Giovanni d'Andrea, Glossa Ordinaria
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
The laws of the medieval church (canon law) began to be published in more or less methodically organised collections (decretals) only in the mid-12th century, but without providing a means of organising the decrees of subsequent popes. In 1298, Boniface VIII published the 'Sixth Book of Decretals' ('Sext') which updated and streamlined all previous decretals. Commentaries, to aid study and application, were written in the decretals manuscripts, either around the margins of the law text (gloss) in a specialized page layout or published on their own. This manuscript of the 'Sext' with its most important commentaries is believed to have belonged to the Benedictine abbey at Reading, where study of law was an important pursuit.
Before he died during the plague of 1348, Giovanni d'Andrea wrote what became the standard commentary ('Glossa Ordinaria') used as a textbook on the 'Sixth Book of Decretals'. It often was copied in manuscripts, as in this one, on its own without the 'Sext'. The small creature on the decorative frame provides some diversion from the heavy going of the law text. Giovanni's daughter, Novella, followed in her father's footsteps as law professor at Bologna.