INVENTION and DISCOVERY:
Printed Books from Fifteenth-Century Europe
An Exhibition at Bridwell Library, February 1 – May 3, 2010
20. GREGORIUS IX (b. 1170, Pont. Max. 1227–1241). Decretales. Commentary by Bernardo Bottoni of Parma (d. 1266). Printed on vellum. Mainz: Peter Schoeffer, 23 November 1473.
This outstanding cuir-ciselé binding is the work of Ulrich Schreier, who served many high-ranking patrons in Vienna, Salzburg, and Bratislava from the 1460s to the 1480s. The book’s front cover features a carved and painted image of a seated pope, presumably the author of this compilation of canon law, Gregory IX. Carved beneath the pope is a heraldic shield depicting a large black hen. This armorial was thought to belong to the important Henneberg family of Mainz, but new evidence suggests the book’s owner was Johannes Han (d. 1500), Canon of St. Martin in Bratislava. Han (old German for “hen”) also employed Schreier for work on a liturgical manuscript now in Bratislava.
Schreier was also a master illuminator, and he was responsible for the fine miniatures, decorative borders, and penwork initials with faces that enliven Bridwell Library’s copy. The four beautifully preserved miniatures depict a seated bishop with a judge, a cleric before an altar, a couple married by a priest, and a pope seated in a landscape. This last miniature closely matches the carved image of the pope found on the book’s front cover.
A compilation all of the papal decrees
and canon laws that had been approved between 1140 and 1234, the
Decretales concern jurisdiction, procedure, the conduct of clergy,
marriage, and criminal delinquencies. According to a document of 1477, Peter
Schoeffer printed 360 copies on paper and 40 copies on vellum. This vellum
copy is one of only three recorded in America and one of only twelve to
survive from the vellum issue.
may not be published without the permission of Bridwell Library.