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[1.1] On account of the double victory which the Palma and the Oliva afforded me over enemies,1 my books are exalted like the cedar of Lebanon, like the propagation of a rose in Jericho.2

[1.2] Whence I call this present book the Cedrus, since it is worthy to be called by this name. Or, it can be deservedly called Cedrus through a certain similarity of effect, inasmuch as general statutes and laudamenta are treated in this book, whose authors in all lands seem to be exalted like the cedar, since among others, they have received the power of composing general statutes and of pronouncing laudamenta. Indeed the cedar is a fruit of Lebanon which exceeds all other fruits in beauty, on account of the golden color which it acquires and through a certain savor of indomitable astringency. Therefore, it is furnished to great men and to special ladies. Truly, a kettle is placed under the cedar's contrite bark along with some spices for boiling, and thus an unguent is made, which does not yellow, which clarifies and refines the faces of ladies and which quite marvelously helps form a scar on wounded places of the body.3


[2.1] The prologue of this book having been completely treated, I am led to arrange the chapters in order, so that a knowledge of them all may be more easily had.



[3.1] A general statute is properly speaking a imperial law which should be generally observed in every land. But 'general' is here used improperly, unless it be understood for restriction,4 as it might be less 'general' or insufficiently 'general'.

[3.2] Thus a statute could here be defined as follows: A statute is a certain series of words redacted in writing, in which is contained how those who are ruled by the statute should govern themselves in public and private affairs, and which or how much penalty should they suffer if they would not observe the things commanded by the statute.

[3.3] Or otherwise: A statute is an arbitrary norm of the world, which procedes from the vernacular custom of men.

[3.4] For any city within the borders of Italy makes its own statutes or constitutions, by which the podesta or the consuls excercize public affairs and punish transgressors, notwithstanding any civl law which might seem to contradict the statute, because they have sworn to completely uphold these statutes or constitutions.

[3.5] Indeed sometimes statutes are made by the inhabitants of castles, burghs and villages, which could loosely be called general statutes, and more strictly speaking could be called special statutes.

[3.6] In many parts of Italy associations of youths are formed, some of which are named "The society of falcons", others "The society of lions", others "The society of the round table."5 And thus different names are superimposed on different societies. And although this custom exists in all parts of Italy, it flourishes most strongly in Tuscany, because hardly there may be hardly found in any [Tuscan] city youths who are not committed to some society by the bond of an oath. Indeed some societies of this sort have statutes redacted by a public notary, which they call 'breuia' in the vernacular. Whence it may be said: "He swore to our 'breve'," or "He did not swear to our 'breve'."

[3.7] In the same way many who build towers make a statute which is called a 'breve' in the vernacular, in which is contained how they should maintain the tower or how high it should be raised, and in which manner one member should be required to help another.

[3.8] Sometimes consorterie or fraternities are made by Hospitallers, Templars and other Christian believers, for which brevia are composed.

[3.9] But these should not properly speaking be called statutes. For in composing these above-mentioned statutes or brevia a simple manner of speaking is maintained, and everthing is said as if almost in the vernacular.


[4.1] 'Statutum' is derived from 'statuto, statuis' [I establish, you establish], or from 'statutore' [an establisher].


[5.1] According to the general custom of Italy it is legal for all those who enjoy liberty to make such statutes, and to infringe these, unless the bond of an oath furnishes an evident impediment.6


[6.1] I will briefly demonstrate how dictators could make statutes of this sort.

[6.2] First should be placed the invocation of the Lord, in this way: "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen."

[6.3] After that invocation, those who compose statutes are not accustomed to use any preamble, either because they do not know how to compose preambles, or because they desire to avoid prolixity. But it is more likely that this comes about from ignorance.

[6.4] For after that invocation [a dictator] is accustomed to arrange the beginning of a narration in this way: "We, Peter and Johannes, having been established as arbiters for drawing up a statute of the city of Florence, say and ordain that the podesta and the consuls who have been elected are held by an oath to maintain all things which have been written down beneath."

[6.5] However if someone wishes to otherwise compose an preamble before such statutes, he could use a preamble which seems to arise from the cause itself, for example; "On account of immensity of the knowledge of those skilled in the law,7 who not only make dubious matters true, but even make valid cases and the most obviously settled reasons falter, we have composed this statute for the commonweal, in which we have not exterior exception or meaning, nor do we wish to have any, but the whole statute should be understood literally, without any solution or gloss, notwithstanding any law."

[6.6] Or otherwise: "Because on account of the contrarities of jurisprudents the impudence of transgressors quite often is accustomed to evade the judgment of punishment, therefore we have drawn up this lucid statute for preserving public and private rights, desiring that each should understand that he cannot find a remedy against the tenor of this statute."

[6.7] An infinite number of preambles can be made from that topic, but it would be superfluous to always pursue prolixity, and especially since a simple manner of speech is kept in these.

[6.8] After the placement of a preamble a dictator begins to narrate just as he would see expedient. But he can begin in this way: "We thus say at first that the podesta should have as a fief two hundred imperial pounds, three hundred bushels of wheat, just as much of wine, fifty five carts of hay and two hundred wagons of wood," and thus are successively named all things which should be done.

