The Correctores Romani: Gratian's Decretum and the Counter-Reformation Humanists

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The Correctores Romani: Gratian's Decretum and the Counter-Reformation Humanists. By Mary E. Sommar. [Pluralisierung & Autorität, Band 19] (Munster: Lit Verlag. Distrib. Transaction Publishers. 2009. Pp. xxii, 139. euro24,90. ISBN 978-3-643-90019-7.)

This book is prefaced by Peter Landau's account in German of the history of the Roman Correctors of the Corpus Juris Canonici and of Mary E. Sommar's undertaking. In Sommar's introduction she discusses the official, three-volume edition of the Corpus issued in 1582; the first volume, composed of Gratian's Decretum, included not only the marginalia of the Correctors but also extensive notations in the body of the text. In referring to this edition, she uses the page numbers of the volumes on the UCLA Library Web site.

The Roman Correctors were a group of mainly humanist scholars who, in the wake of the Council of Trent, set about editing the texts of canon law. Sommar responds to the mainly negative or apologetic assessments that have been made of their work, first by examining the charge that the scholarly credentials of the committee were insufficient. Three of the five cardinals who composed the core of the original congregation (established in 1566 under the direction of Pope Pius V) were renowned scholars: Ugo Buoncompagni dater Pope Gregory XLH), probably the most expert canonist in the papal curia; Guglielmo Sirleto, expert in both Greek and Latin manuscripts, and director of the Vatican libraries since 1 554; and Francesco Alciati, former professor of law at the University of Pavia. There were twenty-eight other members, both lay and clerical, many with outstanding dossiers. The effective leader of the committee was Miguel Thomas Taxaquet, protégé of the famed canonist Antonio Agustín, archbishop of Tarragona (who preferred to stay outside the group; his assessment of their work was published in 1587, the year after his death).

In the second chapter Sommar examines the finished product, the first volume (Gratian) of the 1582 edition; and in the third chapter she studies the minutes and working papers of the Correctors that survive in Vatican manuscripts, which are summarized in an appendix (pp. …