Collectio canonum Hibernensis

  • Latin
  • Hiberno-Latin texts
  • Latin
  • Latin.
Associated items


Hiberno-Latin texts


Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] Flechner, Roy, The Hibernensis, volume 1: a study and edition, Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Canon Law, Washington, D. C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2019.  
The Hibernensis is the longest and most comprehensive canon-law text to have circulated in Carolingian Europe. Compiled in Ireland in the late seventh or early eighth century, it exerted a strong and long-lasting influence on the development of European canon law. The present edition offers—for the first time—a complete text of the Hibernensis combining the two main branches of its manuscript transmission. This is accompanied by an English translation and a commentary that is both historical and philological. The Hibernensis is an invaluable source for those interested in church history, the history of canon law, social-economic history, as well as intellectual history, and the history of the book.

Widely recognized as the single most important source for the history of the church in early medieval Ireland, the Hibernensis is also our best index for knowing what books were available in Ireland at the time of its compilation: it consists of excerpted material from the Bible, Church Fathers and doctors, hagiography, church histories, chronicles, wisdom texts, and insular normative material unattested elsewhere. This in addition to the staple sources of canonical collections, comprising the acta of church councils and papal letters. Altogether there are forty-two cited authors and 135 cited texts. But unlike previous canonical collections, the contents of the Hibernensis are not simply derivative: they have been modified and systematically organised, offering an important insight into the manner in which contemporary clerical scholars attempted to define, interpret, and codify law for the use of a growing Christian society.
[tr.] Flechner, Roy, The Hibernensis, volume 2: translation, commentary, and indexes, Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Canon Law, Washington, D. C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2019.
[ed.] Flechner, Roy, “A study and edition of the Collectio canonum Hibernensis”, unpublished PhD thesis: Oxford University, 2006.
[ed.] Wasserschleben, Hermann [ed.], Die irische Kanonensammlung, 2nd ed. (1874), Leipzig: Tauchnitz, 1885.
Internet Archive – earlier edition (1874): <link>
[ed.] Elliot, Michael D., “Hibernensis excerpts and Isidorian Epistola ad Massonam (København, Kongelike Bibliothek, Ny Kgl. Saml., 58 8° ff. 69v–80v)”, Firey, Abigail [project director], Carolingian canon law project, Online: Collaboratory for Research in Computing for Humanities, University of Kentucky. URL: <http://ccl.rch.uky.edu/node/6388>.

Secondary sources (select)

Flechner, Roy, “Aspects of the Breton transmission of the Hibernensis”, Pecia 12 (2008): 27–44.  
Brittany played a major role in the early transmission of the Collectio canonum hibernensis. In total, seven copies of the Hibernensis (and a fragment) were written in Brittany or copied from Breton exemplars, and all complete copies of the Hibernensis but two have Breton connexions. The present paper examines how the Hibernensis figured in ninth-century Breton politics, and introduces new evidence pertaining to individual Breton copies of the Hibernensis and their relationship.

