Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection
Gratianus [Gratian], Decretum (Basel: Michael Wenssler, 19 Aug. 1481)
Decretum (cum apparatu Bartholomaei Brixiensis)
This is an early printed version of the first systematic collection of canon law, compiled by Gratian in 1140. Although its formal title is the Concordia canonum discordantium, it is commonly called the Decretum Gratiani. This work was immensely influential as the standard reference for canon law. After the first printed version was published in Strasbourg in 1471, the work ran into 39 editions before 1500. The Decretum in this present volume is accompanied by the widely circulated commentary by Bartholomaeus Brixiensis (d. 1258).
The main text of the Decretum is placed at the centre of each page and divided into two columns, while the commentary surrounds the main text. The last sentence of each paragraph of the Decretum is rubricated. The simply decorated initial letters of the main text are alternately coloured red and blue. The same colours are used for the initial letters of the corresponding commentary on each page, clarifying the links between it and the main text.
Michael Wenssler enrolled at Basel University in 1462 (but probably did not graduate), and became a printer ten years later. During the first two decades he was in business his forte was liturgical and law books. Despite his success during this period, he had to leave Basel in 1491, continuing his printing business in Cluny, Mâcon, and Lyon. He died before 1512.
BMC, III, 717-734 (esp. 717, 728, 729)
Scholderer, Victor, 'Michael Wenssler and his Press at Basel', Library, 3rd ser. 3 (1912), 283-321
- Gratianus [Gratian]
- Place of Publication
- Michael Wenssler
- Date of Publication
Contemporary blind-tooled calf over wooden boards, rebacked, clasps missing, manuscript leaf used as binding waste.
- Bibliographical Notes
381 leaves; rubrics, running titles, and paraph marks in red; initials in red and blue throughout; printer's device in red on the final leaf; some contemporary notes supplying the text.
- Goff G370, H 7895*, GW 11362, IJL 152, IJL2 186
- Acquisition Year
- 1983 (donated by Seiichiro Takahashii)
1. Stuttgart, Bibliotheca P.R. 2. Seiichiro Takahashi (高橋誠一郎).