25 June 2019

BOOK : Roy FLECHNER (Transl.), The Hibernensis: Book 1: A Study and Edition [Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Canon Law] (Washington D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2019). ISBN 978-0813231938, $75.27


The Catholic University of America Press is publishing an English translation and commentary of the early medieval, Irish, tract Hibernensis.


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 eight 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. TheHibernensis 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.


Dr Roy Flechner lectures at University College Dublin. He obtained his Masters degree and Doctorate from Oxford University, subsequently becoming a Postdoc at Trinity College Cambridge. His research explores contacts between Continental Europe and the islands of Britain and Ireland in the early medieval period. He won awards for his research on church history and historiography, but he is especially known for his work on conversion to Christianity, canon law, and St Patrick.

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