The Hibernensis

Book 1: A Study and Edition

The Hibernensis is the longest and most comprehensive canon-law text to have circulated in Carolingian Europe. Compiled in Ireland in the late seventh or early eighth century, it exerted a strong and long-lasting influence on the development of European canon law. The present edition offers—for the first time—a complete text of the Hibernensis combining the two main branches of its manuscript transmission. This is accompanied by an English translation and a commentary that is both historical and philological. The Hibernensis is an invaluable source for those interested in church history, the history of canon law, social-economic history, as well as intellectual history, and the history of the book.

Widely recognized as the single most important source for the history of the church in early medieval Ireland, the Hibernensis is also our best index for knowing what books were available in Ireland at the time of its compilation: it consists of excerpted material from the Bible, Church Fathers and doctors, hagiography, church histories, chronicles, wisdom texts, and insular normative material unattested elsewhere. This in addition to the staple sources of canonical collections, comprising the acta of church councils and papal letters. Altogether there are forty-two cited authors and 135 cited texts. But unlike previous canonical collections, the contents of the Hibernensis are not simply derivative: they have been modified and systematically organised, offering an important insight into the manner in which contemporary clerical scholars attempted to define, interpret, and codify law for the use of a growing Christian society.

About the Author

Roy Flechner is lecturer at University College, Dublin.


"Constitutes a very significant contribution to the field of medieval canon law and to early Irish ecclesiastical and legal history. Roy Flechner has taken on the colossal task of editing and translating the most substantial collection of canon law of the early medieval period. The Hibernensis presents textual difficulties not just because of its size but because of its complex development into two main recensions; Flechner is sensitive to the editorial and historical challenges involved and gives the reader an edition that takes into account the reality of this canonical collection as a living text with a wide historical impact and varied reception. Thanks to Flechner, scholars now have far easier access to this unique and invaluable witness to early Irish ecclesiastical history, book culture, legal norms, and political ideology. His translation opens up a world usually reserved for the specialized scholar to a much broader audience. Scholars, teachers, and students should be grateful."—Atria Larson, Saint Louis University

"This much anticipated critical edition, translation, and study by Roy Flechner is an outstanding piece of scholarship on a collection whose complicated textual tradition, notably its two distinct versions, A and B, has obscured a full understanding of the collection's compilation and historical context. Combining for the first time an edition of both versions, Flechner untangles the collection's complicated textual history and offers a critical edition which makes an outstanding contribution to the field and to future researchers for understanding the Hibernensis and its intellectual world as well as the transmission and reception of that learning across Western Europe."—Kathleen G. Cushing, President, International Society of Medieval Canon Law

"These volumes make a massive contribution to understanding of both early Irish society and canon law. They provide a critical edition—also the first edition of one key recension—and the first translation of a central source. A lost world becomes accessible even to undergraduates by this ground-breaking work of scholarship."—David D'Avray, University College London

"A praiseworthy volume that provides a great service."—Deutsches Archiv fürErforschung des Mittelalters

"The Hibernensis demonstrates a keen awareness of the inconsistencies and contradictions in the ecclesiastical tradition and proposes ways to deal with them. The present edition, with the accompanying excellent translation, provides scholars with the opportunity to delve deeper into this fascinating and still rather enigmatic text."—Journal of Ecclesiastical History

"This is a monumental product of great care and labour... a far superior representation of the Hibernensis than has heretofore been available. Coupled with a translation that permits students to taste medieval canon law for themselves, it will be immensely useful in both the classroom and the study. On Flechner's much securer basis, scholars of canon law, Irish culture, ecclesiastical history, and the western intellectual tradition are now equipped to gain new insights and make new advances."—Early Medieval Europe

9780813231938 : the-hibernensis-flechner
640 Pages
$85.00 USD
9780813232218 : the-hibernensis-flechner
Paperback / softback
550 Pages
$45.00 USD