[6.9] "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen."

[6.10] "We, Titus and Sempronius, having been made rectors and arbiters by the common consent and will of the society of Lombardy and Tuscany,8 establish and order to be observed by an oath, that all the cities of our society shall mutually preserve each other's rights, shall not presume to burden churches and hospitals with any taxes, shall strive to maintain public and private roads, and especially during those times in which general markets are held, [and] shall take care to maintain the rights of widows, paupers and orphans by all means."

[6.11] "Thieves, bandits, murderers, outlaws, heretics and forgers shall not enjoy their gifts or help, but each shall suffer corporal punishment according to the quantity and quality of the crime, lest a facility for forgiveness should give to them or to others a reason to commit crimes."

[6.12] "We also order that no citizens should offer favor or counsel to any prince against the honor of our society, or permit an offering of such."

[6.13] "If anyone should be discovered detestibly transgressing this [statute], he shall be stripped of his moveable possessions, and consigned to exile like a criminous and infamous person, or, better yet, let him be handed over to the vengeance of the noble city of Verona, which shall kill eleven of his nobles in one day on account of the aforesaid transgression, and thereafter it shall cast their bodies beyond the Campo Marzo,9 where the carcasses of donkeys are handed over to crows as food."

[6.14] Enacted etc.

[6.15] Podesta or consuls of cities can also make a general statute for monastic institutions for the sake of protection, in this manner:

[6.16] "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen."

[6.17] "I, William Ranconi,10 podesta of the Bolognese, and his counsellors, considering the fervor of religion, the harshness of life, the honesty of morals and the poverty of the Camaldolese hermit brothers, decree through this general statute, that this foundation shall remain free from all road taxes and perangaria, and from all other taxes which cities customarily levy for the sake of public weal."

[6.18] "We also do not wish that envoys of our community should dare to seek fodder or lodging taxes, or even a cup of cold water there, lest perchance later generations would derive from this a reason for extorting something."

[6.19] "We recieve the foundation and the brothers serving the Lord there under our most special protection, so that if anyone from the Bolognese district should by diabolic instigation offend the hermitage or the hermits themselves, either in their possessions or their persons, he will be punished doubly, lest any other persons might be provoked to similar [offenses] through their example."

[6.20] "We order this and the abovesaid, and we enjoin them to be inviolably maintained, strengthening this present page with the munimen of our seal."

[6.21] For consorterie or fraternities, a statute could be arranged as such:

[6.22] "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen."

[6.23] "Because it is a work of charity and respects the salvation of souls to gather brothers together in one [place] for exercizing works of piety, therefore we, masters Boncompagnus and Johannes, with the counsel of many masters and with the consent of the students, have established a certain fraternity located not far from the city of Bologna for the sustenance of a Camaldolese hermitage."

[6.24] "If anyone by divine instinct wishes join this foundation, may he know that he will participate in all the benefits which are daily made in the whole congregation of Camaldoli. For if anyone of these were removed at the Lord's calling from the prison of the present life, the brothers of that place would specially say two hundred masses and as many psalms for his redemption."

[6.25] "Thus, since it would be such a salubrious, such a pious, and such an honest resolve to be joined to that community, each should strive according to his resources to provide with temporal goods those hermits, who, spurning earthly delights, daily bewail our sins and theirs, assiduously contemplating the majesty of the highest Creator, so that they might merit to receive celestial [rewards] for temporal [assistance] and eternal [blessings] for transitory [offerings]."

[6.26] Consorterie or fraternities are also made by Hospitallers, Templars and other religious men, for which certain statutes are written. [In these] each brother is called by his proper name, as: "Martin should give annually one penny, and at the end twelve pennies" or "twenty pennies."

[6.27] In many parts of Italy communities are also sometimes made for the sake of charity, which are called 'confraduglie' in the vernacular. Simple statutes are similarly made for these, since in them is contained how much wine or wheat each [member] should offer. I said 'for the sake of charity', because many common folk throughout diverse parts of the world follow fraternities and consorterie, so that they can fill stomach and belly. Indeed, within the diocese of Florence there is a certain chapel built in honor of San Ylario,11 where a fraternity of some rustics has been established for the utility of that church. The rectors of the fraternity had made no small banquet according to the custom of those who make such fraternities. However after the meal the rectors should make an accounting of all expenses. Then rose up one rector in the presence of all and he said "May God be blessed, who works through us and among us, because nothing remains from that which we gave for expenses, nothing is left except for one farthing." Then the men of that region, adduced that ignorance in a general proverb, from whence many still say: "It happened to us just as it did to the parrishioners of the church of San Ylario."

[6.28] And it should be noted that in the beginning of any general statute must be placed the Lord's invocation, unless the statute would be made for the payment of usury or some other species of evil. And in the end should be placed the years of the Lord's incarnation, with the indiction.


[7.1] After general statutes have been treated sufficiently, it should be seen what a laudamentum is, what is its etymology, and for whom is it legal to make a laudamentum.


[8.1] A laudamentum is a sentence coming from the opinion of the laudators. Or a laudamentum is an arbitrary sentence by which the disagreements of litigants are often resolved.

