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Seton Hall University

'The Inquisitor’s Directory,' Gratian’s Decretum, Written Proclamation from King George III Now in Walsh Library  


“The future is in our hands,” the old adage goes. Well, now even more of the past is, too.

Seton Hall University’s Archives and Special Collections Center in the University Libraries welcomes two more pieces, which reveal key parts of The Church’s historical evolution through the middle ages, as well as a 1770 written proclamation from King George III.

King George III Land Decree

King George III Land Decree

A 1484 edition of middle ages Catholic canon lawyer and jurist Gratian’s Decretum, with commentary by Bartholomaeus Brixiensis and Johannes Teutonicus Zemeke, and highlights from the 1578 printing edition of the 1376 Directorium Inquisitorium by then-grand inquisitor of Aragon, Spain, Nicholas Eymeric can now be found in Seton Hall’s archives. The latter, which comes with commentary from canonist Francesco Pegna, make up our historical religious additions.

Gratian’s text first published in the 12th century as a textbook of canon law. Although the Church never formally recognized it as the official version of canon law, Decretum was widely used in the study of canon law from the mid-12th to the early 20th century. Commonly referred to as the Decretum Gratiani, this text is comprised of excerpts from a variety of authorities, including church councils, papal letters, penitentials, Roman civil law, regulations of Germanic rulers, and the writings of Church fathers. Gratian’s goal was to resolve discrepancies among canons and organize the vast number of rules governing the Church into a comprehensible legal system.

Intended to be a guide for inquisitors, the Directorium Inquisitorum elaborates on hundreds of heresies and prosecution procedures, categories of offenses like witchcraft, as well as the belief system of the Inquisition. The text also influenced later inquisition-related works such as the Malleus maleficarum (Hammer of witches, 1486), and remained an important volume well into the 17th century.

King George III decretumThe royal proclamation from George III dates itself to May 15, 1770. It appears to grant a parcel of land along the Hudson River in Orange County, New York, to two disbanded non-commission officers, Archibald Brecken and William Arison, who had served for the United Kingdom in North America.

The King George III land decree, written a little more than six years before the American Revolution, is part of the Herbert Kraft collection. Kraft was a Professor Emeritus of anthropology and director of the Museum of Archaeology. Kraft was very interested in antiquities and manuscript collecting and developed a large collection of books as well as book and manuscript leaves. His collection of objects now forms the basis of the Seton Hall University Museum Collection.

These treasures of the past gain new life through the Archives and Special Collections Center in the University Libraries. Do not miss the opportunity to explore and learn from them while you are on campus.

Find out more about the Archives and Special Collections Center here.

Categories: Arts and Culture

For more information, please contact:

  • Sebastian Derry
  • (973) 275-2058
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