Preface to Pseudo-Isidore's Decretals
Link to manuscript of Pseudo-Isidore

Cologne, Dombibl. 113

Here begins the preface of Saint Isidore for this book.  .  .  I am compelled by many, both bishops and the rest of the servants of God, to collect the sentences of the canons and to assemble them in one volume, and to make one out of many.  Yet this especially disturbs me: different translations create varying sentences, and although there might be one sense, nevertheless there are different sentences, some longer, some shorter.  Indeed we find those councils that were published in Greek translated and copied more than three or four times.  .  .   . It seems to us, however, that since these texts disagree in our language, unity and truth should be sought from those in whose language they are known to have been published.  .   .   .

We have inserted the decrees from certain letters of the popes, that is of Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, and the rest of the pontiffs up to Pope Silvester.  These are the letters that we have been able to find.  Next we have put the synod of Nicaea because of the authority of that great council.  After we placed the acts of various Greek and Latin councils.

Translation based on Somerville and Brasington, pp. 82-84  Back to Syllabus

The author of Pseudo-Isidore is unkown, probably compiled in or near Reims ca. 850 A.D.  Chronologically arranged collection of decretals (Decretals of 29 popes before Constantine) and conciliar canons. 154 complete manuscripts and excerpts still exist. 

Lotte Kry,  Canonical Collections of the Early Middle Ages (ca. 400-1140): A Bibliographical Guide to the Manuscripts and Literature. History of Medieval Canon Law, ed. W. Hartmann and K. Pennington. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press of America, 1999: 100-114