Corpus Iuris Canonici

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The Pope listens to supplicants and decides legal questions.
Woodcut from an edition of Liber Sextus , Antwerp 1573

The Corpus Juris Canonici ( CorpIC , CIC or CICan ), and Corpus iuris canonici , Latin for " body of canon law " (of ius canonicum " canon law", " Canon Law "), is a collection of legal norms of the Latin Church (pre-Reformation Western Church ), which was compiled from various legal sources by canonists in the Middle Ages and shortly after the Reformation reached its preliminary final shape.


The CorpIC consists of six collections of laws:

In the early modern period, these sources were increasingly perceived as a coherent legal text. From the end of the 15th century, the name Corpus iuris canonici established itself as a common name , which was formed by the printers based on the title of the more well-known corpus of law ( Corpus iuris ) Emperor Justinian from the 6th century, which had been since Dionysius Gothofredus for better differentiation it was also called Corpus iuris civilis . Of the usual six books of the canonical corpus, some were officially issued decretal editions by the Popes ( Liber Extra, Liber Sextus, Clementines), the other collections originally had no official character ( Decretum Gratians, Extravagants), but were academic compilations for teaching and research purposes . More than 200 editions of the Corpus Iuris Canonici were printed in the 15th and 16th centuries .

The relevant Roman edition appeared in 1582 under Pope Gregory XIII. With the promulgation of the Codex Iuris Canonici , the first codification of canon law, in May 1917, the Corpus Iuris Canonici became obsolete as a legal source for Roman Catholic canon law and was suspended as current law.


Decretum Gratiani

At the beginning of the Corpus Iuris Canonici was the Decretum Gratiani (around 1140), a work by the canon lawyer Gratian , which he himself called Concordantia discordantium canonum (freely translated "the work that brings the contradicting canon law sources into agreement"). The title already shows Gratian's aim to bring order to the confusing multitude of different, sometimes contradicting, canon law provisions. Gratian structured his legal collection according to content, assigned the various existing canon law sources such as council resolutions and papal edicts systematically and explained how the legal sources are related to one another. In this way he created an easily manageable collection of laws that made canon law much clearer.

Before Gratian there were also other canon law collections, for example the Pseudoisidor and the collections of Burchard von Worms and Ivo von Chartres . However, the Gratian collection was better than the other collections, so that the Decretum Gratiani soon superseded all other canon law collections and became the one that was used by all jurists. Glossators soon began to work on the Decretum Gratiani scientifically.

Compilationes Antiquae

In the time after Gratian there was an organizational change in the church. Canon law was created in late antiquity and in the early Middle Ages primarily through assemblies of bishops, the councils (see also canons ). Since the High Middle Ages, however, the popes had gained so much power within the church that they were mainly responsible for legislating.

The further developments of canon law after Gratian as well as the increasingly important decretals (papal judgments) were recorded in five new codes, the so-called Compilationes Antiquae :

Liber Extra

Around 1230 Pope Gregory IX commissioned the Dominican Raymund von Peñafort with a collection of all previous canon law, which should replace the previous collections. In 1234 his collection, which was divided into five books, was published, with almost 2,000 decretals containing the law newly created since the Decretum Gratiani . The new untitled collection was referred to as Decretales Gregorii IX , sometimes in echoes of the five earlier collections as Compilatio Sexta , but mostly as Collectio seu liber extra or simply Liber Extra .

Further additions

The new law that emerged after the Liber Extra was published by Pope Boniface VIII in 1298 in Liber Sextus ( The Sixth Book ), which was designed as a supplement to the five books of Liber Extra and which took over its structure.

Like the Liber Extra and the Liber Sextus , the complementary clementines (1317) and the extravagants (1325–1327) mainly assemble papal judgments (decretals).


All books of the Corpus Iuris Canonici have been scientifically edited by glossators and commentators .

The Corpus Iuris Canonici was officially edited in the 16th century by the so-called Correctores Romani and republished in 1582. It was not replaced by the Codex Iuris Canonici until 1917 .


Web links

Edition Rome 1582

Edition hall 1747 / JH Böhmer

Issues after Richter / Friedberg

  • Decretum magistri Gratiani , ed. Emil Ludwig Richter / Emil Friedberg, Leipzig 1879. (= Corpus iuris canonici 1) (digitized as facsimiles and e-text at the Munich Digitization Center)
  • Decretales Gregorii IX (Liber Extra) , from: Corpus Iuris Canonici, Pars Secunda: Decretalium Collectiones, Decretales Gregorii, ed. Richter / Friedberg, Leipzig 1881 (e-text of the Bibliotheca Augustana)
  • Corpus Iuris Canonici, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 , Bernhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig 1879/1881, reprint Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, Graz 1959.
  • Limited book view in Google Book Search (template of the Library of Congress)
  • Digitized in the Google book search (Volume 2, template of the BSB)
  • Digitized in the Google Book Search USA

Individual evidence

  1. a b Corpus Iuris Canonici. In: Carl Andresen (†), Georg Denzler : Dictionary church history. Updated licensed edition, marix, Wiesbaden 2004, ISBN 3-937715-23-1 (first edition Kösel / dtv, Munich 1982/1997, ISBN 3-466-20227-2 ), p. 175.
  2. ^ Egon Boshof : Europe in the 12th century. On the way to the modern age. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-17-014548-1 , p. 266.
  3. ^ Ulrich Rohde : Church Law (= Study Books Theology , Vol. 24). Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2015, ISBN 978-3-17-026227-0 , p. 24.
  4. James Brundage : Medieval Canon Law. Longman, London / New York 1995, ISBN 0-582-09357-0 , p. 56.