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BARTOLOMEO DA SAN CONCORDIO (1260-1347), Summa de casibus conscientiae (Compendium of Cases of Conscience)

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Northern Italy (Milan), January 31, 1444 (dated)

TM 1152

i + 361 + i folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil, 1-361, complete (collation i-xliv8 xlv9), horizontal catchwords in cursive script, leaf signatures (mainly cropped), modern alphabetical quire signatures in pencil, ruled in gray ink (justification 112 x 79 mm.), written in dark gray ink in a very small Gothic bookhand (hybrida) in two columns on 33 lines, rubrics, colophon and index at the end in red, capitals touched in red, paragraph marks (pieds-de-mouche) alternating in red and blue, 2-line initials alternating in red with blue penwork and in blue with violet penwork, several very fine 4- to 6-line initials alternating in red with blue penwork and in blue with violet penwork, opening page with ILLUMINATED FRONTISPIECE with HISTORIATED INITIAL AND three-quarter ACANTHUS BORDER, initial is 10-line, in dark pink with white penwork on a burnished gold ground, enclosing an author portrait of Bartolomeo presented as a tonsured Dominican friar in profile seated at his desk, the margins decorated with pink, green and red acanthus foliage and bezants and leaves in burnished gold, a space for a coat of arms in the lower margin was left unfilled (f. 1), small smudges to background of author portrait, the lower outermost corner of f. 1 replaced with modern parchment, small stains in some of the margins including on f. 1, a tear on f. 361, otherwise in excellent condition. Bound in limp vellum covers over pasteboards in the nineteenth century, yapp edges, spine inscribed “Barthol: de Pisis / Summa Casuum / Mano_Scritto / del / 1444” in black ink, at head of spine library shelf-mark “E” in brown ink, the number below it is erased, a few small stains, in overall very good condition. Dimensions 167 x 125 mm.

With this broadly disseminated text, a veritable medieval bestseller, Bartholomaeus de San Concordio created a practical manual for confessors from existing manuals of canon law.  Its easy-to-use alphabetical order no doubt contributed to its popularity. Here it survives in a luxurious copy with a handsome author portrait and fine initials with unusual penwork flourishes. The informative colophon identifies the place and time of copying, as well as the names of the scribe and patron.


1. Written and illuminated in Milan in 1444 on the last day of January, as recorded in the colophon. The colophon on f. 354v, transcribed below, informs us that the manuscript was copied by Rolandus de Sabbel<r?>e; in translation, it reads, “Here ends the Summa of Cases which is called the “Magistruzia” written and completed in the city of Milan on the last day of January by Roland of “sabbel<r?>e” for the praise of the most holy Trinity. In the year of our Lord 1444. And not for the use of Roland of the preaching brothers, but for Philip of Florence.”  We know from this colophon that Roland was a Dominican friar, but we have found no other information about him, and his complete name is difficult to interpret. 

The name at the end of the colophon is almost certainly the name of the original owner, Philippus of Florence, for whom the manuscript was made. Philippus was a Franciscan Friar, living in a convent in Florence c.1480, when he added an inscription to his printed copy of this same text, also illuminated by a Milanese artist (see below). In 1440, he was studying in Mantua, perhaps then a Franciscan novice, when he copied a grammar manuscript for his own use.

The luxurious decoration of our manuscript suggests that Philip was a son of one of the elite Florentine families.

2. The shelf-mark “E. <erased?>” copied on the spine suggests that the book belonged to a medieval or Early Modern, possibly monastic, library.


ff. 1-354v, Incipit Summa de casibus fratris bartholomei de pisis ordinis predicatorum que magistruzia nuncupatur, [prologue], incipit, “Quoniam ut ait Gregorius super Ezechielem, nullum omnipotenti deo tale sacrificium est quale zelus animarum …; [f. 1v, text], Abbas in suo monasterio potest conferre suis subditis ... in bonis tunc est invidia ut dictum est supra Invidia ¶ Secundo,” Deo Gracias. Amen. Explicit Summa de casibus que Magistruzia nuncupatur. Scripta necnon finita in civitate mediolani die ultimo mensis Januarii per Rolandum de sabbel<r?>e ad laudem sanctissime trinitatis. Anno domini 1444. Necnon ad usum R[olandum] P[redicatorum] fratris; Philippi de Florentia;

ff. 354v-359 [Table of contents for the Summa, listing the topics in alphabetical order], Incipiunt Rubrice eiusdem, incipit, “Abbas/ Abbatissa/ Absolucio primo communiter ... Zelus,” Explicit tabula super summam que magistruzia nuncupatur;

f. 359-359v, [list of abbreviations], incipit, Hec sunt exposiciones doctorum sive rubricarum in praescripto libro positorum, incipit, “Ac Accursus / Alb Albertus theutonicus ... “; Expliciunt abbreviaciones ... libri;

Bartolomeo da San Concordio, Summa de casibus conscientiae.

ff. 359v-361v, [List of contents (rubrics) in the Decretals], Incipiunt Rubrice primi libri decretalium, incipit, “De summa trinitate et de fide catholica/ de constitucionibus/ de Rescriptis/ de consuetudine ... “; Explicit rubrice decretalium; incipit, “Pars prior officia credat ecclesie que ministros ¶Altera dat testes et cetera Judiciorum. Tertia de rebus et vita presbitorum... ¶deo gracias. Amen.”


