13 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2012 Last revised: 5 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2012
Among the so-called “trial stories” (Satan processes), diffused in the Middle Age to explain the rules of procedural law, “Liber Belial”, also known as “Consolatio peccatorum”, was one of the most translated and printed books in Europe between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It was written in 1382 by Jacopo da Teramo (1349–1417) who described the imaginative story about the trial in which devils decided to bring a lawsuit against Jesus Christ, when, after the Resurrection, he descended into the Hell to free the patriarchs’ souls. Satan appointed Belial as his proxy and appealed to the divin justice in order to be able to start a process against Jesus. The text is full of clues and suggestions referring to fields of theology, politics, law, literature, simbolic representations and iconography (in various printed editions the text is embellished with several pictures representing procedural phases and some scenes taken from the Bible). The lawsuit brought by Satan and devils against Jesus Christ and angels stood methaphorically for the conflict between Popes in Avignon and those in Rome. In this way the text indicated a legal path as a mean to ensure that the good would defeat the evil, what means that the Roman Court would prevail. In "Liber Belial", the author has shown his knowledge, on subjects of theology and law. One can regard it as Janus with two faces: a theological side, with a considerable number of quotations taken from the Bible, and a juridical side that focused on two trials, i.e. the first instance one, and the second instance one (with a digression about arbitration). The latter seems to be a veritable Guidebook for judges, lawyers, litigants and students, accurately provided with references to legal sources.
"Consolatio peccatorum" presents interesting juridical content. It is enough to say that 249 references (almost 1/3) for total 844 citations, relate to Canon Law sources (Decretum by Gratian, Liber extra by Gregory IX, Liber sextus by Boniface VIII, and Clementinae) and Roman law sources (Codex, Digesta, Istitutiones and Authenticum).
The work describes the complex and obscure procedural mechanisms, unraveling their secrets into the vast profane world in a fictionalized style. In "Liber Belial" one can see the interplay between theology and law, cleverly interwoven with a clear aim of offering the reader a lucid presentation of civil proceedings in all their phases.
Notes: Downloadable document is in Italian.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Vinci, Stefano, La diffusione del processo romano-canonico in Europa: Il Liber Belial tra fonti giuridiche canonistiche e romanistiche (A Diffusion of the Roman-Canonical Procedure in Europe: 'Liber Belial' between Canon Law and Roman Law Sources) (2012). Max Planck Institute for European Legal History Research Paper Series No. 2012-03. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2139529 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2139529
By Milan Kuhli
Von der Europäischen Rechtsgeschichte zu einer Rechtsgeschichte Europas in globalhistorischer Perspektive (From a European Legal History Towards a Legal History of Europe in a Global Historical Perspective)
By Thomas Duve
Kanonistik im Zeitalter von Absolutismus und Aufklärung: Spielräume und Potentiale einer Disziplin im Spannungsfeld von Kirche, Staat und Publizität (Canon Law in the Age of Absolutism and Enlightenment: Scope and Potential of a Discipline between Church, State and Publicity)
Los Hijos de Belial. Paradigma religioso y criminalidad en el Río de la Plata hacia fines del siglo XVIII. (The Sons of Belial. Religious Paradigm and Criminality in the Río De La Plata in the Lateness of XVIII Century.)
Normengeschichte, Wissenschaftsgeschichte und Praxisgeschichte. Drei Blickwinkel auf das Recht der Vergangenheit (History of Legal Norms, Science and Practice. Three Perspectives on the Law of the Past)
By Karl Härter