The decretals of Gregory IX
are an important source of medieval canon law
. In 1230, the pontiff ordered his chaplain
, St. Raymond of Peñaforte
(Pennafort), a Dominican
, to form a new canonical collection destined to replace all former collections. It has been said that the pope by this measure wished especially to emphasize his power over the Universal Church.
The papacy had arrived at the zenith of its power. Moreover, a pope less favourably circumstanced probably would not have thought of so important a measure. Nevertheless, the utility of a new collection was so evident that there may be no other motives than those the pope gives in the Bull "Rex pacificus" of 5 September, 1234, viz., the inconvenience of recurring to several collections containing decisions most diverse and sometimes contradictory, exhibiting in some cases gaps and in others tedious length; moreover, on several matters the legislation was uncertain.
Work of St. Raymond
St. Raymond executed the work in about four years, and followed in it the method of the aforesaid "Quinque compilationes antiquæ". He borrowed from them the order of the subject-matter, the division into five books, of the books into titles and of the titles into chapters. Of the 1971 chapters the Decretals of Gregory IX contain, 1771 are from the "Quinque compilationes antiquæ", 191 are from Gregory IX himself, seven from decretals of Innocent III not inserted in... Read More