Pietro D'Ancarano, ca. 1330-1415

P. was a lay canonist who married a certain Lasia or Loisia.  In 1414 his son Nicolaus received a doctorate in law in Bologna.  On the day his son received his doctorate P. preached a sermon to 14 cardinals.  He had also taught for many years in Bologna.  He studied with Baldus de Ubaldis (preceptor meus) in Perugia and with Bartolomeo da Saliceto (Dominus meus) at Bologna.  P.’s earliest dated work is a consilium written in 1357 (Consilium no. 215 [ed. 1474 and 1490], no. 214 in later editions, e.g. Venice 1585).  There are questions, however, about whether the date could be correct or whether the consilium can be attributed to him.  If that date is correct, he was born ca. 1330-1335.  If it is not, then he could have been born ca. 1345-1350 because there is a lacuna in his biography between ca. 1365 and 1376, the latter date being the earliest that he could have studied with Bartolomeo da Saliceto at Bologna.  P. taught and wrote primarily on canon law and lectured at a number of studia:   Perugia, Siena, Padua, Venice, and for most of his career, at Bologna.  As he states in the prologue of his commentary on the Liber sextus,  P. was born into the noble Farnese family in the Patrimony of St. Peter (Ego Petrus de Ancharano de nobilibus de Farnesio provinciae Patrimonii Beati Petri in Tuscia, minimus utriusque iuris doctor regens in hac alma et regia civitate Bononiensi).   He was given a large number of offices in the northern Italian city states from revising the statutes of Firenze to various diplomatic missions in the early fifteenth century.

        Diplovatatius claimed that he had in his library works of P. on Roman law that were written in the hand of Joannes de Rustighellis de Sancto Laudetio.  He listed a commentary on the title “De iurisdictione ominum iudicum” (Dig. 2.1), on the chapter “Stipulatio” in the Digestum novum (Dig. 39.1.21), on the title “De rei vendicatione in the Codex (Cod. 3.32) and on the entire fourth book of the Codex, which, says Diplovatatius, P. wrote while teaching at Ferrara in 1404.  P. did teach at Ferrara for three years from 1402-1405.  P. also mentioned writing on the Codex (Consilium no. 270 ed. 1490, 269 ed. 1559).  These works were never printed, and Diplovatatius’ manuscripts have not been found. 

        From the evidence embedded in his commentaries,  P. began teaching canon law in 1383-1384 at Bologna.  There is, however, no other proof of his teaching at this time.  He also reported that he became the Podestà in Bologna at approximately the same time.  The colophons to his repetitiones and comments in his commentaries give us some information about where and when he taught during his career.  In a passage in his commentary on Clem. 3.7.2 he reported that while he was the “consultor ducalis” in Venice, the studio in Siena was reformed and that he taught the decretales at Siena for three years ca. 1387.  In a rubric to his repetitio to “Postulasti” (X 2.2.19) P. wrote that he delivered it in his first year teaching at Siena and according to the colophon to the text, he finished it while teaching in Padua in 1392.  On December 13, 1400, he held a repetitio on VI <5.13>.26 in Bologna while teaching the Liber Sextus and the Clementines.    In another passage on VI <5.1>.6 he wrote that he delivered the lecture on 21 February, 1398 at Bologna while lecturing on the Liber Sextus and the Clementines.

        P. had strong opinions and was at times a fierce critic of the clergy.  He complained about a unnamed cardinal who plundered the Monastery of Saint Peter in Perugia of its income (Clem. 3.4.1); about prelates who looked only to the purses of their subjects (X 3.39.2); and about those who bestowed benefices on the basis of a cleric’s status (Clem. 3.3.1).  P. argued that theologians do not make good prelates because they did not know how to provide for the people and the clergy, nor how to govern the material possessions of the church (X 4.14.1).  He had particularly sharp words for the Franciscans.  They fomented discord and scandal.  They are ignorant of the law (Clem. 3.9.1).

