In the talk today I will use this image for the first time. It was one I stumbled upon in a book about Philipp Melanchthon (briefly mentioned here). To date this is the best version I have – a scan from the book. There are colour versions of details here and here.
The painting is of the Roman jurist Irnerius, who was one of the first glossators of the Roman law in the eleventh century. It’s a remarkable image for all sorts of reasons, but I particularly like the way that there is a background of a city, landscape and armies, with a priest blessing the troops as they prepare to go to battle. This is the background to the legal work Irnerius is doing in the foreground.
And yet, it is the work of Irnerius and those who followed him (notably Bartolus and Baldus) that provides the basis for the politics of land and conflict that are taking place at the same time. The lawyers are working on behalf of kings and cities, and the influence of their work continues into later legal theorists such as Francisco de Vitoria – who discussed the Spanish conquest of the new world – and Hugo Grotius in his work on the rights of war and peace.
So far I’ve found it difficult to source a better quality colour image of the whole scene – although I have some friends helping out. The painting is by Luigi Serra, and is on the ceiling of one of the rooms of the Palazzo d’Accursio in Bologna.