Bologna by the middle of the twelfth century had been Europe’s prem ier centre of legal studies for more than a generation. During the closing decade of the eleventh century a self-taught ju rist nam ed Irnerius was drawing crowds of students there from all over Italy. Early in the new century Irnerius’s reputation as an original and inspiring teacher with a unique knowledge of Roman civil law had spread to Germany and beyond. Consequently non-Italian students soon began to trickle across the Alps in the hope of acquiring a grasp of legal principles that would qualify them as men of practical learning and might lead to profitable careers in the service of powerful rulers, either in church or state.1