embodied the documents containing the local law, namely 39 decretals of the popes from Siricius (384–398) to Anastasius II. (496–498). As was natural this collection received successive additions as further decretals appeared. The collection formed by combining these two parts remained the only official code of the Roman Church until the labours undertaken in consequence of the reforming movement in the 11th century. In 774 Pope Adrian I. gave the twofold collection of the Scythian monk to the future emperor Charlemagne as the canonical book of the Roman Church; this is what is called the Dionysio-Hadriana. This was an important stage in the history of the centralization
Hadriana. of canon law; the collection was officially received by the Frankish Church, imposed by the council of Aix-la-Chapelle of 802, and from that time on was recognized and quoted as the liber canonum. If we consider that the Church of Africa, which had already suffered considerably from the Vandal invasion, was at this period almost entirely destroyed by the Arabs, while the fate of Spain was but little better, it is easy to see why the collection of Dionysius became the code of almost the whole of the Western Church, with the exception of the Anglo-Saxon countries; though here too it was known.
The other collections of canons, of Italian origin, compiled before the 10th century, are of importance on account of the documents which they have preserved for us, but as they have not exercised any great influence on the development of canon law, we may pass them over.
The Dionysio-Hadriana did not, when introduced into Gaul, take the place of any other generally received collection of canons. In this country the Church had not been centralized round a principal see which would have
produced unity in canon law as in other things; even the political territorial divisions had been very unstable. The only canonical centre of much activity was the Church of Arles, which exercised considerable influence over the surrounding region in the 5th and 6th centuries. The chief collection known throughout Gaul before the Dionysio-Hadriana
collection. was the so-called collection of Quesnel, named after its first editor. It is a rich collection, though badly arranged, and contains 98 documents—Eastern and African canons and papal letters, but no Gallic councils; so that it is not a collection of local law. We might expect to find such a collection, in view of the numerous and important councils held in Gaul, but their decisions remained scattered among a great number of collections none of which had ever a wide circulation or an official character.
It would be impossible to enumerate here all the Gallic councils which contributed towards the canon law of that country; we will mention only the following:—Arles (314), of great importance; a number of councils in the district Councils. of Arles, completed by the Statuta Ecclesiae antiqua of St Caesarius; the councils of the province of Tours; the assemblies of the episcopate of the three kingdoms of the Visigoths at Agde (506), of the Franks at Orleans (511), and of the Burgundians at Epaone (517); several councils of the kingdoms of the Franks, chiefly at Orleans; and finally, the synods of the middle of the 8th century, under the influence of St Boniface. Evidently the impulse towards unity had to come from without; it began with the alliance between the Carolingians and the Papacy, and was accentuated by the recognition of the liber canonum.
In Spain the case, on the contrary, is that of a strong centralization round the see of Toledo. Thus we find Spanish canon law embodied in a collection which, though perhaps not official, was circulated and received everywhere;
this was the Spanish collection, the Hispana. The collection is well put together and includes almost all the important canonical documents. In the first part are contained the councils, arranged according to the regions in which they were held: Greek councils, following a translation of Italian origin,
Hispana. but known by the name of Hispana; African councils, Gallican councils and Spanish councils. The latter, which form the local section, are further divided into several classes: firstly, the synods held under the Roman empire, the chief being that of Elvira (c. 300); next the texts belonging to the kingdom of the Suevi, after the conversion of these barbarians by St Martin of Braga: these are, the two councils of Braga (563 and 572), and a sort of free translation or adaptation of the canons of the Greek councils, made by Martin of Braga; this is the document frequently quoted in later days under the name of Capitula Martini papae; thirdly, the decisions of the councils of the Visigothic Church, after its conversion to Catholicism. Nearly all these councils were held at Toledo, beginning with the great council of 589. The series continued up to 694 and was only interrupted by the Mussulman invasion. Finally, the second part of the Hispana contains the papal decretals, as in the collection of Dionysius.
From the middle of the 9th century this collection was to become even more celebrated; for, as we know, it served as the basis for the famous collection of the False Decretals.
The Churches of Great Britain and Ireland remained still longer outside the centralizing movement. Their contribution towards the later system of canon law consisted in
Ireland. two things: the Penitentials and the influence of the Irish collection, the other sources of local law not having been known to the predecessors of Gratian nor to Gratian himself.
The Penitentials are collections intended for the guidance of confessors in estimating the penances to be imposed for various sins, according to the discipline in force in the Anglo-Saxon countries. They are all of Anglo-Saxon or Penitentials. Irish origin, and although certain of them were compiled on the continent, under the influence of the island missionaries, it seems quite certain that a Roman Penitential has never existed. They are, however, of difficult and uncertain ascription, since the collections have been largely amended and remodelled as practice required. Among the most important we may mention those bearing the names of Vinnianus (d. 589), Gildas (d. 583), Theodore of Canterbury (d. 690), the Venerable Bede (d. 735) and Egbert of York (732-767); the Penitentials which are ascribed to St Columbanus, the founder of Luxeuil and Bobbio (d. 615), and Cumean (Cumine Ailbha, abbot of Iona); in the Prankish kingdom the most interesting work is the Penitential of Halitgar, bishop of Cambrai from 817 to 831. As penances had for a long time been lightened, and the books used by confessors began to consist more and more of instructions in the style of the later moral theology (and this is already the case of the books of Halitgar and Rhabanus Maurus), the canonical collections began to include a greater or smaller number of the penitential canons.
The Irish collection, though it introduced no important documents into the law of the Western Church, at least set canonists the example of quoting passages from the
collection. Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers. This collection seems to date from the 8th century; besides the usual sources, the author has included several documents of local origin, beginning with the pretended synod of St Patrick.
- Published by Quesnel in his edition of the works of St Leo, vol. ii. (Paris, 1675); reproduced by the brothers Ballerini, with learned dissertations, Opera S. Leonis, vol. iii., Migne, P.L. 56.
- Malnory, Saint Césaire d’Arles (Paris, 1894).
- Collectio canonum Ecclesiae Hispanae (Madrid, 1808); reproduced in Migne, P.L. 84.
- L. Duchesne, “Le Concile d’Elvire” in the Mélanges Renier.
- For the Penitentials, see Wasserschleben, Die Bussordnungen der abendländischen Kirche (Halle, 1851); Mgr. H. J. Schmitz, Die Bussbücher und die Bussdisciplin der Kirche (2 vols., Mainz, 1883, 1898).
- This is proved, in spite of the contrary opinions of Wasserschleben and Schmitz, by M. Paul Fournier, “Étude sur les Pénitentiels,” in the Revue d’histoire et de littérature religieuses, vol. vi. (1901), pp. 289-317, and vol. vii., 1902, pp. 59-70 and 121-127.
- In Migne, P.L. 105, col. 651.
- Edited by Wasserschleben (Giessen, 1874). See also P. Fournier, “De l’influence de la collection irlandaise sur la formation des collections canoniques,” in Nouvelle Revue historique de droit français et étranger, vol. xxiii, note I.