saint Isidore de Séville (Paris 1929). p. ariÑo alafont, Colección canónica hispana (Avila 1941). c. garcÍa-goldÁraz, El Codice Lucense de la colección canónica hispana, 2 v. (Madrid 1954). f.a. gonzÁlez, ed., Collectio canonum ecclesiae hispanae, 2 v. (Madrid 180821). m. c. dÍaz y dÍz, "Pequeñas aportaciónes para el estudio de la Hispana," Rev EspDC 17 (1962) 373390. j. madoz, San Isidoro de Sevilla (Madrid 1960). g. le bras, "Sur la part d'Isidore de Séville et des Espagnols dans l'histoire des collections canoniques, à propos d'un livre récent," Revue des sciences religieuses 10 (1930) 218257.

[g. martÍnez dÍez]