La Bretagne a, au départ, joué un rôle crucial dans la diffusion de la Collectio canonum hibernensis. Au total, sept manuscrits de l’Hibernensis (et un fragment) ont été rédigés en Bretagne, ou alors copiés à partir d’exemplaires bretons. Seules deux copies complètes de l’Hibernensis n’ont aucune filiation avec la Bretagne. Cet article se propose d’examiner comment l’Hibernensis a pu figurer dans la politique bretonne du neuvième siècle. Ce faisant, il fournit de nouveaux éléments concernant l’étude des manuscrits bretons de l’Hibernensis et de leurs relations réciproques.
Flechner, Roy, “Libelli et commentarii aliorum: the Hibernensis and the Breton bishops”, in: Ritari, Katja, and Alexandra Bergholm (eds.), Approaches to religion and mythology in Celtic studies, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2008. 100–119.
Flechner, Roy, “A study and edition of the Collectio canonum Hibernensis”, unpublished PhD thesis: Oxford University, 2006.
Reynolds, Roger E., “Further evidence for the influence of the Hibernensis in southern Italy”, Peritia 19 (2005): 119–135.
Howlett, David, “The prologue to the Collectio canonum Hibernensis”, Peritia 17–18 (2003–2004): 144–149.
Davies, Luned Mair, “The ‘mouth of gold’: Gregorian texts in the Collectio canonum Hibernensis”, in: Ní Chatháin, Próinséas, and Michael Richter (eds.), Ireland and Europe in the early Middle Ages: texts and transmissions / Irland und Europa im früheren Mittelalter: Texte und Überlieferung, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2002. 249–267.
Tatsuki, Akiko, “The early Irish Church and marriage: an analysis of the Hibernensis”, Peritia 15 (2001): 195–207.  
The modern view of marriage in early Ireland has been drastically changed by recent work, but much remains to be done in this field. From an examination of books 45 and 46 of the Collectio canonum hibernensis, for example, we can deduce what were the policies and attitudes on the part of the church which must have influenced native Irish laws. The provisions concerned basically conform to the continental norm in moral matters, but as regards the legal dimension, especially where property is involved, they tend to adopt the provisions of native laws. Traces of Roman law, which Ó Corráin proposed to see in Cáin lánamna, are not obvious. Moreover, though the Hibernensis and Cáin lánamna do not differ in every respect, their dissimilar natures cannot be overlooked. In conclusion, it will be argued that the success of the church was not so total by the early eighth century as Ó Corráin maintained.
Meens, Rob, “The oldest manuscript witness of the Collectio canonum Hibernensis”, Peritia 14 (2000): 1–19.  
This article examines two small collections of canonistical material in Copenhagen, Kongelige Bibliotek, ms Ny. Kgl. S. 58 8° containing material which has close parallels with the Collectio canonum hibernensis. It discusses the relationship between these collections and the Hibernensis. The fact that one Copenhagen collection contains a much longer extract from the letter to bishop Massona, allegedy written by Isidore of Seville, than the one found in the Hibernensis, suggests that we have here with one of the forerunners of the Hibernensis. On palaeographical grounds, the Copenhagen manuscript has been assigned to the first half of the eighth century. It is, therefore, older than the oldest mss of the Hibernensis. Lowe has implausibly ascribed it to southern France. Though a northern Italian origin cannot be ruled out, its penitential and canonistic texts strongly suggest the recently converted regions of northern Gaul as the place of compilation and use.
Reynolds, Roger E., “The transmission of the Hibernensis in Italy: tenth to the twelfth century”, Peritia 14 (2000): 20–50.
Jaski, Bart, “Cú Chuimne, Ruben and the compilation of the Collectio Canonum Hibernensis”, Peritia 14 (2000): 51–69.
Richter, Michael, “Dating the Irish synods in the Collectio canonum Hibernensis”, Peritia 14 (2000): 70–84.
Davies, Luned Mair, “Statuta ecclesiae antiqua and the Gallic councils in the Hibernensis”, Peritia 14 (2000): 85–110.
Charles-Edwards, T. M., “The construction of the Hibernensis”, Peritia 12 (1998): 209–237.  
This study uses a single main tool, comparison of the collection of ‘contrary cases’ at the end of the Collectio canonum Hibernensis (book 67 in the A recension) with corresponding material in books 21–29. It has two main purposes, to reveal something of the way in which the compilers worked and to help towards resolving the issue of which recension was the earlier.
O'Loughlin, Thomas, “Marriage and sexuality in the Hibernensis”, Peritia 11 (1997): 188–206.
Davies, Luned Mair, “Isidorian texts and the Hibernensis”, Peritia 11 (1997): 207–249.  
Past scholars have taught us much about the date, form and authorship of the Collectio canonum hibernensis (CCH), but little about the compilers’ use of their sources. They used at least six Isidorian texts. Various manuscript traditions of Isidore’s writings were drawn on in Ireland and at Insular centres on the Continent. Use of Isidorian texts is more evident in manuscripts of the B recension than of the A recension of the CCH. The more accurate quotation of Isidorian texts in Breton manuscripts shows that there existed a distinct Breton textual tradition among the CCH manuscripts.
Davies, Luned Mair, “The Biblical text of the Collectio canonum Hibernensis”, in: Ní Chatháin, Próinséas, and Michael Richter (eds.), Irland und Europa im früheren Mittelalter: Bildung und Literatur / Ireland and Europe in the early Middle Ages: learning and literature, Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1996. 17–41.
Sheehy, Maurice P., “The Bible and the Collectio canonum Hibernensis”, in: Ní Chatháin, Próinséas, and Michael Richter (eds.), Irland und die Christenheit: Bibelstudien und Mission. Ireland and Christendom: the Bible and the missions, Veröffentlichungen des Europa Zentrums Tübingen. Kulturwissenschaftliche Reihe, Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1987. 277–283.
Sheehy, Maurice P., “The Collectio canonum Hibernensis: a Celtic phenomenon”, in: Löwe, Heinz [ed.], Die Iren und Europa im früheren Mittelalter, 2 vols, vol. 1, Veröffentlichungen des Europa-Zentrums Tübingen. Kulturwissenschaftliche Reihe, Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1982. 525–535.
Sheehy, Maurice P., “Influences of ancient Irish law on the Collectio Hibernensis”, in: Kuttner, Stephan [ed.], Proceedings of the Third International Congress of Medieval Canon Law, Strasbourg, 3-6 September 1968, Monumenta Iuris Canonici, series C, Subsidia 4, Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1971. 31–42.
C. A.,Dennis Groenewegen
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