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centuries. More than one hundred manuscripts of the work have been found to date. Dionysius Exiguus established the canons of the fourth-century Eastern Greek councils and papal decretals as the foundation of Western Latin canon law.

An Italian cleric named Cresconius built on the work of Dionysius by composing a canonical collection probably in the sixth century - the date is not quite certain. In contrast to Dionysius' chronological organisation, Cresconius produced one of the first collections that adopted a systematic arrangement. In this case, the collection was arranged according to 300 topics.29 As he tells us in his preface addressed to a certain Bishop Liberinus (who had commissioned the collection), the aim of his work was practical. His systematic arrangement aimed to make ecclesiastical law accessible, not only for the ignorant and for pupils, but also for those judges (probably bishops) who sat in judgment. He began and ended with the sacrament of ordination, but in between he covered marriage, clerical discipline and other subjects. To facilitate access to the material, he prefaced his collection with an index that listed the topics and the sources. Cresconius called his collection a 'Concord of conciliar canons' (Concordia canonum conciliorum). He brought concord to his collection by arranging and indexing them. However, Cresconius was only moderately successful in reducing the complex norms found in the canons of councils and papal letters to a few fundamental topics.30 Five centuries later another canonist, Gratian of Bologna, would attempt to bring concord to canon law systematically. In Cresconius' time the law was too young and the sources were too limited to require him to reconcile conflicting opinions and texts. There were not yet significant conflicts with which he must struggle.

Canonical collections originated in various Western Christianities. The Iberian peninsula and the Romanprovince ofGaul were particularly productive in this respect. These regions were important centres of late antique Roman learning and culture. We have information about church councils in the Iberian peninsula during the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries. The canons issued by these councils were collected and added to the received texts of the Eastern councils. The most important collection of this extensive and frequent legislative activity was the Collectio Hispana.31 Although sometimes attributed to

29 K. Zechiel-Eckes, Die Concordiacanonum; on the preface of Cresconius, see the translation and interpretation of Robert Somerville and Bruce C. Brasington, Prefaces to canon law books.

30 Zechiel-Eckes, Die Concordia canonum, 50-65.

31 Eds. G. Martínez Diez and F. Rodríguez, La colección canónica Hispana.

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