Irnerius of Bologna

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Irnerius of Bologna (1886)

Irnerius von Bologna (also: Guarnerius, Wernerius ; * around 1050, † around 1130) was the founder of the famous school of glossators in Bologna , the focus of medieval teaching of Roman law . He contributed to the fact that a substantial part of Roman legal texts could be preserved and especially scientifically processed.

Work and teaching

With the rediscovery of the so-called Littera Florentina , which, according to legend, was stolen by the Pisans when they sacked Amalfi and later hunted down by the Florentines, the scholars of the time were able to gain an insight into the method and legal practice of classical Roman law. The Littera Florentina is part of the corpus iuris civilis , the digests . The digests were the centerpiece of the entire collection of laws, because they contained the extracts from the writings of the jurists of the classical period . Treating the digests would have serious consequences, because dealing with the work would inevitably lead to the center of Roman legal traditions. Leaving out all older comments / legends, it was copied again (littera vulgata / bologniensis).

Irnerius was the first to provide these with his own comments (glosses) on a large scale. He taught at the University of Bologna as a magister artium . Irnerius and his students tried to develop the enormous legal substance of the Corpus iuris civilis with the methods of biblical exegesis and scholastic philosophy. The legal lessons were detailed and cumbersome, but were of a high legal standard. The predominant canonical language , especially the decree of the Camaldolese Gratian, was important for the teaching . The teaching units of secular law required a certain structure, which is why the Justinianic works of the Codex and the Digest , which were mainly used , were assigned to when they were declared to be a beginner's or advanced textbook. Particular attention was paid to reading specific cases , other things were read and dealt with in a summary ( summae ). It was precisely the carefully explained legal cases that received the extensive wreaths of glosses.

The four doctores Bulgarus, Martinus, Jacobus and Hugo, who advised Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa at the Reichstag in Roncaglia, belong to the first generation of students of Irnerius (see also the reception of Roman law ). Other important glossators were Azo and Accursius (glossa ordinaria or Accursische Glosse 1250). They were followed by the postglossators (consiliatores), among them Baldus de Ubaldis and Bartolus de Saxoferrato .

Irnerius a German?

Irnerius himself signed documents with "Wernerius"; During his lifetime his name was written as "Vernerius", "Warnerius", "Vuarnerius" and "Gernerius". How the name "Irnerius", which was later generally used, developed from this is unknown. The Germanic-sounding name "Wernerius" gave rise to the assumption that Irnerius was of German descent. Such names, however, are documented in his time in many northern Italian people from Italian families; he also always referred to himself as a Bolognese.

Irnerius a fictional person?

According to controversial opinion, Irnerius was an artifact, a myth of the medieval legal school / university in Bologna.

According to this view, the myth "Irnerius" goes back to a certain Wernerius , who appears at the beginning of the 12th century in the vicinity of Emperor Heinrich V (1106–1125). This "Werner von Bologna" functioned in some of Heinrich's documents as causidicus 'lawyer' and iudex 'judge', for example in an imperial diploma for the city of Bologna. Werner must also have taught at the law school in Bologna, perhaps some of the glosses that have been handed down can be attributed to him. Later generations of Bolognese legal scholars made Werner the Irnerius, the founder of their school, who allegedly gave rise to the important glossators Bulgarus, Martinus Gosia, Jacobus de Boragine and Hugo de Porta Ravennate - the so-called quatuor doctores - during the 12th and 13th centuries had to students. The collective memory of the law school thus falsified the beginnings of Bolognese jurisprudence at the turn of the 11th to the 12th century. Because there were fewer lawyers than notaries at the beginning of the legal sciences in Bologna, at that time the notaries pushed for the scientification of legal transactions.

In Bologna, the Via Irnerio and a digitization project of legal manuscripts bear his name : Progetto Irnerio .


  • Franz Dorn: Irnerius. In: Gerd Kleinheyer, Jan Schröder (Hrsg.): German and European lawyers from nine centuries: A biographical introduction to the history of law. 4th edition. CF Müller, Heidelberg 1996, ISBN 3-8252-0578-9 , pp. 211-215.
  • Johannes Fried : … “at the request of Countess Mathilde”: Werner von Bologna and Irnerius. In: Klaus Herbers (ed.): Europe at the turn of the 11th to the 12th century: Contributions in honor of Werner Goez. Steiner, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-515-07752-9 , pp. 171-206.
  • Hermann Lange : Roman Law in the Middle Ages. Vol. 1: The glossators. Beck, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-406-41904-6 , pp. 154-162.
  • Peter Weimar: Irnerius. in: Michael Stolleis (Ed.): Juristen. A biographical dictionary from antiquity to the 20th century. Beck, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-406-45957-9 , pp. 325–327.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Uwe Wesel : History of the law. From the early forms to the present . 3rd revised and expanded edition. Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-47543-4 . Pp. 317-320.
  2. Paul Koschaker : Europe and Roman law . 4th edition, CH Beck'sche Verlagbuchhandlung. Munich, Berlin 1966. p. 55 ff.