Scope and Parameters of Project

mission statement

While proprietary databases and online search portals for digital texts certainly have their place, I know from personal experience that end users usually come up with more creative ways of exploiting the material than could ever be imagined by the original project designers.  This creativity requires, however, that they have the full text at their disposal on their own devices.  That is why I have decided to make the files available for direct download and public use.  We may in the future consider establishing a native site for the text to live, the main advantage of which would be to facilitate updates and improvements to the text without users having to download the latest version.

origo operis

The project launched in August 2017 when Book 4 went online. The decision to start with Book 4 arose from several considerations.  First, it provided a compact set of texts on which to test the method of standardizing legal allegations developed for the project.  Second, the marriage material offers -- in my opinion -- the broadest potential appeal to scholars whose focus is not exclusively on medieval Canon Law.  Furthermore, it has been my experience that many graduate students entering upon the study of medieval Canon Law are drawn first to Book 4, since it provides one of the clearest demonstrations of the Church's role in structuring family and social life in the medieval period.  With this in mind it is hoped that the Digital Decretals, in addition to assisting researchers in legal history, will serve as a useful pedagogical tool for introducing the fascinating study of our discipline to a new generation of scholars.

Over the next 6 years Books 1, 5, 3 and now 2 were added, bringing the project to completion in September 2023.

Opera ventura

Update 9/23: In the next month or two I will be assembling a longer essay discussing in greater detail the editorial protocols of the Digital Decretals, with particular focus on the implications for the manuscript transmission and early printing of the gloss.  An initial draft will be made available on my Academia page.