COURTSHIP AT THE TABLE

Ragazza corteggiata durante un pasto

"Young girl being courted during a meal", illumination from the manuscript "Decretum Gratiani", ms. 0558, f. 323v, ca. 1288-1289, Bibliothèque Municipale, Tours.

The illumination portrays a girl being seduced by the guest of a banquet in her father's house. The scene makes reference to the Causa XXXVI in Gratian's Decretum, one of the most prominent collections of Canon law; written by the camaldolese monk Gratian in the 12th century, the Decretum was used as a legal textbook (though expanded and implemented in the passing of the years) by Roman Catholic canonists up until 1918.

The Decretum is divided into three parts called ministeria, negotia, and sacramenta. While the first part describes the general principles of Canon law and regulates religious functions and roles, and the third one focuses entirely on the Holy Sacraments, the negotia includes 36 Causae (hypothetical and imaginary disputes) dealing with various themes - the Causae from XXVII to XXXVI, the pages of which the illumination below appears in, solely focusing on marriage.

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