Much of P.’s fame is due to his participation in the Councils of Pisa (1409) and Constance (1415).   He was asked to write consilia about the problems besetting the Church during the Great Schism.  These consilia reveal that his understanding of the Great Schism and his solutions to it changed significantly over time.    Before Pisa, he had taken very traditional positions on papal authority and the pope’s relationship to the College of Cardinals and a Church council.  He had an expansive view of papal authority, particularly in the pope’s relationship to the cardinals and bishops.  The bishops were only the administrators or procurators of church property; only the pope had complete dominium over church property (Proemium to VI).  The pope could depose the emperor with the consent of the cardinals if he exercised his ordinary power, but he could also act alone if he used his absolute power.  He was normally not inclined to apply to the pope, as some jurists were,  the same limitations that canonistic corporate jurisprudence imposed on bishops’ legal relationship with their chapters. 

His first consilium dealing with the Great Schism was written at the request of Cardinal Baldassare Cossa (later Pope John XXIII) in 1404 and is contained in a number of different manuscripts but has never been printed.   His other consilia dealing with the Schism, the Council of Pisa in 1409 have been printed in the collections of his works.  P. slowly progressed in this analysis to the conclusion that the “via concilii,” a general council had the authority to resolve the Schism, was the best solution to the crisis.  In this P. did not lead in the evolution of conciliar thought but followed his contemporaries Paulus de Castro, Antonius de Butrio, and Mattheus de Mattasellanis de Bononia.  Nonetheless, P.’s reputation has been in large part formed by his participation in the events leading up to the end of the Great Schism.

Today P.’s sarcophagus can be seen in the Museo civico medievale in Bologna  that  had originally been placed in the Church of San Domenico in Bologna.  The following epitaph  was engraved on it:

Canonis hic speculum civilis et ancora iuris

Heu iacet eternas mens tenet alma domos

Nomen erat Petrus genuit Farnesia proles

Nunc Ancharanum dat sibi laudis opes

Quis superavit eum virtute micante? quis isto

Consiliis hominum clarior ante fuit?

Pro meritis nunc astra dedit sibi Iupiter almus

Et voluit gelido membra iacere solo.



Bibliography of Manuscript and Printed Works

1. Lectura on Decretales Gregorii noni: Bologna: 1580-1583, Lyon: 1517-1519, 1535-1543 (with the lecturae on the Liber sextus and the Clementines.

2. Consilia: Consilia dealing with the Schism:  Vat. Lat. 3477, fol. 46v-47v, fol. 226v-232v, fol. 247r-250r, fol. 250v-251v, fol. 252r-269r; Vat. lat. 4192, fol. 269va-274vb; Vat. lat. 5595, fol. 43r-44v, fol 170v-175r, 189r-192r, fol. 192r-193v, fol. 193v211v; Vat. lat. 13680, fol. 31r-57, Florence, Bibl. Laur. Plut. 20, fol. 79-111.  Editions of his collected consilia: Rome: 1474, Venice: 1490, 1513, 1568, 1570, 1574, 1585, Turin: 1496, Pavia: 1496, 1504,  1510, Lyon: 1532, 1539, 1549, Venice: 1568, 1573, 1585; Sine loco: 1585

3. Lectura on Liber sextus:  Manuscripts:  Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana lat. 2238, fol. 1r-412v, Washington, DC, Library of Congress 107, fol. 1v-120v.  Both manuscripts have the same date in the colophon 1409, but name different scribes.  Vatican: Raynerius de Tyelen of Brabant;  Washington: Arnoldus Philippi de Traiecto.  The date cannot be used to date the manuscripts but probably can date the composition of the Lectura.  Editions:  Lyon: 1517, 1549, Paris: 1520, 1532, 1561, Venice: 1501, Bologna: 1583

4. Lectura on the Clementines: Manuscripts:  Bologna, Collegio di Spagna, 229, fol. 1r-188v.  Editions: Venice: 1483, 1549, Milan: 1483, 1494, Lyon: 1520, 1549, 1559, Paris: 1520, 1532, 1549, , Bologna: 1580, Sine loco: 1531, 1535

5. Repetitiones: Bologna: 1474, 1475, Venice: 1500;  P.’s repetitiones were published together and also inserted into his works at the appropriate places.

6. Disputatio super imprestitis Montis novi:  Venice: 1499/1500



Diplovatatius, Liber de claris iuris consultis, ed. F. Schultz, H. Kantorowitz, G. Rabotti (Studia Gratiana 10; Bologna: 1968) 331-334; Schulte, Geschichte II 278-282;  John J. Sawicki, The Ecclesiological and Political Thought of  Petrus de Ancharano 1330 (?)-1416 (Ph.D Dissertation, Cornell University 1977).