Dr. Edward Peters 

To work for the proper implementation of canon law is to play an extraordinarily

constructive role in continuing the redemptive mission of Christ. Pope John Paul II







1983 Code



1917 Code


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5 dec 2016

Master Page on Gratian, Concordantia (c. 1140)




Decretum Gratiani



Domus Gratiani


Gratian is known as the Father of Canon Law. Little is known about his life but the publication of his compilation of canons in the early 12th century established canon law as discipline independent from theology. Known to history as the Concordantia (or Concordia) discordantium canonum, or more commonly (though misleadingly), the Decretum Gratiani, Gratian's masterwork was never officially recognized by the Church and had no authority beyond that already enjoyed by its individual provisions. Nevertheless, this great work controlled canonical discourse for roughly a century until the appearance of Gregory IX's authoritative collection, the Quinque Libri Decretales in 1234, and it strongly influenced canon law until the Council of Trent. Even thereafter, Gratian's Concordantia served as a trove of canonical insight until the advent of codified law in the early 20th century.


Editio Typica

official edition


Master Page on

Corpus Iuris Canonici


Master Page on

Gratian's Concordantia


Master Page on the

Ius Decretalium


Resources on

Ius Decretalium (Friedberg edition)


Resource Page

on Ferraris,

Prompta Bibliotheca


Resources on the

Ius Novissimum


Readings in the

History of Canon Law

An original and/or critical edition of Gratian's Concordantia does not exist. The most common version of Gratian's Concordantia only (i.e., without the Glossa Ordinaria) in use today is the one produced by Friedberg in the late 19th century.


See A. Friedberg, ed., Corpus Iuris Canonici editio Lipsiensis secunda post Aemilii Ludouci Richteri curas, Pars Prior: Decretum Magistri Gratiani, (various publishers, most recently Lawbook Exchange, 2000). For an orientation to the vast field of Gratian studies, see e.g., P. Torquebiau, “Corpus Iuris Canonici”, DDC IV: 610-644, esp. "Le Décret de Gratien", 611-627. Gratian's Concordantia is available here.


The Glossa Ordinaria on the Concordantia was written by several commentators, but most notably Johannes Teutonicus (c. 1215) and Bartholomeus Brixensis (c. 1245).  See S. Stelling-Michaud, "Jean le Teutonique", DDC VI: 120-122, and  G. Le Bras, "Bartholomeus Brixiensis", DDC II: 216-217.



Yale's gorgeous copy of Gratian's Concordia shows the basic

text in center columns surrounded by the Glossa Ordinaria

Medieval citation style for Gratian's Decretum








Gratian's Decree is divided into three parts.

  • Part One groups its materials into 101 "Distinctions", most of which are subdivided into "canons". This information is traditionally provided, however, in reverse order, so that "c. 7, D. I" means "canon 7 of Distinction I of Part One of Gratian's Decree".

  • Part Two is organized under 36 "Cases", most of which are divided into "questions", most of which in turn contain one or more "canons". This information is also provided counter-intuitively, so that "c. 1, C. I, q. 1" means "canon 1 of question 1 in Causa 1 of Part Two of Gratian's Decree".

  • Part Three is arranged into 5 "Distinctions", all of which contain at least some "canons". Potential confusion owing to the fact that abbreviation letter "D" was used above for "Distinction" is eliminated by the addition of "de cons" (or a closely related version thereof), short for "de consecratione", the general title of the third part, to all citations. Predictably then, "c. 1, D. I, de cons." means "canon 1 of Distinction 1 of Part Three (called de consecratione) of Gratian's Decree."

There are only two (perhaps three) things that can confuse one in Gratian citations.

  • First, question 3 of Cause 33 is divided into "Distinctions", which are in turn divided into "canons". It is also not called "Question 3 of Cause 33" but rather, "de poenit." short for "de poenitentia". Thus, "c. 6, D. I., de poenit." means "canon 6 of Distinction I of Question 3 of Cause 33 of Part Two of Gratian's Decree."

  • Second, the Roman numeral letter "X" for number 10, can be confused with a very common abbreviation for the second part of the Corpus Iuris Canonici, the Liber Extra.

  • Third, one might be confused by the fact the letter "c." stands for "canon" in Gratian, but for "chapter" in the rest of Corpus Iuris Canonici.

Early Commentary

on Gratian

J. von Schulte, ed., Die Summa des Paucapalea über das Decretum Gratiani (Emil Roth, 1890). See also P. Torquebiau, “Corpus Iuris Canonici”, DDC IV: 610-64 esp. “Les Palae” at 614-615, and T. McLaughlin, "Paucapalea" NCE2 XI: 1.


F. Thaner, ed., Die Summa Magistri Rolandi nachmals Papstes Alexander III (Wagner’Schen, 1874). See also M. Pacaut, "Roland Bandinelli (Alexander III)", DDC VII: 702-726.


H. Singer, ed., Rufinus von Bologna (Magister Rufinus) Summa Decretorum (Ferdinand Schöningh, 1963). See also R. Benson, "Rufin", DDC VII: 779-784, and L. Boyle, "Rufinus" NCE2 XII: 403-404.


J. von Schulte, ed., Die Summa des Stephanus Tornacensis über das Decretum Gratiani (Emil Roth, 1891). See also =.


T. McLaughlin, ed., The Summa Parisiensis on the Decretum Gratiani (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1952). See also C. Lefebvre, "Parisiensis (Summa)", DDC VI: 1230-1231.


Francis Firth, ed., Robert of Flamborough, Liber Poenitentialis, a Critical Edition with Introduction and Notes (Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1971). Review: T. Halton, The Jurist 33 (1973) 109-110. See also F. Firth, "Robert of Flamborough", NCE2 XII: 267-268.




A very important study of the development of Gratian's Concordantia.


Anders Winroth, The Making of Gratian's Decretum (Cambridge, 2000) 245 pp. Reviews: K. Pennington, Speculum 78 (2003) 293-297; A. Thompson, Theological Studies (63 (2002) 391-393; J. Brundage, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 53 (2002) 352-354; P. Landau, Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung fur Rechtsgeschichte (2002) 589-594; and T. Watkin, Ecclesiastical Law Journal 6 (2002) 281-284. • Outstanding work. Order it here.

Some Gratian in English


Gratian, The Treatise on Laws (Decretum DD 1-20) with the Ordinary Gloss, trans. by A. Thompson and J. Gordley (Catholic University of America, 1993) 131 pp. Reviews: J. Lynch, The Jurist 54 (1994) 335-337, and A. Gauthier,  Studia Canonica 28 (1994) 524-525. • Superb work, with a fine orientation to Gratian studies in its Introduction. Order it here.

Other selected Studies

Wolfgang Müller, Huggucio: The Life, Works, and Thought of a Twelfth-Century Jurist (Catholic University of America, 1994). Easily the best study of this very interesting canonist.


Stanley Chodorow, Christian Political Theory and Church Politics in the Mid-Twelfth Century: The Ecclesiology of Gratian's Decretum (University of California at Los Angles, 1972) 300 pp.


John McCarthy, "The Genius of Concord in Gratian's Decree", Ephemerides Iuris Canonici 19 (1963) 105-151, 259-295.