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Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Medieval and Early Modern Jurists

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Report No. t308

Ricardus Salicetus



Alternative Names

Riccardo da Saliceto



R. was born into a Bolognese family that had been active in local politics and legal affairs since the thirteenth century. His brother Iacopo was the father of the well-known jurist Bartholomaeus Salicetus. R’s son Robertus was a jurist in his own right, as was Robertus’ son Andreas; Bartholomaeus’ son and grandsons were also jurists, although none of their descendants achieved the renown of R. and his nephew.

R. studied with the Bolognese master Jacobus Butrigrius, moving into a circle that included Johannes Andreae, Johannes Calderinus, and Paulus de Liazariis. In the 1330s he became a member of the Consiglio dei Anziani e dei Sapienti and served on an embassy to the papal court. In the early 1350s he is found in an embassy to Napoli and twice in embassies to Milano.

R. is first recorded academically disputing quaestiones in 1331 and 1332. He is recorded as having taught civil law in Bologna enough in the years from 1335 to 1353 that his teaching was probably continuous. He may have taught canon law in 1337.

The record goes a bit cold from 1354 to 1362. R. is known to have taught at Padova in 1357 and 1361; he may also have taught at Vercelli and/or at Pavia in those years. From 1362 to 1366 he held the chair of civil law at Firenze teaching, quite unusually, the entire corpus. He was paid the enormous sum of 800 florins a year. (Baldus de Ubaldis got only 300 for the same job.) Because of R.’s position in Firenze, both his person and his property, and those of his son Robertus, were banned in his native city. R. returned to Bologna in 1366 under papal protection when the city once more came under the power of the pope. In 1370–1371, we find him lecturing on the Codex for a stipend of 400 florins. After an embassy to the papacy in 1371, a pension of 200 florins was added to this sum, and R. received various privileges that increased his wealth. Robertus also benefited from papal privileges. R. continued teaching until 1376. In 1377 there was a popular revolt in Bologna, and R. was a member of the Consiglio di sedeci Anziani, charged with keeping order. His house and that of Robert were attacked. R. was spared and continued to teach, but Robert had to leave Bologna. R. died on a journey to Piacenza early in January 1379.

R. was clearly an extraordinarily successful teacher. Unlike his nephew Bartholomaeus, however, no full lecturae of R’s survive. His teaching may be reflected in some of the anonymous casus breves on the Codex. There are some consilia, repetitiones, sermones de doctorando, casus, and quaestiones disputatae that survive in manuscript. A couple of the last two named have been edited recently. M. Bellomo has studied the quaestiones disputatae and argues that R. had a distinctive method of approaching legal questions, a method that involved numerous different kinds of arguments that R. identifies, and, particularly, a manipulation of the concept of causa, used to argue from the particular to the general in a way that is peculiarly appropriate for dealing with legal questions. A summary of Bellomo’s argument may be found in two dense paragraphs in his biography of R. in DGI and is elaborated in various articles that Bellomo cites in his DGI bibliography.

Source: M. Bellomo, in DGI