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BARTHOLOMEUS DE SANCTO CONCORDIO [Bartolomeus Pisanus], Summa de casibus conscientiae

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
France, Avignon?, c. 1380-1400

TM 297

237 ff., on parchment, lacking 2 first folios (collation: i8 [10-2], ii-xxiv10), written in a gothic cursive script, in brown ink on up to 35 long lines, ruled in plummet (justification: 220 x 155 mm), prickings still visible, catchwords, some quire signatures, paragraph marks in alternating red and blue, some words underlined in red, numerous initials in red or blue with contrasting purple or red penwork, 21 initials in pink or blue with white tracery on highly burnished gold grounds, with colored ivy-leaf infill and marginal extensions of pink, blue, gold vine leaves, some additional burnished gold besants, numerous contemporary annotations and corrections, marginal and interlinear, by a variety of different hands. Bound in a modern full red velvet binding over wooden boards, two fore-edge brass clasps, preserved in a fitted dark blue quarter morocco box, lined in silk (rubbed initials ff. 150 and 170, else in good condition). Dimensions 320 x 240 mm.

This is a large, neatly written copy on parchment of one of the most popular casuistic texts of the later Middle Ages, Bartholomeus de Sancto Concordio's "Little Pisan Summa," which belongs to the new generation of penitential writings that were much impregnated by canon law. Extremely popular, existing in hundreds of manuscripts, the majority of which are of Italian origin, the text is relatively rare in France, and it evidently exists in fewer than a dozen copies in North American collections. The work has surprisingly never been the subject of a modern critical edition.


1. Script and decoration clearly suggest the present codex was likely copied and decorated in France, last quarter of the 14th or beginning of the 15th c. In the absence of the frontispiece, one can rely solely on the comparison of the very elegant and finely executed decorated initials, with extending vine leaves that closely resemble those found in manuscripts realized during the reign of Charles VI (1368-1422) in France (see Exhibition Catalogue [2004]: Paris 1400. Les arts sous Charles VI). The style of the decorated initials in the pure Gothic International Style compares well with manuscripts produced in Avignon in the last quarter of the 14th c. during the pontificate of Pope Clement VII of Avignon (1378-1394). Compare manuscripts described in Les manuscrits à peintures de la bibliothèque municipale d’Avignon, XIe-XVIe siècles. Exposition du 2 au 25 juin 1993, esp. no. 13, Constitutions des Célestins, Avignon, between 1383 and 1396; and no. 18, Prayerbook of Pope Clement VII, Avignon, c. 1380. If the present manuscript is indeed to be tied to manuscript production in Avignon, this could account for the Italian appearance of the script.

2. Armorial bookplate pasted on upper pastedown: “Biblioteca de Don A. Canovas del Castillo.” Antonio Cánovas del Castillo (1828-1897) was a noted nineteenth-century Spanish historian, journalist, politician and author of fiction and poetry (see in particular Juan Antonio Yeves, Cánovas y Lázaro : dos bibliofilos de fin de siglo, Madrid, Fundacion Lázaro Galdiano, 1998; see also V.-C. Creux, Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, sa carrière, ses oeuvres, sa fin, étude biographique et historique, Paris, 1897; Garcia Escudero, Cánovas, un hombre para nuestro tiempo: introducíon y antalogía, Madrid, 1989). His collection numbered some 35,000 volumes, including approximately 500 manuscripts.

3. Ex-libris added in pen on the upper lefthand corner of upper pastedown: “Ex-libris D. M. Neugebauer. 1997.”


ff. 1-231, Bartholomeus de Sancto Concordio, Summa de casibus conscientiae, incipit [begins incomplete, missing first folios with Prologue and entries Abbas-Angaria], "Appellacionis remocio […] in medio literarum…"; explicit, “[…] Zelus quid est… Confirmata fuit hec summa in civitate Pisanensis per fratrem Bartholomeum de Sancta Concordia eiusdem civitatis anno domini 1338 de mense decembris tempore domini Benedicti pape .xii."; added parchment strip inserted between ff. 78-79, referring to Bernard of Quintavalle (died 1241, one of the first disciples of Saint Francis of Assisi), that reads: “Notatur per Bernardum in Quintavallis…cause vero propter quas potest ex heredare filium sunt hec prima si filius…”;

ff. 231v-234, Table to the previous work, rubric, Sequitur tabula ad reperiendum materias in opera precedenti; incipit, “[A]bbas / Abbatissa…”; explicit, “[…] Zelus. Explicit tabula”; followed by explicated abbreviations: Sequntur declaraciones de abreviaturis sive de nominibus doctorum et librorum qui in hac summa nominantur sive ponuntur;

