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Decretals with Glossa ordinaria

The term glossator is used to describe the author of a gloss , that is, an explanatory note on a text, or a comment that consists of several such notes. In the narrower sense, glossators are the legal scholars who in the 12th and 13th centuries in Italy provided the sources of secular Roman law with glosses.

General explanation of words

The word glos (s) ator originated in medieval Latin as a nominalization of the likewise Middle Latin verb glos (s) are ("provided with a gloss") and has been borrowed as technical Latinism since the end of the Middle Ages in German and in several other European vernacular languages (including French glossateur , Italian chiosatore , but mostly glossatore , Spanish glosador for legal texts ). The word has remained a technical term to this day, which is mainly used by philologists , historians and codicologists and then usually refers to the author of an ancient or medieval gloss on a biblical, ancient or medieval text.

Legal glossators

In a narrower meaning, shaped by the Latin technical language of medieval jurists , which has also been retained by modern legal historians, glossators are specifically the teachers of secular law who, in the 12th and 1st half of the 13th centuries in Italy, primarily in Bologna interpreting the texts of the Corpus iuris (a collection of sources of ancient Roman law ). The focus of the work was on the previously almost unknown digests that had recently been found in a complete manuscript ( litera bononiensis ). They provided these texts with glosses ( glossae ), which were usually written in the margin ( marginal gloss ) or between the lines ( interlinear gloss ) of the legal text. Their designation as glossators is derived from this activity. In addition, they described individual legal problems ( summae ) and resolved contradictions between different text passages ( distinctiones ). A treatment that was subject to empirical-critical methods and explained the entire regulatory content of a legal provision was largely alien to them. In particular, one is still subject to the authoritarian thinking of the Middle Ages, as it is also reflected in parallel in the emerging scholasticism in theology. first became common among the post-glossators - also called commentators , "practitioners" or consiliators.

The most important glossators were Irnerius , Azo and Accursius (summary of the previous glosses for the Glossa ordinaria 1250). Their work was continued at the end of the 13th and 14th centuries by the post-glossators (especially Cinus de Pistoia , Bartolus de Saxoferrato and Baldus de Ubaldis ). The modernizing reception of Roman law by glossators and post-glossators made it the basis for continental European private law .

In the constitutional and legal life of their time, the glossators assumed the role of teachers, reviewers and document editors. They were primarily considered to be theoreticians who provided training for public life, but had little influence on the practical application of the law. Your explanations on the corpus iuris were services that had no direct legal effect, which was due to the fact that the clerical sources of the canonists, oriented towards the present, enjoyed priority. Personal and local rights also enjoyed priority in everyday legal life. The glossators, on the other hand, who were of the opinion that the corpus iuris was directly applicable law, could not develop any penetrative effect. The core countries that received the corpus iuris, i.e. Italy and France, experienced training work by the glossators, which had to be limited to a method-based “legal grammar” and thus at best served everyday legal life indirectly. In doing so, however, they consolidated their status as important legal interpreters, because regardless of local conditions, they were able to enforce the universal validity and timeless correctness of Roman law. Its epochal significance for all of Europe should emerge in retrospect. The founder of the Historical School of Law , Friedrich Carl von Savigny , would later call the Glossators the "book-learned reformers (of legal life)". Following the glossators, the commentators already mentioned should help close the increasingly obvious gap between pure legal theory and practically lived law. They began to interpret the corpus iuris in the light of the customs and statuary law of the Italian cities, later also the customs in northern France as well as other Romanesque city and land rights.

Even among the canonists, the experts in medieval church law , there were in fact glossators, even if they are not typically called that, namely on the one hand the decretists , who devoted themselves to commenting on the Decretum Gratiani , and the decretalists , who commented on the papal decretals . Hugutius of Pisa , Laurentius Hispanus and Johannes Teutonicus are particularly noteworthy among the decretists ; Bernardus of Pavia , Tankred of Bologna , Raimund of Penyafort and Johannes Andreae deserve a mention among the decretalists .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. According to the dictionaries, however, derived from chiosa = glossa
  2. Hermann Kantorowicz : About the origin of the Digestenvulgata (1910) = magazine of the Savigny Foundation for Legal History , The Romanistic Department (RA, ISSN  0323-4096 ). 30 (1909) 183 f .; 31 (1910) 14 f.
  3. Paul Koschaker : Europe and Roman law . 4th edition, CH Beck'sche Verlagbuchhandlung. Munich, Berlin 1966. p. 62.
  4. Paul Koschaker: Europe and Roman law . 4th edition, CH Beck'sche Verlagbuchhandlung. Munich, Berlin 1966. p. 55 ff.
  5. ^ A b Franz Wieacker : History of private law in the modern age. Taking into account the German development. 2nd edition, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967. pp. 80 f.
  6. Wolfgang Kunkel : In SZ , Romance Department (RA, ISSN  0323-4096 ) 71 (1954), 517 note 15.
  7. ^ Franz Wieacker: History of private law in the modern age. Taking into account the German development. 2nd edition, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967. p. 70.


  • Hermann Lange : Roman Law in the Middle Ages. Volume 1: The Glossators. Beck, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-406-41904-6 .
  • Gerhard Otte: Dialectics and Jurisprudence. Investigations into the method of glossators (= Ius commune. Publications of the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History. Special issues , texts and monographs. 1, ZDB -ID 120695-3 ). Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1971, (at the same time: Münster, University, habilitation paper, 1969).
  • Johann Friedrich von Schulte : The history of the sources and literature of the canon law. Volume 1-2. Enke, Stuttgart 1875-1877;
    • Volume 1: From Gratian to Pope Gregory IX. 1875, digitized ;
    • Volume 2: From Pope Gregory IX. to the Council of Trento. 1877, digitized .

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