Justinian’s Digest

Description

The Digest consists of a summary of classical legal texts compiled during Eastern Roman emperor Justinian I’s reign (r. 527–565). It is part of a legal code that became the foundation of law in much of Western Europe. 

This copy was made in the city of Sens, which briefly became an important centre for book production in the decades following 1160.  The presence of two important church leaders, Pope Alexander III and Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, both exiled to Sens at this time, probably created a market for legal texts.  

Though its decoration is less elaborate than in some Sens books, the foliage with multi-coloured tendrils featured in it is populated by hybrid creatures and human figures with a distinctive expressive quality.

This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.

Full title:
Justinian’s Digest
Created:
3rd quarter of the 12th century, Sens
Format:
Manuscript
Language:
Latin
Creator:
Justinian I
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
Bibliothèque nationale de France
Shelfmark:
Latin 4454

Full catalogue details

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Legal manuscripts in England and France

Article by:
Joanna Frońska
Theme:
History and learning

The study of law in medieval Europe was revitalised in the 12th century. Joanna Frońska explores the production of legal works and their use by scholarly communities in this period.