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Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Medieval and Early Modern Jurists

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Report No. c004

Tractatus criminum

mid-12th c.


Alternative Names



First medieval treatise dealing with criminal law. Comprises about 8000 words, making it the first veritable, extensive civilian treatise of the period. A work of theory on Dig. 47 and 48 that does not reflect current practice. Divided into six titles (later seven, with the first divided into two). Seems to have broken new ground, which is suggested by the fact that it does not set opposing views against one another. The work was not very influential until civilians started to pay more attention to criminal law in the 13th century. It is often associated with Jacobus de Porta Ravennate, but no certain argument has been put forward. Kantorowicz believed it to be Jacobus’; Gouron disagreed and posited a southern French origin based on parallels with the Summa Trecensis.



No. 1

Tractatus criminum.


Text(s) – Early Printed Editions

No. 1

Tractatus criminum.

Early Printed Editions

Placentini Jurisconsulti vetustissimi de varietate actionum libri sex,: De accusationibus publicorum iudiciorum. Mainz: Nicolaus Rhodius, 1530. The work appears as book 6 of Placentinus’s Libellus.


Text(s) – Modern Editions

No. 1

Tractatus criminum.

Modern Editions

Corpus glossatorum iuris civilis, ed. A. Converso (Torino 1973) 1.143–58 (reprint of Mainz 1535 edition).



H. Lange, Glossatoren 181–83.

A. Gouron, ‘Zu den Ursprüngen des Strafrechts: Die ersten Strafrechtstraktate’, in Festschrift für Hans Thieme zu seinem 80. Geburtstag, K. Kroeschell, ed. (Sigmaringen 1986) 43–57. Reprinted in: idem, Études sur la diffusion des doctrines juridiques médiévales (London 1987) no. IX.

H. Kantorowicz, ‘Il Tractatus Criminum’, in Per il cinquantenario della Rivista penale (Città Di Castello 1925) 361–76. Reprinted in: idem, Rechtshistorische Schriften von Dr. Hermann Kantorowicz weiland Professor der Rechte in Freiburg/Br., Kiel und Cambridge (Karlsruhe 1970) 273–85.