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Sext f.107r

Sext f.107r

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1350

Shelfmark: Royal MS 9 FV

Item number: f.107r

Length: 43

Width: 27

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

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.

Commentaries often took up most of the page. Here Jean le Moine's commentary, known as the 'Glossa Aurea' ('Golden Gloss'), is written on two column-like sections around a section title (in red, a 'rubric') of the 'Sext' and, beside that, the title of a subsection, which occupy a tiny space in the midst of the commentary. Above the rubric, a picture of Boniface VIII and a canon lawyer highlight the law text, while at the end of the page, imaginary animals scamper about on the frame. Even canon lawyers needed a break.

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