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Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Medieval and Early Modern Jurists

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Report No. c026

Jacobus Columbi

mid-13th c.


Alternative Names

Jacobus Columbini; Columbus; Jacobus de Regio; Iacopo Colombi



A jurist for which very little biographical information is available but whose name turns up repeatedly in sources between the 13th and 15th centuries. Documents from Reggio Emilia name a Columbus for 1199–1204 and a Jacobus Columbi for 1218–44. The documents in this later period give titles indicating legal practice (iudex, causidicus) but not teaching (e.g. doctor legum). The spread of dates makes it likely that there are two individuals involved. The former possibly wrote on the Authenticum and Cod. 1–4, but virtually nothing is known with certainty. The latter, possibly the son of the older Columbus, enjoyed a high reputation as a glossator of feudal law. Although many doubts remain, a long-standing tradition among many prominent medieval jurists names him as the author of an apparatus that became the Glossa ordinaria on the Libri feudorum. If this is indeed the case, he was also the author of a Summa feudorum, a re-working of Pillius’, which references the apparatus and is referenced in the apparatus as by the same author. These works, contrary to the specific titles given to J. Col. in documentary sources, would indicate a teaching career.



No. 1

Glossa ordinaria ad Libros feudorum. Grounded in lectures and written for students. Lange recounts the doubts about J. Columbi’s authorship of the apparatus but finds it difficult to believe that a litany of late 13th, 14th, and 15th-century jurists could be mistaken about the point. Even if J. Columbi was not responsible for putting together the whole thing, several individual glosses in the manuscripts do bear his name. Fiori finds the thesis of Minucci (15th c.) and Laspeyres (19th c.) plausible, namely that the Glossa was largely the work of J. Columbi based on the work of Pillius but was later itself revised by Accursius.

No. 2

Summa feudorum. Most likely authored by J. Columbi; certainly authored by the same person responsible for the apparatus on the Libri feudorum that became the Glossa ordinaria (see previous text). Likely intended as a primer or introduction to feudal law for students.


Text(s) – Modern Editions

No. 2

Summa feudorum.

Modern Editions

Ed. G. Palmieri in Summa super usibus feudorumBibliotheca iuridica medii aevi, II (Bologna 1892) 181–94.



A. Fiori, ‘Iacopo Colombi’, in DGI (2013) 1.1098–99.

H. Lange, Glossatoren 282–86.

E. Cortese, Il diritto nella storia medievale (Roma 1995) 2.161, 181–83.

P. Weimar, ‘Jacobus Columbi’, in LMA (1991) 5.257–58.

M. Montorzi, Diritto feudale nel basso Medioevo: Materiali di lavoro e strumenti critici per l’esegesi della glossa ordinaria ai Libri feudorum (Torino 1991) 24–25.

P. Weimar, ‘Die Handschriften des Liber feudorum und seiner Glossen’, RIDC, 1 (1990) 31–33, 75–77, 85–87.

A. Campitelli, ‘Iacopo Columbi’, in DBI (1982) 27.138–42.

E. Cortese, ‘Scienza di giudici e scienza di professori tra XII e XIII secolo’, in Legge, giudici, giuristi: Atti del convegno (Cagliari, 18–21 maggio 1981) (Milano 1982) 138–39. Reprinted in: idem, Scritti, I. Birocchi and U. Petronio, ed. (Spoleto 1999) 1.691–746.

U. Gualazzini, La scuola giuridica reggiana nel medio evo (Milano 1952) 92–98.

E. Seckel, ‘Über neuere Editionen juristischer Schriften aus dem Mittelalter I’, ZRG Rom. Abt., 21 (1900) 250–71.

F. von Savigny, Geschichte 5.89–98.