What to search for, and what not to expect
The data base targets extant copies of juridical literature = works designated to be tools of the trade of being a lawer. The data base does not gather texts drafted by some lawyer for specific parties (= in pursuance of his profession - such as contracts, last wills, charters of any kind, papers for a litigation in court, etc.). This is a rule. It happened, however, that materials of the latter kind were transmitted along with juridical literature - and in that case the data base mentions them. It furthermore occurs that manuscripts which were reasonably suspected to contain juridical literature turn out to have entirely different contents. This fact is then also reported, lest other researchers might again be misled.
General characteristics of the data base
(a) Here, the presentation of data makes it specifically clear that the task of giving an accurate account on fact-finding differs greatly from the task of delivering retrievable wording for data base searches.
Information is offered in three tiers - as usual.
- First tier: locations where manuscripts are kept (libraries, archives, museums, etc.).
- Second tier: individual manuscripts which are kept in the specified locations.
- Third tier: the items (= texts) which are contained in the specified manuscripts.
Yet here, each of the three tiers distinguishes in an obvious way (under distinct index-tabs) what is retrievable wording (= standardised by the investigator for purposes of electronic data processing), and what is just a non-retrievable account on fact-finding (= not standardised, and therefore on purpose not admitted to retrieval).
(b) Even within standardised information, retrieval is rigidly restricted to a wording's start. Only so many words are retrievable as are needed to characterise the information. Subsequent parts
of information, although not admitted to retrieval, will however be attached when the Max-Planck-Institute's server returns its “list of hits” - and can thus be seen in that list.
For example, search for copies of the Ordo iudiciarius by Tancredus de Bononia. For some of these copies the attributed title ends with the word “fragment”, and for other copies it ends with “recensio II”. Retrieval is only admitted up to “Ordo iudiciarius”. You cannot search for the word “fragment”, nor for “recensio”. The advantage is that the server will return a consolidated list of all extant copies of the work searched for, no matter whether such copies are just fragments or different versions of the text. In the returned “list of hits”, however, additional specifications such as “fragment” or “recensio II” etc. will be shown.
A parallel rigid principle applies to Beginning words (Incipit) and Closing words (Explicit). You can only search for words within the first 30 characters of an Incipit, or last 30 characters of an Explicit. The returning “list of hits”, however, may also furnish additional length of an Incipit or Explicit.
Special legal-historical characteristics
All juridical literature can be categorized under literary genres: Additiones, Apparatus, Argumenta, Brocarda, Canones, Capitularia, Casus, Commenta, Concilium, Consilium, Constitutio - etcetera. Such categorisation facilitates electronic data retrieval.
In contrast, the titles of texts which one finds in the manuscripts vary greatly and can be unspecific, e.g. “Precious gemstone of reasoning” or “Lawyers' treasure”, etc. Often it is not clear whether the author gave his text a title at all. Scribes made titles up as the whim took them. Therefore this data base rigidly attributes to each text a standardised title. It always starts with the literary genre. The title found in the manuscript, in contrast, is relegated to the account on fact-finding.
General advice for all searches
Type a few characters of what you want to find - and wait. The Max-Planck-Institute's server will come up with suggestions. To choose one, click on it.
Listings are always shown in alphabetical order of locations and shelfmarks in them.
Search for an author, or a scribe or previous possessor of a manuscript
All meaningful words in upper case can individually be searched for.
Search for a title of an item Remember: you must always start typing the literary genre. A list of genres is given under location “ZZZ”.
Search for Beginning words Either start typing the very first word. Or type any subsequent individual word - it must have at least five characters, and it must be comprised within the first 30 characters.
Search for Closing words
Either type the very last word and add a backslash to it. Or type any preceding individual word - it must have at least five characters, and it must be comprised within the last 30 characters.
Closing words are shown in inverted order. For instance, the text of Decretalium Liber Sextus ends with the words 'contra legis nititur uoluntatem'. The data base records this as 'uoluntatem\ nititur\ legis\ contra\'.
Catalogues which describe a manuscript (references to them are furnished along with the externals of that manuscript)
If a catalogue bears on only one specific location it is listed under that location. Catalogues bearing on several locations, however, are listed under a fictitious location named “ZZZ”.
Publications of legal historians which cite a manuscript (references are furnished along with externals of that manuscript, or with details on a specific item)
They, too, will be listed under the fictitious location named “ZZZ”.
Specific abbreviations in titles of items
CAP = Capitularia and related texts
NAVIGATIO = maritime law (Admiralty law, etc.)
NOTARIA = works for notaries
POE = works on penitence.
Appended characters S, L, P in the literary genre “Apparatus”:
“S” indicates that at the start of each gloss you find the pertinent word of the main text, underlined.
“P” indicates that each gloss bears a mark, formed from dots, dashes, circles etc., and the corresponding word in the main text bears the same mark.
“L” indicates that characters of the alphabet are used, to mark glosses and their corresponding word in the main text.
Appended characters A, C, I, P, S in the literary genre “Consilia”:
they indicate whether the item is a mere copy (“C”), or entirely autograph (“A”), or bears an autograph signature (“S”). In the latter two cases the item may still have an extant seal (“I”), or there may be traces of a lost seal (“P”).