Bartolomeo da San Concordio was born c. 1260 in San Concordio, a small town near Pisa, where he spent most of his life (Segre, 1964). In 1277, he entered the Dominican order and went on to study law and theology, first in Bologna and then later in Paris. Returning to Italy, he lectured on law in Pisa, Bologna and Florence.  He died in 1347.

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 by topics in books and chapters and adopted the alphabetical order, at the same time that he expanded on the legal content.

The number of surviving manuscript copies of the work is a measure of its enormous success Nearly 600 copies are known. Kaeppeli lists 508 copies (Kaeppeli, 1970, I, no. 436), to which four copies were added by Bloomfield and his colleagues (Bloomfield et al., 1979, no. 5052). Neddermeyer mentions 575 copies without providing a list (Neddermeyer, 1998, vol. II, p. 729). It was also among the first books undertaken by some of the earliest printers of Germany, France, and Italy.  It was printed seven times before 1500; the earliest edition in Italy dates 1473 (GW 33450, IGI 1267). In addition, the text has been translated into German, Spanish, and Italian, surviving in those languages in both manuscript and print (Kaeppeli,1970). 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.

The present manuscript is distinguished by its original provenance.  Philippus de Florentia, for whom our manuscript was presumably made, is undoubtedly the Franciscan friar who in 1480 is found at the convent of San Salvatore al Monte alle Croci in Florence and who owned a second copy of Summa Pisana that was printed in Venice in 1480 by Leonardus Wild (Florence, Biblioteca Provinciale dei Frati Minori: BPF OGN.INC.2.8). In his incunable he wrote the following ownership inscription: “Iste liber fuit ad usum fratris Philippi de Florentia ordinis minorum de observantia et pertinet ad bibliothecam loci Sancti Salvatoris prope Florentiam eiusdem ordinis.”  Notably, the printed copy, like our copy, was decorated by a Milanese artist (cf. Razzolini, Di Renzo and Zanella, 2012, pp. 125-128; a description of the book is also found online; see Online Resources). In 1440, four years before our manuscript was made, a Philippus de Florentia, very likely the same Philip associated with our manuscript, then already a Franciscan, but likely a student, perhaps still a novice, is found at a Mantuan convent, where he copied and glossed for his own use the standard grammar manual, Alexander of Villedieu’s Doctrinale. This is revealed by his ownership inscription on the front flyleaf: “Istud Doctrinale est ad usum mei, videlicet Fratris Philippi de Florentia, ordinis minorum, quod ego manu mea scripsi in conventu Mantue A.D. 1440.” (Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Nuove accessioni, MS 271; Black, 2001, p. 155). The luxurious decoration of our manuscript suggests that Philipp was a son of one of the elite Florentine families.


Black, R. Humanism and Education in Medieval and Renaissance Italy: Tradition and Innovation in Latin Schools from the Twelfth to the Fifteenth Century, Cambridge, 2001.

Bloomfield, M. W., B.-G. Guyot, D. R. Howard, T. B. Kabealo (eds). Incipits of Latin Works on the Virtues and Vices, 1100-1500 A.D., Cambridge (Mass.), 1979.

Dietterle, J. “Die Summae confessorum sive de casibus conscientiae von ihren Anfängen an bis zu Silvester Prierias,” Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 27 (1906), pp. 166-170.

Elze, R. and S. Kuttner. A Catalogue of Canon and Roman Law Manuscripts in the Vatican Library, 2 vols, Vatican City, 1986-1987, vol. 2, pp. 25-31.

Kaeppeli, T. Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum Medii Aevii, Rome, 1970.

Michaud-Quantin. Sommes de casuistique et manuels de confession au moyen âge (XII-XVI siècles), Analecta mediaevalia namurcensia 13, Louvain, Nauwelaerts, 1962, pp. 60-66.

Neddermeyer, U. Von der Handschrift zum gedruckten Buch, 2 vols, Wiesbaden, 1998.

Razzolini, C., E. di Renzo and I. Zanella, eds. Gli incunaboli della Biblioteca Provinciale dei Frati Minori di Firenze, Pisa, 2012.

Segre, Cesare. “Bartolomeo da San Concordio (Bartolomeo Pisano),” Dizionario Biographico degli Italiani, Rome, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1964, pp. 768-770.

Teetaert, A. “Barthélemy de Pise ou de San Concordio,” Dictionnaire de droit canonique, Paris, Letouzey et Ané, 1937, cols. 213-216.

Weijers, O. Le travail intellectuel à la Faculté des arts de Paris: textes et maîtres (ca. 1200-1500), Turnhout, 1994, vol. I, p. 83.

Online Resources

Manuscripta juridica, Max-Planck-Institut für Rechtsgeschichte und Rechtstheorie

[Principal Investigator: G. R. Dolezalek] (listing 47 manuscripts)

Summa Pisana in FAMA: Œuvres latines médiévales à succès (IRHT, CNRS)

Digitized copy of Summa Pisana printed in Italy in 1473, BSB-Ink B-114 (Berlin)

Florence, Biblioteca Provinciale dei Frati Minori: BPF OGN.INC.2.8 (CERL)

TM 1152