Medieval manuscript fragments, mainly relating to law

Scope and Content

Five fragments of Latin mediaeval manuscripts, formerly pastedowns, details as follows:
1. Fragment of a leaf containing part of a legal tract entitled Judicium Essoniorum relating to the procedure at assizes, dating from the 13th century. The text has variants and is in places abbreviated from that printed in G.E. Woodbine Four thirteenth century law tracts (New Haven, 1910). The text corresponds to the pp 119-20 of Woodbine's edition, where the composition of the work is attributed to Ralf de Hengham and the date of the composition put at 1267-1275.
2. and 3. Two consecutive leaves containing extracts from Part II of Gratian's Decretum , comprising Causa XXVI, quest. VII 16, to Causa XXVII, quest. I 19, on penance and the marriage of those who had sworn chastity. There is a glossary in a different hand and ink, with each section preceded by a symbol corresponding to one in the text. The leaves are possibly Italian and 14th century.
4. Leaf, foliated 109, in a late 14th century hand, containing part of Lib. XLII, 8, 1-10, of the Digestum Novum , relating to restitution to deceived creditors. With a glossary and marginal and interlineal annotations in several 13th-14th century hands. The fragment is probably English.
5. Fragment from the head of a bifolium, containing part of a commentary on Aristotle's De Anima Book III, heavily glossed and annotated in several 13th century hands. The fragment is probably English and early 13th century.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Ralph de Hengham (d 1311) was the Lord Chief Justice of Edward I from 1274-1290, when he was imprisoned and fined for corruption. He continued as a judge of the common pleas, and was the reputed author of the law tracts 'Hengham magna' and 'Hengham parva'.
At a date some time after 1139 (probably 1140), Johannes Gratian compiled the Church laws (`canons') from all available sources and called the collection Concordia Discordantium Canonum (the harmonizing of discordant canons). The collection became known as the Decretum Gratiani .
The Digestum Novum was a section of the Digests or Pandects of the Corpus Iurus Civilis organised by the Roman emperor Justinian I, which compiled the writings of the great Roman jurists such as Ulpian along with current edicts (533).
Aristotle (384-322 BC) was a Greek philosopher who was the student of Plato and tutor of Alexander the Great. His De anima (On the Soul) was a discussion of issues in the philosophy of mind.

Access Information

Access to this collection is unrestricted for the purpose of private study and personal research within the supervised environment and restrictions of the Library's Palaeography Room. Uncatalogued material may not be seen. Please contact the University Archivist for details.

Acquisition Information

Given by Miss W. Myers in 1963.

Other Finding Aids

See R. Watson, 'Descriptive list of fragments of medieval manuscripts in the University of London Library' (1976).

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

1. Ruled lines; red and blue paragraphs.
2-3. Ruled lines with two columns; 38 lines remaining; initial U in red and blue with violet and red ornament; initials in red and blue, each with simple red and blue ornament; rubricated.
4. Ruled lines with 2 columns; 50 lines remaining; initials in red and blue; red paragraphs with simple red and blue ornament.
5. Ruled lines; 9 lines remaining; red and blue paragraphs.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.


G.E. Woodbine Four thirteenth century law tracts (New Haven, 1910).

Geographical Names