31. Bernard of Parma, Glossa ordinaria in Decretales
first half of the 14th century
parchment; 190 x 140 mm; fols. v (i–iii paper) + 499 + iii (paper)
Pluteo 5 sin. 6
The manuscript, written in two columns by several scribes in a simplified, small-module littera textualis, contains the most important work by the canonist Bernard of Parma: the gloss to the Decretals of Gregory IX, an immense corpus that took the author approximately three decades to complete and that rapidly came to be considered the fundamental work on the subject. This opus earned Bernard the title of glossator and Decretalium apparatus compilator. The pecia indications in the margins of several folia demonstrate that it was written in a university setting. In order to satisfy the constant demand for textbooks, but also to ensure that the texts were correct and authentic, in the 13th century many European universities (particularly those in Paris and Bologna) devised a special system to increase the number of books. The pecia system essentially consisted of the simultaneous copying of separate sections (referred to as pecie, ‘pieces’) of a university text. A committee of petiarii appointed by the university and elected at the beginning of each academic year—as documented by statutes—was responsible for verifying the textual correctness of a work. Its exemplar (model), divided into ‘pieces’, was deposited at the workshops of the university’s official stationarii (stationers) where, for a set fee, the pecie could be rented in order to be copied. Only the committee was authorized to approve the exemplar, which was checked periodically, determine its rental price (taxatio) and publish the list of selected texts approved by the university. The stationer, who was responsible for keeping the works entrusted to him in good condition, would display the list of exemplaria, indicating the number of pecie for each work and the rental fee. If requested by a customer, he would also handle distribution of the individual pecie to the scriptor to be copied and redelivered so that they could be rented again on a rotating basis. This meant that several copies could be made in the same amount of time usually required for just one. The scribes, who were generally laypeople and included women and students, often annotated the progressive number of each pecia they copied. These indications, which are sporadic on our manuscript, can be found in the margins in various forms to indicate the beginning or end of a pecia: “Hic finitur IIa petia” (fol. 13v) or simply “Finitur XVI petia” (fol. 93r), “Sequitur IX petia secunde partis…” (fol. 322r), “petia X secunde partis” (fol. 331r), “XXXIIIa petia” (fol. 415r). The Library obtained the codex from the Florentine convent of Santa Croce in the second half of the 18th century, as documented by the notes on one of the paper flyleaves (iir). The manuscript is open at fol. 13v, bearing on the left the indication “Hic finitur IIa petia”.