ff. 234v-237, Added excerpts on Numbers, incipit, “Sunt et alie abreviature tam decretalium quam legum…”; rubric, Secuntur documenta pro noticia […] per chifras scribuntur; incipit, “Ad declarationem autem figurarum que ponite sunt…”; excerpts from Papal Decretals [Extravangantes communes and Extravagantes Joannis XXII, both collections of Decretals not contained in certain canonical collections which possess a special authority, i.e. they are not found in the Decree of Gratian or the three official collections of the "Corpus Juris"; they are all published in Friedberg, 1881, Corpus iuris canonici, Vol. II], rubric, Extravagans domini Bonifacii pape .viii. contra exeuterantes corpora defunctorum; incipit, “Bonifacius etc. Detestande feritatis abusum quem ex quodam more horribili…” [Bonifatius VIII, Decretal promulgated 27 September 1299, Extravagantes communes, III, titulus VI, c. 1; published in Friedberg, 1881, Vol. II, 1272-1273]; following rubrics, Extravagans eiusdem domini Bonifacii contra supponentes…; Bonifacius etc. Provide actendes…; Iohannes etc. Antique concertationi finem…[Extravangantes…D. Ioannis papae XXII, titulus VI, c. 1; Friedberg, 1881, Vol. II, 1212-1213]; Benedictus etc. Ad futuram rei memoriam; Execrabilis quorumdam tam religiosorum; explicit, “[…] Si quis autem etc. Datum Avinionense .xiii. kalendas decembris pontificatus nostri anno secundo [1317].” [Extravangantes…D. Ioannis papae XXII, titulus III, c. 1; Friedberg, 1881, Vol. II, 1207-1209].

This manuscript contains a copy of the Summa de casibus conscientiae by Bartholomaeus de Sancto Concordio. It is a luxury copy, decorated with very fine ornamental initials. Copied in a cursive script, with a number of contemporary annotations and corrections, the present manuscript was likely used for study purposes, perhaps in the circle of the papal curia at Avignon.

Bartholomaeus de Sancto Concordio (1262-1347), who is also known as Bartholomaeus Pisanus and Bartholomeo Granchi, entered the Dominican Order in 1277. He studied at Bologna and Paris, and was a lector in Logic in many different Italian convents before returning to Pisa around 1335, where he remained until his death. He was renowned as a preacher, a poet in Latin and Italian, and a teacher in canon and civil law. His prolific writings include De documentis antiquorum (1302-1308), Compendium moralis philosophiae ex libro S. Aegidii De regime principum (c. 1320), and a number of works on orthography, as well as commentaries on Sallust, Alexander de Villa Dei, Gualfredi Anglici, etc. Many of his works have yet to be the subject of modern critical editions.

His most influential work, and the most popular, was the Summa de casibus conscientiae, one of the new generation of penitential books, designed for actual use by confessors and preachers and containing the whole subject matter of moral theology and detailed examples taken from canon law. Composed c. 1338, Bartholomeus's Summa, variously called "Pisana," "Pisanella," "Bartholomaea," "Magistruccia," or sometimes just the "little Pisan Summa" actually derives from the Summa confessorum of another Dominican Johannes of Freiburg (died 1314), whose work Bartholomeus revised. The contribution of Bartholomeus's Summa is that he discarded the old-fashioned and difficult-to-use arrangement in books and chapters and adopted the alphabetical order, at the same time that he expanded on the legal content. A measure of the enormous success of the work was its early printing; it was among the first books undertaken by some of the earliest printers of Germany, France, and Italy, the earliest edition in Italy in 1473 (GW 33450, IGI 1267). A supplement written in 1444 by the Dominican Nicholas of Osimo or Ausimo (fl. c. 1435), which was included in many of the early editions, does not appear in the present manuscript. Already in the fourteenth century, Bartholomeus's Summa was translated into Italian by the Florentine Giovanni delle Celle (1347-94) (cf. Yale University, Beinecke Library, MS 759).

Hundreds of manuscripts exist in European libraries, a census of which was first attempted by Dietterle (1906) and revised by Kuttner (1986, vol. 2: 25-31). DeRicci and Wilson, Census, record only 7 manuscripts in North American collections, to which Faye and Bond, Supplement, add another 2 (in Chicago, the Newberry Library; the University of Chicago, Princeton University Library, Pierpont Morgan Library, University of Cincinnati Library, the library of Charles McCamic, Catholic University, and the University of Virginia). To these should be added a copy in the Robbins Collection, University of California, Berkeley, MS 14 (www.law.berkeley.edu/library/robbins/RobbinsMSScatalogue1-30.html). The Schoenberg Database records a large number of transactions of this work, going back to 1825. The majority of these manuscripts are of Italian provenance, and many are illuminated. French copies appear to be much rarer on the market. Surprisingly, there is as yet no modern critical edition, which would allow scholars to trace systematically the medieval interest in the work, its use in monasteries and schools, and to identify its early owners.


Dietterle, J. "Die Summae confessorum (sive de casibus conscientiae) von ihren Anfangen an bis Silvester Prierias," Zeitschrift für Kirckgeschichte 27 (1906), pp. 166-70.

[Exhibition]. Paris, 1400 : les arts sous Charles VI, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 22 mars-12 juillet 2004, Paris, Fayard, 2004.

Friedberg, E., ed. Corpus Iuris Canonici. Pars secunda, Decretalium Collectiones, Leipzig, 1881 [reprint Union (New Jersey), 2000].

Kaeppeli, T. Scriptores ordinis praedicatorum medii aevi, Rome, 1970, pp. 157-68.

Kuttner, S. A Catalogue of Canon and Roman Law Manuscripts in the Vatican Library, Citta del Vaticano, Biblioteca apostolica vaticana, 1986.

Michaud-Quantin, P. Sommes casuistique et manuels de confession au moyen age, XII-XVIe siècle (Analecta mediaevalia Namurcensia, 13) Louvain, 1962, pp. 60-62.

Teetaert, A. "Barthélemy de Pise ou De San Concordio," in Dictionnaire de droit canonique 2 (1937), pp. 213-216.

Online resources

Bartholmaeus von San Concordio (Biographisch-Bibliographises Kirchenlexikon)