[8.2] I therefore said 'coming from the opinion of the laudators' and 'arbitrary', since countless persons make a laudamentum for resolving controversies, who are ignorant of the civil law and justice, nevertheless they make a laudamentum according to the opinion and judgment of their own conscience.


[9.1] 'Laudamentum' is derived from 'laudo, laudas' [I approve, you approve] or from 'laudator' [one who approves]. For when a controversy arises among some people about some matters, someone says "Give this to be approved," according to the vernacular. And so they often compromise on something or sometimes on several things. Whence the laudators receive a pledge from both parties to deposit a specified indemnity under the obligation of the podesta and of the consuls, obligating themselves that they will comply inviolably with the laudamentum or laudatum of the laudators.12


[10.1] It is legal for all men having discretion to make a laudamentum or a laudatum.

[10.2] For the purpose that a knowledge of dictating may be more easily had, I will pose an example of a controversy according to which the judgment of a laudamentum might be promulgated. For example: Titius accepts a bowl on loan from Sempronius, which seems golden according to its surface, because Titius wishes to hold a wedding for his son. Although no contract preceded, the bowl is lost. During the wedding a golden bowl is demanded back from Titius. He responds that the bowl was only gilded and not golden. At last the defendant was summoned before a provincial governor, where the plaintiff at law also proposed an action at law, asserting that he had witnesses by whom he would prove that the bowl was golden. The defendant said that on the contrary, he could legally confute this by means of qualified witnesses. At this point Seius came forward, a friend of them both, who advised that they seek a compromise in the judgment of Scevola. Thus Scevola pronounced a laudamentum, in this way:

[10.3] "I Scevola, receiving the joint promises of Titius and of Sempronius concerning the controversy which has arisen between with regards to the loss of a golden or a silver bowl, declare and pronunce by way of a laudamentum that it should be firmly observed that Titius should restore to Sempronius one silver bowl, wonderfully gilded. And furthermore Titius should not delay to present sex ounces of the purest god to Sempronius."

[10.4] Moreover, notaries are accustomed to draw up laudamenta of this type in the the third person. For example:

[10.5] "Since a controversy has arisen between Sempronius and Titius concerning certain possessions, they have through a stipulation by common consent compromised on Scevola, that whatever he would pronounce or decree deriving from this, they would hold confirmed and valid for all time. Scevola indeed has decided the controversy in this way, namely etc." And thus is placed here the entire series of the laudamentum.

[10.6] [Dictators] use a similar beginning in all classes of laudamenta. But towards the end they place the year of the Lord's incarnation and make their own sign there.


1Palmac. 1, Olivac.1.

2 Sir. 24.17-18.

3 See LINDA M. PATERSON "Military surgery: knights, sergeants and Raimon of Avignon's version of the Chirurgia of Roger of Salerno (1180-1209)" in The Ideals and Practices of Medieval Knighthood II edd. CHRISTOPHER HARPER-BILL and RUTH HARVEY (Woodbridge Suffolk 1988) 117-46

4 On restriction, see Oliva 17.12-13 and 18.22.

5 For another example of the reception of the materia Bretagne: Boncompagnus1.24.3; for the Chanson de Roland, see De malo senectutis et senii 11 and Epistola mandativa ad comites palatinos §12. For the penetration of Arthurian literary themes into Italy, see WALTER HAUG "Artussage und Heilsgeschichte: Zum Programm der Fussbodenmosaiks von Otranto" Deutsche Vierteljahrschrift... 49 (1975) 577-606. See also NORRIS J. LACYThe New Arthurian Encyclopedia (New York 1991).

6 See Boncompagnus 3.15.18.

7 Cf. prologue to the ars notarie of Rolandinus of Perugia (GAUDENZI ed.).

8 For the charters of the Lombard league, see CESARE VIGNATI Storia diplomatica della Lega Lombarda con XXV documenti inediti (Milan 1866).

9 The Campo Marzo is located in the SE quarter of Verona, outside the thirteenth-century walls.

10 Guillielmus Rangonus of Modena (podestà of Bologna 1201 and 1215); cf. BB 441, G. HANAUER "Das Berufspodestat im dreizehnten Jahrhundert MIÖG 23 (1902) 376-426 at 421-2.

11 Four churches of this name are found in the region indicated: San Ilario a Settimo (via Pisana, Lastra a Signa); the parish of S. Ellero (S. Hilarii in Alfiano), dioc. Fiesole; a nunnery founded by the Guidi counts, located 5 km. WNW of Vallombrosa; the abbey S. Hilarius at Galeata (30 km south of Forli). On the latter, also a Guidi foundation, see FRANCO ZAGHINI Sant'Ellero e il suo monastero. Frammenti d'una storia Studia Ravennatensia 3 (Cesena 1988) and the review of this work by WILHELM KURZE in QFIAB 73 (1992) 888-9. Cf. IP 3.81-83, BB 136

12 Cf. Digest 4.8. At civil law the laudamentum was known as arbitrium.

© Steven M. Wight, Los Angeles 1998

Scrineum © Università di Pavia 1999